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The BEST two calculators

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by David Getling, Jun 26, 2017.

  1. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    These days I very rarely contribute to forums, but decided to add input to a previous thread, because of the new regulations, in regard to statistical tables, that will force students and teachers to consider calculators more powerful than the one that students typically use from Y7 until they leave school.

    I've now finished a very thorough investigation of the top end and bottom end of what 6th form students will need. And no, I'm not going to give a blow by blow account. You will just have to trust me. Though I doubt it, hopefully the back-biters will leave this thread alone, or give good rational reasons why they dislike my recommendations, or prefer another calculator.

    For non graphics calculators the Casio fx-991-EX Classwiz is the clear winner. I have looked at the TI30X Pro and it is not as good.

    For graphics calculators the Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX stands head and shoulders above the rest. Once again, I have had a thorough look at Casio's latest fx-CG50 and was not very impressed: if it had been I'd have written a book for it.

    For the sake of your students don't even consider cheaper graphics calculators. They aren't nearly as powerful or user friendly, and most students won't make much use of them. So it's money wasted, rather than saved. I've taught students to use the TI-83/84 and the fx-9750G so I know them very well: they are nowhere near as good.

    If you don't believe me then do your own homework and have a careful read of each calculator's manual. And do notice, there's no brand loyalty here. Both Casio and TI are winners, but in different areas.

    These are both much more powerful than any Y7 student will need, but it makes sense for them to have one from the start so that when things really matter, they will (or should) know their calculators inside out.
  2. Maths_Shed

    Maths_Shed Occasional commenter

    I doubt whether the fx 82 or 85 will be knocked off their spot by the 991. Pupils don't need more functionality than these two offer and being considerably more expensive it's a non runner.
  3. jostevemws

    jostevemws New commenter

    @Maths_Shed I think you may have missed the bit where David said he was talking about 6th Form. The new Maths/Further Maths A-levels have some very specific requirements which will not be met by the fx 82/85.

    Whether Y7 will/should buy them - good question (especially as calculators can get lost!)
    Maths_Shed likes this.
  4. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I notice that MEI recommend the same non-graphics calculator as @David Getling. I doubt if we will persuade all parents to pay the extra for one at year 7, but there is no harm in trying. Certainly, by the time they get to GCSE, many students will know if they are likely to study Maths at A-level, so could get the more advanced model if and when they lose/break their old one.

    MEI also seem keen on graphical calculators for all A level Maths students, which does raise the issue of cost for some. My most recent personal experience was the Casio 9860GII which I thought much better than the 9850G, and did everything needed for IB. However, I have little experience of the Ti-Nspire CX, so I cannot comment on how much better it might be and whether it is worth the extra money. It certainly looks more impressive. I assume that calculators which do Algebra are still banned - if so, students need to be warned to avoid the CAS version, which would be an expensive mistake!
  5. Elfrune

    Elfrune New commenter

    Thanks, David. I think it is clear to see that I need to upgrade my old FX85 GT+. It has treated me well for many years, but when my students start telling me it's time to move on from it (which they have this year) - then I know my maths is behind the times.
  6. pi r squared

    pi r squared Occasional commenter

    We will be exclusively recommending the Classwiz to incoming Y12 students, and have bought one for each member of the department teaching Y12 next year so that they are familiar with them in time for teaching.

    I did also suggest, like above, that we could recommend it lower down the school too, but I was met with the not unfair question of whether they would be allowed in the GCSE exam. Given that they can solve quadratic equations and can also convert between units of measure (even area and volume I think), I am not entirely sure - and to be honest until I saw this thread I forgot about it and haven't researched. Anyone know for certain if they'd be allowed at GCSE?
  7. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    JCQ are only concerned about calculators which can do symbolic Algebra or store data - the latter can be solved by clearing the memory before the exam starts. It might be the case that individual exam boards are more strict, but I doubt it and it can easily be checked with the exam board.

    If exam boards want to prevent people with more advanced calculators from having an advantage, they can easily stipulate that an answer without working is not acceptable.
  8. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    πr², the last time I checked it was one rule for all exams regardless of subject or whether it was a GCSE or A-level.

    Actually, I did find one very specific exception. If memory serves me right, the Cambridge IGCSE didn't allow graphics calculators, but I doubt this will be relevant to many in the UK, and I wouldn't be surprised if this anomaly has now been fixed.
  9. drinewinker

    drinewinker New commenter

    I hope you don't mind me hijacking the thread but you all seem to know what you're talking about when it comes to calculators so thought I'd ask for a different recommendation.

    I teach maths as a non-specialist in a KS4 PRU and I need to invest in some decent but easy to use calculators (we only have foundation level learners). As they are regularly broken they need to be as cheap as possible. Our manager has previously ordered some Staples own brand ones but they are awful.

    Any recommendations would be gratefully received.

  10. Maths_Shed

    Maths_Shed Occasional commenter

    Piranha likes this.
  11. chris592

    chris592 New commenter

    I found this you-tube clip useful. It says that the 991ex is allowed at GCSE in the UK

  12. drinewinker

    drinewinker New commenter

  13. armandine2

    armandine2 Established commenter

  14. madoldbat

    madoldbat New commenter

  15. madoldbat

    madoldbat New commenter

    Edexcel said yesterday that the Classwiz isOK for GCSE
  16. willhornby153

    willhornby153 New commenter

    Yes, the rules for GCSE are simply the rules in the JCQ instructions for conducting exams. Thesr are worth a read so I won't quote a tiny bit.

    It is also worth saying that GCSE exams assume that students will produce analytic solutions, so these functions are useful for checking rather than as a way of offloading computation.
    This is different to the OCR and MEI A Levels which include the specific statement that allowable calculators can be used for any function they can perform.
  17. welsh51

    welsh51 New commenter

    "Special 40% discount on Casio calculators for Edexcel customers!"

    Best price for the Casio fx-991-EX Classwiz via Pearson for those using Exdecel in some capacity. £17.49 (ex VAT), minimum order 10.

  18. willhornby153

    willhornby153 New commenter

    Interesting to know what they are discounting from. There are other suppliers at very similar prices.
  19. welsh51

    welsh51 New commenter

    "Fx-991EX advanced scientific calculator: RRP £34.9940% discount£20.99 (£17.49 ex-VAT)." from the link

    £19.95 was the best price I found otherwise.
  20. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    While making the fx-991EX more affordable is laudable, Pearson are also pushing the Casio fx-CG50, and this shows a total lack of integrity. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, this Calculator is nowhere near as good as the TI-Nspire CX. If it were I would have no hesitation, and absolutely no trouble writing a comprehensive book for it. However, I like to think that I have the decency not to encourage students to use a calculator that not only offers less, but is also nowhere near as user friendly or well integrated.

    I can only assume that Pearson have put their bottom line before the welfare of students. By encouraging them to buy the fx-CG50 they are attempting to lock students into their own textbooks, which include tutorials for this calculator. Why, one might ask, didn't they write their books with tutorials for the TI-Nspire: I'm sure Texas Instruments would have cut them a deal. But, you see, then students would be free to choose from textbooks other than their ones.

    If you are an honest and competent maths teacher who is going to recommend a Graphics Display Calculator then do your homework and make sure you are thoroughly familiar with both the TI-Nspire CX and the Casio fx-CG50. Don't cheat your students out of a significant exam advantage!

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