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Does Putting Chapstick On A Scantron Test Work?

There are rumors that if you put chapstick on a scantron test, then the machine will mark all the right answers for you. This is in no way true because putting chapstick on a scantron test is a sure way to fail your test.

Does Putting Chapstick On A Scantron Test Work

When it comes to scantron tests or any tests at all, people are eager to find a way to score higher with the least amount of effort and so several rumors start to spread, a lot of which are wrong. The scantron chapstick trick is one of such false rumors.

What Is Scantron?

A scantron is a type of device that is used to scan or examine previously prepared sheets of paper, used for multiple-choice or true-or-false tests. It is also used to refer to the kind of thin sheets of paper that are used with scantron machines.

The principle behind the working of the scantron machine is, with a special Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) software that checks and records the dark marks made along or on the scantron paper. The OMR makes use of light beams with which it scans the scantron paper and “observes” the points on the paper where the dark marks appear. The answers on scantron papers are to be made using a specific type of pencil with really dark lead so it can be visible and easily recognized by the machine.

Chapstick Scantron Cheat: Is It Possible?

People have a way of finding ways to skirt around rules and bend them a bit so it can favor them. This supposedly ingrained habit has been in existence since time immemorial and is shown clearly in our day-to-day activities. In education, you can be sure that this habit is displayed in abundance, and at almost every turn – after all, if there is a rule to follow, then there is someone to bend or completely flout it.

In scantron tests, students (and a large number of people) believe that putting chapstick on a scantron test paper can make the machine “malfunction” in a way that favors a student. The belief is that if you mark your answers or answer sheet with chapstick, then the scantron machine will be fooled into marking the correct answers as correct, and even mark the wrong ones as correct.

The chapstick scantron trick has been around since as far back as the 1900s (where its use and mentions have even been found on the internet), and since then, there has been no shortage of students who have tried the trick and have shared the idea with other students.

The Chapstick On Scantron Trick: What Is It?

Most likely created and propagated by students, the chapstick on scantron trick is one of the most popular “ways to pass your scantron test”. According to the rumors, there are several ways you can play it. If you ask me, the ways of applying this trick are so random and not well thought out.

One says if you roll your chapstick on the answers you have marked, then it will fool the machine into marking all your answers correctly. The basis (and even exact origin) of this rumor is unknown, so if you choose to do this, be prepared for things to go south.

Another variation of the scantron test chapstick rumor is that if you run your chapstick along the black notches on the left-hand side of the scantron paper, then the machine will give you a perfect score because it’s unable to read the paper.

A third variation of where to put the chapstick is to smear or dab it on all the bubbles on the paper. The logic behind this appears to be that if the OMR software in the scantron machine cannot read or recognize the chapstick, then it can’t mark your answers as wrong. Another way this one is explained is, the smooth nature of the chapstick will somehow fool the scantron machine into marking your test answers as right.


Chapstick On Scantron: Is It Worth To Use?

Chapsticks are perfect for chapped lips, splinters, and a host of other things, but one thing is for sure: scantron and chapstick are not a good mix. Putting chapstick on a scantron, as famed as it is as a tested and trusted way to pass all your scantron tests, has several side effects.

The most common and most fatal side effect of this combination is that you will fail all your scantron tests. Since the scantron scans the dark markings you make on the piece of paper, anything other than that is either flagged as wrong or flagged as an error.

An error message translates to either of two things. First, your paper could be rejected by the machine, leading to a series of chain reactions, and second, your paper could be accepted as normal, but then the markings would cause the machine to mark your correct answers as wrong. Either way, an error message is almost always a verdict that you have automatically failed the test, or that you tampered with your test sheet before turning it in.

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What Happens If You Put Chapstick On A Scantron?

As it has already been established that putting lip balm on Scantron is a sure way to have your test invalidated, here’s a bit of information on what happens when you put chapstick on a scantron.

  1. You’ll most likely be caught by the examiner. There’s no way you’ll be able to hide the greasy feeling of chapstick on a scantron test, so be prepared to take on the risk that you will be caught.
  2. The kind of OMR software applied in scantron machines can only read and recognize dark and light marks. If for some reason you go ahead with the scantron chapstick trick, the machine would simply gloss over your clear chapstick markings because it won’t recognize it.
  3. If somehow you don’t get caught by an examiner or a teacher, putting chapstick on a scantron is a sure way to get the machine to stop working temporarily because scantron and chapstick don’t go so well together. When the machine stops working, then someone would have to check it out, and when they find that your paper seems suspicious, there are bound to be some questions.
  4. Perhaps your paper gets through these three steps without you getting busted, you are still not in the clear yet. If your paper gets into the machine without a hitch, it still has to be read by the machine before you can pass.

The problem with the reading is, the scantron machine is configured in such a way that it reads any light and/or dark markings on the paper (other than the original design of the paper), and translates them as either right or wrong. If for some reason your chapstick marks the paper, the machine would translate it as wrong, rather than right. This is especially so if you mark in areas where you should not mark.

Now you have this wealth of information, and your mind has been opened. If by some chance you missed the answer to the question “does chapstick on a scantron work?” Then the answer is a resounding no.

If you feel like you have to test the theory for yourself before you accept it to be false, then it would be best to use either a test you wouldn’t mind failing (if such a thing exists) or using scantron sheets that you have lying around, so you don’t fail any tests. If putting chapstick on scantron papers worked, then the fuss students have made about it would have attracted the attention of school authorities, and schools would have tried it out for themselves, and tackled the issue already.