Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Berol by Paper Mate Handwriting Pen

Ready for SAT's

SAT's week is upon us and as my 11 year old son goes through the stressful time of tests and revision homework I thought it would be fitting to review the Berol by Paper Mate handwriting pen. It's the pen he was issued at school after earning his Pen Licence. I went out and bought a set for this review, and when I'm finished he can have them, so he can avoid having to explain to his teacher why he's lost yet another Berol.

I was also a user of the Berol Handwriting pen in primary school some 20+ years ago so schools across the country obviously feel strongly about the quality of these pens otherwise surely they wouldn't continue to use them.  I remember it was luck of the draw, who picked a working pen from the pot and who got lumbered with the ones that had completely dried out and having to make that trip to the bin to sharpen their pencil.

Berol by Paper Mate Handwriting pen

The Berol Handwriting pen is made of plastic, including the plastic tip. Although the pen is designed for children, the barrel isn't an attractive one. I'm undecided as to whether that's good or bad. Would a more attractive pen catch their eye and make them want to use it outside school hours, for pleasure? Or would it distract the children from their school work and disrupt their flow of thought? I'm not sure. Maybe the children don't care either way. I asked my son what he thought and he shrugged and said it's just a pen.

Plastic tip - pen is not refillable

The pen does write very well. The ink flow is consistent, there is no skipping or blobbing to spoil the childrens hard work. The ink looks nice on paper, no feathering or bleeding through the page unless you leave the tip on one spot for more than a few seconds. The ink dries in less than a second, which is perfect for those left handers who are still learning the best way to write without smudging. There is a small amount of resistance on the paper (not the scratchy type) which is good as it encourages the children to take their time, helping them produce a beautiful piece of writing.

I asked my son to provide me with a sample of his handwriting. It's a pen aimed at children so I thought a child should show us what it looks like. I said he could write anything he liked ....

No one was harmed before, during or after this sample was written

The pen is lightweight and comfortable to hold when held right. At the tip there are a couple of steps and the best place to hold the pen is on the largest step. There is a tiny bit of added texture on the largest step although not enough to say it has any function as a grip. I would have liked to see a rubber grip on this pen. My son has said that he experienced slipping after a heavy writing session and the steps dug into his fingers so he had to keep readjusting his grip and position. A rubber grip would have prevented this. As it is lightweight and easy flowing, not much pressure is needed to write, preventing any aching in the hand after writing for long periods of time.

Lid posts well

The lid posts well and doesn't alter the balance of the pen too much so lids that have rolled off the table, never to be seen again needn't be an issue.

The ink will wash out of most fabrics. This matters to me. A few weeks ago my son came home with a smiley face drawn on his school shirt which is still there today after much scrubbing and huffing and puffing.  If he'd done it with a Berol it wouldn't have mattered. I'm sure to him it seemed like a good idea at the time!

I can see why the Berol Handwriting pen has become the school pen of choice. It's comfortable, it's smooth and consistent without being too inky and allows the children to concentrate on the quality of their writing and not be distracted by issues with the pen. Its a medium point so a good line width, not to bold or too thin. And they are robust. The nibs are strong and the barrel isn't going to bat an eyelid at being dropped on the floor ten times a day.

One final thing - The Berol Handwriting pen claims that it "will not dry out for at least 14 days if the cap is left off". I'm having difficulty believing it so I'm going to try it. I'm going to leave one of the pens with the lid off at room temperature for 13 days (so I'm definitely within the time frame) and see what happens. I won't touch it at all until the 13 days are up. I'll update you with the results. Do you think it will dry out or not?

Good Luck to everyone taking exams this week. You can do it!

As I stated above, I wanted to test Berols claim that the pen would still work if left uncapped for 14 days. I said I would leave it 13 days but it was a busy few days and I ended up not testing the pen until day 15. 
As the saying goes - A picture speaks a thousand words - 

It works! It was touch and go to start with but as you can see, only 4 words into the sample the pen had woken up and was as good as it was on day one. I couldn't believe it. If I'm honest I didn't think the pen would work at all and I have to say, I'm seriously impressed. Well done Berol!


  1. This really brought back memories of the 'pot luck' of grabbing a Berol Handwriting Pen that was working.....LOL You took me right back to 1978 and now 2014 my own children have the very same experiences. The Berol may be more than just a pen....it brought together the experiences of two very different generations, despite the technological advancements that have happened in the last 20 years ;-) 'C'

  2. So true. All we need is a helping of semolina pudding and times won't feel so different after all!