Chapstick Lets You Cheat on Scantron Tests

Status: Urban Legend
Here's an odd urban legend that I just stumbled across. Supposedly if you smear chapstick down the side of a scantron sheet (the kind used for standardized tests such as the SAT), the grading machine will mark all your answers correct. The theory is that the chapstick will interfere with the scanning light, confusing it into thinking that your answers are correct. Needless to say, this doesn't work.

Some guy named Richard Mangahas has written a short article detailing all kinds of theories about ways to cheat on scantron tests, including: marking or deleting the black lines along the side of the page, filling in the bubbles with cross-hatches, or placing tape along the side of the page. I don't think any of these methods would work either. (Though Mangahas claims some of them work 25-30% of the time... which is about the same percentage you would expect from guessing at the right answer.)

Maybe it was kids armed with chapstick that caused all those SAT-test score errors recently.

Technology Urban Legends

Posted on Tue Apr 11, 2006


I'm in a few AP classes and these tricks work like a charm. It's great being able to chat and text through all my classes and then go get a random award for honor roll. I don't have to waste time studying and I'm able to focus on sports instead.
Posted by average student  on  Thu May 27, 2010  at  07:36 PM
These methods won't work. Bubbling answer key doesn't work. The way the machines at my school work, you have to load the answer key first. Then every test after is scored by that key-even if I send a second answer key through the machine. If I want to grade a different test, I have to actually turn off the machine and turn it back on to do so.
Posted by teacher  on  Fri May 28, 2010  at  12:40 PM
hey the chapstick thing actually worked for me! i got 100% on all the scantrons i took in my school
Posted by Joe Jackson  in  Manhattan  on  Sat Aug 07, 2010  at  04:48 PM
Why wouldn't you study? Cheating won't get you far in life losers.
Posted by adfasf  in  dasf  on  Thu Oct 14, 2010  at  03:07 PM
Seriously guys I have a really good method that works most of the time. Do you know what it is? studying... open the god damn book once in a while.
Posted by actual-student  on  Wed Mar 02, 2011  at  04:18 PM
If time is running out, Is it better to leave blanks or randomly fill in circles
Posted by Judy Balthrop Thomas  in  Dallas  on  Fri May 25, 2012  at  04:20 PM
Sorry everyone - but chapstick is only good for healing your lips. It does nothing for getting better grades or a perfect score on a Scantron scanner. At best, it may prevent the form from being read by the machine, and then a pissed off teacher may have to hand score the test. I would rather get the machine scored grade then the pissed off teacher grade!

Don't throw away your chapstick - it's great in the winter. Just don't waste it by putting it on your Scantron forms.

The best way to do well on a Scantron scored test? STUDY!
Posted by Scantron Engineer  in  NJ  on  Fri Sep 06, 2013  at  12:17 PM
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