5 Bubble Sheet Tips

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1. Bring a good eraser to the test. Bubble sheet readers are pretty sensitive, so you have to be very careful about changing your answers. When you erase one bubble and fill in another, you run the risk of getting the question marked wrong because the reader thinks you’ve answered twice. You want to be able to erase the wrong answer as completely as possible. Old, dry erasers don’t work well—so they will cost you valuable points.

2. Follow bubble instructions. It sounds so simple, yet it proves to be the downfall of many, many students. Every single, solitary time a group of students takes a bubble-in test, there will be a few students who just don’t fill in the bubbles completely!

Students also go a little haywire and overfill the bubbles—which means they scribble outside the lines completely and make the response unreadable. This is just as disastrous.

Both misdeeds cost you points. Think about it: you sweat over each math question and work so hard to get each one right. Yet you don’t take care to fill in the bubble all the way? It’s plain self-destructive behavior!

3. Make sure your answers match the questions. The classic bubble sheet mistake is the misalignment booboo. Students get “off” by a questions or two and (for example) end up marking question five’s answer in question six’s bubble. If you don’t catch this mistake, you can end up mis-marking an entire test booklet.

4. Do a section at a time. One way to keep yourself on track and avoid the misalignment booboo is to fill in the bubbles for one page-worth of questions at a time. In other words, start on page one and read each question on that page, and circle or mark the correct answers in your test booklet.

Once you get to the last question on a page, then fill in the bubbles for that entire page.

This way you are filling in 4 or 5 answers at a time, so you are constantly checking your alignment.

5. Don’t overthink and second guess. If you finish a portion of a test and you are sitting there with ten minutes to kill, practice some self-control. Don’t be tempted to re-think every answer. There are two reasons this is a bad idea. First of all, it’s a good idea to stick with your first gut feeling. People who overthink tend to change right answers to wrong answers.

The second reason it’s a bad idea goes back to the bubble-erase problem. You can make a mess of your bubble sheet when you start changing your answers.