Use of Calculators in the New A-levels

Written by Dan Rogan Monday, 25 February 2019

Edited and compiled by Robert J Smith @RJS2212

Use of Calculators in the New A-levels is a workshop being run by Dan Rogan @AQAMaths at #MathsConf18 on Saturday 9th March 2019, tickets still available.


The use of technology must permeate the study of AS and A-level Mathematics and this is making a difference to how we teach and how students can solve problems. Now students can get answers in seconds to the kind of problems which would previously have required mathematical techniques like the quadratic formula, taking logs or integration.

This has brought changes to the way questions are asked in the examinations and also to the skills which a student needs to have. Finding the roots of a quadratic equation by hand wastes time and gains no extra credit so students should use their calculator. However, also they need to be able to interpret the answer. A calculator will give them the roots, not the factors for the quadratic.

So for students to do well, they should recognise when they can use a calculator, know how to use it and understand the information it is giving them. The following is a selection of key calculator skills which students need to have:

  • Iteration
  • Solving equations for specific values
  • Integrating and differentiating for specific values
  • Finding roots of quadratic and cubic equations
  • Working with Matrices
  • Working with Complex numbers
  • Finding values of statistical distributions

At MathsConf18 in Bristol, I will be delivering a session on the Use of Calculators in the new A-levels. In this session I will focus on the use of a scientific calculator, particularly seeing how the best use of it could have made a real difference in last summer's A-level exams. Using actual student responses from last summer’s exams, I will show how to make the best of the calculator and help you to understand the thinking behind setting the assessment.

I hope to see you there and if you are then make sure you bring a gee-whiz kind of calculator with you!

You can see Dan Rogan speak about "Use of Calculators in the New A-levels" during #MathsConf18 at the City Academy Bristol on Saturday March 9th 2019.

Don't forget in March we also have our 'FREE' Maths Teacher Network events in association with Oxford University Press and AQA.

We look forward to seeing you at our next La Salle Education Event if you don't already, follow us on Twitter @LaSalleEd

About the Author

Dan Rogan

Dan Rogan is AQA Chair of Examiners for A-level Maths and Further Maths

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