Using scanners, you have two approaches to collecting and analyzing/scoring form data: optical mark readers and image scanners. Both methods make it possible for you to merge data on scan forms before handing out the printed forms. This reduces errors.
Optical Mark Readers
The traditional method of scanning forms to collect data uses optical mark readers (OMR) from companies such as Sekonic, and Scantron. These machines are very specialized and are fast and accurate. In fact, it is the fastest and most accurate method of data collection.
On a bubble form, an OMR (also known as optical mark recognition) scanner recognizes the presence or absence of a mark on a form, but not its shape*.
OMR scanners can read up to 56 pages/minute depending on the manufacturer/model vs. Image scanners which can read up to 40 pages/minute.
Optical mark readers precisely measure the darkness of a marked-in bubble and can determine whether a mark is an erasure or a mark. Reading data: 99.9% accuracy.
The OMR solution is considerably more expensive than the image scanner solution.
This method uses a desktop (a.k.a image, document, flatbed, page) scanner rather than an OMR. Image scanners are less expensive at the low end and do achieve considerable speed at the higher end.
Because of the way this technology works, you can fill out the forms using pencil, ink or marker. You can easily create and print your own forms because the tolerances are not nearly as exact as the printing is for OMR scanners. These scanners are rated by duty cycle (average number of forms per day) as well as speed.
Image scanners can read up to 40 pages/minute depending on the manufacturer/model.
Desktop scanners provides bit less accurate results than OMR scanners. One reason for reduced information is that page scanners work from a bitone image where every dot or pixel on a page is either black or white. OMRs can read grayscale tones making them more mark sensitive, picking up lighter and darker marks more accurately.
Thus, while OMRs see the difference between marks and erasures, images scanners choose the mark that has the darkest pixels. Reading data: up to 99.9% accuracy with editing.
The image scanner solution is less expensive than the image scanner solution. However, when you want a higher-end speed of, for example, 40 pages/minute, pricing is comparable to that of OMR scanners.