We know how much hard work you put into preparing for your exams. All that revision, missing out on socialising, getting stressed out and sleepless nights. So the last thing you need is for anything to go wrong on the day, and that includes your stationery.
Tips for Choosing a Pen for Exams
The first thing that you must remember is that black ink is mandatory in secondary school level exams (GCSEs and similar), so don’t fall at the first hurdle and show up with your favourite green, blue or rainbow-coloured pens – the examiners won’t be impressed with your colour co-ordination, and you’ll be putting your qualification at risk.
After all your hard work, you don’t want to ruin your exam papers with smearing, blotching and spraying as you write. On this day of all days, you need a reliable, good quality pen that won’t let you down.
And finally, it needs to be comfortable. You’ll be in that high-pressure environment for a few hours, so ergonomics is a real consideration.
Now for the good news. All you need from an exam pen is perfectly within your reach, thanks to our collection of high-quality exam pens.
We recommend good quality ballpoint pens, preferably with a tip size of 0.7mm or 1.0mm. If you’ve been put off by cheap multipacks of ballpoint pens from the corner shop, we hope we can change your mind by showing you the difference a crafted ballpoint makes – and the price isn’t half as high as you think.
It’s also worth pointing out that gel pens are not allowed in exams in the UK. This is because many gel pens are unreadable by the scanners used by the invigilators, and being scanned is an essential part of the marking process.
Let’s have a look at our top choices for exam pens.
Best Pens for Exams
The Fisher Space Pen gets its name from the fact that is was used on the space programme from 1968, thanks to its pressurised refill, designed for zero gravity. The Cap-o-matic range gets its name from the fact that you push the metal end down to expose and retract the ballpoint nib. You might not need zero-G capabilities, but down here on earth, the pressure keeps the flow of ink smooth and consistent. It’ll even write on greasy paper. Available in a range of barrel colours, there’s one available that’ll be just perfect for you – and you can have it engraved if it’s a special gift.
At the budget end of the spectrum, consider the Uni-Ball Power Tank. Again, it’s pressurised for optimum flow, but it’s a disposable version. We think it’s probably the best ball-point in the price range.
We also love the Pilot Acroball. This budget pen will give you great handwriting, partly thanks to its ergonomic grip that’s suitable for left-handed and right-handed people. Available in fine (0.7mm) and medium (1.0mm) nibs, they’re great for popping in your exam bag.
For the ultimate in reassurance, try the Stabilo Exam Grade Ballpoint Pen. Not only is it a fantastic 0.4mm writer, ideal for lengthy stints at the exam table – it also has a handy gauge on the side that will show you how many pages’ worth of ink you have left. Genius!
You already know the name, and if you’ve ever written with a Parker, you’ll also know it’s a great quality writing instrument. So do we need to go into detail about the smooth, clean writing experience that comes when you click open the Parker Jotter? Probably not, but just know that this one comes with a choice of tip sizes and is completely refillable – you know the rest.
Ergonomics is supremely important when you’re sitting in an exam for several hours and then repeating the process perhaps ten times over a few weeks. With the retractable Pilot Rexgrip, you’re in safe hands – it’s designed with an integrated grip that means you can hold the pen relatively lightly and it won’t slip when you’re writing. It’s made from more than 77% recycled material and the barrel is reusable thanks to the availability of refills.
One of the most popular retractable pens on the market, the Super Grip G has a great rubberised grip section that makes it a joy to hold over long periods. With its smooth and fast-drying ink, it all adds up to a perfect inclusion for the stationery bag during exam season. It gives a satisfyingly fine line, and best of all, you can get refills that prolong the lifetime of the pen.
Decent ballpoint pens don’t come much cheaper than the 1.0mm Paper Mate Inkjoy. No bells, no whistles, just pop off the cap and get writing. Perfect for everyday use and a great backup for your exam.
If a pen was ever designed to look the part, this is it. Paper Mate are masters of combining the three basic needs of a pen – comfort, line quality and durability – and put it all in a smart package that comes straight from the designer’s studio. Chrome effect finish on the tip encasement, architectural build and handy retractor button finish the look of the FlexGrip, a pen you’ll be proud to pop open.
If you want to push the boat out a little, or if you’re buying a pen as a good luck gift for the student in your life, how about the exquisite Parker IM range of ballpoint pens. Yes, they cost more than the disposable ones, but here you have a pen for life that will be refilled and refilled again, and will forever remind the user of the time they first wrote with it. Many of them are laser engravable, too, for ultimate personalisation. Take a careful look through the collection – there’s the perfect Parker pen for you.
It’s Up to You!
If you think all pens are the same, we hope you’re now aware of the choices available. But when you’re confronted with so many options, all with great quality for the price, it often just comes down to personal preference. Once you get used to a pen, you’ll possibly use that model for years, so why not try a few out? One will be just perfect for your personal writing style, hand angle and pressure.