Which calculator to use for the many different maths qualifications? - Casio Calculators

# Which calculator to use for the many different maths qualifications?

Jul 2024 Medium Read: 5 Min

Calculators offer enormous potential to help students in their learning, understanding and exam performance.

It’s therefore important for you and your students to understand what calculator options are available at key stages of secondary education, so you can feel confident that you’re employing the right tools for your needs.

To get some expert insight into this topic, we spoke to Casio trainer and former maths teacher Simon May. He told us about some of the similarities and differences between our most advanced scientific and graphic calculators – the fx-991CW and fx-CG50, respectively – and key features that users should know about to ensure they’re making the most of these handsets.

## Comparing the fx-991CW and fx-CG50

One of the first points Simon made was that there are many similarities in functionality between the fx-991CW and the fx-CG50. They are both powerful handsets offering a range of capabilities that will help maths students at both level 2 and level 3, such as the ability to solve equations numerically.

When it comes to the many maths specifications available, students will face questions where they would benefit from different levels of calculator functionality, such as statistical bivariate analysis and lines of best fit. All calculators can find a regression line, but a graphing calculator allows deeper understanding of outliers, y-intercepts, gradients, estimated values and interpolation/extrapolation.

Students navigating these sorts of questions will be better served by the more advanced functionality of the fx-CG50.

These examples illustrate how the suitability and advantages of any calculator depend on the level at which you’re working and the types of problems and questions students are exploring.

Simon pointed out that the fx-991CW is certainly powerful enough for GCSE Further Maths, for example. However, students who are planning to move on to A-level – as the majority sitting these higher-tier papers will be – should be aware of how the unique features of the fx-CG50 can help them, thanks to possible applications such as finding equations of tangents.

“The advantages of the fx-CG50 become clearer as you move up to A-level and the content expands, the question styles change and you need more extensive functionality,” he said.

As far as Core Maths is concerned, Simon suggested students will be well-served by both of these calculators. However, he also noted the importance of choosing a handset with the demands of the curriculum in mind.

For a Core Maths course that includes some fairly high-level statistics work, for example, the fx-CG50 is likely to be the best option, owing to features such as Distribution mode and its ability to run Chi-squared tests.

## Making efficient use of the fx-991CW

One of the many features of the fx-991CW that will prove highly useful for all students is the Solver tool, which is found in Equation mode alongside the simultaneous equation and polynomial functions.

Solver is intended for equations that aren’t polynomials, but can easily cope with linear and quadratic simultaneous equations. Following the recent upgrade to the ClassWiz range, it is now accessed by pressing the Home key and selecting Equation.

Simon highlighted some other examples of powerful functionality on the fx-991CW that has been repositioned or updated as part of the recent ClassWiz revamp.

When working with matrices, for instance, there are subtle differences in how to input data due to the new menu structure. Students exploring calculus will find that the differentiation function is now listed under Catalog.

You can find resources dedicated to adopting the new ClassWiz range on our website.

## Taking full advantage of the fx-CG50

The fx-CG50 offers all of the functionality available on the fx-991CW, with some notable improvements that make it a particularly powerful option for GCSE Further Maths and A-level students.

Its ability to graph a range of functions is the most obvious advantage of the handset. This opens up new ways for students to strengthen their understanding of tricky topics through visual analysis and comparison.

Simon also offered some other examples of unique functionality on the fx-CG50 that illustrate what sets it apart from other handsets.

“3D vectors can be very useful, especially for A-level Further Maths,” he said. “You can find intersections and relationships between lines and planes, for example. That’s a really good feature and it’s not available on any other handset, plus it can be graphed so you can visualise what’s happening as well.”

Recursion mode is another noteworthy feature that is only available on the fx-CG50 and offers various ways to explore sequences and series. It allows you to store recursion formulae, generate tables of data and produce graphs for further analysis.

## Delving deeper into your chosen calculator

Whatever calculator you select as the best option to support your teaching and your students’ learning, you’ll find lots of resources on our website and elsewhere to help you use it to its full potential.

We would always recommend visiting our resources centre, where you can access videos, how-to leaflets and other assets that can be filtered by model to help you find exactly what you need.

There is also an extensive library of videos on our YouTube channel, including a playlist dedicated to the new ClassWiz range, which could prove useful if you’re using the fx-991CW.

For new users of the fx-CG50, we recommend taking part in a training session to familiarise yourself with the calculator’s essential functionality and get an idea of how you could potentially use it in your lessons.