That’s right—you can’t use a mechanically pencil top top the ACT. Or the SAT. Or, in fact, a the majority of standardized tests. Because that the SAT and also ACT, however, making use of a mechanical pencil may put her score in peril. The makers 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 lock can’t see your answers.

The very same goes because that pens. To it is in safe, constantly use a an excellent old No. 2 pencil. Make certain it has actually a an excellent eraser, too!

Why No. 2, though? Would making use of a mechanically pencil really make that lot of a difference?

Yes. The brief answer is that you can’t use a mechanically pencil top top the satellite or ACT due to the fact that answer paper scanners are specifically calibrated to detect the marks make by a No. 2 pencil and mechanical pencils are not constantly regulated as No. 2. In addition, they space thin and also prone come breaking, which means your marks might not be together readable as the thicker, darker marks girlfriend can achieve with one old-school number 2 pencil. The SAT and ACT scoring equipments need to process score sheets fast, which way any sport might delay the process. Therefore take your word for 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 failure an exam because she used a number 1 pencil to to fill in the bubbles. It transforms out, there are actually a entirety scale of different pencil types, though plenty of of us room only acquainted with the trusty yellow No. 2.


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What Americans call No. 2 is additionally called ‘HB’ in various other parts that the world, follow to this handy chart.*


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All of these plenty of different pencil number (and letters!) have varying levels of darkness and also hardness when they note on paper. Pencils room made through graphite mixed with a small clay to host the graphite together. With much less clay combined in, the graphite pipe in the facility of the pencil is much softer…which means that the note is darker, but additionally smudgy. Adding more clay come the blend provides the pencil harder. A harder pencil have the right to be sharpened to a finer point, but due to the fact that there is much less graphite in the graphite-clay blend, the pencil makes a lot lighter note on the page.

The Perfect Balance

So, I present to you the No. 2 pencil: the perfect balance between dark enough graphite and hard enough clay. But what’s the trouble with mechanical pencils? “My mechanically pencils execute use No. 2 graphite!” you can be shouting in my basic direction. Very first of all, it’s frequently much more tough to number out even if it is or not the graphite in a mechanical pencil is in reality No. 2. Countless mechanical pencils nothing include any kind of kind the identification.

However, even those mechanically pencils that insurance claim to usage No. 2 arrive in those really thin, conveniently breakable cylinder shapes. The never-dull, constantly sharp fine suggest that renders mechanical pencils so appealing, likewise make mechanical pencils an ext prone to breaking. But much more importantly, they actually reason you to take longer filling in bubbles on solution sheet! In fact, even constant wooden pencils are finest for scantron sheets as soon as they are just slightly dull. Slightly dull pencils make a broader mark ~ above paper, allowing you to to fill in bubble much much more quickly than through a slim line. Even if mechanical pencils were permitted for usage on the SAT and ACT, you’ll actually save yourself some priceless time ~ above the sat or action by using a continual pencil instead of a mechanically pencil!

The clinical Method

In bespeak for your SAT and ACT scores to typical anything to college and university admissions, they must be similar to various other students’ scores. So, because that the SAT and also ACT to make sure they carry out a fair and accurate trial and error process, they require to regulate as many variables together possible. Those variables encompass dates, time, and also even materials! everyone takes the check on the exact same test day, gets the very same amount of time for each section, and also uses the same test booklets and also answer sheets…and pencils. In order come ensure the best accuracy, test proctors space trained come look particularly for things favor mechanical pencils and also ask friend to placed them away before the begin of the test.

Most answer sheet scanners room specifically calibrated come detect the marks do by a No. 2 pencil. Due to the fact that the SAT and also ACT must grade so many answer sheets, the machines they use must be as quick as possible. One way of ensuring speed is to use the specific same tools for every single exam. Plus, If the SAT and ACT are only grading the exact same size and also weight of record with the exact same kind of marks, that is much less likely that misreading errors will occur, and also accuracy is an even more critical factor 보다 speed!

Pencils Down!

“But ns bet ns can gain away with it!” you could be protesting. You might have heard rumors of test takers using other grade pencils, mechanical pencils, pens, or also colored pencils, through no errors. While various other tools miiiight slide through undetected and still produce some exactly answers, that an unnecessary threat you don’t require to problem about.

Using anything various other than the recommended tool simply isn’t smart! If someone told girlfriend an easy means to acquire a higher score ~ above the sat or ACT, you’d listen, right? using the recommended tool is a very easy method to for sure a an ext accurate score. Satellite or ACT check day is not the moment to test the limits of what you can get away with. The much better to it is in safe than sorry on miscellaneous as important as the sat or ACT.

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When crystal accidentally provided a #1 illustration pencil to fill the end her scantron sheet, the maker wasn’t calibrated to check out her responses. Because of the misreading errors on almost every line, the maker produced a very low grade. That course, Crystal’s teacher realized that the scanning machine hadn’t correctly read the answer sheet, and Crystal to be able to take back the exam. But, the won’t take place on an act or SAT. When your answer sheet is scored, you stuck! nothing potentially lower your score v a misread prize sheet when the SAT and ACT have currently told you exactly what you must use. Happy penciling! *If she curious, this is an approximate conversion native letter come number pencil grades: #1 = B, #2 = HB, #2½ = F, #3 = H, #4 = 2H.