There’s something so evocative about autumn time- the smell of the cool air, the leaves cascading down from the trees and blowing about in the chilly wind, in truth the entire sensorial experience reminds me of childhood and puts a nostalgic, tender smile on my face as I snuggle up in my scarf and other sartorial layers. It calls forth thoughts of Halloween costumes, attending the local Ragamuffin Parade with the other little ones dressed as ghouls and monsters, getting hot chocolate with girlfriends during our high school free periods, and… standardized exams???
Yes- standardized exams, indeed. With school in full swing during this first semester of the year, my thoughts also inevitably lead to the stressful memories of flashcards, cramming, late-night tears, and those godforsaken little bubbles. A, B, C, D…. my sentimental smile abruptly fades.
For all of those of you or your loved ones who are studying for exams right now, be them high school entrance exams, (P)SATs, GRE’s, LSATs, etc.: I have been there friends. Having been in school since the ripe old age of six months and as a currently enrolled graduate student, I assure you all that I have taken my fair share of standardized tests. Thankfully, they did not start quite at the age of six months, however the quantity and frequency with which they occurred from middle school onwards surely made up for the lost time. Lately we’ve been having many people come in asking for pencils specifically to take these stressful tests with, so as the resident academic of the pencil shop I’d like to share with you all some of what we consider to be excellent HB/ #2 pencils for taking- and conquering- these exams. They all feature quality erasers tips, unique designs, and their own personal quirks which make them great for test taking and studying.
Tombow 2558 HB- this pencil, designated for “General Writing,” happens to be one of my favorites for every day general use. This HB is a bit softer than your average American #2, due to the Japanese tendency to put a bit of polymer in the graphite, lending it a smooth, silky quality perfect for much continuous writing and bubble filling during a condensed period of time. Thus, no hand cramps with this lovely model.
For similar reasoning, I’m including a Kita-boshi model aptly named the Academic Writing pencil. As with many Japanese pencils, this one is assigned a designated activity, and it is in fact great for academic purposes. It, like the 2558, will feel like a slightly softer HB while still producing minimal smudging and also features a quality eraser. Plus, it’s burgundy coloring pairs stunningly with its shiny silver ferrule and white eraser tip.
Craft Design Technology- these store favorites are undeniably cool looking, with their sleek mint coloring and unique circular white eraser. However, quality is not sacrificed for aesthetics with the CDT. Actually, the point of these pencils is firm yet still dark and their erasing efficiency is above par, traits which make them ideal for test taking (as well as crossword puzzles, general writing, anything really).
In the theme of Japanese design, I would also suggest the Palomino HB’s. Although distributed by the California-based Palomino company, these pencils are manufactured in Japan, where many of today’s top quality models hail from. Similarly, this pencil features a firm yet dark graphite. Together with its good point retention and fun blue or orange color scheme, it is a great pencil to get you through those multiple choice questions and/or essay prompts.
Looking for a classic yellow pencil for exam time? Consider the Caran d’Ache Yellow School Pencil. Think of it as the updated, slightly sexier traditional writing utensil from your school days. Unlike the green of most yellow #2’s, the graphics on this model are a shiny gold, and the eraser white instead of the original pink.
To conclude, with any of these pencils you’ll have a great quality, efficient accompaniment to your exams. Plus, with any of these cool, handsome designs, you’re sure to be the envy of your other test takers. Godspeed, fellow academics. All of us pencil ladies are sending you good luck and positivity!