|                      Why not?|
|                      After   |
|                      all, the|
|                      only re-|
|                      ason the|
|                      warning |
|                      is there|
|                      is that |
|                      the des-|
|      |¯\/¯\ \ |/¯\¯|¯ign and |
|      |_/\_/ |\|\_/ | concept |
|                      of the  |
|                      Scantron|
|mean   |  ||¯)|¯|¯|¯ that the |
|machine|/\||¯\| | |_can't tell|
|the difference between a pen- |
|cil     mark on one side and a|
|mark    on  |\ | the other. It|
|just    so  ||\| happens that |
|the     Student ID box for the|
|form    and the front's "key  |
|item      ¯|¯|_||[¯¯ count"   |
|for        | | ||__] the front|
|(no,    I have no idea what   |
|        it's for either) are  |
|          /\ |¯)|¯ /\ right in|
|         /  \|¯\|_/  \ back of|
|a "blank" part of the back. So|
|basically, a stray pencil mark|
|in the wrong place could mess |
|up the Student ID or key item |
|count data. However, there's  |
|no harm in writing in the box |
|so long as you hold it up to a|
|light now and then to check!  |

If you have never taken a Scantron test or seen a form with one of these little boxes in it, you will have no idea what this write-up is referring to. This is a weird blue (sometimes green) box on some types of forms and most Scantron (a standardized multiple choice test form used mostly in America) forms. The box contains the letters "DO NOT WRITE IN THIS AREA," and nothing else. No black dots, no magnetic thingies, no bubbles. Just that big box. And now you know why it's there.

Actually, let me put that explanation a different way. Specifically, a way less likely to give you a headache. The reader doesn't discriminate between a mark on one side and a mark on the same bit on the other side. (This has to do with how Scantrons function, using the electrical properties of graphite-- but that's another node.) Look at a Scantron sheet some day and you'll notice that the answer bubbles for each column of questions on the front are BETWEEN the column "behind" it. So basically, the "DO NOT WRITE IN THIS AREA" thingy insures nobody messes with it and doodles on the back, thus screwing up whatever boxes of bubbles happen to be on the other side.

The box is overkill most of the time, though, because most of it is perfectly safe to write in. It looks better than a bunch of separate "DO NOT WRITE HERE" rectangles, I guess. Hold it up to the light if you want to write in that blued-out bit, so you can see which parts are in back of actual bubbles and which are in back of unused areas. So go ahead and doodle in it. Maybe write "OK" in large letters. Go wild!

See? Now your eternal thirst for knowledge is satisfied. Or, at the very least, you know why that silly box is there.

Note: The rectangle at the top of the writeup, for the record, is the one found in Scantron Form No. 19641; for those of you who don't stare at the form number, that's the one with 100 questions that's about double the width of that 15-question one.

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