Having the best school supplies makes all the difference when it comes to the student’s experience. Low-quality supplies won’t stand up to use, and you’ll have to replace them.

That’s why we undertook a comprehensive review of typical school supplies. Although our efforts were geared toward college students, kids at other academic levels also may benefit from our expertise.

Keep reading to discover how you can get equipped for the new school term.

20 Best School Supplies for Back to School or College:

1. Cross Classic Century Satin Chrome Ballpoint Pen

Cross Classic Century Satin Chrome Ballpoint Pen


The humble ballpoint is a staple in classrooms. It’s affordable, functional and disposable. However, this selection has a reputation for being the best ballpoint pen in the world.

That reputation is deserved thanks to the beautiful satin chrome finish. It looks fantastic, and features like consistent ink flow, a reliable twist mechanism for opening and closing and a lifetime mechanical warranty mark this Cross ballpoint as a quality investment.

People love the metal construction and durability of these pens. Still, critics are disappointed that Cross pens are no longer made in the USA.

Things to Love
  • Beautiful design
  • Smooth ink flow
Things to Consider
  • No longer made in the USA

2. Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens

Medium Point (0.7mm), Assorted Colors, 12 Count


With medium points and an excellent selection of colors, this is a great choice for anyone who wants to color-code their notes. A point guard prevents each tip from fraying, making this the best quality felt tip pen.

The 0.7 mm tips on these pens combine bold and delicate lines. Smear and fade resistance ensures that your writing is clear, and Paper Mate says that the ink won’t bleed through most paper.

Users love how quickly the ink dries on the page. Nonetheless, some people are unhappy with how fast the ink runs out.

Things to Love
  • Great colors
  • Ink doesn’t bleed through pages
Things to Consider
  • These pens go through ink fast

3. Ohuhu 40-color Alcohol Marker

Ohuhu 40-Color Alcohol Marker, Dual Tips Permanent Art Markers for Kids, Highlighter Pen Sketch Markers for Drawing Sketching Adult Coloring, Alcohol-Based Markers, Bonus 1 Colorless Blender


Thanks to their dual tips, this set of permanent markers gets our vote for the best highlighter pen. Having so many colors from which to choose is amazing. It’s never been easier to color-code notes.

With broad and fine tips, you can highlight large and small sections. The ink is highly pigmented, and color-coded caps make it easy to find colors. A carrying case keeps everything organized.

People who have tried these highlighters appreciate the ability to refill the ink. Unfortunately, some people find the square shape of the pen uncomfortable.

Things to Love
  • Dual-tipped for broad and fine lines
  • An array of gorgeous colors
Things to Consider
  • Square-shaped barrels may not be for everyone

4. Pentel GraphGear 1000 Mechanical Pencil

Pentel GraphGear 1000 Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm (PG1015EBP)


This is the best mechanical pencil for drawing and writing thanks to its fantastic grip. It’s chiseled metal that’s inlaid with soft pads to ensure hours of writing comfort. A dual-action retractor promises smooth lead advancement.

Easy to refill and with a 0.5 mm tip, this is the perfect mechanical pencil for school. It performs well with templates and rulers, producing clear, dark lines.

People praise this pencil because the leads don’t break. Nonetheless, users occasionally are troubled by a plastic barrel that breaks easily.

Things to Love
  • Creates thick, decisive lines
  • Easy to refill
Things to Consider
  • The plastic barrel may be breakable

5. Ticonderoga Pencils

TICONDEROGA Pencils, Wood-Cased, Pre-Sharpened, Graphite #2 HB Soft, Yellow, 4-Pack (33882)


These are the best pencils for writing if you’re planning for heavy use. This set of 30 number-two pencils is a bargain, and you already know how reliable they are.

These come pre-sharpened to save time. Writing is smooth thanks to the proprietary graphite formula, and the latex-free erasers ensure a clean finished product.

Because they are pre-sharpened and erase easily, many people love these pencils. If there’s a complaint, it relates to the packaging, which sometimes fails.

Things to Love
  • Trustworthy performance
  • Smooth writing
Things to Consider
  • Packaging may spill pencils or allow them to break

6. Paper Mate Pink Pearl Erasers

Paper Mate Pink Pearl Erasers, Large, 3 Count (70501)


Even the best erasable pen doesn’t always have the most effective eraser. That’s where these classic Pink Pearl erasers come to the rescue. Because they are latex-free, you can trust them not to smudge.

With a flat face and sharp corners, you can erase everything from large to small sections. Whether you’re sketching or filling in answers on standardized tests, you can trust these erasers to function perfectly.

People love this set of three erasers because they are nostalgic and work great. Nonetheless, a few users complain about a sandpaper-like residue on some paper.

