Pen or Printer: Can Students Afford to Handwrite Their Exams?
Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 51, pp, 118-29, 2001
12 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2007
This article considers whether students who type their law school essay examinations obtain a grade advantage over students who handwrite their examinations. Studying 2,588 exams of first year law students at Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark Law School, the study found that typing improved the grade received by students. This result held for students with similar academic credentials upon their entrance into law school. The difference was determined with more than a 99 percent degree of statistical confidence (p<0.0001).
In considering why this disparity exists, one possibility is that teachers grade more generously those exams that are legible and easy to read. Exploring another possibility, the study found that law students who wrote longer exams tended to receive better grades. Although a student's ability to write more may reflect better understanding of the course materials and the ability to analyze fact patterns and legal issues more quickly, it also may be the case that students with proficient typing skills score better simply because they can say more during the alloted time.
Keywords: pedagogy, testing, law school examinations, handwriting
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