Hi everyone! It’s Jade here, CWPE’s high school intern. Back to school season has arrived at the shop, and as I head into my final year of high school, I thought it’d be nice to share some of my favorite stationery I’ve been using over the past few years.
The Best for Your Tests
For any student, and any standardized test-taker, #2 (or HB, by the European grading scale) pencils are a necessity. My all-time favorite pencil is the Tombow General Writing 2558 HB. This is usually the first pencil I recommend to anyone looking for a #2. It’s also field-tested and reliable, because it's what I use for all my exams. I used it for the PSAT and SAT last year, and will be using it again later this month for my SAT Subject Tests. Anyone who’s taken a test with the College Board knows that those exams are printed on the lowest quality newsprint available, and a scratchy pencil can definitely slow you down during the dreaded Math - No Calculator section of the SAT. The 2558 glides smoothly across the paper, and its eraser is excellent too. I’ve even noticed myself writing faster when I use this pencil during my tests. Finally, a pencil that can keep up with the pace of your thinking!
Other Great #2's (and Not #2's)
Here are some more of my favorite pencils for students. All of them (except the Blackwings) are #2's, so they're suitable for test-taking. They're also great for everyday note taking and homework.
The Editor: This pencil from Caran d'Ache is a CWPE exclusive. It’s double ended with normal HB graphite on one end, and a red colored pencil on the other. I like using this one for annotating or color coding in my notes. It gives you the choice of two pencils, while only needing to carry one!
Futura: This pencil is another CWPE exclusive, made for us by Moon Products. It's a modernized reproduction of the vintage Futura. I like to think of it as a #2 with a unique twist. It’s triangular, which makes it comfortable for long hours spent doing math homework. It’s also very, very pink, with a matching ferrule! The Futura is an economical option as well, at only 60 cents per pencil.
Blackwing Natural & 602: Although the Blackwings are ungraded, the Natural, the newest and firmest of the range, feels closest to a #2. I like to use this one for general note taking and writing, because it has great point retention. I also like the 602 for when I feel like channeling John Steinbeck during English class.
Craft Design Technology (aka Camel Pencils): This is my second favorite pencil. Although it’s still graded as a #2, I’ve found that it writes softer and darker than a typical one, while still holding a point well. I also like the sleek ferrule-less design. And, if mint green isn’t your color, these come in pastel and natural wood tones too.
Write Sketch & Pattern Pencils: At first, I honestly picked these pencils more for their fun patterns, but I was pleasantly surprised by their quality. Although they’re #2's, the core feels a little on the firmer side and holds a point nicely.
Uni Palette Sharpener: I usually opt for sharpeners with a shaving reservoir, as I don’t really have time to get up and sharpen my pencil during class. This sharpener is compact, yet has enough room for 2-3 shavings. It takes up minimal room in my pencil case, and the covered hole prevents shavings from falling out.
Kutsuwa Stad Metal Caps: Before I knew about these caps, my pencils would always break or graphite would smear inside my pencil case. These caps protect your pencil points and keep your case clean. They even come with tiny stickers, if you ever need to label your caps.
Matomaru-Kun Gold Eraser: This plastic eraser is my favorite because it's softer than most of its kind. It erases cleanly, and never damages my paper. In the words of Caroline (the biggest fan of the Matomaru-Kun), “It almost feels like it’s lifting the graphite off the paper.” With it’s snazzy gold wrapper, it’s ready for all your erasing needs. I know I’ll be using this often next year, when I take AP Calculus AB (I hope my teacher isn't like my math teacher from sophomore year, who made us do math in pen).
Papier Tigre Mesh Pencil Case: Something I’ve learned throughout high school is that you really don’t need a ton of different writing utensils everyday. I remember in ninth grade, I would carry around lots of different pens and pencils, when I really only used a handful of them consistently. I’ve since downsized to a select few favorites. The Papier Tigre Mesh Pencil Case is the perfect size to hold 4-5 pencils and a few highlighters and pens. It’s also long enough to hold new or freshly sharpened pencils with room to spare at the end for a sharpener and eraser.
Mossery Weekly Horizontal Planner: At my school, Stuyvesant High School, we have tests in most of our subjects every other week. With all those tests, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed. I used my Mossery planner to keep track of all my exams and deadlines last year. I’ll also be using it to stay organized this year, especially when I apply to colleges this fall. Since this planner is undated, it can be started or used at anytime during the year. There are 14 monthly calendars, as well as weekly pages to write down your homework assignments and activities.
The Standard Notebook: These notebooks come in both graph and ruled paper, and are the perfect size for individual subjects (see the above calculus notes on infinite limits!). The pages offer plenty of room for your notes and have space for headers along the top. They’re also sturdy enough to withstand the wear and tear of being tossed around in your backpack all year.
Other Fun Stuff
Finally, here are some miscellaneous stationery favorites that don't quite fit into the other categories. They might not be essentials, but they're still very nice to have.
Gold Pentagonal Pencil: This one is a good luck pencil for students, meant to be kept in a pencil case during exams. It has a unique pentagonal shape and a shiny coat of gold lacquer. I'll admit I've never actually used this one, as it's more of a novelty pencil. However, I did bring it with me to my final physics exam this past year, so I can vouch for the good-luckiness of it!
Custom Pencils: Pencil theft is unfortunately an all-too-common issue among students. One of the best ways to solve this problem is to get some custom pencils! Here at CWPE, we offer pencil customization. You can have your name stamped on your pencils so that they'll never be stolen again. Custom pencils also make great gifts for other students. Pictured above are some pencils that Alyx helped me make for my brother and cousins, shortly after they were accepted into college. You can also customize pencils with your favorite quotes or words. I made that green pencil as a tribute to one of my favorite books of all time, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
Stickers: At CWPE, our other favorite stationery category, besides pencils of course, is stickers. This is why we have an entire room dedicated to stickers at the back of our physical shop. One of my responsibilities as an intern here is doing most of the sticker buying for the Sticker Emporium. I take pride in curating all the best stickers from our favorite brands and artists (I even illustrated some of my own!). I truly believe that stickers make everything better. They're especially useful for decorating your notebooks, planner, pencil case, or laptop (see mine above!).
So, there you have it! All the best stationery picks for note taking, studying, and test taking. Going back to school can feel very scary, but getting fun new pencils and notebooks always helps ease some of the stress. Thanks for reading, and good luck to anyone going back to school this year!