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Swot Up blog - hints, tips, news and events from the 11 plus swot world

Handwriting - Spider Scrawl or Cursive Calm?

Fountain pen italic handwritingWe get a lot of questions asking us about the importance of handwriting in the eleven plus exam. Should they be trained in formal joined-up writing? Are marks lost through scrappy script?

As you may have found from teaching your child to write, forcing them into a certain style can slow them down as they re-train their hand. The 11+ exams are of course against very strict time limits. Your child is faced with a dilemma; write fast and possibly untidy, or italics and slower.

How is it marked?

Fortunately, there seems to be no accepted style for gaining marks in the exam. As a comparison, the KS2 mark scheme for English has the following paragraph:

All pupils need to develop a serviceable handwriting style which is legible, clear and encourages the reader to engage with what has been written. This assessment of handwriting is based on pupils’ ability to write legibly and fluently in a sustained piece of writing. Judgements will be made on the basis of the legibility and clarity of the handwriting throughout the longer task, supported by a closer look at the size and position of words and letters. This assessment of handwriting is based on pupils’ ability to write legibly and fluently in a sustained piece of writing.

And the top marks "for handwriting" are gained by:

The handwriting is consistent and fluent with letters and words appropriately placed. The handwriting maintains a personal style to engage the reader.

Clear is best

Which essentially means as long as the handwriting is clear, consistent and structured there should be no barrier for any particular style of handwriting. So rather than ensuring they write in full italics all the time, ensure your child strikes a balance between legible and swift.

Image copyright Bill Bradford. Original image is here on Flickr.

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