How to use scientific calculators

Written by tom lutzenberger
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How to use scientific calculators
The advanced calculation buttons are one difference between scientific calculators and standard calculators. (calculator image by Stanisa Martinovic from

Today, scientific calculators are a mainstay for math students, science students, engineering fans and professional crunching computations every day. However, scientific calculators are not immediately easy to understand, and they do require a basic understanding of mid-level math, including algebra and trigonometry.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Batteries that match the model calculator used
  • User's Manual

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  1. 1

    Remove the calculator from its protective case. Insert batteries into the back of the calculator and close the battery holder with its lid. Turn the calculator over and press the "On/Off" button. Look at the screen and wait for it to signal the calculator is ready.

  2. 2

    Use the calculator buttons to punch in the desired formula for the calculator to compute. Look at the screen as the formula appears as desired. Press the "Enter" button to order the calculator to crunch the calculation.

  3. 3

    Determine a variable formula to be computed. Type the formula into the calculator as it would be displayed if you wrote the formula on paper. Use the "x" and "y" symbols as necessary for unknown variables. Press the "Enter" button for the calculator to crunch the formula and solve for a specific variable. For graphical formulas, wait for the screen to display the related graph once calculated.

  4. 4

    Use the "sin," "cos" and "tan" buttons to utilise trigonometry functions. Punch in the math formulas as you would write it on paper using the calculator buttons. Use the appropriate trigonometry button for the formula desired. Hit the enter button once the formula is complete. Let the calculator crunch the formula and look for the graphical display on the screen. Use the "C" or "Clear" button to wipe out the work for a new task.

  5. 5

    Use the "Memory" buttons to save formulas that you plan to use frequently. Also read and consult the User's Manual for advanced features and troubleshooting when the calculator may glitch or not work as expected.

    Use the "On/oOff" button to turn the calculator off. Reinstall or attach the cover to protect the calculator when not in use.

Tips and warnings

  • New users of scientific calculators may be frustrated at first that the tool is not completely obvious in use. However, studying the functions, reading the User's Manual and practicing will make the calculator easier to use.
  • Make sure to regularly replace the batteries on the calculator. Otherwise, the unit might fail to function when needed at a critical moment.

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