Student FAQs - Scanning and Uploading Exams

This article mirrors the FAQ list for how students can submit a hand-written exam using their mobile phone.

Using Office Lens

It is possible to submit your written exam answers electronically using an app called Office Lens, which you can install and test ahead of time on your phone. It allows you to scan documents and save them locally or to the cloud as a PDF file (document) or JPG file (photo). It’s a versatile app for personal use as well as in your studies.

The app is available for iPhone/iOS, Android, and Windows devices. Visit your app store to download the app for free.


  • When you start using the app, you have the option to log in to your Office 365 account. This will allow you to save files to your OneDrive account at NUI Galway. You can also save the files locally to your device. Saving to OneDrive has the advantage that you’ll be able to access those scanned files on any other networked device (such as your laptop) and easily submit into Blackboard from there, for example.
  • Once the app is installed, try to scan a document by placing it on a dark background (like a table or desk). Choose ‘Document’ and try to line up the document as best you can. It will be important for the purposes of your exam that the scan is of good quality, and Office Lens can help with this when you practise using it. For example it can focus sharply and find the edges of the page (though be careful with this because it sometimes gets that a bit wrong at first).
  • Note that you can choose to bin/delete an image if it doesn’t come out clearly, rotate it, or crop it using the editing tools pictured below.
  • As your exam will contain multiple pages, it is better to try and save all of these in one single file.  Office Lens is perfect for this. When you scan your first page, click on ‘Add New’ (an option that appears in the bottom right).
  • On the iPhone you keep pressing Add New each time, but on Android you just press it once and keep hitting the main camera press button and you’ll see that it adds the pages into the one file.  Check this on your phone and make sure that you know how this aspect works.
  • When you are finished, choose ‘Done’.

Saving Your File

When all of your pages are scanned, you will be brought to a new window where you can name your file and save it.

  • If you have logged in to OneDrive correctly, you will see your Office ID (email) listed (see screenshot).
  • Name the file appropriately so that you can locate it in a search if you have to.
  • Choose to save as a PDF and save the file to OneDrive, or also to your phone.
  • You can also choose to email your file.
  • Your lecturer or other person managing the exam will tell you which method to use for submission(most likely Blackboard, with email backup).

Video walkthrough on Android phone

Video walkthrough on an iPhone

Using the Files App on iPhone

This section describes how to scan a handwritten exam paper using the Files App on iPhone

• If you are using an Apple iPhone with iOS13 installed, you can use the Files app to scan and save your exam paper locally on your device for an easy upload to Blackboard.

• You could also save to the cloud (i.e. your OneDrive account at NUI Galway) if you have set this up.

Files App

• Files is an iOS app that allows you to save, organise, and yes, even scan files on your iPhone.

• Locate it on your phone to get started. It is installed by default.

Locate the Scanner

• The scanning functionality isn’t obvious. You have to click the three dots on the top right of the app to display it.

• Once you select the dots, a pop up with Scan Documents should appear.

Scanning Documents

There are two options for scanning the pages of your exam. You can choose ‘Auto’ or click the camera button for each page. If using ’auto’, please be careful that the scan is not blurry. It is best to steady your hand and take use the camera button to capture each page.


You can view each scanned page by clicking on its thumbnail. This reveals it as pictured so that you can keep it or retake it.

Scanning Multiple Pages

• The scanner will allow you to keep scanning pages into one single file, just keep scanning each page and choose ‘Save’ when you are finished.

• You will note that the number of pages will be shown beside ‘Save’.

Naming and Saving Your File
Rename your file and choose to save it locally to your phone in the Files area. (You can save it to OneDrive if you wish)

Check Your Work
Open the .pdf file you have created in Files to see if it’s clear  and legible for your instructor to mark.

Uploading to Blackboard.
By saving the file locally to your iPhone, the simplest way to upload it is to use the Blackboard app. Go to the exam, and when you click into the assignment, choose to upload from Files.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I scan and upload my answers to Blackboard?

It  can be done using a number of possible apps on your phone. One such is Microsoft's Office Lens (see above) and this can also connect to your OneDrive account (use your university  Office365/email account for this). You can use this to scan multiple  pages into one PDF file. This file can be submitted using the Blackboard Student app (iOS or Android), or transferred from your phone to your computer and  submitted into Blackboard

Do students have to only use Microsoft Office Lens to scan their answers?

