Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why we really do need scantrons!

Most schools buy Scantron sheets by the thousands, and the cost per year must be over $1 000 as each pack of 500 are approximately $100. I was thinking that there must be other uses of scantrons other than their traditional use for this amount of annual costs.  After doing some thinking I am now a believer that Scantron sheets do have a place in schools and below is a list, divided by subjects, for which you can use scantron sheets:  I do apologize they are broken up by subject not grade.


·         Provide each student with a scantron sheet and ask them to guess which would be the correct answer to the first question, if you were unable to see the question..  Talk about the percentage of the students in the class which would have guessed correctly.  Extend this to two questions and so on.  You can then talk about the math behind probability.

·          Turn the scantron side ways and draw graphs.  A constant graph would be were all the answers were A, an oscillating graph would go ABCDCBA….  I bet there are many different graphs which could be drawn.  You could then talk about slope, absence of concavity and so on.

·         Using the scantron, you could create a ratio of Surface Area to Volume, or perimeter to Surface area, and so on.

·         You could talk about the costs of buying scantrons and create a Cost graph and calculate the slope and y-intercept and explain what do these values mean.


·         Have younger students read the instructions on the scantron sheet and have them explain to a classmate what the instructions mean.

·          For students learning the alphabet, have them create the different letters by connecting the dots on a scantron in different formations.  (“U” might be a tricky letter!)

Other languages (French, Spanish, etc):

·         Have students translate the meaning of the instructions on the scantron sheet into the desired language.


·         Push a marble down the floor and ask the class to estimate the number of scantron sheets, vertically, it would take to stop the marble.  Increase the speed of the marble and estimate again.  Extend this to the problem “How many scantrons would stop a car going 30 km/h?”  (I would like to know this answer?)

·          Talk about the air resistance as you drop a scantron from a desk to the floor, and then ask “Would the same action occur if this was a vacuum?”


·         Determine how much water one scantron can hold by weighing 20 of them dry and then soaking them in water and comparing the weight difference.

·         Take one scantron and light in on fire.  Talk about the combustion of paper.  You can extend this by dipping the scantron in different liquids and talk about the difference in speed of ignition.


·         Instead of using construction paper, have students cut up Scantron sheets and art with them.  They can be colored on, and easily cut!

·         Have them draw a picture only by connecting the dots on the Scantron.

The best part of these activities is that you don’t need a scantron machine ($5000) to do them…oh don’t even need the scantrons!!

However, if you have other activities, I invite you to share below!

Happy Marking!


  1. Obligatory Joke: Does anybody else ever fill out a scantron sheet and think this would make an epic guitar hero solo?

  2. Great ideas for using scantrons. I once saw someone connect the dots to make a Christmas tree instead of taking the test. There's a lot of potential with scantrons.