In Philippine law schools, students are expected not just to answer their exams well. They need to WRITE them too in, at least, a readable format.
And believe it or don’t, handwriting is one of the major factors that determine a Filipino barrister’s chance of passing the bar.
Not sure with other legal education systems, but from where I come from, we still do it the old-fashioned way in answering the bar exams.
We still do it the handwritten way.
This trend still stands and I feel like this won’t change anytime soon.
Good thing, I didn’t have a hard time adjusting to this culture because I did a lot of writing during my time as a nurse. Writing legible endorsements, nursing diagnoses, and nurses notes were all part of my training as such.
Otherwise, I could have killed a number of my patients before. (God knows what could have happened if another health care team member reads my handwritten note “diphenhydramine” as “DOPAMINE”!)
5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Handwriting
If you wish to improve on your handwriting for your law school exams or bar examination, then this blog post might just be the one you need.
Let me share with you the following handwriting tricks that I learned and had been doing constantly since I started my law studies:
(1) Write bigger
Law professors and bar examiners alike despise lilliputian handwriting.
It sends them headaches, which may greatly influence the way they appreciate and grade your answers.
Don’t make your professors pick a magnifying glass or microscope just to decipher your small handwriting. Make it bigger before it’s too late.
If you have never or hardly tried writing in bigger letters and symbols before, you have to start doing it NOW. Before you know it, it’s already your turn to take the bar examinations. You cannot just experiment when that day comes.
On the other hand, some of you may ask, how big is “big”?
I asked some of my law professors on that matter. Most of them tell me, “the bigger, the better” as some bar examiners might be in their senior years and have poor eyesight already.
In my opinion though, your handwriting should be large enough to be read clearly, but must still fit the spaces in your test booklets.
(2) Use your old law school test booklets, composition notebooks, or anything that has large line spacing
Law school booklets are all similar in terms of lines and spaces. Well, at least, that’s the case here in the Philippines.
From what I’ve heard from lawyers, they look a lot like the actual bar exam booklets. Unfortunately, law students use these booklets only when they have their midterm and/or final exams.
Instead of buying new test booklets to write on, I compile all unused pages from my old exam booklets. This way, I don’t have to wait until the exams to practice my handwriting.
Every exam has 10 essay questions on the average. (I do have a law professor who asks 100 questions, but that’s probably something I can talk about in another blog post. Lol.) So, I still have a good number of unused pages from each test booklet.
Another alternative would be composition notebooks that we used to write on during our high school days. Composition notebooks are somehow similar with our law school test booklets in terms of line spacing.
If you are feeling a little fancy, you may try out thicker binder-friendly notebooks with large line spacing like this one I got for my Evidence class:
This was something our Evidence professor suggested for taking notes in his class.
(3) Get a good pen
It doesn’t have to be an expensive pen, though it has to be a good one.
Admit it or don’t, a pen has a lot to do with your handwriting. A bad one spoils your handwriting at anytime.
Some of the good yet affordable stuff I’ve tried, which are locally available, are the holy grail Pilot and Pentel sign pens. They come in various ball point sizes, giving you some options. People normally choose the 0.5 point, but being the deviant that I am, I love using the 0.7 ones.
Recently, I also grew fond of using fountain pens. I love using them too because they just make your handwriting legible, beautiful, and large without trying so hard.
As for fountain pens, it doesn’t have to be Montblanc or anything on the high-end side (Though that would be nice!). Believe it or don’t my first fountain pen was a small, on sale, and cheap Parker fountain pen, which I got merely in compliance with one of my previous law subjects. Fast forward to 2019, I am now hooked and I have a bunch of them already in my collection, which you may read about here.
(4) Practice, write by hand A LOT
Make your own notes or handwritten handout.
Write your case briefs or digests.
Write your love a love letter (I and my Jumel do this a lot!).
Keep a law school journal.
Find time to write in your diary, if you have one.
Write. Write. Write.
I believe CONSTANT practice makes perfect. Our goal here is to make handwriting your second nature. So, keep writing until you reach that comfort level when it doesn’t feel taxing anymore.
(5) Get rid of your correction tapes or fluids and friction pens
Correction tapes or fluids, and friction pens, encourage you to become complacent when writing. Obviously, if you know you can undo your handwriting errors and getaway with it, you will not strive to practice and improve your handwriting endurance.
Correction fluids and tapes are those you put over a handwritten error to cover it. They usually come in white. (I’m sorry if I have to mention this here. I had to tell this just in case some of you aren’t familiar with them.)
Meanwhile, friction pens are those with erasable inks. They are good to use in the beginning, but since its ink may be easily erased on paper, it also fades easily over time. So, when your law professor decides to defer checking your test booklets to a latter time, you have a big problem!
So, the lesson here is: practice and get used to writing without them as soon as possible.
Ditch them. Write on your notebook, journal, or planner WITHOUT THEM.
You’ll be okay, I promise!
In order to avoid erasures though, it’s best if you think your sentences over before writing them on your notebook or test booklets. This may take quite some time in the beginning. But if you’ll do this every time, it will be easier eventually.
Should you commit any mistake, you are not completely deprived of the prerogative to make erasures, provided you do it the “neat way”.
Putting a line over or striking through your mistakes, like
this is the “neat way”.
Throughout my four years in law school, these simple techniques helped me achieve the handwriting that I have today. Nonetheless, I’m still looking for other ways to improve it further. There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement and pursuit of excellence, right? (Lol.)
How about you? Do you have your own techniques that may help others improve their handwriting?
Let’s help our fellow law students, or even friends, to improve theirs by commenting them down below.
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