Mar 282013

[Update 4/3/2013: At the time of this writing, the answer form has 75 questions; they’re working on a 100-question form.  In this post, I suggested using a mobile app like CamScanner for turning the completed forms into a PDF. Akindi does not guarantee the results from scans using a mobile app. It worked fine for me, but if you have to use a mobile app, double-check the results.  And, one last thing.  They’re close to giving you And now you have the power to generate a PDF for each student that has their incorrect answers marked. Read this more recent post.]

Instead of having your students purchase preprinted testing forms (e.g., Scantron), why not print answer forms on regular paper? Or have your students print them? After scanning the completed answer forms into a PDF (a smartphone works!), Akindi, a free service, will dump all of the data into a spreadsheet to use as you’d like.

After creating an account, create a course, and then create a new test.

Test sheet

Download a blank test sheet by clicking the “Download Blank Test Sheets” button (or get it here; you can also find a link to it on the login page). It is just a pdf. Download, print, and copy for your students or make the link available for your students to print. Individual students are identified by a unique ID number, not name. I’d recommend having students write their names on the back of the sheet, and then bubble in, say, the last 4 digits of their student ID number in the “Identification #” area, or, better yet, assign students a number to be used just for this purpose.

Answer key

The answer key is identified by bubbling in 0000 in the “Identification #” area on the answer sheet.


Scan the answer key and the student answer forms into one big PDF. If you’re lucky, you have someone who can do that for you or you have a scanner, ideally with an automatic document feeder (ADF). If you don’t have access to a scanner or a kind soul with a scanner, but you have a smartphone, you can use your phone’s camera to create PDFs. I use CamScanner (Android/iOS).

Once you have the PDF done, upload it to Akindi by using the “upload” button or email it to the unique email address Akindi provides you. The email is a great option if you’re that lucky person who has an elf scanning the forms into a PDF. That person can just email the PDF to that email address; they don’t need you.

Results summary

For each course, you will see a list of your tests. Here you can see two: Practice test and Test 2. Click on the “Download CSV” to get a spreadsheet depicting the overview of the test results.

Test results

Click on an individual test, to get that test data. At the bottom you can see the results for each student; 0001 is the ID number from the “identification #” area on the answer sheet.

Click “Download CSV” to get the data in a spreadsheet. This is what it is looks like. At the very bottom is student 0001 (or “1”). Wrong answers are designated in parentheses. Now you can do easy analytics. For example use the Excel “countif” command to count how many students responded with each answer for each question. Knowing what students choose as the wrong answer is often more illuminating than the number of students who got an answer correct. You can also do a discrimination analysis where you compare the top third of scorers on your test to the bottom third of scores for each test question. Here’s a wonderful explanation of how do this kind of test analysis using Excel.

Getting feedback to students: Mail merge

Since the test forms themselves are not marked with right and wrong answers, it doesn’t make much sense to return the answer forms to the students. Instead, create a form letter in Word. Include whatever content you’d like and then do a “mail merge” with the Excel spreadsheet. Just delete rows 2 through 5. If you’d like students to have the questions from the test, you can do a mail merge with the test itself. (See this blog post for instructions on how to do a Word/Excel mail merge.)

Let’s say that your test results spreadsheet looks like this, with the “key,” “weight,” “common answer,” and “correct students” rows deleted.

This is what the Word form letter might look like. The stuff in brackets are merge fields. Those are the column headings in the Excel document.

When you tell Word to run the merge, Word will create a new page for each row. Here’s how the first row of data gets rendered.

You can print out the merged document if you want to hand each student a physical copy of their test results. If you include email addresses in your Excel file, you can have Outlook email each of your students with their information in the body of the email message.


Akindi is a new product. Look for updates and improvements as they get feedback from instructors who are using their product.

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  6 Responses to “Scantron Alternative: Akindi”

  1. […] Akindi. Print test bubble sheets instead of purchasing them. Scan the answer sheet and the student exams into one big pdf, then upload to Akindi. The tests are graded automatically, and all of the data pulled into a spreadsheet. If you attach your student learning outcomes to each of your questions, you have yourself a very easy and very powerful assessment tool. Download the scored tests for printing or sending electronically to your students. Read more here. […]

  2. Lightning Grader is a far more advanced solution as a Scantron Alternative. Grades three types of answer sheets, not just bubble sheets. Plus they also do web assessments!

  3. I’ve been using ZipGrade (iOS app) that combines the scanning and grading into a single app. Free demo and only seven bucks a year. Includes a 100 question answer sheet.

  4. Hi Sue,
    This Akindi service looks great for my small school. However it’s only free for 30 days. I can’t locate service prices after the free trial. Any suggestions?

    Also- and totally off topic-
    I have been made my small high school’s librarian. I have NO formal library training and even less time! lol!
    We still use library cards and an outdated inventory book. Based in the manual inventory my students began, I estimate we have 10,000 books.

    I have a vision for automated system that includes
    1) all books with UPC codes
    2) an easily accessible and update-able database – could be stored in a cloud to save expense?
    3) simple scanning system – possibly from a smartphone, but I don’t know which apps work best
    4) very inexpensive – under $30/ year?
    Do you, or anyone else, have any technology or organizational recommendations?

    ****This is project is not just to promote ordinary high school literacy. This is a military school for at risk high school drop-outs. Our cadets don’t have the distraction of phone, TV or Internet, For many, this is the first chance in their lives to engage and improve their literacy and true thought processes.
    I want to make it the best environment for this potential life transformation. ****
    Thank you

  5. […] first wrote about Akindi in 2013 (see this post), and boy has it undergone some amazing changes in 2014. With this first post of 2015, I hope to […]

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