A pencil case is like a puppy. You bring it wherever you go, it’s your best friend in an exam if you treat it right but if you don’t feed it well, nothing will end well for you. I’m going to discuss the stuff I feed mine (the pencil case, not puppy)

1. Calculator(s)

First thing’s first, as I’m sure you’re probably wondering: Why on earth do I have four calculators?
One is my main calculator, other is a backup if the battery fails, 3rd is for when an exam wants “selected calculators only” (which means you can only bring this specific model and this other model that isn’t in production anymore…). And the white one is a graphics calculator that I probably won’t ever use again.

I still remember the first lecture I attended in Accelerated Maths (basically first year uni maths) last year. One of the first things they told us was “your calculator is like a teddy bear, you don’t really need it but it’s kinda nice just to have with you”. The punchline is they take away your teddy bear when it comes to 2nd year…. Don’t become too dependent on your calculators, people. This is what happens.

2. Gel pens

Pilot G2, 0.5 mm. I don’t know how people live with using any other type of pen. The smooth flow of ink, the uniform thickness… you know what i’m talking about. Backup pens refills, because of course.

3. Pencil case

The pencil case itself. With such stringent anti-cheating measures you’ve probably experienced yourself, you definitely need a transparent case. Mine has a neat little ID card slot, you’ll probably want that too. Really, get a proper one. I’ve seen people walk in to exams with the bags you get bread in.

4. Actual stationery

2 pencils, 2 erasers, 3 packs of lead. Just in case.

5. Highlighter

Highlighter. Use sparingly. Don’t fall into the trap of slathering your books with toxic highlighter fluid. I think the Engineering coursebooks are quite well laid out, we don’t have massive dull blocks of text to wade through. This means that most of the stuff in there is relevant and important. Remember one is none (two is one), so I also have a backup highlighter.

6. Random stuff that isn’t there when you need it, and is always there when you don’t.

Ruler, 45 set square, compass. Not pictured: protractor, measuring tape from a Christmas cracker. I’m sure you’re now wondering what I need all this measuring equipment for. Truth is, I don’t. This is an area where I was horrendously under prepared (is that word even in my vocabulary?) when I started Engineering Design and had to rush to get these. Alas, I was sorely mistaken thinking Engineering was all exams (it’s not). We can’t all be perfect.

Scissors, stapler, glue stick. Somehow, these things always seem to manage to just up and disappear whenever I need them. Imagine finishing up your assignment, printer miraculously doesn’t jam but at the final home stretch you don’t have a stapler!! Does anyone else get nightmares about these things?

So that’s it. This might be a little bit overboard, but you get the idea. Of course not all of these are in my pencil case at any one time, it’ll burst and all my stuff would be on the floor and that’s not very fun. Just remember to take the necessities with you, plus a bit extra.