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Calculator guidance

You are not allowed to bring programmable calculators into your exam.

If you do not know whether your calculator is programmable or non programmable then check out the following guide. You are responsible for ensuring that your calculator is appropriate.

The examination invigilator will check your calculator during the examination. If your calculator is programmable it will be confiscated from you and you will be reported by the invigilator for unauthorised use of materials.

If you are unsure about your calculator ask the examination invigilator BEFORE the start of the examination. It may be possible to provide you with an alternative calculator if an element of doubt exists.

The main difference between a programmable and non-programmable calculator is there are no function buttons on the non-programmable calculator. Another difference that can be noticed on non-programmable calculators there are no matrix or vector functions on display.

Non-programmable calculators

CASIO COLLEGE fx-100 (circa 1985)

This is an example of a non-programmable calculator. You can find a list of non-programmable calculators of some famous brands like Casio, Sharp, Texas Instruments, Hewlett Packard on this blog post.

Programmable calculators

Programmable calculators run on a Computer Algebra System (CAS), which helps to make some algebraic functions automatic. They can generally also make graphs. The easy way to tell if a calculator can make graphs is if it has a larger screen than a typical scientific calculator.

Programmable calculators:

  • can store text or alphanumeric data input
  • can store, manipulate or graph functions entered in symbolic form
  • can perform operations such as differentiation, definite integration, algebraic expressions, binomial expansion, symbolic differentiation and solve systems of equations
  • can sometimes connect to the internet or to external devices
  • display a matrix and vector function key
  • support a-z alphabetical input
  • tend to be bulky and heavy compared to non-programmable calculators