You might have never thought about it before, but a nice pen and a good notebook can actually boost your grades. How so? 

In 2014, a behavioral neuroscience study (the University of California and Princeton University) revealed that taking notes by hand improves students’ performance with conceptual questions more than using digital devices for note-taking. Besides, jotting the pieces of lecture or other information down improves retention and helps recall what you’ve memorized faster.

In this article, we’ve compiled the list of the best pens and notebooks you can choose for taking notes longhand. When your writing tools provide a pleasant experience, you will be more willing to write instead of relying on your laptop at all times, and by doing so, you’ll be studying more effectively. 

Best Pens for Note-Taking

Uni-ball Jetstream Stick Rollerball Pen

Price: $3.25

The uni-ball Jetstream “combines the satisfyingly smooth, vivid writing of a gel pen with the quick-drying, smudge-resistant properties of a ballpoint.” This is definitely the pen you’d like to keep to yourself and not share with anyone. It’s a perfect choice for left-handed writers due to its quick-drying ink technology that resists smudges and smears. You can choose from a variety of colors. These pens are great for taking notes during long lectures and jotting things down during heated discussions. 

Zebra F-301 Retractable Ballpoint Pen

Price:  $3.14 per pack

Zebra F-301 retractable ballpoint pen is an excellent choice for those who like to keep their writing nice and neat. Best pen for note-taking, the 0.7 mm ballpoint allows doing it perfectly. Whether you use it for note-taking in your studies or writing a diary, rest assured there won’t be any smears and smudges. Another bonus point of this pen is its stylish and laconic design with its stainless steel barrel and a neat metal clip—to keep it in a pocket if you want to show it off. 

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Pilot G2 Retractable Premium Gel Ink Ball Pen

Price: $4.76 for a pack of 2

America’s #1 Selling Go-2 gel ink pen, Pilot G2 pen is definitely a choice of any ambitious college student and one of the best pens for school. Hardly there is another pen that would be so popular and sell so well. With its plastic barrel and a rubber grip for the most comfortable writing experience, the pen will do all the work for you. The reason behind the huge G2 pen popularity is that its design doesn’t make a hand tired. You can write with this pen for hours. Super cool, isn’t it? Exactly what a student needs for note-taking during lectures. Choose the color to your liking and the point type that’s best for your handwriting: ultra fine, extra fine, fine, or bold. 

BIC Round Stic Xtra Life

Price: $6.99 for 60-Pack

According to some resources, #1 selling ball pen in the US, this classic BIC pen is just perfect. It is simple and laconic, but you can hardly find anything more reliable. For a meager price, you get a pack of 60 pens that will help you out whenever you need to jot something down, label a detailed diagram, or make notes on the margins. If you are looking for good pens for notes, BIC is the pack for you. Another great thing about this 60-pack is that you won’t suffer if one of those pens goes missing or you lend it to a friend—there are many more in the pack!

Rolling Writer® Rollerball Pen

Price: $1.99

Finally, if you need a simple and reliable pen that doesn’t cost a fortune, Rolling Writer® Rollerball Pen is definitely for you! The pen features a laconic design and boasts of having “Enough ink to write for over a mile!” Perfect for note-taking in a hurry, it allows creating neat medium lines due to its 0.8mm tip. There is a choice of colors (black, red, blue, green, and violet), and each barrel and cap color matches the ink color. Grab it if you need a pen to take a quick note or write an essay or a report. One of the drawbacks: it’s non-refillable.

Best Notebooks for College

Yoobi Composition Book

Price: $26.95

If you are looking for a cute notebook for your studies, Yoobi composition books are ideal for you. Not exactly cheap, they will make your note-taking process a pleasure. Just look at their cheerful design—with all these colors and patterns, you are sure to memorize everything faster! Yet, cheerful design is not all Yoobi can boast of; their composition books have high-quality paper. These notebooks will keep you happy throughout the entire semester. Besides, the company is so cool that it donates one of their items to a child in need every time an item is purchased on the website. You can get yourself a notebook and help someone else at the same time!

The Moleskine Classic Notebook, Hard Cover, XL

Price: $26.95

We are sure you’ve seen these legendary notebooks at a local office supplies store. Inspired by hand-tied books and created for writers, artists, and thinkers, Moleskine Classic Notebook can be used for college studies as well. It is ideal for aesthetes who prefer to be surrounded by beautiful things, be it a notebook or a pen. This classic black notebook is just perfect in every way. It features high-quality paper, a laconic black cover (hardcover or softcover), a bookmark ribbon, and even an expandable folder inside the back cover. The paper is silky to the touch, lies flat, and lets you use both sides of the notebook equally without any discomfort. One more thing about this notebook is that it’s great for lefties, so if you are one, we do recommend it. You probably won’t be getting a Moleskine for every subject; however, even one notebook is a pleasure to carry around.

Mead 1 Subject Spiral Notebook

Price: $3.00

If you can’t afford Moleskine at the moment, we have another suggestion for you: Mead 1 Subject Spiral Notebook is one of the best budget college notebooks that both looks nice and offers a great writing experience. As a matter of fact, this wire-bound notebook with a cardstock cover is probably the most popular school notebook because you can see it in every class. What is great about this notebook (apart from the price) is that you can also tear individual pages and store them in a binder as they are perforated and have three-ring holes. 

Cambridge Limited Professional Notebook

Price: $18.49

One more great notebook for note-taking that we find worth mentioning in this list is Cambridge Limited Professional Notebook. This one will be perfect as a planner or a diary: all your to-do lists and meeting schedules will look very cool on the thick, white, legal ruled paper. You can also use a date box to keep all your notes in order and be able to reference them later if necessary. 

Rocketbook Core

Price: $24.21

This notebook was created with a different approach in mind. Rocketbook Core is an eco-conscious notebook that suggests that you take your notes on reusable notebook paper with the FriXion pen, digitize and store them in the Rocketbook app, erase the page, and write on it again. Surely, it’s not cheap and may not be that convenient for note-taking during lectures every time, especially if you need to keep your notes on hand in their physical form. One more disadvantage is that you can’t use the notebook without the FriXion pen. Yet, you can still give it a try.

No matter what type of subject you are taking and what your major is, you will need to take notes during your classes. And while your laptop can help you out in many situations, a good pen and a notebook are something that will not only let you remember more and learn faster but also stay with you at all times. Now you know where to find the best pens and notebooks for college, we hope you’ll be taking more pleasure in your studies.