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  • Writer's pictureTommy Sangchompuphen

Why Typing Beats Handwriting Every Time

Occasionally, I receive inquiries from prospective examinees regarding the decision between typing or handwriting their responses for the bar exam.


My suggestion is always the same: TYPE!


Here are reasons why you should type your bar exam responses:


Efficiency and Speed: Typing is generally faster than handwriting. Most people can type more words per minute than they can write by hand. During the bar exam, where time is of the essence, the ability to quickly type responses can be a significant advantage. It allows examinees to articulate their thoughts more rapidly and can lead to more complete answers.


Now, if you’re currently a slow typer, start improving your typing speed now. Engaging in daily typing exercises, using touch typing techniques and leveraging online resources, like typing tutor software and typing games, can make a significant difference. It’s essential to incorporate typing practice into the daily study routine to build muscle memory and improve accuracy. With consistent effort, even slow typers can significantly improve their typing speed and efficiency in preparation for the bar exam.


Legibility: Handwritten exams can suffer from legibility issues, especially under the pressure of time constraints. Graders have a challenging task as it is, and deciphering poor handwriting can negatively bias them, even subconsciously. Typed text, by contrast, is clear and uniform, making it easier for graders to read, thereby making it less likely that points will be lost due to misunderstandings or misinterpretations of what's written.


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Image created based on my description using OpenAI's DALL-E, via ChatGPT

Editing and Organization: Typing on a computer allows for much easier editing. If you make a mistake, you can quickly correct it without leaving a trace. Furthermore, organizing and re-structuring answers is simpler when typing. Depending on the jurisdiction, you can cut, copy, paste, and move text around to create a more coherent and logically structured response. 


Grader Bias: Choosing to handwrite your bar exam answers places you among a minority, as the vast majority of examinees now opt for typing. This distinction can make your exam booklet stand out, which isn't always advantageous. Handwritten responses, especially when they are few, can attract heightened scrutiny simply due to their rarity. Graders, accustomed to the uniformity of typed text, may find handwritten responses more laborious to read, potentially affecting their perception and, subsequently, their grading. 


Consistency and Professionalism: In professional legal practice, most documents are typed. And that’s what graders are used to. Learning to present your thoughts in a typed format can be seen as a direct extension of your future professional work. Typed responses can look cleaner and more formal, which helps in presenting oneself as adept with the tools and methods commonly used in legal settings.


Health and Comfort: Typing can be less physically demanding than handwriting, especially over long periods. Hand cramps and fatigue can set in during a long, handwritten exam, potentially affecting performance. Remember: There are usually six hours of writing on most bar exams. 


Opting to type your bar exam responses, rather than handwriting, can ultimately contribute to a more favorable assessment of your work.

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