As part of my work with Science Olympiad, I worked on making CodeBusters become a national event for the 2018/2019 season. While one part of the process was to define the rules, the real challenge was making it easy for all of the individual states event supervisors to be able to run the event easily.
In the previous two years of being the event supervisor for North Carolina, I wrote almost two dozen tests by hand using Microsoft Word. In the process we analyzed the testing results and formats as well as elicited feedback from event supervisors who administered the tests. Based on the feedback, I tweaked the test format to make it easier to grade by putting boxes around answer spots using tables as well as standardized the format for presenting the questions so that students could clearly recognize how to approach the problems. However the process was still manual and generating the answer key was a tedious effort to ensure that everything was in sync, especially when the test question order was randomized, and yes I did make a couple of mistakes that we caught at the last minute. Additionally, while there was somewhat of a template to follow, the process was tedious such that it could take several hours to prepare a test with only eight questions, ensuring that everything was correct.
From this experience, it became obvious that automation was required. In order to make it accessible, I needed to build a web application.