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Here we will learn about calculator skills, including the buttons that help us navigate the calculator display with ease, functions that we need for basic calculations and how to complete more complex calculations to demonstrate calculator proficiency.

There are also calculator skills worksheets based on Edexcel, AQA and OCR exam questions, along with further guidance on where to go next if you’re still stuck.

**Calculator skills** enable us to confidently carry out any calculations on a calculator.

We need to know how to use several specific buttons to be proficient using a calculator for complex calculations.

- The
**toggle**button switches an answer between its fraction and decimal form, root and decimal form, or π and decimal form.

- The
**shift**button allows us to access the second functions printed in gold, for example those highlighted here.

- We can navigate back through our working on a calculator, to make changes or to check what we have entered, using the
**direction pad.**We also need to use this button when entering calculations with fractions, roots and powers.

- The
**fraction**button can be used to carry out calculations with fractions.

- We may have to enter complicated fractions into the calculator. To do this press the
**fraction**button and enter the calculation on the top of the fraction, exactly as it is written in the question. Next use the**directional pad**to move to the bottom of the fraction and enter the calculation on the bottom of the fraction, exactly as it is written in the question.

- The x^2 and x^3 buttons can be used to square and cube numbers. We need to use brackets when dealing with negative numbers.

For example, if we want to square -4, we need to write (-4)^2

We can also raise numbers to any power using the \bf{x^∎} button. Again, we need to remember to use brackets for any negative numbers.

- We can calculate a
**square root**on a calculator using the square root button. It is important to use the**direction pad**to move out of the square root box if we have more to add to the calculation before pressing the equals button.

- We can cube root a number using the
**cube root**button. The cube root button is a**second function**button, in gold. We press the**shift**button to access the**cube root**function above the square root button. Again we must remember to use the**direction pad**to move out of the cube root box if we have more to add to the calculation before pressing the equals button.

We can also calculate any root of a number using the \sqrt[∎]{□} button.

- We can use the
**percentage**button,**%**, to find percentages of amounts or include percentages in calculations.

For example, to find 40\% of 300 we would type 40\% \times 300.

- We might also need to include
**trigonometric functions**in calculations, either to calculate a missing length or angle in a triangle using trigonometry, or as part of a calculation to demonstrate our calculator skills.

The calculator automatically opens brackets when you press the sin, cos, or tan buttons. We must close these brackets before we complete the calculation. We must always make sure that what we have entered on the calculator display matches the questions exactly.

In order to carry out complex calculations on a calculator:

**Decide which calculator buttons to use.**

Read the question carefully and break down the calculation. Order of operations is important here.**Enter the calculation into the calculator.****Check the calculator display matches the question exactly.****Press = and copy down all the figures on the calculator display.****Round or simplify if the question asks for it.**

Read the question again carefully to check if you need to round, simplify or change the form.**Write your final answer.**

Get your free calculator skills worksheet of 20+ questions and answers. Includes reasoning and applied questions.

COMING SOONGet your free calculator skills worksheet of 20+ questions and answers. Includes reasoning and applied questions.

COMING SOON**Calculator skills** is part of our series of lessons to support revision on **arithmetic**. You may find it helpful to start with the main arithmetic lesson for a summary of what to expect, or use the step by step guides below for further detail on individual topics. Other lessons in this series include:

Calculate \frac{2}{3}+\frac{1}{2}. Give your answer as a mixed number.

**Decide which calculator buttons to use.**

We will need to use the fraction button.

2**Enter the calculation into the calculator.**

On the calculator we press the buttons,

3**Check the calculator display matches the question exactly.**

4**Press = and copy down all the figures on the calculator display.**

The answer to this calculation is displayed as \frac{7}{6}.

5**Round or simplify if the question asks for it.**

We need to give the answer as a mixed number. To do this we need to press **shift **and use the **toggle** button on the calculator to convert our answer into a mixed number.

The final answer to this question is then displayed on the calculator.

6**Write your final answer.**

The final answer is 1 \frac{1}{6}.

Calculate \frac{2+\sqrt{2}}{1+\sqrt{2}}.

**Decide which calculator buttons to use.**

We will need to use the fraction button and the square root button.

**Enter the calculation into the calculator.**

On the calculator we will press the buttons,

Notice that pressing the direction button once moves the cursor out from under the square root and pressing it a second time moves it to the denominator of the fraction.

**Check the calculator display matches the question exactly.**

**Press = and copy down all the figures on the calculator display.**

The answer to this calculation is displayed as \sqrt{2}.

**Round or simplify if the question asks for it.**

The question does not ask us to change the form of the answer.

**Write your final answer.**

The final answer is \sqrt{2}.

Evaluate 8^{3}.

**Decide which calculator buttons to use.**

We will need to use the cube button.

**Enter the calculation into the calculator.**

On the calculator we press the buttons,

**Check the calculator display matches the question exactly.**

**Press = and copy down all the figures on the calculator display.**

The answer to this calculation is 512.

**Round or simplify if the question asks for it.**

The question does not ask us to change the form of the answer.

**Write your final answer.**

The final answer is 512.

Calculate \frac{183+892}{10.4 \times 8.75}. Write your answer to 2dp.

**Decide which calculator buttons to use.**

We will need to use the fraction button.

