Here we go again—it’s time to start thinking about stocking up for back to school. One item that is on every teacher’s and student’s supply list is pencils. With so many pencil options out there, it can feel overwhelming to make a choice on what pencils to add-to-cart. We tested out the best pencils and are excited to report our findings. You’ll find a mix of both mechanical and traditional wood pencils here.
We also took cost into account and tried to find pencils at different price points. But keep in mind the price will vary depending on when and where you purchase the pencils and how many are in the package.
(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)
Best Overall Traditional Wood Pencil: Ticonderoga #2 Pencil
From the Manufacturer: “Ticonderoga has a tradition of fine quality writing instruments in the U.S. for over 100 years. The exclusive graphite core features a proprietary formula focusing on graphite mined from carefully controlled sources to deliver extra-smooth performance. Top-quality latex-free erasers remove marks completely without smudging. Premium wood harvested from responsibly managed sources provides smooth, even sharpening with minimal breakage. These pencils are pre-sharpened to save you time and hassle. Teachers prefer Ticonderoga for its dependability and craftsmanship. When only the best will do, choose Ticonderoga-brand pencils.”
Our Take: This pencil is the no. 1 wood pencil for us. There is a reason that there are two Ticonderoga pencil options on this list: They make amazing pencils! Spending a little bit more for the pre-sharpened pencils is worth it. This pencil writes smoothly, erases well, and sharpens easily. It is a highly rated pencil for good reason.
Cost: 24 cents per pencil
Buy it: Ticonderoga #2 Pencil at Amazon
Best Budget Traditional Wood Pencil: Amazon Basics #2 Pre-Sharpened Pencil
From the Manufacturer: “150 wood case #2 HB pencils made from high-quality wood come pre-sharpened. Strong medium-soft lead produces long-lasting, smooth, readable strokes. Rounded hexagonal shape with satin-smooth finish for a secure, comfortable grip.”
Our Take: These pencils are the best value! Teachers, if you like to stock up on pencils for the year, this is the box to get. A huge bonus: They are already sharpened! They are smooth writing and have a comfortable grip. They are also highly rated on Amazon.
Cost: 20 cents per pencil
Buy it: Amazon Basics #2 Pre-Sharpened Pencils at Amazon
Paper Mate Everstrong #2 Wood Pencil
From the Manufacturer: “Reinforced, break-resistant lead when writing. Less sharpening means longer-lasting pencil. Woodcase pencils. 100% latex-free eraser. Includes 24 pencils.”
Our Take: We like the darker color on the page. We also feel that this pencil has a comfortable grip. The sharpened point writes smooth on the page and did not break. This pencil also has thousands of positive reviews on Amazon. It makes sense that renowned brand Paper Mate makes one of the best pencils.
Cost: 20 cents per pencil
Buy it: Paper Mate Everstrong #2 Pencils at Amazon
Pen+Gear #2 Sharpened Wood Pencil
From the Manufacturer: “Show up to class fully prepared for the note-taking journey ahead with our Pen+Gear No. 2 Sharpened Wood Pencils. These pencils feature the iconic yellow wood case design that you grew up with and have come to know with pencils. Each pack comes complete with 48 of these wooden pencils, which provides you or a classroom with plenty of the essentials to get you through the semester.”
Our Take: These pencils are an excellent affordable option. Again, pre-sharpened is worth the extra money. You can get 48 pencils for $3.88. They are smooth writing on the page and produce dark writing. The eraser takes some work to get the mistakes to erase completely. Still, a great buy.
Cost: 8 cents per pencil
Buy it: Pen+Gear #2 Sharpened Wood Pencils at Walmart
Up & Up Sharpened #2 Wood Pencil
From the Manufacturer: “These Sharpened #2 Wood Pencils from Up & Up are a functional addition to your classroom or office supplies. Made from real wood, these pencils feature a #2 lead for smooth and easy writing, making them just the right pick for everyday writing needs at school, office, or home. Easy to sharpen, these wood pencils also feature erasers for your convenience.”
Our Take: We can see how this Target option makes the list for best pencils. We like how they write smooth on the page and show up darker in color. The price is affordable, and the pre-sharpened option is always a plus. These writing utensils also boast thousands of positive reviews. Fans say they are a teacher and student favorite to stock up on. One review mentioned they’ve been loyal to this brand for years. That is an endorsement for a good-quality pencil.
