Best uses of Laptops for Exams

Best uses of Laptops for Exams

Using a laptop for studying and exams can have a lot of different advantages, such as faster writing; leading to more detailed and efficient note-taking, easier organisation, and easier editing. Laptops in class can also foster better collaboration with other students inside and outside the classroom. It encourages sharing information and better collaboration on group projects. A computer can also help with keeping students engaged, as it can be vital in maintaining a child’s interest in classroom topics.

Laptop for exams



Advantages to revision on a laptop are; better access and organisation of notes, easier editing, access to online study guides, and instant communication with other students if having difficulties. Students can use Google Docs or Microsoft Word docs to type up their notes and later use the search key to find specific dates and words in order to make revision easier. Both Microsoft Word and Google Docs allow students to create as many documents as they want without the fear of losing any information. All of these things can also be helpful with the student’s confidence, as it encourages them to write their own notes and to do independent research on the topics.

They can be a great help to anyone who misses school i.e. sickness.  Laptops give students access to online resources such as Zoom, Microsoft teams, and other video messaging sites, that allow them to join a class from the comfort of home, or wherever they might need to be. Zoom is incredibly handy nowadays with isolation and illness and can help keep students on track with their education. It also allows for easier access to one-on-one tutoring or even group tutoring as you can join a zoom from anywhere.

Laptop for exams



Laptops also give you access to other sites, such as YouTube, where you can look up informational videos, lessons, and study guides. YouTube is great and has some very educational videos, such as the crash course videos. As it can be a worry that students will be distracted by other videos while in school, YouTube has the option to download videos so that the videos saved can be monitored and watched offline for educational purposes. This is also helpful as videos containing very important information can be saved in case the original content poster decides to delete the video from the app. YouTube can also be a great way to access documentaries for free.

Music is another good study aid, which can be accessed for free on YouTube. Studies have shown that music actives both sides of the brain at the same time and this activation can help to maximise learning and improves memory. This can differ from student to student as sensory issues can come into play, but music can be a good way to focus, block out surrounding distractions and make tasks more fun and engaging to do. Music also stimulates and engages your brain which can modify the moods of those studying and leave them in a better position to concentrate. Music also provides a rhythm to work too that keeps you alert and on track. It can also be a good way to time how long something is taken or how long until a break.

Using technology for studying can also be a big help to those who are dyslexic. Technology can make this easier on them. Notes can be more easily written, and they can be re-read using the text to speech option. Another use for the text to speech option is for better pronunciation during the Oral exams, so you can use this function to help your phrasing and sentence structure. Audio recordings on apps such as voice memo and audacity can also help with learning and studying for the Orals, as students can record their own voices saying their pre-prepared answers and re-listen to it over and over again as practice as this is useful for retaining a language. Some students also find it helpful to record information and listen to it while they are sleeping as they believe it helps them retain the information better. Laptops can be a great way to store notes. After notes have been written you can use different sites it saves them such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc. You can also add an external drive to save the documents onto it well so you can safely back your data up.

Some helpful sites:

  • Google Drive
  • Khan Academy
  • Study Clicks
  • Spark Notes
  • Quizlet / Flashcard caps
  • Grammarly
  • Zoom
  • Audacity
  • YouTube
  • Duolingo
  • Forest / Todoist/ Tomato Timer, etc.

Some of these apps transcend to the mobile.


Minimum Laptop Requirements:

It is recommended that when getting a laptop to use for these purposes you should follow the minimum laptop requirement of having a 500 GB Solid-state hard drive and 8 GB of Ram, as a normal spin drive laptop might be too slow to process what you need. To be efficient with notetaking, your laptop needs to be up to sufficient standards. It is also recommended for your laptop but nothing less than Windows 10, though the preferred update would be windows 11.

How to best protect your laptop:

You can protect your laptop in lots of different ways but getting antivirus software is a great start. You can access some of these for free online. Backing up your computer onto a flash drive and keeping it regularly updated is another way to keep your laptop safe. Never click a link on an email from a sender you don’t know. You can also download pop-up blockers and add-blockers to allow you to set your own security measures. Google itself is also very good at filtering out bad websites; if you search the site and it does not come up then the site is potentially unsafe.

