Being a student myself who has recently finished GCSE’s and is now studying both Maths and Further Maths at sixth form college, I thought I’d give you a few tips on what calculator you will need!
Gone are the days of simple little calculators and writing crude little upside-down messages on unlit screens – this article will be going over the best calculators available for the most efficient prices.
Here is the short answer: If you want the best calculator for A Level Maths you should really be getting the Casio FX-CG50, as it provides all the functionality you need for A Level Maths and A Level Further Maths. You can buy the FX-CG50 from Amazon.co.uk. However, if you really don’t have the budget for the Casio FX-CG50, you can scrape by with the Casio FX-991EX. This also can be bought here from Amazon.co.uk.
What Are Your Options?
- Q Connect 8-Digit Pocket calculator – not even really an option, just on this list to show you what NOT to buy. This is possibly the worst calculator you could ever buy for your A-Levels, but if you insist on buying it, you can find it on Amazon.co.uk.
- Casio Scientific Calculator FX83GT (The one you used for GCSE’s) – again, really not recommended for A-Level Maths or A-Level Further Maths. It does a good job at GCSE, but falls short when it comes to college. Again, not a great idea to use this calculator for your A-Levels, but if you want to buy it then head over to Amazon.co.uk.
- Casio FX-991EX-S-UH – This calculator will get you through your A-Level Maths and Further Maths exams, but barely. If money is not on your side, then go for this option, as it is fairly cheap and will just about get you to the end of college. You can find this calculator on Amazon.co.uk as well.
- Casio FX-CG50 – the best calculator available for A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths. This graphical calculator has all the functions you need to ace your exams, and it will help you out massively when learning the graph-plotting topics (which is most of them). To purchase the Casio FX-CG50, head over to Amazon.co.uk.
Can’t You Just Use Your Calculator From GCSE?
If you’re doing A-Level Maths or A-Level Further Maths, no. A good calculator is essential in your A-Levels, as it is used more than you will have used your calculator in GCSE. It also lacks the required functions for A-Level.
This means that a new calculator must be bought for your A-Levels, one that has more functions and is more advanced, to handle the advanced calculations and equations you’ll come across. There are a few better alternatives than a scientific calculator, and they are listed below.
The calculator you use for GCSE will get you a little bit of the way into A-Level, but it’s really not cut out for the high-caliber calculations and graph plotting required for your exam. It can be used for a short while until you find a better replacement, but it is not a good idea to sit your A-Level exams with this calculator!
Make sure to check out the list below for a couple of better alternatives for your A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths exams. Unless of course you happened to use the Casio FX-CG50 for your GCSE exams…
What Features Should You Look For in a Good Calculator?
Good question. A calculator should be lightweight, portable, easy to use, and easy to understand. Most of the time it depends on the situation you’re in – for example, a calculator you might use for working out tax wouldn’t be as effective at calculating rocket propellant power!
However, there are some universal features that all the best calculators have. Long battery life, sleek design, and ease of use are important features to look out for when deciding on what the best calculator for you is.
The best calculator for A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths will give you lots of functions, enabling you to work out even the most complicated equations. It will be easy to use, making sure that the time you have in your exam is spent working on the questions, and not working out how to use the calculator.
The least advanced calculator that you can get for your A-Level Maths and Further Maths exams includes algebraic equation qualities, advanced table creation, and many other functions superior to that of any GCSE calculator.
A graphical calculator will help you out massively in your exam, as it has the ability to produce precise diagrams of equations. This is useful in most topics studied in A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths, and it will help you to better grasp the concepts and ideas and how they affect the image produced on a graph.
If you want to know what topics are in A-Level Maths or A-Level Further Maths, check out the relevant article below:
This article should hopefully shed some light on the different types of calculators and their uses, whilst also giving some downsides. That way you know which one is going to be the best option for you and your revision!
What Calculators Are You Allowed to Take Into the Exam?
Pretty much any calculator you like, except for a few types that would be unfair to use in an exam.
For example, a calculator that can connect to the internet is definitely not allowed! That way you could look up the answers to all the questions, and that is most definitely cheating.
Calculators that have language translators in are also prohibited in A-Level Maths, so make sure you’re not taking anything like that into your exams. This is because people can alter these language translators to implement equations, and therefore they can cheat!
Any calculator that includes symbolic algebra manipulation, symbolic differentiation or integration, or communication with other machines are not allowed in your exam.
They must not have any form of data stored in them, be it databanks, dictionaries, mathematical formulas, or text. When you enter your exam, you will be responsible for clearing any data stored in your calculator, so make sure you’ve cleared the memory!
