Digital Test Environment

The Matriculation Examination is organised digitally. The first digital tests were held in the autumn of 2016 in geography, philosophy and German language. The last test to become digital were the mathematics test in spring 2019. From then on traditional paper tests have no longer been organised.

The digital examination makes it possible to use more materials with test items: pictures, video and audio. Candidates are not limited to a browser-based test system that only records their answers. The laptop they are using has a variety of applications that are also used in teaching. For example, a test item may contain spreadsheet data which must be analysed using some of the statistical tools, and then be used as part of the answer.

Candidates’ laptops may be their own (bring-your-own-device, BYOD) or borrowed from the school. So far more than 2,000 different laptop models have been used. At the start of a test, candidates boot into a Linux operating system from a USB memory that is delivered to schools by the Matriculation Examination Board. Due to the tailored operating system, candidates cannot access their local files and programmes but only those applications and materials that are pre-installed on the operating system.

Casio ClassPad Managersymbolic computation (CAS)commercial, available in the Matriculation Examination and Abitti
Diavector graphicsfree, open source
Geogebrasymbolic computation (CAS)free, open source
GIMPgraphics editorfree, open source
InkScapevector graphicsfree, open source
LibreOfficeword processing, spreadsheet, presentations, vector graphicsfree, open source
LoggerProanalysis of measurement datacommercial, available in the Matriculation Examination but not in Abitti
MarvinSketchstructural formulas in chemistrycommercial, free for students and teachers, available in the Matriculation Examination and Abitti
Pintagraphics editorfree, open source
Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CASsymbolic computation (CAS)commercial, available in the Matriculation Examination and Abitti
wxMaximasymbolic computation (CAS)free, open source
MAOL digital tablestable application for mathematics, physics and chemistrycommercial, available in the Matriculation Examination, restricted content in Abitti

Candidates’ computers are connected to the server via a local network which is typically wired. The network is not connected to the Internet. Candidates get the test questions and attached materials via a browser which connects to the test system. The test system runs on the candidates’ own laptops and is connected to the local server. The reason for running a distributed self-contained test system instead of cloud-based architecture is to minimise the risk of technical difficulties during a test. Candidates’ answers and files are automatically backed up on the local server.

After the test, candidates’ answers are sent to the Matriculation Examination Board’s web service where they are marked and scored first by teachers and then by the Board’s censors. Since the local servers are not connected to the Internet, the answers are exported to a USB memory and later uploaded to the web service. A similar method is used to deliver the test items from the Board to the test sites.

In order to help upper secondary schools to practise for the digital examination, the Matriculation Examination Board has developed a digital course exam system Abitti (in Finnish) in parallel with the digital examination. Its functions and tools are similar to those used in the Matriculation Examination. Abitti offers a complete process for arranging a course exam: creating the USB sticks for students and servers, authoring test items, carrying out the course exam in the local network and assessing the students’ answers. By carrying out course exams made with Abitti, teachers and students have been able to practise the use of the digital examination system on beforehand.