Things to Love
  • Works as well as ever
  • A classic, economical choice
Things to Consider
  • May leave some paper feeling like sandpaper

7. X-Acto School Pro Classroom Electric Pencil Sharpener

X-ACTO School Pro Classroom Electric Pencil Sharpener, Blue, 1 Count


With tons of built-in versatility, this is the best electric pencil sharpener for classroom or personal use. It’s a heavy-duty model that’s designed to take a beating. This means that you can expect years of continued use.

The electric motor is powerful yet quiet. When not in use, it doesn’t draw power. Sharpening is accomplished with a flyaway cutter that automatically stops when a pencil is perfectly sharpened.

Fans praise this model for its quality and precision. A few had problems with it overheating when sharpening a large number of pencils.

Things to Love
  • Can handle different pencil sizes
  • Big shaving bin
Things to Consider
  • May overheat with excessive use

8. BIC Wite-Out Brand EZ Correct Correction Tape

BIC Wite-Out Brand EZ Correct Correction Tape, White, 10-Count


When erasing isn’t appropriate, using correction tape is the obvious alternative. This pick for the best correction tape review comes from BIC Wite-Out, perhaps the best-known brand.

This tape uses film instead of paper to make it stronger. A soft rubber grip is comfortable to hold, and the translucent dispenser shows you how much tape is left. With more than 39 feet in each dispenser, you’ll be covered for a while.

People love the value of this 10-pack. Especially since some people noted that some dispensers work better than others.

Things to Love
  • Dispenses dry
  • Smooth flow of tape onto the page
Things to Consider
  • Inconsistent quality control

9. Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook

Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook - Dot-Grid Eco-Friendly Notebook with 1 Pilot Frixion Pen & 1 Microfiber Cloth Included - Infinity Black Cover, Executive Size (6" x 8.8")


This is definitely not an old-fashioned spiral notebook. Instead, our pick for the best spiral notebooks for college is environmentally friendly thanks to its reusability. It comes with a Pilot Fixion pen and a microfiber cloth so that the pages can be cleaned and reused.

This is a 36-page notebook with dotted-grid paper on which you can record thoughts and notes. Then use the app to send your notes to the cloud where you can access them forever. Clean the notebook and use it again later.

Things to Love
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Perfect for keeping notes organized and accessible
Things to Consider
  • The paper takes some getting used to

10. Clever Fox Dotted Notebook

Clever Fox Dotted Notebook - Dot Grid Bullet Numbered Pages Hard Cover Notebook Journal With Thick 120g Paper and Pen Loop, Stickers, 3 Bookmarks, Smooth Faux Leather, 5.12'' x 8.27'' - Turquoise


Bullet journaling is one of the best ways for students to stay on top of complicated schedules and assignments. Thanks to thick, 120 gsm paper, a sturdy cover and a pen loop, this is one of the best designed dotted notebooks on the market.

The Clever Fox also has three ribbon bookmarks that make it easy for you to find your place. An elastic strap keeps the book closed, and the 5.12″ b 8.27″ size is perfectly portable. Stickers and numbered pages keep you organized.

People love the thick paper that prevents ink from bleeding through. However, some are bothered by the dots being closely spaced when compared to competitive products.

Things to Love
  • Extra-thick paper
  • Desirable features like a pen loop and three bookmarks
Things to Consider
  • Dots may be placed too close together for some

11. Mead Composition Books – 3 Pack

Mead Composition Books, Notebooks, College Ruled Paper, 100 Sheets, Comp Book, Black Marble, 3 Pack (38111)


Each notebook in this pack contains 100 sheets of college-ruled paper. College-rule is the preferred size for keeping neat notes. With a sewn binding, this is the best quality composition notebook for an affordable price.

These notebooks hold their pages securely, and the absence of a spiral binding means snag-free use. In fact, this is one of the things that people love best about these composition books. Nonetheless, some people feel that the paper is too thin.

Things to Love
  • A classic, durable choice
  • Plenty of room to write
Things to Consider
  • Paper may be too thin

12. Avery Mini Binder Filler Paper

Avery Mini Binder Filler Paper, College Ruled, 5-1/2" x 8-1/2", 100 Sheets (14230)


This high quality binder paper is sized at 5.5″ by 8.5″ for use with a three- or seven-ring mini binder. The college-ruled lines are ideal for taking notes or writing a journal.

With 100 sheets, there’s plenty of paper here for a semester or a quarter of notes. The medium-weight paper stands up to constant use.

Many people swear by this binder paper for use with a planner that uses ring binding. This makes it perfect for bullet journaling. A few critics say that the holes are placed too close to the edge of the paper.

Things to Love
  • Smaller size sheets for better portability
  • Medium weight for better durability
Things to Consider
  • Holes may be too close to page edges

13. Case-it Mighty Zip Tab 3-Inch Zipper Binder

Case-it Mighty Zip Tab 3-Inch Zipper Binder, Blue, D-146-BLU


This heavy-duty, durable binder is big enough to handle all of your classes. Inside, you’ll find everything you need to stay organized. All of this is packaged as the best 3 ring binder for school.

