__Calculators__

A calculator is now a requirement for every maths course delivered in UK schools. Some modules forbid the use of calculators but there are always others which require them. So, it’s important to get a good one. I am putting calculators in three categories: basic, scientific and advanced scientific.

__ Basic Calculators__ These
are ones that most people would have at home anyway. At the very least they
would need a square root button and a percent button to be useful. I don’t
recommend using a basic calculator unless you know for certain that you are
studying only up to GCSE Foundation. These calculators simply don’t have the
functionality required for GCSE Higher work. If you are only going to use a
basic calculator then go for a well known brand such as Sharp, Casio, Texas
Instruments. One recommendation would be the Sharp EL240 SAB.

__ Scientific__ The
vast majority of students will need a scientific calculator, certainly those
doing GCSE Higher as they will need the trigonometric functions. Even if you
are only just starting in Year 7 then I would recommend buying a scientific
calculator as the help they provide with fraction work can prove invaluable.
Again, go for the big names: Casio, Sharp and Texas Instruments. The most
popular calculator at the moment is the Casio FX-83GTPlus. This is available in most big supermarkets for around £7-£8 and provides new
functions to help with recurring decimals and prime factorisation (common
topics at GCSE). If you want to play it ultra safe in an exam go for the
FX-85GTPlus which is the same calculator but it has a solar cell to provide
power in addition to the battery.

Sharp’s WriteView range is recommended too, though I do tend to prefer the Casio models. Texas Instruments are also a well-known brand though I have little experience of using them.

__ Advanced Scientific__ For
students taking AS, A2 or Further Maths I would strongly recommend buying an
advanced scientific calculator. Machines such as these can work out the values
of definite integrals, summations and the value of a derivative at a particular
point. All of these features are very useful in an exam for

*checking*an answer, not for pumping in the numbers and just copying down the output! My recommendation is the Casio FX991-ESPlus which can also help with matrix and complex calculations. I have been using this calculator and its predecessor (the 991ES) for the last five years and it has been superb. But don’t just take my word for it, read MasterJ’s review on Amazon.

Please note: all of the calculators I have mentioned here ARE allowed in UK exams when a calculator is permitted. There are some, but not many, which are not. Please check with your exam board if you are in any doubt.

I haven’t mentioned graphical calculators in this piece. They can certainly be useful to investigate functions (especially rational functions which come up in further maths courses) and to find statistical results. I have used them myself in the past to satisfy my curiosity about certain graphs but they certainly aren’t a necessity in any UK exam that I know of.

To find out more please phone me on 01789 415529 or 07870 524211. Alternatively, email me at simonwilliamstutor@gmail.com.