5 Tips for Improving Handwriting for Exams

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

Even if you've studied extremely hard for an exam, paid attention during classes, and went to one of the best international schools in China, it's not going to mean much if the person grading your paper is unable to read what you've written. In this day and age, with all of us so used to typing on phones and computers, keeping up good handwriting can fall to the wayside. As it's coming up to exam season, that needs to change! Here are five simple tips to help you improve your handwriting for exams.

#1 Do you need to improve your handwriting?

First things first, don't fix what isn't broken. If you already have clear and neat handwriting, then spending a lot of time improving it probably isn't necessary. How can you know whether your handwriting is good enough for exams? An effective experiment is to take a page of handwritten practice for an exam and ask a few different people to read it aloud. Can they read it easily, or do they struggle? Now you know your answer.

#2 Get the right tool for the job

Different pens will give you different results. Pens vary by the size of the nib and how freely the ink flows. The right pen can save you time during your exam because you'll be able to write fast but neatly.  If you're left-handed, a pen specifically for left-handed people can be a big help too. Find the pen that best suits your writing style, but make sure that whatever kind of pen you choose is accepted for the exam.

#3 Practice makes perfect

Writing for a solid two hours (or however long your exam is) can be surprisingly tiring on your fingers, hand, wrist, and even arm. In turn, this can negatively affect your handwriting. It might sound silly, but just like athletes need to train before a tournament, you need to practice writing before an exam. Do a few past papers for each upcoming exam so that you can get used to the length of time you'll spend writing. This will train up the muscles you use when writing so you don't suffer fatigue mid-exam, and your handwriting doesn't suffer as a result.

#4 Fast or neat?

The lucky few are blessed with the natural ability to write quickly and legibly. For most others, we're on a spectrum - with fast on one end and neat on the other, i.e., writing quicker than usual will result in sloppier handwriting. When it comes to exams, you need to find that sweet spot - the fastest writing speed that still allows you to produce easily readable, tidy writing. 

Test it out - a good sentence to practice writing is: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. With a willing volunteer and a stopwatch, time yourself writing this sentence multiple times until you've written it in approximately 15, 20, 25, and 30 seconds, then make a note of the time next to that sentence. If, for each time, every sentence is easy to read, then perhaps you can write as quickly as you want in the exam. If you notice the sentences that you were rushing are sloppy, then you know that you need to take it slower in the exam.

#5 Stretch it out

As mentioned, writing an exam is a workout for certain muscles. You wouldn't go for a run without stretching your legs first - and you shouldn't go into an exam without stretching your writing muscles first either! Immediately before starting your exam, a few simple and short stretches could mean the difference between legible or illegible writing. It's also a good idea to incorporate these kinds of stretches into your daily routine in the lead-up to an exam. Learn some of the best techniques for stretching your exam muscles.

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