Tip: Always have extra pens/pencils. Like, four extra. At least. This year, I had a pencil bag stuffed full of lead, extra mechanical pencils, and pens.
First we must look at which pens/ pencils to have with you, and after that we will explore the benefits of having a plethora.
Mechanical all the way. I don’t care if you prefer *real* pencils. They’re too much of a bother. Half of the pencil sharpeners you find are going to be either completely useless or crap. Sharpening a pencil in the middle of class is annoying and disruptive. Also, scantrons work with mechanical pencils, so there’s none of that “only use a #2 pencil” nonsense. Make sure you always have extra lead and erasers. They go fast. I’d suggest buying one of the big packs of .7 lead Bic pencils at Target; cheap and it will last you a while.
Let me tell you a story. When I got my school supply list in 6th grade, erasable pens were the first thing I saw. Since I was entering into middle school, I assumed that instead of pencils, big kids used erasable pens. That was actually false. So my first tip: DO NOT USE ERASABLE PENS. They are crap pens and the eraser doesn’t even work.
Pens I would suggest: My current favorite is Precise V5 from Pilot, but that’s because I like all the pretty colors and I like the look of thick ink on a page. Warning; they might smudge a bit if you touch the ink too soon after writing. But if you like the thin, neat lines of a less artsy pen, I would suggest Zebra pens. They are fantastic; they write really well, and they look professional and neat. I would suggest Zebra pens to my left-handed readers, because they tend to smudge less.
BENEFITS OF HAVING A CRAP TON OF EXTRA PENS:
Teachers hate it when kids come to class unprepared. They’re going to be eternally grateful to you if you never have to beg for an extra pencil/pen.
When a forgetful kid does need an extra pen/pencil, the teacher will often ask if anyone has extras. If you’re always the kid with the extras, they’ll remember that.
For your social life:
People are generally a lot nicer to you if you’re the known pen-loaner. Kids remember when you help them out. Maybe they won’t ever return the favor because they’re self-centered high school students, but they’ll treat you well so as to ensure they can get a loan when you need one. Don’t take this too hard: fake niceness is better than no niceness at all.
Trust me, school is a lot less stressful when you’re prepared. Scrambling for a spare pencil or piece of paper isn’t something you want to make a habit. Start the day off right with plenty of materials.