Is the digital era killing off the tradition of handwritten notes?

handwriting in examshandwriting in exams

With students across the UK currently taking their GCSE exams, I have been reflecting on my own time at school and comparing this to the ways in which students revise and take notes in today’s day and age.

Like every other child my age at the time, handwriting was the only way we could take notes in class and we used these notes to revise for exams, so mastering the skill of handwriting was critical for us.

However, in today’s schools, colleges and universities, students have access to computers, laptops, tablets and other technology which they will often use to take notes and also use at home to revise from.

This use of technology has become second nature to the children of today when it comes to their education, however as we have discussed in a previous blog ‘Taking notes on a laptop does not improve a student’s learning’,  taking notes on a laptop has actually been proven to have an effect on a student’s learning. It is better for a student’s learning for them to take notes by hand, as it slows down the process of note taking, helping to solidify the information into their memory.

With this is mind and despite the increased use of technology in education and our children’s day-to-day lives, it is vital that they are still able to master the skill of handwriting during their time at school.

Not only is it highly beneficial and useful for their learning, but being able to write by hand is what is needed for their actual exams.

Although 21st century high school children are often using technology to take notes and revise from, they will not be able to use this technology when they go into their exams. Our children are still required to complete the majority of their exams by hand, and so they need to be able to write legibly and at speed for these exams.

Despite the increased use of technology within the classroom, it is vital that schools and teachers continue to teach handwriting and do not replace with more technology-based skills, such as the teaching of keyboard skills.

However, the only way in which students will be able to master the skills of writing legibly and at speed – two things which are needed for exams – is if they are taught handwriting correctly to begin with and if they receive the support they may need to correct any handwriting issues throughout their time at school.

During my first few years in education I was of course taught how to write by hand and I was taught using the correct method. I was first taught how to form individual letters, leading into how these letters form words. Once I had mastered these basics of handwriting, and as I continued in my education, it was only then that I was introduced to the cursive style of handwriting and taught how to write in this style to connect and join my handwriting.

Unfortunately, many primary schools across the UK do not follow this method to teach handwriting anymore, despite it being the correct method.

I have seen many schools now opting to teach with the continuous cursive method, due to the fact that they feel it reduces the time taken to teach legible and joined up handwriting. However, this method has only created a legacy of problems and it is teenagers, especially boys, who are suffering the consequences, when it comes to their written GCSE exams. You can find out more about the destructive effects of the continuous cursive method in a number of our blogs –

Are schools who teach the Continuous Cursive method creating a generation of children who will lack the basic skills in reading and writing?

Continuous cursive: Dispelling the Myths and Setting the Record Straight

Why are schools choosing continuous cursive when there’s little evidence to support its effectiveness?

We believe that handwriting and handwritten notes are still a vital component of education and if your child is currently revising for their GCSE exams, why not encourage them to step away from technology and try revising with handwritten note taking instead? They will likely discover that this method of revising helps them to retain a lot more information and improve their memory for their exams.

If your child is in high school and set to take their exams in the next year or few years and their handwriting is not legible, there is still time to help them master legible handwriting. You can bring your child along to any of our free handwriting workshops, where we can help improve their handwriting in a matter of minutes and in time for their exams.

 If your child is in primary school and is struggling with their handwriting, this could be due to the fact that they have been taught using the continuous cursive method. We can also help your child at any of our free handwriting workshops and correct the issues that this method may have caused.

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