Vector image of a man sitting at a desk using an iPad.

How to use Guided Access for testing

How my professors and test proctors use Guided Access for testing exams so I can use approved applications on my personal iPad without breaking the honor code.

Since I frequently use my iPad in the classroom to make applications and materials accessible for my visual impairment, it’s only natural that I use my iPad on tests and exams as well. Since having unrestricted access to my iPad during exams goes against the honor code, I use a tool called Guided Access that ensures I have access to the tools I need, and my professor can ensure I don’t have access to anything they don’t want me to. Here is how to use Guided Access for testing and exam proctoring, and how it helps me as a student with low vision.

What is Guided Access?

Guided Access is a setting on the iPad that allows a user to “freeze” their screen on a specific app. While Guided Access is enabled, the user can’t navigate away from the app they are using or interact with other settings until the time limit is over (if enabled) or a passcode unrelated to the iPad passcode is typed in. Users can also choose to enable or disable the following functions:

Guided access does not disable accessibility settings such as VoiceOver, large print, or otherwise affect the display of the device.

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How to enable Guided Access

From the Apple website

Set up Guided Access

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility, then turn on Guided Access.
  2. Tap Passcode Settings, then tap Set Guided Access Passcode.
  3. Enter a passcode, then re-enter it. From here, you can also turn on Face ID or Touch ID to end a Guided Access session.

Start a Guided Access session

  1. Open the app that you want.
  2. Triple click the home button, or for devices without a power button, triple click the side button or power button
  3. If you want parts of your screen to stop responding to touch, use one finger to circle those areas. You can move or resize the circle, or tap the X to remove it.
  4. Tap Guided Access, then tap Start.

To start a Guided Access session with Siri, open the app that you want, then tell Siri “Turn on Guided Access.”

End a Guided Access Session

Triple-click the Side or Home button, enter your Guided Access passcode, then tap End. Or if you turned on Touch ID or Face ID for Guided Access, double-click the Side or Home button.

Adding Guided Access as an accommodation

Guided Access for classroom/college accommodations

For my college Disability Services file, I have an accommodation that states I can use my personal assistive technology in the classroom and testing environments. The Disability Services Testing Center enforces this accommodation by having me use Guided Access on my iPad so they can monitor what technology I am using and when, and the testing proctor sets it up for me. I do not have accommodations to use any specific application since the technology requirements for my classes vary so much. The Disability Services Testing Center requires that my device be in Airplane Mode so that I cannot access Bluetooth or wifi, and they clear the cache/data of the application before exiting Guided Access.

I explain Guided Access to my professors as a way for me to use my iPad during tests without having an unfair advantage over other students. After all, it makes sense for me to use familiar technology in a testing environment so that I can best demonstrate my knowledge about a topic without having to take a test and balance using unfamiliar technology at the same time. I take my tests in the Disability Services Testing Center whenever possible because the proctor is more familiar with assistive technology.

Guided Access for standardized testing

For standardized testing in high school, I received permission to use a specific application, such as a calculator on a school iPad with Guided Access enabled. A paraprofessional or other person who was not proctoring the test would enable Guided Access for me in advance.

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What types of apps work best with Guided Access?

While any app can be used with Guided Access, apps that do not require internet access or have ads work best in testing environments. I do not recommend using Guided Access with an internet browser app, as users can easily navigate to a different webpage if the search bar is not disabled.

Some of the ways I use my iPad with Guided Access during exams include:

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Other tips for how to use Guided Access for Testing

By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes,

Updated October 2023; original post published February 2018.

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