Frequently asked questions

Schools across Australia started to go online from 2018 on an opt-in basis. State/territory education authorities are responsible for determining when their state/territory moves to NAPLAN Online.  

  • Education Services Australia is responsible for developing the online assessment capability and platform, using ACARA’s detailed requirement specifications.
  • ACARA is responsible for the NAPLAN Online assessment and for reporting the results of these assessments.
  • State and territory school authorities are responsible for ensuring their schools are ready to move online.

Schools and students will have had access to familiarisation through the public demonstration site and training opportunities. There are a number of activities planned in the lead-up to NAPLAN Online to support schools and teachers including training, practice tests and a coordinated practice test.

NAPLAN Online supports BYOD (bring your own device) for students. BYOD devices must be secured so students do not have access to unauthorised websites, applications and spell-checking features. NAP locked-down browser applications are available to support schools in ensuring online assessments run smoothly.

Visit the BYOD section on the 'Technical requirements' page of the NAP website.

The NAPLAN Online assessment platform (under Education Services Australia's direction) has state-of-the-art security protections. The online platform is designed and has been extensively tested to be compliant with government and industry standards for security, interoperability, privacy and accessibility.

In preparing for NAPLAN Online, the online test environment has been used in various online assessment activities as well as the National Assessment Program: Civics and Citizenship sample assessment in 2016. These activities have allowed us to test the security of the system. 

Tailored testing adapts to student responses in real time and presents each student with questions that are more or less difficult based on the student’s answers. The adaptive nature of the tests means students are more likely to stay engaged with the tests as they receive questions better suited to their ability. This gives students more opportunity to show what they know and can do.

Branching messages (PDF 2 mb) between testlets advise students whether they may go back to previous testlets to change their answers, or not. Changing answers will not affect their branching but will affect their final score. For Years 7 and 9 students, the numeracy test includes a non-calculator section and a calculator section. At the end of the non-calculator section, a message will inform students that they cannot return to the non-calculator section after they select ‘next’ and move to the calculator section. For students in all years, the conventions of language test includes a grammar and punctuation section and a spelling section. At the end of grammar and punctuation, a message will inform students that they cannot return to grammar and punctuation once they select ‘next’ and move to the spelling section. Students are prompted to check their answers before moving on.

A student’s NAPLAN result is based on both the number and difficulty of questions the student answers correctly. A student who completes a more complex pathway is more likely to achieve a higher result (and a higher band placement) than a student who answers the same number of questions correctly but follows a less complex pathway.  

The locked section prevents students from using the words in the grammar and punctuation section to answer spelling questions. Many international multistage online tests prevent students from going back on their answers. This is similar to the Years 7 and 9 numeracy test, in which the ‘calculator allowed’ section is locked once the ‘non-calculator’ section is started.

NAPLAN questions have always assessed a wide range of difficulty. What differs from student to student in the online test is targeted questions of either higher or lower complexity, depending on the student’s performance. These targeted questions are designed to provide more focused, detailed results that can be used to target teaching.

Schools have been transitioning to tailored testing for NAPLAN Online since 2018. Several other testing programs accessed by schools use a form of tailored testing; for example, the online Progressive Achievement Tests in Reading Vocabulary and Mathematics, which uses adaptive testing to match questions to each student’s level of achievement.

Following extensive research undertaken by ACARA, NAPLAN online and paper forms have been explicitly designed to be comparable. Results for both paper and online tests will be reported on the same NAPLAN assessment scale for each test. The use of a common assessment scale, covering Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 in each of the areas of conventions of language, numeracy, reading and writing, allows for an individual student’s achievement to be mapped as the student progresses through his or her schooling.

No, the paper and online tests will assess the same literacy and numeracy skills, and test students on the same curriculum content.

Ensuring students are familiar with using devices, typing on them and navigating through programs is a part of students everyday learning and a requirement of the Australian Curriculum.

You can help your child become familiar with NAPLAN Online by accessing the public demonstration site on the NAP website. The demonstration site includes useful resources for schools to help students become familiar with the online test experience.

Schools will not require a computer for every student. The test window for NAPLAN Online has been increased to two weeks to allow increased flexibility for tests to be staggered over a longer period of time. This means all students will not need to complete the tests at the same time.

Spelling is assessed as a part of NAPLAN Online. A general requirement of NAPLAN Online is the student’s device must be secured (using a locked-down browser) so they cannot access unauthorised websites, applications and spell-checking features.

Students are supervised during the test as a requirement of NAPLAN Online to ensure test conditions are maintained.

Test administrators are responsible for checking if students are working on the correct test.

No student is disadvantaged if their device stops working during the test. In the event the device stops working, all responses will have been saved and the student can complete their test in a rescheduled test session.

Students can use paper to work out or plan their answers. This paper is collected by a test administrator at the end of the test.

As with the paper NAPLAN, students who are sick cannot complete NAPLAN at home. Students who are absent on the day of testing may be able to complete catch-up tests if they return to school within the NAPLAN test window.

