Many of you have today off, with our national celebration of Veterans’ Day. Make sure you say thank you to a Vet today! And if you do have a day off, make the MOST of it by studying for the California Water Treatment Operator certification exam next Saturday.
As you prepare, keep in mind that this exam is “Scantron” graded. That’s where you darken in the little “bubbles” on the Scantron form with a No. 2 pencil to indicate your selection from the multiple choices. It sounds simple enough, but there are a couple of tips to make sure you get the MOST points possible on the exam.
First, make absolutely certain that you have good old “No. 2” pencils. Other pencil grades may not show up. We remember processing a Scantron in which the examinee got exactly zero points. He used a dark black pen instead. We didn’t notice the difference with our naked eyes, but the Scantron machine surely did! We recommend bringing at least two pencils and a small hand-sharpener — just in case. And slightly less than sharp pencils work best for us.
Mechanical pencils are fine for this task too, but make sure that you have the equivalent to No. 2 pencil lead.
Even if you are supremely confident, you should bring an eraser. The ones on the ends of your pencils are fine, but we suggest a larger, separate eraser. And make sure it is nice and clean, because “shadows” left by insufficient erasures are sometimes detected by the Scantron.
When you “bubble-in” your answer, make sure you fill in the entire bubble. In our experience, if you fill most of the (correct!) bubble, the Scantron will mark you correct, so don’t obsess about 100 percent coverage. And also don’t be too concerned about going “out of the lines” by a small amount. Perfect answers are more important than perfect “bubbles”!
We also suggest checking your place on the Scantron every time you flip to a new page in the test booklet. Make sure you’re answering Question 7 on your Scantron if you are reading Question 7 in the booklet! Checking this on each flip of the booklet means that if you lose your place, you will only need to erase a few answers instead of many. The last thing you want is to be “finished” with the exam, only to find out you are bubbling in number 99 on your Scantron!
Also note that marking two answers to any question will result in a wrong answer result, even if one of your answers is the correct one.
Make sure to reserve a few minutes at the end of the exam period to inspect your Scantron, and make sure you have answered every question, answered no questions twice, and that your “bubbling” is adequate. A simple clerical error on the Scantron can be the difference between a certificate and another exam ordeal in six months!