The regulations for the use of calculators in GCSE examinations can be found on page 9 of the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) booklet "Instructions for conducting examinations", which in turn can be found on the JCQ website at Instructions for Conducting Exams and are reproduced below:
For question papers where the use of calculators is allowed, candidates are responsible for making sure that their calculators meet the awarding bodies' regulations.
The instructions set out in this section apply to all examinations unless stated otherwise in the appropriate awarding body's subject-specific instructions.
Candidates should be told these regulations beforehand.
Calculators must be:
- of a size suitable for use on the desk; either battery or solar powered.
Calculators must not:
- be designed or adapted to offer any of these facilities:
- language translators;
- symbolic algebra manipulation;
- symbolic differentiation or integration;
- communication with other machines or the internet.
- be borrowed from another candidate during an examination for any reason (an invigilator may give a candidate a replacement calculator)
- have retrievable information stored in them - this includes:
- mathematical formulas;
- The candidate is responsible for the following:
- the calculator's power supply;
- the calculator's working condition.
Advice:* An invigilator may give a candidate a replacement calculator.
Where access is permitted to a calculator for part of an examination, it will normally be acceptable for candidates to place their calculators on the floor under their desks in sight of the invigilator(s) for the non-calculator portion of the exam.
Note also that these regulations apply to both GCE and GCSE Mathematics examinations.
The crucial prohibitions above are to do with calculators which can perform symbolic algebra manipulation and/or symbolic differentiation or integration; these calculators are still quite expensive and the ones we know about include:
- Casio: Algebra FX2.0, Algebra FX2.0 PLUS, ClassPad 300, ClassPad 300 PLUS, ClassPad 330
- Hewlett Packard: HP 40G, HP 40GS, HP 48G, HP 48G II, HP 49G, HP 49G PLUS, HP 50G
- Texas Instruments: TI-89, TI-89 (Titanium), TI-92, TI-92 PLUS, Voyage 200, TI-nspire CAS
There is no list of calculators which can be used, though it can probably be assumed that any calculator that is not on the list above is permissible. This includes graphical calculators, those which can perform numerical differentiation and integration, manipulate matrices, change bases, etc. Calculator manufacturers are quite canny in making sure their latest models adhere to the regulations, so chances are anything that's come out recently is also allowed.
Wherever possible we try to set questions which obviates any advantage a student may obtain from such calculators - a basic scientific calculator should be considered sufficient for the demands of the GCSE paper.