Exam time. That part of the year which coincides with the only warm day of summer, the hay fever season and the sudden recollection that your hand is designed for more than holding a long, cold drink. You’re about to have to hand-write. A lot. And you’ve forgotten how to do it.
Most people nowadays type out (or tap out) assignments and so it’s a bit of a shock to the system to see three hours stretching ahead in a silent room where somehow ink needs to settle on paper in letters well-formed enough to earn a good mark. We’d like to help, and have gathered together a few tips and suggestions for making the entire process easier.
- Fatigue and cramping can be an issue, especially if exam nerves mean that you’re gripping the pen like it’s the safety bar on a funfair ride. First rule: relax. Second rule: choose a pen which is light and designed to combat fatigue. Have a look at the Papermate Inkjoy 700 Retractable Ballpoint Pen, which has an ergonimic, lightweight shape as well as a comfortable finger grip.
- Thin pointed pens can mean that you’re stabbing at the paper, which takes more force and uses up more energy, so gel or fountain pens are also an excellent option as they’re more likely to glide over the surface. Have a look at the Parker IM – a brilliant, simple design which combines comfort and practicality. We can engrave it for you as well – something motivational perhaps.
- Hand position can cause smearing, so if you’re the sort of writer who drags his/her hand down the surface of the paper, consider using a quality ballpoint. The Pilot Acroball Pure White Ballpoint Pen produces a beautiful smooth line without smearing, as well as being available in multiple colours.
- Reduce your stressors: as elimination of the entire examination system itself is unlikely to be an option, you’ll need to do what you can within it. Don’t revise beyond your natural sleep-time, don’t take a peek over at Nerdy McNerdison in the seat next to you as he decants the entire text book verbatim onto the paper…and don’t worry about silly things like running out of ink. The Online Pen Company can’t sit with you and whisper the answer to that tricky question on page four – but we can sell you a pen which will keep going long after the invigilator has had her cocoa and tucked herself up under the duvet with a chunky best-seller. The Stabilo Marathon Ballpoint Pen is designed to be long lasting. Just think, if you have spare time in the exam, you’ll have enough ink to start your own chunky best-seller – and then you won’t have to sit a rotten exam ever again.
- If you’re someone who can’t relax unless you can actually see how much ink you’ve got left, the Stabilo Exam Grade Ballpoint Pen is the one for you. And if Nerdy McNerdison has bought one as well, DON’T LOOK. He won’t really have written that much. Honestly. Stabilo have given a huge amount of thought to the needs of examinees and have come up with a reasonably priced, functional and fun solution. The pen has an ink indicator on it complete with motivational scale and instructions on how many pages-worth of ink are still left in there. It’s the nearest you’ll get to having your mum sitting in there alongside you cheering you on.
- Avoid emergencies. The bus might be late, or the dog might choose your revision notes for its midnight feast (this did actually happen in in my house), but if you’re likely to lose concentration and leave the top off your lucky exam fountain pen, why not invest in some ink cartridges so you'll always have one spare to get back up and running.
- And finally – if the stress of the exam period means that there’s no room left in your head to make any decisions – not even which Pot Noodle flavour will feature in your small-hours revision – how about the pen which does everything? The Cross Tech 3 Multipen allows you to swap from ballpoint to pencil. Great for those who are nervous of committing their initial thoughts to ink or who need to make drawings. Multi-tasking, multi-functional, multi-marvellous. Take that, McNerdison. I bet you got question four all wrong, anyway.
N.B. Some exam boards insist on black ink – best make sure you’ve checked this out if you favour blue and equip yourself accordingly. And don’t forget to take in some spare cartridges if you’re a fountain pen user, or refills if you prefer a rollerball or ballpoint.
GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE TAKING EXAMS