No.  We simply suggest this as a freely available app which runs on most  phones, which nicely integrates with OneDrive and has a number of  powerful features for handling documents. There are other apps available  (such as Adobe Scan), and indeed some of the scanning features are now  embedded in the core functionality of iOS and newer versions of  Android. For iOS13, for example, this is how you can use the Files app (see above).  The key point is to find something which works and produces legible,  decent quality final scanned images, and combines them into a single PDF  (preferred file type) for upload/submission..

I know a better way of scanning documents onto my phone. Can I use it?

Yes. See above. Make sure the quality is good, the images clear, properly arranged, and with all the pages scanned!

How good does the scan have to be?

Clear enough to be legible so that your lecturer can mark it as an  exam answer-book. Take care that you don't crop off sections, have poor  illumination, or miss out pages. The scan does not have to be at the  highest resolution settings of your phone's camera (some newer ones have  large image sizes) but it must be properly legible and clear. It is  also a good idea to number each of your pages, so that when you scan  them you can check they are in the right order, and this will help the  person marking the paper.

It is your responsibility to ensure that whatever you submit is legible and is complete.

Some suggestions on quality of the scans from a lecturer are here.

I am having problems saving to OneDrive on my phone.  What can I do?

This might be because you haven't installed or set up OneDrive properly  on your phone. Another possibility is that you have set up a new  personal OneDrive account and are using that instead of the one that is  provided to you by the University (technically this is 'OneDrive for  Business'). But don't worry, there are lots of options for transferring  the scanned file. You can save the scan as a PDF on your phone  and then upload that separately to your computer (via Bluetooth, USB,  wifi, other tools), or via the Blackboard app (see below), or via email  if necessary either to yourself and then upload that to Blackboard, or  to the lecturer (your lecturer will have given you information regarding  that possibility, if you need to use it).

I know a better way of transferring my scanned file onto my computer to upload to Blackboard. Can I use that?

Yes. Provided, of course, that you know what you are doing and are sure  that it works properly. All that matters is that you can submit a  properly scanned copy of your answers to Blackboard, and the exact route  you take to do this doesn't matter, provided it works and does not  introduce additional complexity/stress for you.

Can I upload the scanned file from my phone using the Blackboard App?

Yes. Provided that you can correctly find the Assignment link on the App  to this specific exam, and you know how to find the scanned file on  your phone's storage, then this can be a simple method. However, if you  are not sure about this or can't get the App running properly on your  phone, then please try to upload the file to your computer (or cloud  storage such as OneDrive) and submit through Blackboard in the normal  way. Your lecturer will have given you an option if you have any  problems submitting (most likely asking you to send a copy by email to a  specific address).

When I scan my papers the file size ends up being really large and it is taking ages to transfer. Can I change the file size?

Sometimes this can happen if you have a really excellent camera on your  phone and it is trying to take pictures at its full resolution. This  might be far better quality that is needed just for a simple document  scan for an exam (you only need it to be legible and clear, and probably  not in full colour either!). If you are using Office Lens on an  Android phone when you start it up you can find an option to change the resolution and  you can simply reduce this. Doing so might make things look less  detailed, however, and don't reduce it to a level in which it is  difficult to read your writing!! For the iPhone this option isn't  present in Office Lens but you can use the built-in scanner option in the Files app and it tends to save PDFs at smaller file sizes overall. There are also a number of websites and tools online that can compress PDFs. Many of these are free and work well, but be wary of those that ask for credit cards to sign up for a free trial!

How can I practice and try out this process in advance of the exam?

Your lecturer may well have organised some 'trial runs' of this process  and you should take part in these to get feedback/support targeted to  the particular needs of that module/course. There is also a space in  Blackboard which has been set up for students to practice uploads. You  can search on Blackboard for a module called Scan and Upload Test Module  then click on 'self-enrol' and you can use that to test out your  uploads. It won't give you feedback on the quality of your scan, but it  will let you try out the complete process and see that it can work. So  please try it out, going through each of the steps you need to scan,  transfer, upload, and submit. Do this before your exams to make sure you  are familiar with the process for when you have to do it in your actual  exam module.

If I have a desktop scanner (or one built in to my printer) can I use that instead of my phone?

Of course. It doesn't matter as long as your scans are clear, legible and saved as a single (multi-page) document (usually PDF).