Why Touch typing?

Touch typing is a huge benefit to a student who is dyslexic. Touch typing can greatly improve predictability. It is a way to type faster and more accurately, without having to constantly look at the keyboard. Here at Searsol we have lots of camps and course centers for your child to learn this skill, as it is encouraged to learn during childhood as it can have an effect of the Lord of the Rings. A recommendation from Searsol is to try to get up to 25 words per minute (really good typing speed for exams for students with laptop extensions). Searsol offers typing courses to help you with this. A free trial assessment at any of our course centers can be booked at

Laptop for exams


Now that you have been awarded a laptop exemption to type out your Junior or Leaving cert – what do you do next?

Searsol after school touch typing classes
Searsol after school touch typing classes

Now that you have been awarded a laptop exemption to type out your Junior or Leaving Cert – what next?

Having to sit through State exams answering questions with pen and paper for hours at a time is all very well for those for whom writing poses no problems, but what about students who struggle to form letters and words?

Thankfully the Irish State Examinations Commission registers the fact that many students today have difficulty with writing. In recognition of this and the fact that typing is now the accepted professional version of writing, exemptions are now readily available for those seeking to type rather than write their exam responses.

If you or your child has already been awarded an exemption to use a laptop/word processor for your Junior/Leaving Cert due to a handwriting impairment, here at Searsol we extend our congratulations.

For those still in the process of applying for the exemption, please note that the Department of Education will be looking for proof that your child can, or is in the process of learning how to type. At the end of the day, the exemption will be granted on the basis that your child’s typing skills are better than their handwriting skills.

Searsol touch-typing courses

In order to ensure your child masters correct touch-typing skills, Searsol runs a series of after-school touch-typing classes for children and young adults that are designed to help each individual learn correct touch-typing practice at their own pace.

Searsol provides touch typing courses nationwide. Our classes are delivered in a classroom setting. We use our own touch typing tutor Typewiz which consists of a series of lessons to help students advance from beginner to proficient touch typist. Tutors work individually and collectively with students to help them progress through the course in order to gain proficiency. They are monitored by trained tutors who check that they are doing the correct finger placement.

Students can revise over previously completed exercises at home using their own login details.

Please feel free to get in touch with your nearest Searsol provider – course details are available here on our website.

Typewiz is also available to access from the home. You can sign up to Typewiz by going to

Exemption guidelines

According to the guidelines for State exams, as set out by the State Examinations Commission, the use of mechanical aid, such as a word processor, is appropriate where it can be established that a candidate’s ability to produce a legible script is compromised.

There are two separate categories under which a student may be deemed eligible for this exemption from handwriting, as follows:

  1. Illegible handwriting – which renders a script unintelligible due to the frequency of spelling/grammar/punctuation errors.
  2. Slow writing – where the rate of writing is so slow that it renders a student unable to complete exams.

In order to apply for an exemption from writing, students must submit a completed Junior Certificate/Leaving Certificate reasonable accommodations application form, outlining the particular difficulty, and this must be signed by the school principal.

The Commission accepts the school’s confirmation on the application as sufficient evidence to permit an exemption.

Once you have been awarded your exemption to use a word processor, you will also be exempt from having your exam answer assessed in regard to spelling, punctuation, or grammar. This applies specifically to exams in any language subject (Irish, English, French, Spanish, etc). However, students granted the use of a word processor must ensure spell-check and autocorrect are turned off.

Further info on Reasonable Accommodations for Junior and Leaving Certificate Examinations can be found on

New developments

The State Examinations Commission now approves exemptions for Junior Cert students can also be carried through at Leaving Certificate.

Prior to this students had to make fresh applications for each exam.

The Commission also agreed that exemptions can be granted in cases where dyslexia has not been formally diagnosed. Welcoming this progress, the Dyslexia Association of Ireland issued a statement, as follows:

The Dyslexia Association of Ireland (DAI) welcomes some much-needed positive changes to the implementation of Reasonable Accommodations for the Junior and Leaving Certificate. The DAI has lobbied and advocated for a change to this unfair and unnecessarily stressful system for many years and is pleased that students with dyslexia and their parents will be operating under a fairer system from now on.

