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 and i-pad. (Please note that currently there is no option to use this on a smart phone. Also the website is not recommended for use on tablet or i-pad delivery only the Surpass App.)
Once an SQA centre has access to the system they can upload candidates and schedule them for subjects that they are approved to offer. These tests are secure, quality assured, pre-verified and both summative and formative.
Candidates access the system using a Keycode and in where possible provided with a instant result. Human marked questions require centres to complete.
What is 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 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 new subject access. We can check for you if you have users by submitting the Helpdesk form in the Contact Us section of the website.
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.
Basics of the system
For Flash delivery on laptop or PC, the download of the SurpassViewer and Adobe Reader are required on all devices. Please ensure that pop ups are allowed and that your network will not restrict updates. (Please see our Guidance documents for Surpass installation instructions.)
Once installed and 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)
HTML subjects are scheduled on Chrome browser for Windows, Safari for Apple. Delivery can be by either Laptop/ Desktop or tablet (Specfics devices) and i-pad using the Chrome and Safari browsers respectively. Centres should check the List of Available Assessments or contact us for advice.)
Delivery on mobile phones is not currently possible. To deliver a scheduled Flash test on i-pads or tablets requires a download of the Surpass App from the Apple and Google Stores. You are not able to schedule a test using a tablet or i-pad, only deliver the test through the app. You are required to schedule these through the website using a PC or laptop prior to delivery using the steps provided in our training materials.
For restricted delivery of a test which will not allow candidates to access anything but the SOLAR test you can downloaded a version of the SecureClient software, please review the SecureClient delivery information in the Centres Tab. The test still has to be scheduled through the main software online and then downloaded to the PC or laptop. This is not available for App delivery. (Please note this software requires high level user access to the machine permissions. This may require network configuration. Use the Contact Us section to confirm subject use.)
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 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.)
Once candidates are uploaded, tests 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 timing (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 they 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.
To see if you are able to use the SOLAR software effectively, please contact us for the basic system requirements. Helpdesk form
(Laptop and pc browser use should be Chrome only, App delivery does not support use of Amazon Fire or Huawei tablets. HTML browser delivery for tablet is Chrome and i-pad Safari. No other browser supported. Amazon fire and Huawei not supported. SecureClient should be downloaded to laptop or pc only. )
Scheduling of a test is always a requirement for Laptop or Desktop device whether Windows (Chrome) or Apple (Safari). Delivery of the test can be across a range of devices, however 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.