Disabling Spellcheck for Exams

Read this if you are running a language assessment, or another kind of exam where you need to disable candidate's ability to use spellcheck tools such as Grammarly.

All modern browsers include some form of built-in spelling and grammar check tools. By default, these spellcheckers are enabled in Synap exams. However, if you are running an exam where part of what is being assessed, is the candidate's spelling ability, then naturally you may want to disable these tools.

To do this, when creating a Cloze Text, or a Free Text question on Synap, you can enable the 'Disable Spellcheck' option. This is set on a per-question (as opposed to a per-exam) level in case you want to have different settings for different questions.

When this setting is enabled, built-in browser spellcheckers will be disabled for that question.

However - it is important to note that, unfortunately some 3rd party extensions, such as Grammarly, do not always respect this setting. The 'disable spellcheck' feature is a web-standard that is meant to tell the browser that a certain input field 'does not need' spellchecking, but it was not intended as a security feature to actively prevent users from seeking spellchecking if they wanted to.

Naturally, in an exam environment the situation is different and it is understandable that you may want to take additional measures to actively prevent any kind of spellchecking.

There are some solutions coming in the near future that will allow us to disable such tools during an exam - however at the moment there is no reliable way to do this. If spellchecking is a critical part of your exam, and you want to have additional certainty that no tools are being used then we recommend:

  1. Enabling the 'disable spellcheck' feature as described above

  2. Enable Synoptic proctoring for your exam, which will record the user's screen for the duration of the exam, allowing you to check for the use of such tools

  3. Use your Exam instructions to inform candidates that they must not use 3rd party spellchecking tools such as Grammarly, and that use of such tools, if detected, will be marked as cheating. Candidates can disable Grammarly, and other tools, for a particular website by clicking on the extension and going into it's settings.

If you have any questions about this ahead of your exams please get in touch with us and we'd be happy to advise further :)

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