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Using a calculator in SQA exams


Are you studying SQA STEM subjects at National 4, 5, Higher or Advanced higher?


Here are some top tips for using a scientific calculator in SQA exams:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the calculator: Before the exam, make sure you know how to use your calculator properly. Practice using it to perform various calculations and functions. This will help you become more comfortable with the calculator and reduce the chances of making mistakes during the exam.

  2. Check the settings: Make sure that the calculator is set to the correct mode (degrees, radians, or grads) for the type of calculations you will be performing. Also, check that the calculator is set to the appropriate number of decimal places for the level of precision required in the exam.

  3. Show your working: Even if you use a calculator to perform a calculation, it's important to show your working in your answer. This demonstrates to the marker that you understand the process and have not just relied on the calculator to give you an answer.

  4. Use brackets: When using the calculator to perform complex calculations, it's important to use brackets to ensure that the calculator performs the calculations in the correct order. This will help to avoid errors caused by the calculator following the wrong order of operations.

  5. Check your answer: Always double-check your answer by performing the calculation again or using a different method. This will help to ensure that you have not made any mistakes when using the calculator.

  6. Don't rely too heavily on the calculator: While a calculator can be a useful tool, it's important not to rely too heavily on it. Make sure you understand the underlying concepts and can perform the calculations manually if necessary.

  7. Use the correct buttons: Make sure you use the correct buttons on the calculator for the function you are trying to perform. Many scientific calculators have multiple buttons that perform similar functions, so it's important to use the correct one to get the right answer.

Remember that the scientific calculator is only one tool that you have at your disposal during the exam. Make sure you read the exam questions carefully and understand the underlying concepts to help you choose the appropriate method and ensure you get the correct answer.


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