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That extra three minutes you could save from using a fast writing pen in the HSC rather than your typical generic one could make the difference between finishing an essay or not having enough time to write a conclusion which would result in a very poor mark. Paper-mate, Bic, Pentel, Pilot, Muji, Uni-ball, Staedler... There are so many brands out there and hence, you may find it confusing to choose which pen to buy. Many of these brands create great pens, but from my experience of writing a million high school essays, here are two of my favourite to use when you're under pressure! I have found both to be well priced and a-mazing! Even though they don't last a lifetime, saving ink isn't your main goal in an exam; it's all about the need for speed!


Uni-ball Jetstream Retractable Rollerball (My holy grail!)


This has been my go to pen for exams for a very long time; smooth, smooth, smooth is all I can say! It also rarely ever smudges either as it dries in an instance (which makes them ideal for left-handers as well). The perfect size of the pen makes it fit perfectly in your hand and its slightly rubbery texture also makes it easy to grip (a must when you're hands become sweaty under pressure!). It also rarely bleeds and the ink flow rate is pretty much on point. Of course, with such a smooth pen, the ink doesn't last forever but it is refillable. They cost around $4 to $5 each which obviously is a bit more expensive than your usual Kilometricos. However, in my opinion, they are by no means pricey for their quality.

This pen usually comes in nib sizes of 0.7mm and 1.0mm (I prefer the thinner one but both are still exceptional), and there is also a three colour version which is around the same price.


Bic Atlantis Retractable Ballpoint (Great value for money!)


If you're on a really tight budget then this is a great choice! It's usually around $1 to $1.50 for one pen and for its price, it's very smooth and it's ink dries pretty quickly. It usually is available in the medium nib size of 1.0mm.

Even though it has a rubberised grip and a contoured barrel, one small downside I find with this pen is that it is a little bit thin, and hence, can become slightly hard to grip when your hand is numbing, sweating, and trying to write as fast as possible. 


As you can tell, I strongly prefer retractable pens as it would be a pain to have pen lids flying around and having to waste time trying to find them hidden beneath my exam paper or under my seat. Of course, there are many more superb pens out there and it's really all about personal preference. You may even hate these two pens! They just happen to be two which I have personally found to be great and aren't too hard to find in Australia as well. Good luck in your next exam!


Jack Zheng | N° 16