**Enter the calculation into the calculator.**

On the calculator we press the buttons,

**Check the calculator display matches the question exactly.**

**Press = and copy down all the figures on the calculator display.**

The answer to this calculation is displayed in fraction form \frac{1075}{91}.

**Round or simplify if the question asks for it.**

The question asks us to give the answer to 2dp. We need to use the toggle button to convert the answer into decimal form.

As a decimal the answer is 11.813186.

Rounded to 2dp this is 11.81.

**Write your final answer.**

The final answer is 11.81.

Use your calculator to work out \frac{\sqrt{12.36-5.12}}{2.97^{2}}.

Write down all the figures on your calculator display.

**Decide which calculator buttons to use.**

We will need to use the fraction button, the square root button and the square button.

**Enter the calculation into the calculator.**

On the calculator we press the buttons,

**Check the calculator display matches the question exactly.**

**Press = and copy down all the figures on the calculator display.**

The answer to this calculation is 0.3050397136.

**Round or simplify if the question asks for it.**

The question does not ask us to change the form of the answer. It asks us to write down all the figures on the calculator display.

**Write your final answer.**

The final answer is 0.3050397136.

Use your calculator to work out \sqrt{12^{2}+15^{2}-54 \operatorname{Cos}(60)} .

Give your answer to 2 decimal places.

**Decide which calculator buttons to use.**

We will need to use the square root button, the square button and one of the trigonometric function buttons, in this case, cos.

**Enter the calculation into the calculator.**

On the calculator we press the buttons,

**Check the calculator display matches the question exactly.**

**Press = and copy down all the figures on the calculator display.**

The answer to this calculation is displayed in surd form 3 \sqrt{38}.

**Round or simplify if the question asks for it.**

The question asks us to give the answer to 2dp. We need to use the toggle button to convert the answer into decimal form.

As a decimal the answer is 18.49324201.

Rounded to 2dp this is 18.49.

**Write your final answer.**

The final answer is 18.49.

**Evaluating the square of a negative number incorrectly on a calculator**

We must use brackets if we use a calculator to square a negative.

**Rounding**

Pay close attention to how you should give your answer – what form it should be in and whether it should be rounded.

**Moving out of a function**

If you need to do something else after a function, make sure you move out of that function. For example, if you need to calculate \sqrt{7.2+4.1}-3, a common error is to not move out of the square root and therefore type \sqrt{7.2+4.1-3}.

You should notice that this is different to the original calculation, where the 3 is not within the square root function.

**Brackets for trigonometric functions**

Make sure you close the brackets at the end of a trigonometric function. For example, if you want to calculate \cos(30)+6, typing cos into the calculator automatically gives you the open bracket. If you don’t close the bracket after you have typed 30, your calculation will be incorrect.

\cos(30+6) is different to \cos(30)+6 .

1. Use your calculator to work out \frac{3.21+4.89}{5.62-1.89}.

Write your answer to 2 decimal places.

2.2

2.17

2.18

2.20

\frac{3.21+4.89}{5.62-1.89} = 2.171581769 = 2.17 \ (2dp)

2. Use your calculator to work out \frac{5}{8}-\frac{2}{9}. Give your answer as a fraction.

\frac{29}{72}

\frac{3}{-1}

\frac{3}{72}

\frac{9}{14}

\frac{5}{8} – \frac{2}{9} = \frac{29}{72}

3. Use your calculator to work out \frac{\sqrt{8.4+19.2}+6}{3^{2}}. Give your answer to 3 significant figures.

3.75

0.644

1.25

1.88

\frac{\sqrt{8.4+19.2}+6}{3^{2}}=1.250396691…

4. Use your calculator to work out the following \sqrt[6]{(-3)^{8}}.

Write down all figures on the calculator display.

81

-1093.5

4.326748711

Math error

\sqrt[6]{(-3)^{8}} = 4.326748711

5. Use your calculator to work out 3\sin(40)+12.6^{2}. Give your answer to the nearest whole number.

161

-1

162

159

3\sin(40)+12.6^{2}=160.6883628…

6. Use your calculator to work out \sqrt{\frac{\tan(30)+6^{2}}{5tan(30)}}. Write down all the digits on your calculator display.

3.559601918

3.612217613

2.095061343

0.8820714039

\sqrt{\frac{\tan(30)+6^{2}}{5tan(30)}}=3.559601918

1. Work out \sqrt{\frac{2.5 \times \sin(43)}{8.2^{2}-50.5}}.

Give your answer to 3 significant figures.

**(2 marks)**

Show answer

0.3191419855…

**(1)**

**(1)**

2. Work out \sqrt{\frac{17+4^{2}}{7.3^{2}}}.

Write down all the figures on your calculator display.

**(2 marks)**

Show answer

5.74(45626…) **or** 53.29 **or** 0.11 **or** 0.107 **or** 0.108

**(1)**

**(1)**

3. Work out \sqrt{\frac{13.82}{4.06}}.

Write down all the figures on your calculator display.

**(2 marks)**

Show answer

3.403(940887…) **or** 3.717(526059…) **or** 2.014(944168…)

**(1)**

**(1)**

You have now learned how to:

- Use the operational buttons to navigate calculations on a calculator
- Know and use important buttons on the calculator to support problem solving
- Carry out complex calculations using a calculator

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