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The importance of practicing without mechanical pencils

cmelman95cmelman95 Alum Member
edited March 2016 in General 730 karma
I know lots of us joke about the LSAT turning us into dorks who are obsessed with the minutiae of pencils, but I'd like to stress a seriously important lesson I learned recently: don't use mechanical pencils to take your practice tests. As you might know, mechanical pencils aren't allowed when you take the real thing, and regular wooden pencils do behave differently in an important sense. Specifically, they get more dull more quickly than mechanical pencils do.

This is actually extremely important for logic games, which require you to write and diagram clearly and precisely. I found that my pencils were getting dull by the end of my LG sections, resulting in lighter and thicker marks that actually took appreciably more effort to read and understand. Whereas I could quickly tap a mechanical pencil on the table to draw more lead, I either had to make due with my wooden pencil or switch to another one. This would have been a real, although obviously surmountable, problem had I only started using wooden pencils on test day.

So, as neurotic as this may sound, do yourself a favor and get a feel for the performance of your pencil of choice. The last thing you want to be worrying about are your writing instruments.


  • LSATKingsmanLSATKingsman Alum Member
    1024 karma
    Perhaps someone more adventurous can dig up the old "best pencil thread". Bottom line if you aren't using Black ticonderoga pencils for exams and LSAT you are doing life wrong.

    P.S. Some like the triangles but they don't sharpen to my liking. something to consider...
  • Micaela_OVOMicaela_OVO Alum Member
    1018 karma
    This!! I've been studying since last August, but I didn't make the switch to wooden pencils until January. There is a huge difference. It's not something you want to get used to right before your exam.

    @LSATKingsman said:
    Bottom line if you aren't using Black ticonderoga pencils for exams and LSAT you are doing life wrong.
    I use the black Ticonderogas. Haha glad I am doing something right!
  • allison.gill.sanfordallison.gill.sanford Alum Inactive Sage
    edited March 2016 1128 karma
    Now this is the second pencil thread. There can't be enough redundancy re: the importance of your primary LSAT tool.
    Palomino blackwing long point sharpener, hi-uni HB pencils. That is all.
  • time_to_gotime_to_go Alum Member
    edited March 2016 276 karma
    My sister laughed at me when I asked her if she could ship me some PENCILS out of anything I could ask her for. So I had to ask her to read "best pencil thread" for her to understand my situation. I didn't want to appear as too crazy you know? Haha. I bet Non-LSAT takers find us quite neurotic!
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Live Member Sage 🍌 7Sage Tutor
    27710 karma
    I’m a Staedtler norica man myself. Until after September, it’s all I'm allowing myself to write with for any purpose, not just LSAT related work. The details matter.
  • cmelman95cmelman95 Alum Member
    730 karma
    @"Cant Get Right" Idk man, I got some Noricas recently and I'm unimpressed with the lead and their hand feel. Maybe my sharpener just sucks, but the get dull extremely quickly and feel a little slippery in the hand.
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Live Member Sage 🍌 7Sage Tutor
    27710 karma
    They do dull faster @cmelman95, but there will always be trade offs. For me, the darker writing is well worth it. Switching back to my Ticons now, the writing just looks thin and unsubstantial, they’re so light. I just go through more pencils when I’m bothered by a duller point. For most tests, one pencil a section plus maybe a couple extra on Games is enough to get through a whole test with sharp points. The brittleness of the Ticons are what allow them to retain their point a little longer, but it also makes them more prone to breaking. I don’t think I’ve broken a norica point yet. They are a bit slick, which is my only really complaint. I used a file to rough a few up and that seemed to take care of that. Ultimately what’s important though is for each to find their own preference. What are you using? Ticons seem to be favored on the pencil thread, but I’ve heard a lot about the Blackwing 602s and Pearls as well.
  • cmelman95cmelman95 Alum Member
    edited March 2016 730 karma
    @"Cant Get Right" I'm still using the Noricas, mainly because I have a ton of them and they do the job well enough. I agree that they don't break very easily; even when I don't get a good tip and the lead is a little loose the pencil is still usable. My experience with the Noricas led me to write in my OP that one needs to get an intimate feel for the characteristics of their pencils, because I now know that on the real test I'll need to do exactly what you're doing and use a fresh pencil for each section (and potentially two for games).

    It looks like in some of his videos, @"J.Y. Ping" uses another kind of Staedtler that, it seems to me, writes seductively well.
  • twssmithtwssmith Alum
    5120 karma
    Nicole started this post a year ago! I too made the mechanical pencil mistake And don't get me started on the hundreds of posts about pencils on TLS...
  • csix07csix07 Member
    24 karma
    Well I'm glad someone posted this because I have been using mechanical pencils this whole time lol. I will be buying Ticonderogas tonight. I can take a pencil sharpener on test day though, correct?
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Live Member Sage 🍌 7Sage Tutor
    27710 karma
    @csix07 said:
    I can take a pencil sharpener on test day though, correct?
  • MrSamIamMrSamIam Inactive ⭐
    2086 karma
    Found this out the hard way. After months of using mechanical pencils, I randomly took a PT. Half way through the LG section I recall thinking to myself, "Gah! I need at least 8 pencils to take this test..."
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