The sections below explain what SOLAR is, how to get access and where to get support.
What is SOLAR?
SOLAR is SQA's free online eassessment system which is used to deliver tests on a range of devices including pc, laptop, tablet, Chrome OS and i-pad. (Please note that currently there is no option to use this on a smart phone.)
Once an SQA centre has access to the system they can upload candidates and schedule for subjects that they are SQA approved to offer. These tests are secure, quality assured, pre-verified and there are both summative and formative available.
Candidates access the system using a one time use only Keycode for tests and in where possible provided with an instant result. Human marked questions require centres to complete for a result.
Benefits of SOLAR
• System is free to all SQA's approved centres. *Please contact us if you are an overseas centre.
• Browser based software allows access anywhere to manage HTML test delivery.
• A range of delivery options, including download for offline delivery.
• Locked delivery through SecureClient offering additional security.
• A 6 month schedule window for flexibility in delivery. (Tests have fixed delivery durations.)
• Pre-verified Itembank to provide quality assured fixed and variable tests.
• Supports a variety of question types.
• Automatic marking and results available on completion.
• Online human marking with guidance for 24/7 easy access to tutors/ teachers.
• Comprehensive reporting and analysis for centres.
• Formative content available 24/7 for candidates. Centres are also able to schedule Formative content to candidates through their system.
• Feedback to learners on result and review of completed tests.
• App delivery available from Apple and Google Play (These are for Flash tests only and must must be checked in the List of Available Assessments if they have App delivery available) An HTML version of the App is not currently available.
The list of tests is constantly being updated and our List of Available Assessments on the Home page is an easy way to review if the subject you are looking for has current content and which delivery methods are available. (We will also update our News section with additional releases.)
How it works
Once candidates are created/uploaded to the system, tests for subjects linked to your centre are able to be scheduled across a wide delivery window range of up to 6 months. Tests as standard are in one sitting unless specified as Computer Based Project. Tests should be 'Finished' and never left open beyond the date started, All HTML tests will have a timed setting (even notional where a unit specification does not state one.) to ensure that tests cannot be accessed well after the stated scheduled date.
Candidates use a secure 'Keycode' to access the system and run the test, this is provided by the scheduling centre and found in the Administration system. Once complete the candidate would then submit or 'Finish' the test to see their result and review a full breakdown of their test. The only exception to this is if there are any human marked items which tutors/ teachers are required to mark online. (Tutors can also access functionality such as results, candidates scripts and test breakdown by topic or outcomes through their login.)
The Enter Keycode access for candidates can be found on the Home page of this site. Candidate training guides are also available in the Candidates section.
How to get Access
Any SQA approved centre can get access to current tests for subjects that they are delivering. (Please contact us if you are an International Centre to ensure that we are able to allow access.) Simply check whether you already have valid users who can create your account and request the new subject access from the Helpdesk Form. We can check for you if you have users by submitting the Helpdesk form in the Contact Us section of the website. All users must review the training materials in our Guidance section before getting an account.
If you are not a current SOLAR centre you can request access to the system. This can be done through our System Access section, which is located under the Centres Tab. All centre users must review our training materials prior to requesting access. For centres which are live but have no users active you would still need to review our training materials to get an account. These materials are in our Guidance Tab.
Flash Delivery SurpassViewer
• Laptop or PC
• Apple desktop (Windows compatible)
Flash App delivery
• Tablet or i-pad
HTML Delivery Chrome Browser
• Laptop or PC
• Chrome OS (Not all devices)
• Tablet (Not all devices)
HTML Delivery Safari Browser
• Apple desktop
• Laptop or PC
• Apple desktop (Windows compatible)
The SurpassViewer is required for both Centre user and candidates for Flash tests this has to be installed directly to the machine not by remote server. (Please see our Guidance documents for Surpass installation instructions.)
Adobe Reader is required on all devices and pop ups allowed.
Once you have been given access to the system you would use your Centre Login to create other separate user accounts, upload candidate details and to schedule assessments. (The Centre Login can be found on the Home page. Please use the correct login option depending on Flash or HTML delivery). Centres should check the List of Available Assessments or contact us for advice on schedule and delivery requirements Flash or HTML.
Delivery on smart phones is not currently possible.
To deliver a Flash test on an i-pad or tablet requires the download of the Surpass App from the Apple and Google Stores. You are not able to schedule a Flash test using a tablet or i-pad, only deliver the test through the App. Scheduling should be done by logging in through the SOLAR website to the Surpass Software using a PC or laptop with the SurpassViewer installed prior to delivery, using the steps provided in our Guidance training materials.
SecureClient is a restricted delivery of a test which will not allow candidates to access anything but the SOLAR test. Please review the SecureClient delivery information in the Centres Tab. This has to be scheduled through the main software. This is not available for App delivery. (Please note this software requires very high level user access to the machine permissions and may require network configuration.)
Centres MUST follow SQA's Guide to Assessment for all delivery options. (No Summative content should ever be used for practice purposes under any circumstances.)
SOLAR is not linked to the SQA registration and certification systems SQA CONNECT, so candidates have to be uploaded to the SOLAR system with a valid Scottish Candidate Number (SCN) as well as be registered and certification details submitted to SQA. You can find out more about how to register and certificate candidates on the SQA website. (We are working towards webservicing in the future.)
To see if you are able to use the SOLAR software effectively, please contact us for the basic system requirements. Helpdesk form
• Laptop or PC through Chrome browser for HTML delivery.
• Specific tablets through Chrome browser for HTML delivery. (Amazon fire and Huawei devices not supported)
• Safari browser for Apple Desktop.
• Safari browser for i-pad (Gen 5 and above),
SecureClient can only be downloaded to laptop or pc for delivery.
Scheduling of a test is always a requirement for a Laptop or Desktop device. Delivery of the test however can be across a range of devices, but not all devices are the same. We will provide as much advice as possible for the device types for delivery in the List of Available Assessments. Should you be unsure about a device you can contact us for advice using the Helpdesk form in the Contact Us section. You should always create a dummy candidate and try the tests well in advance of scheduling and delivering for candidates. SQA test against devices for our content on creation but changes may occur that we are unaware of.
Centres should be responsible and all devices should be supported by the manufacturer - older devices may become excluded as they exceed their lifespan. This should always be taken into account when considering what options to use.