No. 2 pencils not required for exams 0
Companies spend millions of dollars each year trying to convince students to buy the latest tablet, laptop and tech accessory for school, but there is one old-fashioned product that doesn’t need advertising to land in every school bag: the No. 2 pencil.
The advent of Scantron optical mark recognition test forms in 1972 ensured that the already popular No. 2 pencil would thrive throughout this digital age, but its popularity is now based more on history than functionality.
When the Scantron system was first introduced, results were processed by beaming light through the forms, which meant the forms could only be one-sided. The graphite in a No. 2 pencil was the ideal medium to make dark spots on a page that would block the light from passing through. Other pencils could be used on the Scantron forms, but because lighter pencil marks made with No. 3 or No. 4 pencils were not always read properly and No. 1 pencils were more likely to smudge, the use of the No. 2 pencil was recommended.
Today, Scantron systems scan forms using sensors, which capture dark spots like a camera takes pictures. This allows forms to be double-sided. Test-takers no longer need to worry about having the right type of pencil since the system can read most graphite or ink markings with accuracy. The only ink that should be avoided is one that closely resembles the colour used to print the forms since this colour is ignored by the system when reading the results; for example, blue ink should not be used on a blue Scantron form.
Although the No. 2 pencil is now an unnecessary tool to bring to the examination room, pencils are still recommended over pens to correct mistakes. Rest assured that modern Scantron scanners are precise enough to disregard the smudges and leftovers of erased answers. Several studies have also shown that when students change their response in a multiple-choice question, more often than not they replace it with the correct answer.
Additional tip: In European pencil grades, B stands for “Black” and H stands for “Hard.” More Bs equate to a softer darker lead, and more Hs mean a harder lighter lead.