Test & Evaluation Services

Test and Evaluation Services offers support for scoring tests using bubble sheets. Supported scoring services are available for exams, surveys, teacher evaluations, and providing statistical information for each test submitted.

For more information, contact Test and Evaluation Services at 515-294-1832 or tes@iastate.edu.

Picking Out Bubble Sheets

Bubble Sheets for Tests

Standard (Blue, Red, Orange, and Brown)Four standard test forms are denoted by color: Blue, Red, Orange and Brown. Each of these forms supports up to 200 questions with five possible responses for each question.Sample image of the blue standard bubble sheet
GreenA fifth test form, Green, supports up to 120 questions with 10 possible responses for each question.Sample image of the green bubble sheet
Short AnswerThe short answer form supports up to 50 questions with five possible responses for each question and an area for short written answers.Sample image of the short answer bubble sheet
DSIII (general purpose data sheet III)The DSIII form allows up to 36 questions with five possible responses and two comment fields. There are no name grids on this form, so the data will be denoted by ID only. (Can be used for quizzes)Sample image of the DSIII bubble sheet

Note: Paper evaluations are no longer available because the software is no longer supported.

Bubble Sheets for Research

The forms mentioned above may be suitable for research purposes, depending on the needs of the research. Contact Test & Evaluation Services at 515-294-1832 or tes@iastate.edu for more information about using bubble sheets in your research.

Ordering Bubble Sheets


Bubble sheets come in packages of 500 and must be ordered in increments of 500.

Tip: You may want to consider ordering enough for an entire semester or project.

To order bubble sheets: 

Complete the Bubble Sheet Order Form


Test and evaluation scanning for Iowa State University students, faculty, and staff; or research pertaining to class is done at no charge. Non-class related research or evaluations incur the following charges:

Optical scanning bubble sheet$0.05/sheet
Scoring answer sheet$0.04/sheet
Standard item analysis or questionnaire analysis$1.00/report
Processing Fee$5.00/data set

Note: Charges for other services will be determined on an individual basis. Our primary service obligation is to the Iowa State University community. The above service charges assume the work can be handled along with our primary service load. Services requiring critical item schedules, employee overtime, etc., may be declined or incur a surcharge.

Administering an Exam using Bubble Sheets

To ensure accurate scoring of tests, inform students using bubble sheets of these guidelines.

Exam Guidelines:

  • Use only a #2 pencil to fill in bubbles. The scanner in Test and Evaluation Services cannot read any test or form that is completed in ink.
  • Do not make any stray marks on the form. If these marks are close enough to any particular bubble, the scanner may read the mark and the form will not be graded correctly.
  • Erase bubbles as thoroughly as possible. Do not, however, erase so hard that a hole is rubbed through the test.
  • In the NAME section, students should write their last name first, followed by their first name, and then their middle initial. The corresponding bubbles below each letter should be filled to match the letter indicated in the boxes above.
  • In the IDENTIFICATION NUMBER section, students should write their university ID number (the middle nine digits on their ISUCard) in boxes A through I and fill in the respective bubbles below. Note: The university ID number is the only number students should be using as their identification number.
  • Make sure bubbles match the correct questions. Students should periodically check to see if the bubbles they are filling in correspond to their respective questions. It is good practice to check (or have a TA check) each sheet as it is handed in to ensure that all sheets are filled out correctly.

Preparing Bubble Sheets for Grading

Sort Bubble Sheets

Sort the completed bubble sheets so they are all facing the same direction (e.g. the NAME box is in the same corner of every sheet facing you).

Create an Answer Key

To create an answer key, use the same bubble sheet as the students’ sheets and fill in the following criteria.

  1. In the middle of the NAME section write the word KEY, and fill in the corresponding bubbles below each letter.
  2. In the white space directly above the NAME section, write out the department, course number and section, instructor last name, and quiz or exam number.
  3. Fill in the correct answer bubbles for each question. For questions with multiple correct answers, be sure to fill in all of the correct bubbles for that question. 
  4. Complete an answer key for each version of a multiple-version test.

