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Every teacher needs to plan for an upcoming exam, but when you teach large sections, you need to plan meticulously. With classroom sizes of over 500 students remaining common, preparing for a midterm or final can be a daunting, administrative task for instructors teaching large class sections.

For large classes, multiple-choice questions are often used by instructors to reduce grading workload and promote timely student feedback. Online assessments, such as the Quizzes application found in Canvas, have become an increasingly popular means of testing; however, paper answer sheets, aka “scantrons,” remain a fixture at most universities, particularly in large class sections.

Twelve Tips to Help You on Your Next Exam

If you’re using answer sheets to grade your multiple-choice exam in a large lecture setting, there are many areas to consider, such as test reliability, exam security, test administration, score accuracy, and, let’s face it, cheating. Here are twelve tips to help you on your next exam:

1. Design an exam that considers the classroom testing time you have and the length needed to improve test reliability. Increasing the number and improving the quality of your questions will often increase reliability.

2. Create multiple versions of your exam

3. Be proactive in warning students about cheating. During your test, ask students to clear their desk and put away electronic devices.

4. Know the ways students can cheat on exams

5. Classroom seating charts are useful tools to curb cheating. Post your seating chart early enough to help students find their place but not too early that it allows for cheating.

6. Arrange a sufficient number of proctors for the exam

7. Arrive early to the lecture hall before the classroom testing begins

8. Provide clear instructions on filling answer sheets. Remind students to mark their student ID and test version on their answer sheet.

9. Collect exams and make sure all answer sheets have the test version and student ID marked. Students often mismark their student IDs and leave the test version blank, which can cause problems for the instructor

10. When students hand-in a completed exam, check if the ID on the answer sheets matches their school ID card.

11. Review data from scantrons for multiple marks, misread blanks, omitted answer keys, and missing student IDs. These are areas where there can be problems.

12. After test scoring but before releasing grades review your item analysis carefully to detect an error(s) in the answer key(s) and analyze the quality of your exam questions.

After the exam, the teacher and TAs collect the completed scantrons for scoring. At some universities, instructors and TAs process their scantrons while many other schools provide a centralized test scanning service. In most cases, the technology used is old and inflexible. A change in an answer key after scanning, missing student IDs, light or multiple marks, or omitted test versions from forms all create their own set of problems causing reoccurring trips to the grading software or a back-forth dialog with the scanning service. For a large class section of 500 students, traditional scantron software and forms can take an instructor up to 4 to 5 hours to finalize exam scoring.

Seamlessly integrated, GradeHub allows instructors to create, print, grade, and analyze multiple-choice tests taken on GradeHub–Answer Sheets all within Canvas. Classes, rosters, exams, and grades are all automatically synchronized to eliminate errors, save time, streamline administration, improve security, and promote timely feedback to instructors and students.

All testing centers or instructors need to use GradeHub is a regular scanner and web browser. That means instructors can grade exams and view reports from anywhere, at any time, on any device that has internet access.

GradeHub’s digital workflow of stored digital images and data from answer sheets dramatically reduces scoring problems and saves time. Instead of stopping a scanner or allowing marking errors to be included in grades, GradeHub takes a snippet of identified “errors” for the instructor to “verify.” Even for huge sections, the verification step takes only a few minutes. With GradeHub, you can have greater confidence in your exam results and see a time savings of up to 90% compared to processing your exams using a traditional approach with optical mark scanners and forms (aka, scantrons).

To learn more about how GradeHub is designed to help testing centers and IT teams effortlessly modernize their exam scanning service that will be welcomed by instructors and students visit GradeHub’s Canvas partner portal page or website.


Keep learning,

Mark Espinola
Founder + CEO, GradeHub


About: Mark is the Founder + CEO of GradeHub and a former division president of Scantron. For 20-years, he has helped educators with technology and assessment.