R. Ravikanth Reddy
EducationPlus The wrong pencil, one digit in the register number... a lot of villains can rob you of precious marks. Tackle them before you rack your brains in the exam hall
Perhaps the most important three-hours in the life of an Intermediate student are just a couple of days away.
The Engineering, Agriculture and Medical Common Entrance Test (EAMCET) is scheduled for May 6. Despite the best of preparations some minor mistakes unrelated to academics can shatter the hopes of promising youngsters.
And the experience of senior academics involved with EAMCET preparation reveals that the mistakes are sometimes very small -- like the wrong entry of register numbers and improper marking in the Optical Mark Reader (OMR) sheet. And students need to be very careful while dealing with these small but very important entries.
The most common mistake noticed by the officials is the entry of wrong code number of the booklet in a hurry.
And this can be disastrous as the valuation is done by the computer that strictly goes by the code. Officials say questions in all the booklets are same, but they are jumbled in four different sets. So, when a student enters the wrong code and even if he answers all the questions correct, the same may not reflect in the result, as the computer scans by the code number rather than identifying each question's answer. "This mistake can push the topper to the bottom," says the EAMCET Convenor L.V.A.R. Sarma.
Other problems include wrong entry of the booklet number and marking the circles lightly with pencil leading to non-detection of answers by the computer.
Prof. Sarma says students need to verify two or three times with the booklet number entered by them. Last year 56 students, 27 in the engineering stream and 28 in the medicine stream entered the codes wrongly while some students did not enter the booklet code.
However, the supply of HB quality pencils in the examination hall by the authorities from last year have brought down the errors occurring due to the usage of light shade pencils. Earlier non-HB pencils used to land students in trouble as the computer scanner is made to read the dark circles that come better with HB pencils. Use of H or 2H pencils put a hard impression on the sheet, but the scanner does not detect the light shade.
"In the interest of the students we advise them to use the pencil supplied by the authorities in the hall.
Even if students want to get their own pencil they should make sure that an HB pencil is used to darken the circles."
Officials say they use two different scanners and each OMR sheet is scanned twice with different levels of darkness level set for the two scanners.
"This is to detect the light shade on the OMR sheet, but sometimes even that doesn't serve the purpose," says Dr. Sarma, advising students to darken the circles as much as they can.
Erasing problems too
Another problem is students don't erase the darkened circles totally while changing the answer.
This problem also leads to mistakes in scanning. So take a quality eraser and ensure that the wrong entry is erased properly. To make things easy for students all the 160 answer codes will be provided on single sheet from this year unlike two sheets earlier. This will save precious time.
Dr. Sarma rules out any mischief while scanning or giving ranks as not only the computer does them, but also they are checked twice by two valuation teams consisting of professors from various universities. He says 10 per cent of the forms are checked randomly for mistakes. Moreover, the top 50 rankers' sheets are manually checked by valuation experts before releasing the results.
Dr. Sarma explains the reason for avoiding usage of pen stating that use of pencils will allow students to change the answers if they feel like.
Anyway, the critical data like hall-ticket number and booklet serial number are written with pen, apart from the students' signature on the top half of the sheet, which is saved and kept in a safe locker with the Convenor for future verification.
Another security feature in the form of a bar code ensures that data entered on the OMR sheet cannot be changed.
What is an OMR Sheet?
The Optical Mark Reader (OMR) is a device that "reads" pencil marks or pen marks on scan forms. To put it simply, it is a machine that checks multiple choice computer forms.
The computer test forms designed for the OMR are known as NCS compatible scan forms. Tests and surveys completed on these forms are read by the scanner, checked and the results are saved to a file.
This data file can be converted into an output file of several different formats.
The OMR is a powerful tool that has many features like printing the number of correct answers and the percentage of correct answers at the bottom of each sheet.
It will also record statistical data about each question. This data is recorded in the output file created when the forms are scanned.