Calculator regulations for 2013-14

Tue Jun 03 15:06:00 UTC 2014

Information on regulations for using calculators in examinations are reproduced below from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) booklet "Instructions for conducting examinations (1 September 2013 to 31 August 2014)".

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Using calculators

For question papers where the use of calculators is allowed, candidates are responsible for making sure that their calculators meet the awarding bodies’ regulations.

The instructions set out in this section apply to all examinations unless stated otherwise in the appropriate awarding body’s subject-specific instructions.

Please note: candidates should be told these regulations beforehand.

Calculators must be:

  • a suitable size for use on the desk
  • either battery or solar powered
  • free of lids, cases or covers.

Calculators must not:

  • be designed or adapted to offer any of these facilities:
    • language translators
    • symbolic algebra manipulation
    • symbolic differentiation or integration
    • communication with other machines or the internet
  • be borrowed from another candidate during an examination for any reason (an invigilator may give a candidate a replacement calculator)
  • have retrievable information stored in them, including:
    • databanks
    • dictionaries
    • mathematical formulas
    • text.

The candidate is responsible for:

  • the calculator’s power supply
  • the calculator’s working condition.

Where access is permitted to use a calculator for part of an examination, it will normally be acceptable for candidates to place their calculators on the floor under their desks in sight of the invigilator(s) for the non-calculator portion of the exam.

Note that the regulations above say that "calculators should not have retrievable information in them - this includes… mathematical formulas and text." Thus, many models will need to have their memory cleared before they can be taken into the examination.

In the case of the Texas TI-84, for example, they have a built in press-to-test feature designed specifically for this purpose. If you or another teacher enable the feature before the exam the student won't be able to disable it, without connecting to a second handheld, or computer. You can find more information in this press-to-test document.

The crucial prohibitions above are to do with calculators which can perform symbolic algebra manipulation and/or symbolic differentiation or integration. These calculators are still quite expensive and the ones I know about include:

Casio:  Algebra FX2.0, Algebra FX2.0 PLUS, ClassPad 300 (all models)
Hewlett Packard: HP 40G, HP 40GS, HP 48G, HP 48G II, HP 49G, HP 49G PLUS, HP 50G, HP Prime
Texas Instruments: TI-89, TI-89 (Titanium), TI-92, TI-92 PLUS, Voyage 200, TI-nspire CAS.

This isn’t an official list; it’s based on what I know of these calculators and my interpretation of the JCQ rules. There is no list of calculators which can be used, though it can probably be assumed that any calculator that is not on the list above is permissible. This includes graphical calculators, those which can perform numerical differentiation and integration, manipulate matrices, change bases, etc.

Wherever possible, we try to set questions which block any advantage a student may obtain from such calculators. A basic scientific calculator should be considered sufficient for the demands of the AS and A level papers.

Note also that these regulations apply to GCE, GCSE and International GCSE Mathematics examinations.

For more information about regulations for using calculators in examinations, see the Joint Council for Qualification website.

Kind regards,

Graham

Graham Cumming, Maths subject expert
Graham CummingMathematics and Statistics
UK: 020 7010 2174
Intl: + 44 (0)20 7010 2174
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