Monday, April 16, 2018

It's OK to forget your number 2 pencil

My husband and I - who are only a few years apart - went to the same high school. And because of that, we have the same stories about our school's relationship with scantron sheets. We fondly recall how they were often reused (make sure you start this test at number 51, or you'll get all the answers wrong), and how sensitive they were (number 2 pencils were required and you have to fill in the circle completely).

We have known for some time that those beloved scantrons were a thing of the past. But, what I hadn't realized is that students are now taking the SAT and ACT digitally, as in no pencils required to fill in the bubble answer grids.

Of course this would make sense - most high school students have taken at least one major test online. But, in my heart of hearts, I am a little saddened that students will no longer know the joy of looking at the weird patterns their bubbles are forming on the answer sheet and making sure they are aligned with the correct question or completely erasing all the stray marks so that their score isn't negatively affected.

At my son's age now, he uses a lot of websites (I have even argued that it is too many websites) but he still takes his tests on paper. I am not sure how much longer that will last or if it will bother him to make the transition from paper to screen. Interestingly for those students who are starting to take those major exams online, they may need to take them several times to get the best possible score as most practice tests and courses still use the pencil and paper versions to prepare.

So, by the time my son reaches that stage of his education, this will probably be no big deal to him. But I will still think fondly of my sharpened number 2 pencils and the scrap paper needed to work out the math problems I couldn't do in my head.

Is your child used to taking online tests? Tell me in the comments.

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