Best Pens To Write Civil Services Mains Exam – Ball Point & Gel – Comparison, Recommendation and Overcome Hand Fatigue

Are you wondering what is the best pen to write civil services mains exam? So you’ve passed the 1st stage and is now in the exciting UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam, congratulations! Now, let’s get you a good pen to write those high mark rating essays.

Before deciding – always try for 10-15 pens and use each one for at least 2-3 hours or about 2000-3000 words of continuous writing before concluding.

While writing for more extended periods, pens which are thin or slim at the finger grip area will cause less pain irrespective if it has rubber grip or not. e.g., Pilot V5 and Reynolds 045 are excellent to hold even though they lack any rubber grips mainly because they are slim.

Note: Overall, when compared to blue ink, black looks good on white paper.

Compared to ball pens, gel inks are brighter on paper. So it has an amplifying effect, i.e. if your writing is good, it looks beautiful with gel, but if your writing is terrible, it will be ugly. Since we need to write at a fast pace, we found it difficult to concentrate on the neatness of handwriting after 500-1000 words.

Writing experience: Gels fare better than normal ball pens in short writings. But for more extended periods of writings and we found that ball pens are much better in writing, especially with butter flow and techno tip.

Though many gels are advertised as waterproof, almost all gels faded when water was spilt, especially with the Pilot V5. So we feel it is risky to write while using them.

Also, one disadvantage with gel is its thickness is always the same, whereas with ball pens thickness varies by the pressure applied, which is sometimes helpful. E.g., while writing in cursive at a fast pace, we happen to write e and c similarly, and the very subtle difference between them is in the pressure applied. But when we used gel pen, this difference was absent, and others couldn’t differentiate between e and c.

Comparison of the UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam Pens

  1. Reynolds 045 – Blue and black
Reynolds 045 Blue
045 Reynolds Fine Carbure pen
  • Good grip
  • Handwriting looks good.
  • Ink flow: has uneven flow of ink – one of the worst of the pens we’ve tried.
  • Overall: unsatisfied

2. Cello Techno Tip – Blue and black

Cello Techno Tip Blue
Cello Techno Tip Blue
  • Good grip – suitable for writing more extended periods.
  • Handwriting looks good.
  • Ink flow: not as bad as Reynold 045 but not that good as Cello Butter Flow.
  • Overall: Good Pen

3. Cello Pinpoint -Blue

Cello Pin Point
Cello Pin Point Blue
  • Grip: Fat pen in comparison to techno tip – felt uncomfortable for writing more extended periods
  • Handwriting: almost same but little bit better than Techno Tip
  • Ink flow: same as Cello Techno Tip
  • Overall: almost the same as Techno Tip but relatively lousy grip.

4. Cello Gripper – Blue

Cello Gripper Ball Pen
Cello Gripper Blue
  • Grip: Good – very slim pen
  • Handwriting: not so good compared to techno tip
  • Ink flow: uneven
  • Overall: We felt Techno Tip is much better.

5. Luxor Pilot v5 (fluid ink)– blue and black

Pilot V5 Roller Ball Pen
Luxor Pilot V5 Ball Pen
  • Have to refill frequently and refilling every time is a cumbersome process.
  • Blue ink is very bright. Black looks good.
  • Grip: Good
  • Handwriting: As mentioned earlier, it amplifies what we write.
  • Ink Flow: Good – good experience while writing.
  • Overall: My choice of pen for writing in brief.

6. Cello Flo Gel – blue

Cello Flogel Gel Ball Pen
Cello Flo Gel Pen
  • Grip: Good
  • Handwriting: ink is a bit darker so felt not so good with my writing.
  • Ink flow: Good – good experience while writing.
  • Overall: Many people liked it, but we felt it is dominating the content so it may be suitable for headings and titles.

7. Reynolds Racer Gel – blue

Reynolds Racer Gel
Reynolds Racer Gel Sporty
  • Grip: relatively fatter than Flo Gel.
  • It is hard to distinguish text written by this pen and Flo Gel. They both write almost identical. After keen observation, you find this pen’s ink is very slightly lighter than Flo Gel.
  • Overall: Same as the Flo Gel but fatter.

8. Reynolds Mera Gel – blue

Reynolds Mera Gel Pen
Reynolds Mera Gel Pen
  • Thought it was 0.5 it writes like a 0.8-1. Writes very thick.
  • Con: Gets imprinted on the backside of the paper.
  • Overall: We felt its not suitable for writing notes or exam.

9. Reynolds Trimax – black

Reynolds Trimax Liquid Gel
Reynolds Trimax Gel
  • Grip: bit fat pen
  • Handwriting: Writes a bit thick but felt very good to write.
  • Con: getting imprinted on the backside of the paper.
  • Overall: We felt its not suitable for writing notes or exam. Also expensive among all the listed pens.

10. Cello Butter flow Ball Pen – black and blue

Cello Butterflow Ball Pen
Cello Butterflow Ball Pen
  • Grip: Bit fatter than techno tip but still good grip
  • Handwriting: Looks good.
  • The flow of ink: very buttery – feels very good after writing for more than 5 -10 minutes. It just flows.
  • Con: Refill has to be changed frequently.
  • Overall: Very good and smooth pen to write with

Our Recommendations

  1. Cello Butter Flow – you can get it from this link
  2. Cello Techno Flow – you can get it from this link.

Note: It is better to experiment with some mainstream pens and choose the one which suits your handwriting and comfort.

Tips to Overcome Hand and Muscle Fatigue

The UPSC CSE Mains exam is a 3 hours continuously prolonged exam. One thing that comes up frequently throughout the exam time is one’s hand fatigue. About 15 minutes into an exam, aspirants are most likely to get a dreadful pain in their fingers and hand muscles that leads to the disorganized handwriting. This also leads to reducing writing and answering speed.

  • Use lightweight and sleek pens
  • Use soft tip pens
  • Use rubber grip pens
  • Holding it at the right point


In this article, we have discussed the best pen options for UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam. We all know this is a very lengthy exam, and it is essential for candidates to find the right kind of pen before appearing for the exam. The choice is very individualistic, and aspirants need to try different types and styles before making any final decision.

Areas covered in this article

  • Best pen options for the UPSC CSE Mains
  • Our recommendations

Related Links