Sample bubble sheet showing "key" written in the center of the name section

Package the Bubble Sheets and Answer Key Together

Bundle bubble sheets according to the number of sections, test forms and answer keys.

One section or form and one answer key:

Put a rubber band around the sheets with the answer key on top.

Multiple sections or forms and one answer key: 

Put a rubber band around each individual section's sheets with the answer key on top. In addition, label each group with the appropriate section number or letter for that group.

Multiple sections or forms and answer key per section or form: 

Put a rubber band around each individual section's sheets with the corresponding answer key on the top of the respective stack.

Multiple sections, multiple forms, and answer key per section and per form:

Put a rubber band around each form's sheets and then put another rubber band around the packets of a particular form with the corresponding answer key on top. For example, if there are three class sections (1, 2, and 3) and three forms per section (A, B, and C), you would put one rubber band around the sheets for section 1A, one around those for section 2A, and one around those for section 3A. Then put one rubber band around the three packets (1A, 2A, and 3A) with the A version of the answer key on top of the stack.

Completing the Submittal Form

Complete one of the following:

Using the Bubble Sheet Submittal Form

  1. Fill out the  Bubble Sheet Submittal Form
  2. Identify special questions (i.e. omitted questions, multiple answers, and weighted questions) per the Special Question Instructions.
  3. Print a copy of the e-mail sent to you to include with the tests you submit for grading.

Special Question Instructions

To omit a question:

Specify which question(s) you want to omit in the Additional Instructions or Requests section of the bubble sheet submittal form. You must also state whether you wish to count the omitted questions in the total scoring. For example, if a test has 50 questions and you choose to omit question 19 from being scored, indicate whether you want the total scoring to be based on 49 or 50 questions. If you are giving credit for the omitted question, a student must have filled in an answer to receive credit for the omitted question.

To assign multiple answers to a question:

List the question(s) and the correct answers on the submittal form. Also be sure to fill in all desired bubbles on the Key for the question(s).

If you choose to accept any answer (rather than one specific answer) for a particular question, you must note that in the Additional Instructions or Requests section of the submittal form and list the questions. A student must have filled in an answer to receive credit for that question.

To add question weight:

Use the Additional Instructions or Requests section to specify a weight for the questions. You can assign different weights to a questions grouped together, or you can designate all questions to be worth more than one point. All decimal-weighted scores are rounded scores.

Submitting Bubble Sheets for Grading

  1. Bring the bundled bubble sheets with answer keys AND a copy of the submittal form to the Solution Center in 192 Parks Library.
  2. A staff member will take your bubble sheets and review the submittal form to verify that you have filled out the entire form.
  3. Test and Evaluation Services will pick your bubble sheet bundle(s) from the Solution Center for grading.

Delivery of Graded Bubble Sheets

When a test is graded, a paper printout of the processing results is produced and five reports are generated. The bubble sheets and results will be delivered to the address specified in submittal form. Note: Someone must be available in the office to sign a delivery acknowledgement.

Processing Time

Processing time is based on when tests are submitted. The usual processing times are shown in the timetable below. Turnaround time may vary depending on the workload at a given time. Delivery of graded bubble sheets and results is approximately two days after exam is dropped off.

During finals week, turnaround times are longer because of the increased number of tests to be graded.

Dropped OffProcessed
By 9:00 a.m.By 1:00 p.m. of the same day
By 1:00 p.m.By 4:00 p.m. of the same day
By 4:00 p.m.Morning of the next business day

Report Formats

The five types of the basic reports generated for each test submitted are: Item Statistics, Class Roster, Test Results, Scorecard, and Histogram report. For clarification of these reports, contact Test and Evaluation Services at 515-294-1832 or tes@iastate.edu

For assistance interpreting or analyzing the test statistics, contact the Statistics Help Room in 114 Snedecor Hall, or at 515-294-8927.

Re-Scoring Tests

If a re-score is necessary, you should contact Test and Evaluation Services for help at 515-294-1832 or tes@iastate.edu.