Graphical calculators are allowed in A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths, as long as they don’t break the rules I’ve stated above.
Graphical calculators are recommended (by me and maths teachers everywhere) for your A-Level exams, as they include more functions than your average calculator.
If you are worried about whether or not the calculator you are going to get will be allowed in your exam, take my advice and get either the Casio FX-CG50 off this link or the Casio FX-991EX off this link. Both of these calculator are NOT prohibited for use in an exam.
You should really be buying your calculator as soon as possible before your exam. That way, you can get comfortable with all the different buttons and functions before you have to use them in your exam! If you’re not comfortable with your calculator, that can lead to time wasted in an exam as you struggle to press the right button.
Do You Really Need a Graphical Calculator?
It’s not absolutely essential to have a graphical calculator, however, having a piece of equipment such as the Casio FX-CG50 does give you a massive edge over everyone else.
A graphical calculator is a really good machine to have when studying for A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths exams. A graphical calculator can plot graphs, solve simultaneous equations, and perform lots of other tasks that include variables.
This is super helpful when you try and make the links between functions and their implications on a graph, as you can see their effects plotted on your calculator. It will help you to recognise the relationship between parts of a polynomial and their effect on a graph, too.
A graphical calculator can also solve simultaneous equations, eliminating the need for long lines of written maths in your book. This reduces the time you take in an exam to complete certain, potentially easier questions, meaning more time for those questions that you might get stuck on!
The Casio FX-CG50 is a graphical calculator that includes all of the above features I’ve mentioned, and is an amazing tool to use in your A-Level exams. I really do recommend that you buy it from Amazon.co.uk sooner rather than later.
It also stores the calculations you do chronologically – so you can look back and see what you’ve calculated. This is helpful when deciphering long exam questions where lots of calculations are involved, as you can easily take a look at the steps that led you to your answer without having to write them down.
I personally recommend buying and using a graphical calculator for your exams, as many students have tried and tested them and said that they are the best to use for A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths.
Casio FX-CG50 – The Calculator You Really Should Have for A-Level…
This is the best calculator for A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths by far. With more functions than any other calculator in this list, it’s guaranteed to help you get through exams. This calculator is much more advanced than the other calculators I’ve mentioned, and in my opinion is the best choice.
If you give the calculator specification sheet a read, you will see that the Casio FX-CG50 meets every demand of the A-Level Maths syllabus and the A-Level Further Maths syllabus.
To see more information about the demands of the A-Level Maths or the A-Level Further Maths syllabus you should really give my article on How Hard is A Level Maths? or my other article on How Hard is A Level Further Maths? a read.
It happens to be a graphical calculator, and so it can plot graphs. It also has a 3D function, meaning that you can work with the x, y, and z planes. Including all of the features I talk about in the Casio FX-991-EX-S-UH, but more!
It also has differential, integral, and probability functions to assist you in both A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths.
This puts it head and shoulders above other, less sophisticated calculators, due to its great capability of handling complex equations.
This calculator may be just over £100 (prices do vary – check current price here), but it is definitely worth it if you want that extra edge over the competition.
I cannot tell you enough how helpful this calculator will be at A-Level, let alone how helpful it’ll be after that! This calculator can be used for university as well as college, so what more could you ask for?
I highly recommend this calculator for studying A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths, as it is the best calculator you can get for your exams.
It will massively help you out when progressing through the syllabus, and will strengthen your understanding of graphs and polynomial expressions.
This is most definitely the greatest calculator out there for your exams, and ranks number 1 in my list. You can find out more about the best calculator for A-Level Maths here.
Casio FX-991EX-S-UH – The Calculator That Will Just Get You By at A-Levels…
If you have read my article on How Hard is A Level Maths?, you will know that the demands of the A-Level Maths syllabus can be met comfortably with this calculator – that’s not saying a graphical calculator would not be of great help, as it very much would be.
On the contrary, if you have read the other article on How Hard is A Level Futher Maths?, you will know that the demands of the A-Level Further Maths syllabus are in more of a need for a graphical calculator. This is due to the increased complexity of graphing questions (e.g. complex reciprocal inequalities).
This calculator is great for A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths, and it’s relatively cheap, too. With an easy-to-use operating system and clear display, this calculator is a great tool to use throughout your college life.
It has many, many uses in mathematics, and will massively help you out when revising and studying for your A-level exams.
I personally know a couple of friends that have this calculator, and they’re doing incredibly in their studies. However, it is worth mentioning that they still feel that not having a graphical calculator does cause them inconvenience often.
The best thing about this calculator is the range of functions you get for the price – it has just enough that you can get by in your A-Level, whilst staying at a low price.
