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Use Your Calculator

Why use a calculator?

  • For courses where a calculator is allowed, knowing how to use your calculator is often the key to success.

Step 1: Identify your calculator

First, identify what type and model of calculator you have (i.e. CASIO fx-991ES). Next, identify the functions you are required to know for your given class. Here is a list of some of the basic functions you may need to know.

+ addition
- subtraction
÷ division
x multiplication
square root
yx y to the power of x
x squared
x10x times ten to the power of
ex exponential
log log based 10
In log to the base of e
sin sin function
cos cos function
tan tan function
( ) for order of operations

Step 2: Visit the online guide for your calculator brand

Visit the online guide for your calculator brand to identify other functions you might need to know. Use the appendix to search for specific functions you require assistance with. Links to some of the more common calculator brand guidebooks include:

Step 3: Practise

Practise! Get used to the order in which you must type functions, as it varies by calculator.
For statistics students, try these practice calculations to ensure that you know how to calculate basic statistics functions:

  1. Calculate mean and standard deviation using the data set below.
    Data set: {1, 1, 10, 19, 19}
    Answers- mean: 10, sample standard deviation: 9
  2. Calculate mean and standard deviation using the data set below.
    Data set: {37.75, 38, 37, 38.5, and 37.5}
    Answers- mean: 37.75, sample standard deviation: 0.56

Step 4: Ask for help

Sometimes using a calculator can take some getting used to. If you are having trouble figuring out a function, ask for help. Your professors and TAs can likely lend you a hand. You can also visit the Mathematics and Statistics Learning Center (see “more help” for details).

Resources to help with calculations

Guide: Use Your CalculatorGuide: Problem-Solving examsGuide: Creating a concept map

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