Updated: Aug 24
In exams, time management is crucial to your overall success and as a result the speed at which you can write also has immense sway over your success. Being able to write with speed and present your argument in full, allows you to make the most of all possible marks available in an exam. Practicing every day with these tips can help you maintain a better writing speed, and hopefully, better results.
First you will need to set yourself a goal. Ask yourself, “What is a realistic word count per hour that I can work towards?” Once you start speed writing regularly, seeing improvements in your writing, working towards this goal will motivate you to keep at it.
Write out one of your essays on sheaf paper and time yourself. Then see how long it takes you and be aware of when you had to slow down and why. Once you have identified some chokepoints in your speedwriting, think about what you can do to minimise their impact on your speed. From here you should choose a paragraph of your essay and repeatedly copy it out without looking at it, occasionally changing paragraphs, this will train your hand to write faster.
Knowing your topic and what you need to write about is often what constricts my own writing speeds during exams. If you know the course content well enough and prepare yourself for the exam, you will not need to slow down to remember key points to your argument. Know the outline of your answer before you start writing and fill in the memorised content as you go.
Many students have found success in attaching weight in the form of batteries or marbles to their pens. Through this method, you are effectively training the muscles in your hand which improves writing stamina and speed and noticeable increases in speed can be observed when swapping to a lighter pen.
When stressed, many students (including myself) tighten their grip on their pen and start to hunch over their work. Relaxing the grip on your pen will stop the muscles in your hands from tensing up and slowing you down. Furthermore, sitting upright stops straining in your eyes, neck and back while also relieves the pressure on your arms and hands which happens while leaning over onto a desk.
Your fingers are naturally designed to work up and down, as such writing vertically with skinnier lettering may improve the speed and duration you can continuously write for. For many people, this will also improve legibility as manipulating your fingers horizontally is unnatural for the hand. Keep in mind this is only a tip, you may find other methods of writing better for you.
Overall, the speed of your writing comes down to how often and how much time you spend writing. Maybe next time instead of typing out your notes in class you should hand write them in preparation for your next exam. Find what works for you and expand upon that, eventually you should be reaching roughly 1000 words per 40 minutes. Give yourself the opportunity to get all the marks you can through continual practice.