Many traditional OMR devices work with a dedicated scanner device that shines a beam of light onto the form paper. The contrasting reflectivity at predetermined positions on a page is then used to detect these marked areas because they reflect less light than the blank areas of the paper.
Some OMR devices use forms which are preprinted onto 'transoptic' paper and measure the amount of light which passes through the paper, thus a mark on either side of the paper will reduce the amount of light passing through the paper.
In contrast to the dedicated OMR device, desktop OMR software allows a user to create their own forms in a word processor and print them on a laser printer. The OMR software then works with a common desktop image scanner with a document feeder to process the forms once filled out.
OMR is generally distinguished from optical character recognition (OCR) by the fact that a complicated pattern recognition engine is not required. That is, the marks are constructed in such a way that there is little chance of not reading the marks correctly. This does require the image to have high contrast and an easily recognizable or irrelevant shape. A related field to OMR and OCR is the recognition of barcodes such as the UPC bar code found on product packaging.
One of the most familiar applications of optical mark recognition is the use of #2 pencil (HB in Europe) bubble optical answer sheets in multiple choice question examinations. Students mark their answers, or other personal information, by darkening circles marked on a pre-printed sheet. Afterwards the sheet is automatically graded by a scanning machine. The large 'bubble' marks are legacy technology from the very early OMR machines that were so insensitive a large mark was required for reliability. In most Asian countries, a special marker is used to fill in an optical answer sheet. Students, likewise mark answers or other information via darkening circles marked on a pre-printed sheet. Then the sheet is automatically graded by a scanning machine.
Many of today's OMR applications involve people filling in specialized forms. These forms are optimized for computer scanning, with careful registration in the printing, and careful design so that ambiguity is reduced to the minimum possible. Due to its extremely low error rate, low cost and ease-of-use, OMR is a popular method of examination system.
BISE, Mardan therefore adopt this system for marking their papers to introduce this new system.