I’m sure many students can relate to this situation, and some will probably experience it quite soon as the prebac is coming. Thus, in order to help you and reduce that scourge, let me give some useful tips!
1. Choose a good pen
Obviously, the pen you’re writing with should be comfortable. That means the pen should write smoothly, without you having to press against the page. It would be a good idea to buy a pen with a padded grip as well.
2. Hold your pen loosely
Stress causes you to hold your pen very tightly, which results in pain. Try to release your hand when you write.
3. Do not write only with your fingers
One of the causes of hand pain is that you’re writing only with your fingers. Therefore your wrist is moving a lot, which causes it to hurt. Try to keep your wrist and hand still and write using your elbow and your shoulder. Your whole arm should be moving!
You should also pay attention to your hand position: your wrist shouldn’t bend as you write.
4. Train yourself at home
If you’re not used to write a lot during two hours or more, it would be a good idea to write some essays at home a few days before the exam in order to get your hand used to writing. However, don’t write too much otherwise you’ll get the opposite effect: your hand will hurt even before starting the exam period.
5. Give your hand some rest and do hand exercises
Of course do not do this during your exam, because you will lose time so I strongly recommend doing it on the evening before each exam. Do not handwrite too much after your examination. However, if you know you remember more by writing your notes again and again, a good idea would be to type them on your computer or to privilege revising by repeating things out loud.
To relieve hand pain these are some exercises you could do:
- Twist a pen between your fingers
- Make a fist: wrap your thumb across your fingers and hold for one minute; then release and spread your fingers wide. Repeat at least 3 times.
- Stretch your fingers: place your hand palm-down on a hard and flat surface, straight your fingers as flat as you can, (without forcing) hold up to one minute and release. Repeat at least 3 times.
- Gently turn your wrists and hear them crackling
6. Warm your hands up and massage them
To relax your hands, soak them in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes and massage them. In case you’re wondering how to give yourself a hand massage, this is what you could do:
- Loose your hands up and shake them out.
- Flex your hands as wide as you can (without forcing!)
- Bend your wrists with your hands pointing down and do the same with your hands pointing up.
- Pinch gently the tips of each finger.
- Move your thumb around the palm of your hand doing circular moves and applying a gentle pressure on it.
- Massage the area between your thumb and index finger by doing deep compressions. Then make circular moves in that space to reduce tension.
7. Become ambidextrous
This is not a joke even if you may think so! Of course, it will be very difficult for someone who isn’t “naturally” ambidextrous to write as easily as with his dominant hand, but it is possible to achieve a fluent and beautiful handwriting.
If you want to become almost ambidextrous, you need to be patient because it needs daily practice for at least one month. To begin with your non-dominant hand training, start by drawing symmetrical objects with both hands at the same time. Then you should write several times the alphabet and write, write, write. You should also strengthen your non-dominant hand by using it for tasks like brushing your teeth, holding things, cleaning, cooking, playing basketball…
8. Break your arm and write on a computer
Here’s an interesting idea! If you can’t write with your hand, you could be allowed to bring a computer and type your exam on it. Of course you shouldn’ actually do that but on a serious note, isn’t it time to switch to typing-form exams on laptops? Aren’t handwritten tests a little bit outdated? Many universities including Edinburgh University and Cambridge University already offer to students the choice to take exams on computers.