Rumors abound that rubbing lip balm on a Scantron check sheet will develop a perfect score.

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Published22 December 2006

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Our deeply ingrained and devoutly cherished need to believe in the chimera the “something because that nothing” freebies manifests itself in this widely-believed little of great lore. According to the behind-the-hand whispers of confident pupils from grade college through college and university, Scantron machines can be fooled right into recording false optimistic results top top the test sheets processed with them when those sheets have been treated v a selection of lip products, including ChapStick, Carmex, lip gloss, and also all-purpose Vaseline petroleum jelly.

Sometimes the rumor is specific as to where on the answer sheet the additive is to it is in stealthily swiped (e.g., over the balloon themselves, or follow me the black marks the resemble a bar password along the sheet’s side), but sometimes the isn’t, leaving the advantage-seeking test-taker at a loss regarding where the or she is supposed to apply the slippery goo:

I am composing to ask around a rumor that I’ve heard due to the fact that probably elementary school school. In California, every student must take a standardized test annually of school. In 8 hours grade, a rumor spread across our college that if you used chapstick to your answer sheet (which were supposed to it is in bubbled in with #2 pencil) that all the answers would be marked as correct. Mine boyfriend said that that heard the rumor native classmates in ~ his institution as well. Deserve to this be true?

Around mine high school, the well-known theory was the if you put chapstick under the scoring area (where the computer marks the wrong concerns with red lines) that the computer would score the test as perfect. I never attempted this, but as much as I might figure out, if friend filled in the box at the height of the check labled ‘key’, the computer system would assume that your test to be the teachers key. Too poor for all the people behind you, though.

You know how when you take a test you have to use one of those scantron things? Well, the scantrons are very sensitive. Just a smudge deserve to turn a appropriate answer into a dorn one and also (supposedly) a wrong one right into a best one.

There’s these tiny black dashes alongside each ABCDE/FGHIJ and, if you put lip enjoyment (vaseline, chapstick, whatever) on every dash (running your greased finger under the next of the scantron) you’ll mess up the scantron and each of her answers will be significant right.

While us don’t know how long this belief has been component of the canon of student lore, sightings of that have showed up on the net in the mid-1990s. That believed and also acted upon, too: a number of people have reported seeing other test-takers attempt the ruse.

Yet the plan doesn’t work. Scantron devices optically feeling marks do on the creates passed through them, comparing the bubbles darkened by test-takers come those of the ideal “answer keys” because that each test. If anything, added or extraneous marks on check sheets more likely prompt a result opposite to the one seek by the cheater: inquiries answered appropriately will be scored as incorrect.

Attempts to transform how Scantron Optical mark Recognition (OMR) machines assess test creates (such as coloring in locations of the form in addition to or in place of the answer bubbles) will typically prompt the maker to spit out the form, v a blog post to the instructor the “Read Error: Hand Grade.” Hand-scoring the suspect forms generally brings to light every little thing measures (e.g., ChapStick) the cheater to be attempting to use.

Lore regarding supposed techniques of beating the Scantron maker is not minimal to the smearing the lip commodities on check forms. One other swears about 1965 the encountered a rumor the connecting all the marks on the next of the sheet through a pencil or pen would produce the magic perfect score. Another person report in 1997 that while in college he’d heard shading answers an extremely lightly v a number #2 pencil would defeat the system.

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These methods also fail to carry out the quick and also easy “A” students desire for. Indeed, had any type of of this widely-rumored methods ever before worked, the system would long since have been modified to get rid of the loopholes. The one truism around a schoolyard secret is the it no remain secret very long.