Study Strategies: Handwriting v Typing

With smartphones and emails dominating our lives, a lot of us hardly ever pick up a pen anymore.  Even exam boards now offer computer-based tests. However, there is an advantage to handwriting: it can actually help you learn. A 2021 study published in the ‘Frontiers of Behavioural Neuroscience’ observed that participants who handwrote notes consistently outperformed those who typed in terms of comprehension and recall. Other studies have reached similar conclusions.

Research-Based Benefits of Handwriting:

  1. Improved Learning and Retention: Research shows that handwriting can improve learning and memory. When you write by hand, you engage different parts of your brain, it requires more cognitive effort and can help you develop a deeper understanding and memory.

  2. Personalization and Creativity: Handwriting allows for greater personalization and creativity. You can customize your study materials with colour, pictures and notes more easily.

What you can do:

  1. Take Handwritten Notes: During English classes, lectures, or self-study sessions, opt for handwritten notes instead of typing. Write down English vocabulary words, grammar explanations, and language examples to reinforce your understanding of the material. Try presenting the information in a different way, using mind maps, for example.

  2. Practice Spelling: English spelling is notoriously difficult but writing particular words you have difficulty with, again and again, to engage both visual and motor memory pathways, can help set the word shape more firmly in your mind.


If your writing is difficult for others to read, opt for computer-based exams and type your written work for your teacher. You don’t need to handwrite everything to benefit!