It meets the requirements of calculators you can take into exams, and goes a long way to help you when studying by including over 550 different functions.
This is probably the cheapest calculator you can get for your A-Levels whilst still having all the functions you need to get through the syllabus.
It also features a solar panel (alongside a battery) to charge, and so there is no worry of it running out during an exam and leaving you helpless! In addition, its lightweight case makes it easy to carry around, so it’s perfect for the hustle and bustle of college life.
This calculator is the minimum that I would recommend for your A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths exams, as it just about has all the functions necessary to complete your exams.
It will definitely get you through your A-Levels, but it still lacks a few key features that other graphical calculators can offer.
For example, it doesn’t have a graph-plotting feature, and as I’ve previously said – a graph-plotting feature will significantly help you out when you learn about polynomials and the trigonometric graphs.
It is very cheap (Only about £28, check updated price here) and so is a great substitute whilst saving up for that end goal calculator that will be the best for you and your exams. If you want to learn more about or purchase this calculator off Amazon.co.uk, head over to this link.
Casio Scientific Calculator FX83GT – The Calculator You Used at GCSE…
The next calculator I’ll be taking a look at is the Casio Scientific Calculator FX83GT. This calculator is the most common calculator used for GCSE, and rightly so! For only £6.99, this calculator brings 260 functions with it!
Sounds good right? For GCSE, it is good, however, this is NOT the calculator you should be using for either A-Level Maths or A-Level Further Maths.
It boasts having the same layout and symbols as that of a textbook, meaning that its answers are easier to understand.
This was, in fact, the same calculator that I used for my GCSE, and so I can confirm that it is perfect for GCSE standard questions!
It’s not quite as compact as the other calculators we’ll look at, but it definitely fits the definition of portable. Weighing just under 100g, this calculator is perfect for travel and use!
Versions of this calculator also include a solar panel to conserve energy whilst in use, and so this means that less long-term money is spent on battery life.
However, if you are looking for a calculator to use in your A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths exams, this may not be the one for you. Although it gets you quite far in the syllabus, there are certain topics (such as reciprocal graphs) where a more advanced calculator would help you understand the topic that little bit better.
The Casio FX83GT does not, unfortunately, include a graph plotting function. It is not essential for A-Level, but as I have said, it will certainly be useful! This calculator, like the Q Connect 8-Digit Pocket Calculator, is a good substitute for the start of college until a better alternative can be acquired.
This also means that you can continue to use it after you finish maths GCSE, and so no extra expense is counted whilst saving up for those bigger and better calculators!
Although, not for very long. Soon into your A-Levels you’ll need higher functionality from a calculator, and so the scientific, GCSE-standard calculator will become obsolete.
Even though this calculator is good for GCSE, I highly recommend ditching this it as soon as you can, ideally before college even starts. Obviously don’t just throw it away, you’ll just need to purchase a better calculator for your studies and exams.
I’d say this calculator ranks penultimately last on my list of best calculators for A-Level Maths and A-Level further maths, just above the Q Connect 8-Digit Pocket Calculator.
If you’d really like to buy this calculator, take a look here. Otherwise, let’s move on to the last calculator on the list.
Q Connect 8-Digit Pocket Calculator – Piece of Crap…
This calculator is the most basics of basics – the Q Connect 8-digit Pocket Calculator. It lies on the lowest end of the spectrum, being the cheapest calculator on this list (just £2.69) but also having the fewest functions.
This calculator is not fit for GCSE, let alone any maths A-Levels! Unless you have the mind of a maths genius and can plot cubic and reciprocal graphs in your massive head, I do not recommend buying or using this calculator!
However, this calculator is a lot smaller than some of the other calculators on this list. I am by no means endorsing you buying this calculator, but maybe it’d be useful for calculating the time you should spend revising?
This calculator (like many, many others) has a solar panel, and this means that the battery charges while not in use. It weighs just 59g, and so is by far the most lightweight. If you really want to purchase this sorry excuse for a calculator, then head over to Amazon.co.uk.
Even though this calculator may not necessarily be useful in A-Level Maths or Further maths, other mathematical subjects (such as accounting or business studies) can make use of it. It can be useful for quickly calculating amounts and figures, using division, multiplication, addition, and subtraction.
In all seriousness, this calculator will not get you anywhere in Maths or Further Maths, and so I recommend you check out some of these other calculators for information on a more suitable alternative.
This calculator lands itself at the very bottom of my list of best calculators for A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths, so definitely make sure you buy one of the other calculators I’ve talked about.
There you have it, the best calculators for A-Level Maths and A-Level Further Maths. Thanks for taking the time to read this article, don’t forget to check out some of my other articles on the website!