That’s right—you can’t usage a mechanically pencil ~ above the ACT. Or the SAT. Or, in fact, a most standardized tests. Because that the SAT and ACT, however, utilizing a mechanical pencil might put her score in peril. The equipments that the test-makers use to mark the score sheets don’t choose up top top the markings. This way that lock won’t count her answers, even if they’re right—because they can’t see her answers.

The very same goes for pens. To be safe, constantly use a good old No. 2 pencil. Make certain it has a good eraser, too!

Why No. 2, though? Would making use of a mechanical pencil really do that much of a difference?

Yes. The short answer is the you can’t usage a mechanically pencil on the satellite or ACT due to the fact that answer sheet scanners are specifically calibrated to detect the marks made by a No. 2 pencil and mechanical pencils room not always regulated together No. 2. In addition, they space thin and prone to breaking, which way your marks might not be together readable together the thicker, darker marks friend can accomplish with one old-school number 2 pencil. The SAT and also ACT scoring equipments need to procedure score sheets fast, which way any sport might delay the process. For this reason take their word because that it and use a wood #2.

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But the long answer is far an ext interesting….

“Number one pencils EXIST?!” i asked my friend Crystal through confusion. She had actually just fail an exam because she offered a number 1 pencil to to fill in the bubbles. It turns out, there room actually a entirety scale of different pencil types, though countless of us room only acquainted with the trusty yellow No. 2.


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What Americans contact No. 2 is likewise called ‘HB’ in other parts of the world, follow to this comfortable chart.*


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All of these many different pencil numbers (and letters!) have varying degrees of darkness and also hardness when they note on paper. Pencils room made with graphite blended with a tiny clay to host the graphite together. With less clay blended in, the graphite tube in the center of the pencil is lot softer…which way that the note is darker, but also smudgy. Adding more clay come the blend renders the pencil harder. A harder pencil can be sharpened to a finer point, but due to the fact that there is much less graphite in the graphite-clay blend, the pencil renders a much lighter mark on the page.

The Perfect Balance

So, I existing to girlfriend the No. 2 pencil: the perfect balance in between dark enough graphite and also hard sufficient clay. However what’s the difficulty with mechanical pencils? “My mechanical pencils do use No. 2 graphite!” you can be shouting in my basic direction. An initial of all, it’s regularly much more tough to number out even if it is or not the graphite in a mechanically pencil is in reality No. 2. Many mechanical pencils nothing include any kind of kind the identification.

However, even those mechanical pencils that insurance claim to usage No. 2 arrive in those very thin, easily breakable cylinder shapes. The never-dull, constantly sharp fine allude that renders mechanical pencils so appealing, likewise make mechanically pencils an ext prone come breaking. But an ext importantly, they actually reason you to take longer filling in balloon on solution sheet! In fact, even continuous wooden pencils are ideal for scantron sheets as soon as they are just slightly dull. Slightly dull pencils make a more comprehensive mark ~ above paper, permitting you to fill in bubble much more quickly than with a thin line. Even if mechanically pencils were enabled for use on the SAT and ACT, you will do it actually conserve yourself some valuable time on the sat or action by making use of a continuous pencil rather of a mechanical pencil!

The clinical Method

In stimulate for your SAT and also ACT scores to typical anything come college and also university admissions, they need to be similar to other students’ scores. So, because that the SAT and ACT to make certain they carry out a fair and also accurate testing process, they require to regulate as countless variables together possible. Those variables encompass dates, time, and also even materials! everyone takes the test on the exact same test day, gets the very same amount the time because that each section, and uses the exact same test booklets and also answer sheets…and pencils. In order to ensure the ideal accuracy, check proctors room trained to look especially for things favor mechanical pencils and ask you to placed them away prior to the start of the test.

Most answer paper scanners room specifically calibrated to detect the marks make by a No. 2 pencil. Because the SAT and ACT must grade so many answer sheets, the equipments they use must be as fast as possible. One way of ensuring rate is to usage the exact same devices for every single exam. Plus, If the SAT and ACT are just grading the exact same size and weight of document with the exact same kind of marks, that is much less likely that misreading errors will occur, and also accuracy is an also more critical factor than speed!

Pencils Down!

“But i bet i can get away v it!” you could be protesting. You can have heard rumors of test takers using various other grade pencils, mechanical pencils, pens, or also colored pencils, through no errors. While other tools miiiight slide v undetected and still develop some exactly answers, it’s an unnecessary danger you don’t require to concern about.

Using anything various other than the encourage tool simply isn’t smart! If who told friend an easy method to get a higher score ~ above the sat or ACT, you will do listen, right? utilizing the recommended tool is a very easy way to for sure a more accurate score. Sat or ACT check day is not the moment to test the borders of what friend can acquire away with. That much far better to it is in safe than sorry on something as crucial as the sat or ACT.

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When decision accidentally used a #1 drawing pencil come fill out her scantron sheet, the device wasn’t calibrated to check out her responses. As result of the misreading errors on almost every line, the machine produced a really low grade. The course, Crystal’s teacher realized that the scanning machine hadn’t appropriately read the prize sheet, and Crystal was able to retake the exam. But, that won’t happen on an plot or SAT. Once your answer sheet is scored, she stuck! nothing potentially lower your score with a misread answer sheet when the SAT and ACT have currently told you precisely what you must use. Happy penciling! *If she curious, this is an almost right conversion from letter come number pencil grades: #1 = B, #2 = HB, #2½ = F, #3 = H, #4 = 2H.