Thursday, 23 March 2017

A New Series About Exam Tips - Tell Me About Pens

Here's a question that was recently posed on one of the exam chat boards: what's the best pen to use for the exams.

Beautiful but not really practical!

With the English Language exam, it's really important that you have a a nice strong line with a fine nib and no bleed through.

I've just been marking my crammer students' mocks, and those with a weak line are very hard to read. This will necessarily hurt a student's grade, because much of what an examiner is looking for is fluency of expression. If instead he/she is having to decipher each word, the fluidity of the sentence is compromised.

On the other hand, a pen that bleeds through is equally bad. Exam scripts are now scanned into a computer for examiners to mark on the screen, and if a student has bleed-through on the script, it's also really hard to read (and they're hard enough on the computer as it is!).

Basically, the more clarity with a student's answers in terms of handwriting and pen choice, the more likely the script will avoid unnecessary limitations on its clarity and fluency.

For all these reasons, I recommend the finest line such as a 0.4 mm because letters are formed more clearly. This black Stabilo Fineliner is my favourite:

(this is not an affiliate link!)

Whichever pen you decide to use, your student needs to start using it as soon as possible, and as much as possible. Not only is it important for getting the "feel" of it, but people so rarely write these days as opposed to typing on a keyboard, that certain muscles need building up in the hand before spending two hours writing with a pen.

Think of it as another kind of training that you need for the exam!

The lost skill of handwriting!

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