# Using a Scientific Calculator In Mathematics Exams

With exams approaching this is a short article with reminders and advice for anyone about to take a mathematics exam and who will need to use a scientific calculator.The most common calculator problems are:

– setting up the calculator in the right mode mathway calculator

– not being able to find the calculator manual!

– remembering to change calculator modes

– rounding and inaccurate answers

**Why Use a Scientific Calculator?**

Scientific calculators all use the same order for carrying out mathematical operations. This order is not necessarily the same as just reading a calculation from left to right. The rules for carrying out mathematical calculations specify the priority and so the order in which a calculation should be done – scientific calculators follow the same order. This order is sometimes abbreviated by terms such as BODMAS and BIDMAS to help students remember the order of doing calculations.

**1st. Brackets** (all calculations within a bracket are done first)

**2nd. Operations** (eg squaring, cubing, square rooting, sin, cos, tan )

**3rd. Division and Multiplication**

**4th. Addition and Subtraction**

Being aware of this order is necessary in order to use a scientific calculator properly. This order should always be used in all mathematical calculations whether using a calculator or not.

**Scientific Calculator Check**

There are two types of scientific calculator, the most recent type being algebraic scientific calculators. Algebraic scientific calculators allow users to type in calculations in the order in which they have been written down. Older scientific calculators need users to press the mathematical operation key after they have entered the number.

For example to find the square root of nine (with an answer of three) press: [button]

Algebraic scientific calculator: [SQUARE ROOT] [9] [=]

Non algebraic scientific calculator: [9] [SQUARE ROOT] [=]

Both these types of scientific calculator are fine for exams, but make sure you know how to use your own type.

If you are not sure whether you have a scientific calculator or not, type in:

[4] [+] [3] [x] [2] [=]

If you get an answer of 14, then you have a left to right non-scientific calculator.

If you get an answer of 10, then you have a scientific calculator as it has worked out the multiplication part first.

**Lost Calculator Manuals**

Calculator manuals tend to get lost very easily or you can never find them as an exam is approaching. A frequent request is what can you do if you have lost your calculator’s manual? If it is a relatively new model then you can download a copy from the manufacturer’s web site. If it is an old Sharp or old Casio calculator manual then you can still find these on the internet. Even with search engines, finding these manuals can take some time – the following link has information about new and old calculator manuals for Casio, Sharp, Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments: here.