This binder is equipped with five color-tabbed expanding files and a gusseted zipper. With a handle and shoulder strap, this binder is portable. Plus, it’s made with ripstop material to ensure durability. Interior mesh pockets hold your supplies.

People love the durability and capacity of these binders, but some users feel that it’s too large.

Things to Love
  • Incredibly durable
  • Fits everything
Things to Consider
  • May be too large

14. Swingline Stapler

Swingline Stapler, Commercial Desk Stapler, 20 Sheet Capacity, Black (44401)


Swingline may be the best-known name in staplers. This metal model is considered the best stapler because of its metal construction. The inner rail is specifically designed to resist jams so that you can rely on its accuracy.

This stapler opens for tacking and pinning and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

People swear by this classic stapler in the classroom and at home. A few complaints say that they wish the 20-page capacity were larger.

Things to Love
  • Durable metal construction
  • Opens for tacking
Things to Consider
  • Only staples 20 pages at a time

15. Derwent Colored Pencils

Derwent Colored Pencils, WaterColour, Water Color Pencils, Drawing, Art, Wooden Box, 72 Count (32891)


These watercolor pencils from Derwent come in a wooden box that holds all 72 pieces. This is an incredibly high-quality set that’s worth the price. If you’re looking for the best colored pencils, your quest is complete.

Each colored pencil is break-resistant and easy to sharpen. The hexagonal barrels are easy on the hands, and the water-soluble color is rich. You can easily layer colors and add water for watercolor washes.

Fans praise the array of colors and the ability to use these pencils wet or dry. Occasional comments suggest that some people wish the colors were brighter.

Things to Love
  • An excellent collection of colors
  • Incredibly high quality
Things to Consider
  • Colors may seem too muted

16. Copic Marker 12-Piece Set

Copic Marker SB12 12-Piece Sketch Basic Set


Copics are considered all-around good markers. This set features 12 colors in a plastic case. They are expensive, but there are few better alternatives.

Each of these markers is refillable and has a replaceable nib. Alcohol-based ink dries fast and is permanent. Artists swear by Copic markers, frequently buying all of the colors. Some buyers say that the case arrived cracked.

Things to Love
  • Rich, saturated colors
  • Long-lasting and durable
Things to Consider
  • The case may arrive with a crack

17. Westcott Titanium-Bonded Scissors

Westcott 8" Titanium Bonded Scissors, 2 Scissors


This set of two high-quality scissors is an excellent value. Because the blades are titanium bonded, they are three times harder than stainless steel.

Because of their strength, you can use these scissors on cardboard, fabric and other materials. A limited lifetime warranty gives you peace of mind.

People love these scissors for their long-term, trouble-free use. Nonetheless, some people wish that the plastic handles felt sturdier.

Things to Love
  • The blades stay sharp
  • Long-term durability
Things to Consider
  • The handles feel flimsy

18. Elmer’s Glue Sticks

Elmer's All Purpose School Glue Sticks, Washable, 7 Gram, 30 Count


Most people love Elmer’s glue. This is the same excellent adhesive in glue stick form. This is the best glue stick due to its ability to adhere to cardboard, paper, foam board and other surfaces.

This glue is photo safe, acid-free, washable and non-toxic. Users appreciate that it glides on smooth, but some would prefer for the sticks to be bigger.

Things to Love
  • Reliable adhesion
  • Works on a multitude of surfaces
Things to Consider
  • The sticks are pretty small

19. Dell XPS Notebook

Dell XPS 13 9380 13.3" Notebook - 1920 X 1080 - Core I5-8265U - 8GB RAM - 256GB SSD - Platinum Silver, Carbon Black


When a laptop is required, it makes sense to get one that’s small but powerful. That describes our pick for the best laptop. It’s fast, energy-efficient and measures 13.3″.

With plenty of memory and a sleek look, people praise this product. Nonetheless, a few critics find it too small.

Things to Love
  • Perfectly portable
  • Powerful processor
Things to Consider
  • Too small for some users

20. Mancro Laptop Backpack

Laptop Backpack, Business Travel Water Resistant Backpacks Gift for Men Women, Anti Theft College School Bookbag, Mancro Computer Bag with USB Charging Port Lock Fits UNDER 17" Laptop Notebook (Grey)


This waterproof backpack is designed to accommodate a laptop of up to 15.6″. The main pockets are large enough to allow for things like books, binders and clothes. Secure inside pockets for phones and wallets place this among the best backpacks for college.

With padded shoulder straps and nylon fabric, this is a durable and stylish choice. However, a lack of padding on the bottom is lamented by some.

Things to Love
  • Stylish aesthetics
  • Holds tons of stuff
Things to Consider
  • No bottom padding to protect laptops

best school supplies

Making the Decision

If you’re looking for the best school supplies to outfit yourself or a child for a new term, then use this list. Our comprehensive review uncovered the 20 best supplies that will help to ensure success. From pencils to a laptop, you’ll be the best-equipped student at your school