Turns out that one needs to study for more than just puzzles, logic arguments, and passage structures: You also need to know cursive! Despite having three books, totaling 1,362 pages between them, not one of them mentioned having to write out the following statement in cursive!
LSAT Certifying Statement
The proctor instructed us to write the certifying statement in cursive, and when finished, look to the front of the room so she would know when to move on to the next set of instructions. At first glance, it did not seem like that big of a deal. But after attempting to write out a few words, panic set in when I realized that I forgot how to write in cursive!
I thought about questioning authority as to why we needed to write in cursive. I thought about sharing with the group that I had forgotten this third grade skill. But instead, I kept my head down and tried to relight those burned out synapses as fast as I could. About half way through the statement, I could sense that all writing in the room had ceased. I could feel attention shifting to me. Nonetheless, I kept my focus and plowed ahead. After a few more moments of silence, she moved to the next set of instructions without me. When it was all said and done, I had produced a paragraph that looked like it had been penned by a mentally challenged elementary kid. I could not even make it all fit in the box!
I quit writing in cursive not long after I learned it. The reason for that is two part: 1) Anything that I hand write is usually for me to read (i.e. notes); and I have trouble reading my own cursive handwriting. 2) Anything that I write, for anyone besides me, is nearly always typed. For these reasons, I have been writing exclusively in print and typeface for more than a decade. However, it was not so much that I could not actually write in cursive, it was just really hard. Imagine someone that is not ambidextrous trying to write out a paragraph using their non-dominant hand. That is what it felt like–slow and labored.
As soon as I got back home, I hit the internet to find out why the certifying statement had to be written in cursive, and whether or not I was alone in my inability to formulate this particular esoteric scrawl. While I never found a satisfying answer as to why, I did run into a dissonance abating report from the College Board. It reported that of the almost 1.5 million students completing the first ever essay section on the SAT in 2006, only 15 percent of them utilized cursive. The other 85 percent printed. So, maybe I am not alone?
I get a certain enigmatic aesthetical pleasure by methodically printing very ossified, invariate, and often rectilinear letters. Personally, I believe that cursive should be relegated solely to fancy dinner menus, wedding invitations, and other formal event informational brochures, as it serves no uniquely practical or functional purpose. It is already known fact that cursive takes readers longer to read and is not actually faster to write.[1,2] Besides, having to read it for anything more, gives me a headache, seeing as everything in the digital age comes in print. Moreover, I am very ardent in the belief that cursive should only be undertaken by calligraphers and those displaying the utmost technically proficient penmanship. Nothing irritates me more than having to read a page full of sloppy cursive. If only I were king…
Here is to hopefully never having to do it again: ¡Muerte a cursive! ¡Viva la print!
2) Graham, Steve, Naomi Weintraub, and Virginia W. Berninger. 1998. The Relationship Between Handwriting Style and Legibility. Journal of Educational Research 91 (5):7