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Guidance on the use of calculators in examinations

Examinations may require students to perform calculations for which normal practice would be to use a calculator. It is necessary to ensure that students do not bring into the examination room any device that would enable them to obtain an unfair advantage.  Assessments that require complicated calculations may well be better conducted by means other than formal examinations.

The following rules are designed to regulate the type of calculator that may be used where permitted in examinations, and to do so in a way that is enforceable in practice by invigilators.

1. Students may bring into the examination room any calculator, provided that it does not have;

  • any means of storing text (including formulae and equations),
  • any means of transmitting or receiving information, including (but not restricted to) infra-red, microwave and wireless ports and cable connections such as USB ports,
  • a graphical screen (a screen able to display graphs).

2. In particular, these rules preclude the use of all mobile devices including but not limited to mobile phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), and portable computers as calculators.

3. Calculators with a full “full alphabetic” keyboard will be confiscated regardless of whether they can or cannot store text.

4. Calculators must be silent in operation and must have their own self-contained power supply. No recharging facilities will be available, and candidates are recommended to bring their own spare batteries as no alternative calculator will be provided.

5. Invigilators may examine any device a student brings into the examination room. If the device does not comply with these rules, it will be confiscated and returned only at the end of the examination; no replacement will be provided. An examination incident form will be completed to record the incident and forwarded to the School immediately after the examination; the report will include the make and model of the calculator.

6. A School may specify that no calculator is allowed in any examination for which it is responsible or that it requires students to use only a specified model (or models) of calculator or that it wishes to allow students to use calculators forbidden by the rules of paragraph 1, above. Where this is the case, clear and specific instructions must be notified to the students in advance of the examination, to the invigilators, and on the examination paper.

7. For disabled students these rules may be over-ridden in specific, individual cases as agreed by the Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS) and where the student has the correct permission document.

8. Schools may choose to supply approved calculators to students in certain assessments.


(Updated May 2015)