Thinking back to elementary school, I always remembered my favorite part of the school day being the 30-minute handwriting lessons Ms. Heather would teach after lunch.

This was partly because it was a relaxing activity apart from the rest of our learning and also due to what I thought were my amazing handwriting skills. To show off my paper to my friends felt incredible and until middle school and it was the only reason I thought having good penmanship was important.

Studies show that about 41 percent of elementary schools in the United States do not teach handwriting anymore and that not teaching it can lead to certain academic disadvantages. For example, in high school especially, taking notes during class is a crucial component in retaining information.

Though taking notes on your laptop is an easier option, writing something down leaves a motor memory in the sensorimotor part of the brain and tends to resonate better in our minds. This is due to the fact that, according to a study published in Psychological Science, “longhand note takers engage in more cognitive processing than laptop note-takers.”

Having neat writing encourages me to use a pen and paper when taking notes, so when people with messier handwriting defer to using a laptop, it could limit their recollection of information.

Legible handwriting also becomes beneficial when taking tests such as in-class essays where writing is mandatory and the time limit on the test could result in a messy paper.

Teachers will have a harder time grading, and although they try to remain as impartial as possible, expert tutor from EASTuition, Sarah-Jane, says the frustration from interpreting messy handwriting may negatively influence their mood, which could translate into the grade.

Illegible handwriting also hurts your essay grade when going back to review and make minor edits to your paper before turning it in. Since most in-class essays have time limits, efficiency during the test is crucial. Spending a couple more seconds trying to decipher the words on your paper may not make a huge difference in your final mark, but the overall flow or grammar of the essay could improve.

Though neat handwriting is beneficial for students to have, it is not a necessity. Both teachers and students have more significant matters to focus on as messy handwriting does not determine the difference between a passing and failing grade.

So, though having neater penmanship may not be a top priority for students, taking some time out of your day to practice it could serve as a relaxing activity as well as a potential benefit in your academic career.