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azlotto's avatar

Why are number 2 pencils the standard for a lot of test?

Asked by azlotto (2446points) March 27th, 2010

Wrighting utensils

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9 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

One day someone had to make a decision, and they made a shitty decision… ;)

janbb's avatar

I believe it’s because they make the level of mark that can be read best by the computerized scanners.

faye's avatar


DarkScribe's avatar

@janbb I beleive it’s because they make the level of mark that can be read best by the computerized scanners.

They were doing it when I was in grade school. (Where did they hide the computer scanners?)

It was a compromise between legibility and breakage resistance.

DarkScribe's avatar


This only applies to tests graded by Scantron devices and that only became common practice in the late seventies. The use of HB or #2 pencils in school tests dates back to the early part of the last century. The Dept. Education requirement was for a pencil soft enough to be easily legible, but hard enough not to have the lead break with light pressure. In the first couple of years of grade school in ancient times (when I attended) you were only able to use pencils – ink was reserved for bigger kids,

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

Because the same person that printed the tests,manufactured #2 pencils.

squidcake's avatar

They don’t want to deal with anything going wrong so they just standardize it.
I’m sure you could use a different pencil and get away with it, but the testmakers are lazy and don’t want to deal with markings that are unreadable.

Welcome to modern society.

galileogirl's avatar

#1’s are too hard and the writing too light unless very heavy pressure is used
#3’s are too soft and smudgy
#2’s are just right

At least that’s what Goldilocks said

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