Cost: 4 cents per pencil
Buy it: Sharpened #2 Up and Up Pencils at Target
Jot Neon Wood Pencil
From the Manufacturer: “These Jot brightly colored pencils come in 12-ct. packs holding 3 pencils each of neon green, neon yellow, neon orange, and neon pink. They are filled with #2 lead, the best choice for most writing tasks and pencils used for test-taking. These brightly colored pencils are a perfect addition to prize boxes, goodie bags, and back-to-school supplies!”
Our Take: These Dollar Tree pencils are definitely a great bargain! They also come in fun neon colors, hopefully making them harder to lose. The pencil writes smoothly and has a comfortable grip. They do take a little work in erasing, but they are a great affordable option.
Cost: $1.25 per pencil
Buy it: Jot Neon Pencils at Dollar Tree
Best Overall Mechanical Pencil: Bic Mechanical Xtra Smooth 0.7mm Pencil
From the Manufacturer: “Smooth-writing no.2 lead advances easily, does not smudge, and erases cleanly.”
Our Take: We agree! We love that this pencil writes a bit darker. It is silent when writing on the page. All of the pencils that are shared today wrote smoothly but this one was the smoothest. It is our favorite mechanical pencil.
Cost: 26 cents per pencil
Buy it: Bic Mechanical Pencil Xtra Smooth at Amazon
Best Budget Mechanical Pencil: Amazon Basics Mechanical 0.7 mm Pencil
From the manufacturer: “Always sharp: with a simple click-down press of the eraser (top end of the pencil), a measured amount of lead advances—no sharpening needed. #2 lead: the strong smudge-resistant lead creates clean marks, erases thoroughly, and allows for smooth writing and drawing.”
Our Take: This mechanical pencil is a great affordable option! The pencil writes very smoothly and is clear and crisp on the page. There are plenty of fun bright colors, which makes this option harder to lose (hopefully!).
Cost: 26 cents per pencil
Buy it: Amazon Basics Mechanical 0.7 mm Pencil at Amazon
Best Mechanical Pencil for Young Children: Paper Mate Handwriting #2 Mechanical Pencil
From the Manufacturer: “Learning to write is an important stage in every child’s development, but writing products sold today are not designed with kids in mind. The Paper Mate Handwriting triangular mechanical beginner pencil provides control for early writers! The #2 triangle pencil has thick 1.3 mm lead for less breakage and a triangular shape that guides finger placement. Plus, bright barrel colors make handwriting fun. The perfect addition to your school supplies for preschool and kindergarten.”
Our Take: We love this pencil! It is absolutely perfect for early writers. The triangular shape makes the grip more comfortable, and the thick lead helps with less breakage and a darker presence on the page.
Cost: 36 cents per pencil
Buy it: Paper Mate Handwriting #2 Mechanical Pencil at Amazon
Ticonderoga Mechanical Pencil
From the Manufacturer: “NOT YOUR TYPICAL MECHANICAL PENCIL – No sharpening, clicking, or twisting needed; lead automatically advances when lifted from paper.”
Our Take: This trusted brand delivers! This mechanical pencil does not even need to be clicked to refill the lead. It is the “smartest” mechanical pencil. If you want to have a pencil that is always effortlessly sharp, this is the pencil for you. The Amazon reviews also share that it works well for early writers.
Cost: $2.92 per pencil
Buy it: Ticonderoga Mechanical Pencil at Amazon
Pen+Gear Mechanical Pencil
From the Manufacturer: “Make the grade while you write with Pen+Gear Mechanical Pencils. These smooth-writing mechanical pencils never need sharpening and come in an assortment of bright colors that appeal to students and professionals alike. Each mechanical pencil includes three full-length graphite refills that advance quickly with a simple, easy click. The black graphite lead does not smudge, while a built-in eraser helps correct mistakes and blunders quickly.”
Our Take: These are an excellent affordable option. The colorful pack makes me excited to grab a pencil and use it! They are smooth writing and erase well. There is a little noise when pressing onto the page, however, the low price for 50 in the package makes up for that!
Cost: About 1 cent per pencil
Buy it: Pen+Gear Mechanical Pencils at Walmart
Plus, check out our picks for the best pens for note-taking and the best erasers for the classroom.
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