No, students must do NAPLAN tests in the mode of delivery (online or paper) that the rest of their school is doing

If their school is completing paper-based NAPLAN, they cannot attend another school that is delivering NAPLAN online to complete the tests.

While students can participate in NAPLAN tests as a visiting student in a host school, that host school must be delivering NAPLAN using the same mode as their home school for the student to participate. If their home school is doing NAPLAN online, they will only be able to sit NAPLAN as a visiting student in a host school that is running NAPLAN Online.

Students are not allowed to complete tests earlier than the rest of the students in their year level at their school. Schools need to follow the National protocols for test administration.

While access to computers at home or at school varies, students’ performance during the online test is likely to depend on how familiar they are with the device they are using for the online test, rather than how often they use a computer. Ensuring students are familiar with using devices, typing on them and navigating through programs is a part of a student’s learning and a requirement of the Australian Curriculum.

Schools must ensure that all students are familiar with the functionality of the NAPLAN Online tests and the range of question types in all the tests. For this purpose, schools can use the online public demonstration site or equivalent method as advised by their local test administration authority.

The writing test is not about handwriting skills and NAPLAN Online is not about keyboarding skills. There are variations in how fast and well a student can type, just as there are variations in how fast and well a student can write by hand.

Standard editing tools will be available during the NAPLAN Online writing assessment, so students will be able to copy, cut, paste and move text. Spelling and grammar checks (autocorrect) will be disabled on the NAPLAN testing platform, as these elements of students’ writing will be marked in the assessment.

If a student is completing NAPLAN Online, they have the same amount of time to complete the test as a student completing the paper test.

Test times for NAPLAN are available on the 'NAPLAN test timetables' page of the NAP website.

Each state/territory test administration authority will determine the appropriate arrangements for testing students who are registered as undertaking non-school based education.

For example, home-schooled students completing NAPLAN Online may attend another school (or central location) on the test days as a visiting student.

To assist schools in ensuring they have a sufficient number of devices, the test window for NAPLAN Online is extended from three to nine days to allow flexibility for tests to be staggered. As such, students will not all need to complete the tests at the same time.

Students will also be allowed to complete NAPLAN Online using a variety of devices such as laptops and tablets. Visit the 'Technical requirements' page on the NAP website.

Technology solutions for schools with very low or intermittent bandwidth have been developed and will be in place for some schools in 2021. Schools should contact their state or territory test administration authority to enquire about this option.

The writing test is not about handwriting skills and NAPLAN Online is not about keyboarding skills. There are variations in how fast and well a student can type, just as there are variations in how fast and well a student can write by hand. 

ACARA research shows that online writing is similar to handwriting in terms of the quality of writing produced by students at each year level. It also shows that students generally appreciate the use of online features such as editing tools (noting that online features such as grammar and spell-check are disabled during NAPLAN testing).

Students do not have to be able to touch type to successfully complete the test.

No, different prompts are used depending on the testing day and student year level. All students receive the same genre of writing task regardless of testing mode; imaginative genre or persuasive genre.

In 2021, NAPLAN paper schools had one writing prompt for Year 3 and 5 students, and another prompt for Year 7 and 9 students.

At NAPLAN Online schools in 2021:

  • Year 3 students did the writing test on day 1, the same as students doing NAPLAN on paper.
  • Year 5 students did writing on day 1 and, if necessary, day 2. They received one prompt on day 1, and a different prompt on day 2. The day 1 prompt was the same prompt used for Year 5 students in NAPLAN paper schools.
  • Years 7 and 9 students did writing on day 2 and, if necessary, day 3. One prompt was used on day 2 and another on day 3. These prompts are different from those shown to Year 3 and 5 students.

Student background information (including student identifier, sex, date of birth, language background and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status) and test participation and performance data are collected as part of the National Assessment Program. This information is treated confidentially and held securely to ensure that every student’s right to privacy is maintained. The NAPLAN online assessment platform has been built with state-of-the-art security features that have been rigorously tested.

Read the NAPLAN privacy notice or download the NAPLAN Online and protecting privacy infographic (PDF 942 kb).

NAPLAN Online will use tailored testing, which means the test automatically adapts to student performance and presents questions that match student achievement level, allowing the student to demonstrate their knowledge. This means students are likely to be working on different questions at different times and many will be sitting tests with different items.

The tailored test design will also offer many more items than are currently used for the paper NAPLAN version, providing additional security protection.  

Education Services Australia will train key staff from states and territories on the functionality of the platform. Students and teachers can familiarise themselves with the testing experience, as well as the types of items to be included in the online tests by using the public demonstration site. Schools determine the device that students should practise on. Encourage students to practise on a device similar to the one they plan to use for the NAPLAN Online tests.

Every student with a disability has individual needs, experiences and functional abilities so there is no typical or uniform testing experience for students with a disability. Research-based adjustments are available for students with disabilities to allow them to access and participate in NAPLAN tests.

Visit the National protocols for test administration on the NAP website.

Related information

  • Visit the 'Resources' section of the NAP website for access to NAPLAN Online resources.