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"Murphy was an optimist!"

Beating the system – Standardized tests January 18, 2006 5:14 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Of Interest
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Saw this on digg.com. I wonder how long it will take this document on beating Scantron to go through the schools. Scantrons are those answer sheets that you color in the circle with a number 2 pencil. The document talks of “hacks” like coloring over the black line beside the question to make the machine skip that question when grading. Or running chapstick down the length of the paper to cause the Scantron to give it 100% on the premise that it can find no questions to grade.

We used to be told that if you are in doubt, guess C. Now I suppose you guess C and, cross hatch A, B and D, and scribble over the black line beside the question.

From the Digg.com comments:

Ah well folks, just to prevent the small proportion of teenyboppers here who are gullible but otherwise reasonable, I’ll just note for the record that this is a complete laugh to teachers, at least my fellow college professors. The teacher can program the Scantron machine to grade any way he likes: it can subtract 1 for each wrong answer and do nothing for a skipped or unreasonable answer (which is on what this poor naif relies), or, of course, it can do nothing for a right answer, subtract 1 for a clearly wrong answer, and subtract 55 for each unreadable answer. It’s completely up to the teacher when he fires up the machine. Plus, of course, he can easily ask the machine to report which forms had unreadable answers. Indeed, it normally does this.

Most of my colleagues would get pissed at an unreadable Scantron, because it has to be graded by hand. I do. In fact, if I find a Scantron that’s been deliberately screwed up — with holes cut in it, ha ha, or filled out improperly, I just assign a zero to the whole thing. Zap! That works out very well — after the first test and a few poor fools are horrified by getting a zero (and there are always a few, who are are very shocked to find a professor is perfectly entitled to assign you a zero even if you know the material) — everyone is very, very careful to fill the wretched things out carefully and neatly.

So, you know, do what you gotta do. But be warned, eh?

The document doesn’t appear on Snopes but it doesn’t sound like any of it should work. Parents be warned! Your kids might be duped into trying such silliness.

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