The accommodations are intended to limit the impact of the candidate’s disability on their exam performance, while not giving the candidate an unfair advantage.

The options students with dyslexia can apply for if they meet the criteria are:
• Access to a Reader
• Use of a Recording Device or Word Processor/Laptop
• Access to a Scribe
• Waiver from the assessment of spelling, grammar, and punctuation in the language subjects

The Association noted two key changes to the 2017 Reasonable Accommodations at Certificate Examinations (RACE) scheme, as follows:

  1. Reasonable Accommodations that were granted for the Junior Certificate will now be reactivated at Leaving Certificate level. This is on the condition that the school can confirm that the student still has an identified and continuing need. This means that the State Examinations Commission (SEC) will, in most cases, accept the reactivation recommendations from the school and there should be no need for further testing of attainment levels.
  2. Previous to these changes dyslexic students applied for RACE under the category of ‘Specific Learning Difficulty’. This category has now changed to ‘Learning Difficulty’. In light of this change cognitive/IQ scores are no longer required or a formal SLD/dyslexia diagnosis. This means that more students will be able to access accommodations, e.g. students who perhaps haven’t yet had a formal diagnosis of dyslexia, as well as students with more general or multiple learning difficulties.

The Dyslexia Association further notes that at present, the only assistive technology option available to a student with dyslexia is a word processor/laptop.

However, it is important to note that the SEC has stated that it is open to individual applications made through the school for the use of other assistive technology provided it meets the following criteria:
It must be already being used by the student (therefore the student could use their own equipment and there would be no additional cost to its approval for use in a State exam.)
• The SEC is satisfied that is will not jeopardise the integrity of the exam.
• It requires no development work from the SEC in relation to its exam papers.


The Association offers the following advice to students who have yet to apply for exemptions:

Applications Process

All applications for RACE will be made through the school using a common set of forms. You must indicate on the forms that you are making an application under ‘Learning Difficulty’ if you are dyslexic. There are separate sets of application forms for Junior and Leaving Certificate and they have separate application deadlines.

The following are the forms that must be filled out in relation to RACE at Junior Certificate level:

RACE Scheme Junior Certificate Application Form (RA5) – This is the standard application form for RACE at Junior Certificate Level.
RACE Scheme Junior Certificate Late Applications Form (RA6) – This form is used for late RACE applications.

The following are the forms that must be filled out in relation to RACE at Leaving Certificate level:

RACE Scheme Leaving Certificate Reactivation Form (Form RA1) – This should be used when applying for the reactivation of accommodations from Junior Certificate. It is also acceptable to use this form to apply for the use of a word processor rather than a scribe if a scribe was granted at Junior Certificate.

RACE Scheme Leaving Certificate Application for New Accommodations (Form RA2). This form can be used to apply for RACE for students who meet the criteria but did not receive any accommodations in their Junior Certificate OR where a student needs additional accommodations to the ones that were granted at Junior Cert.

Race Scheme Leaving Certificate Late Application Form (Form RA3). This form can be used to make a late application for RACE at Leaving Certificate. It should be noted that there is still a deadline for late applications and that schools will have to furnish the SEC with a reason for the application being submitted late.

Further information on laptop exemptions

The Dyslexia Association of Ireland carries further up-to-date details on its website regarding exemptions open to students entering third-level, as follows:

Accommodations at Third Level

Many third-level colleges and examination bodies make provision for dyslexic students taking written exams.  These provisions can include being given extra time, being allowed to use a word processor/computer, having the specific difficulty is taken into account when marking the exam paper, etc.

Students should consult with the Disability Officer in their college, their Tutor, or Course Director, to find out precisely what provisions may be available.

Please contact your nearest Searsol after school typing centre for details on our touch-typing classes to ensure your child has the chance to perform at their best in State exams. Your child can also access from the comfort of your home. Go to for more details.