How to choose the best exam pen

Students sitting an exam and writing with pens

Exams demand preparation, focus, and the right tools for the job. While suitable revision techniques are crucial to success, choosing the correct writing implement for the exam hall shouldn’t be overlooked.

The pen you select can significantly impact your exam experience, from legibility levels to comfort and writing speed.

Join us as we discuss what you should look for in an exam pen for guaranteed smooth writing, enhanced precision, and uninterrupted focus in your next exam.

What to consider when choosing the best pen for exam writing

There are several crucial factors to consider when choosing the right pen for sitting an exam, from pen type to reliability.


Before purchasing an exam pen, you must carefully read the guidelines provided by the exam board and your school, college, or university.

Most exam boards prefer students to use black ink, and some tolerate dark blue. We guarantee that pink won’t be an option for any examination!

Exam boards don’t usually specify a pen type, so the choice is yours, but always double-check before committing to a purchase.

Pen type

Spend time deciding what type of pen would be best for you to use under exam conditions.

While you might usually be partial to a rollerball pen, for example, you may encounter issues with smudging when writing against the clock.

If you love writing with a fountain pen, the exam hall may not be the place to use one as they’re not known for their speed, and the ink may bleed through the exam paper.

We recommend a ballpoint pen for practicality, although the pressure you need to apply when using one may tire your hand out before the exam is over.

If you can avoid smudging, opt for a rollerball or a gel pen to prevent hand fatigue.

Tip size and shape

Choose a tip size (fine, medium or broad) and shape that suits your penmanship and results in neat, precise handwriting that will leave the examiner in no doubt of what you’ve written.


Consider how a pen feels in your hand and if it will be comfortable for several hours of writing. Think about a pen’s length, width and weight, and the material and texture of its grip section.

Opt for a writing implement with a good grip so your hand doesn’t slip around when it gets warm.


When selecting the best pen for an exam, your writing tool should be top-quality and reliable.

Ensure it’s up to the writing task for an extended period and has a generous ink supply. Test it out before the exam to guarantee it won’t let you down.

Whatever pen you choose, pack refills or spare pens for the exam hall — you don’t want to add to your stress by worrying about if your pen will run out of ink.

Which is the best pen for exams?

The ‘best pen’ is a personal choice, but we have a few recommendations for you to explore.

The Faber-Castell Grip Plus ballpoint pen

The Faber-Castell Grip Plus ballpoint pen in black

The Faber-Castell Grip Plus ballpoint pen

The Faber-Castell Grip Plus is designed to provide a fatigue-free writing experience, with an ergonomic ribbed triangular rubber grip section and a balanced length of 136mm.

The clever design of this writing tool easily makes it one of the best affordable ballpoint pens for exams.

The Grip Plus is document-proof and refillable with large-capacity refills for worry-free writing. There are three attractive metallic finishes to choose from.

The Lamy Safari rollerball pen

The Lamy Safari rollerball pen in red

The Lamy Safari rollerball pen

The Lamy Safari range is popular with students for day-to-day writing, gaining a solid reputation for its modern design and excellent price-to-quality ratio.

The ergonomic grip section of the Lamy Safari rollerball is perfect for marathon writing sessions. The pen can be lengthened or shortened by posting or removing the pen cap, enabling you to find the perfect balance.

The Safari is available in many colours, from brights to pastels, so choose your favourite.

Order the ballpoint pen version of the Lamy Safari instead if smudging concerns you.

The Parker Jotter ballpoint pen

The Parker Jotter ballpoint pen in orange

The Parker Jotter ballpoint pen

The Parker Jotter ballpoint pen is well-known for its exceptional performance, and its smooth writing experience has made it a popular choice with students worldwide for exams and daily use.

Available in a wide range of fun colours, add a bit of joy to your exam days with a ballpoint pen that delivers clear, legible handwriting and colourful retro flair.

Whichever pen you choose, we wish you good luck with your exams!


Get kitted out in plenty of time for the next academic year — read our blog post on school stationery essentials and find out what you’ll need.

Lucy is our lead editor and has been passionate about stationery since childhood. She has a particular fondness for rollerball and calligraphy pens and is a keen advocate of snail mail.

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