Calculators in a math classroom: Helpful or inefficient?

It has been a very difficult situation for most students, especially with the differences in the mediums of education students pursue. For example, we have CBSE boards that don’t allow calculators in classes at all even for 11th and 12th-grade students. On the other hand, the ICSE Board of Education allows calculators right from the 11th, for all commerce, science, and art students. In colleges too, the CBCS system allows complete usage of calculators.


But the debate in question remains, is it truly helpful for students to carry a calculator, and does it impact their education in any way, positive or negative? Whenever teachers weigh in, they have split opinions, some saying that learning calculation is important in initial levels of education. College and university professors might agree otherwise because for them mathematics is more than simply calculating numbers. Students popularly believe that calculators should be allowed to come on mostly because it is for their convenience and they do not have enough experience with educational fields themselves to realize how important or how inefficient it is.


Let’s first look into why we should allow calculators in a classroom. Just like some important portals in a school’s application like fee management software, a calculator is also an important tool that guides students.

Reasons to use calculators in classes

Lesser rules to follow


Having a calculator would mean students no longer need to follow some strict rules and have a lot of opportunities to make free decisions because they have a learning environment that supports their learning process in any and every way possible. Hence, if there is no such rule as seeking help to calculate things, they can focus more on other priorities such as clearing their mathematical concepts, understanding the importance of cooperation and coordination in a classroom, etc.



An institution has multiple relevant software and tools like an attendance management system to take care of different functionalities in their day-to-day lives. A calculator is also a relevant tool that can help students with standard mathematical skills.

Limiting details to memorize


Having a calculator would mean students have to accumulate and remember multiple factual information, formulas, trigonometric calculations, etc. A calculator can solve these problems because we can simply input the data and find the answer, it is the concept of the sum that they are doing truly matters and whether they have understood the practical application of it. As long as they do that, the calculator will not hamper their education quality.

Reasons to forbid calculators in classes


Now that we already know what are the reasons that lead to institutions allowing their students to use calculators, we must also know the drawbacks or challenges that limit institutions and the permission for students to use calculators.

Clear conceptualization


If students keep using calculators from an early age, they would forget how to use BODMAS, calculating things quickly and easily in real life would be difficult because they might not have a calculator all the time. Truly a mobile phone is useful, but not as useful as being skilled enough to perform complicated, and even easy mental mathematics every day in life.

Calculators are inaccurate


If you’ve ever worked with geometry, or have just started calculus, you would know how useless a calculator is. The true struggle with using it is that often simple sequences of additions also don’t work because the BODMAS rule is not applicable. That is why using and not using it is almost the same thing. Students who are already good in mathematics, and are fluent in how to calculate numbers quickly would not even need the calculator for such simple things.

A shortcut in the learning process


Learning to efficiently calculate numbers and perform mental mathematics is a constant process that allows students to become fluent in their concepts. This is why in ICSE boards a calculator is allowed only after students enter high school in 11th grade, and are ready to learn even more complicated mathematical concepts. If the same calculators were allowed in elementary or middle school grades, students would depend on them too much and not develop their skills, making the learning process seem like a shortcut.


What is your take on having a calculator? Practically calculators have advantages and disadvantages and in real life, people will have access to a calculator. However, having mental math skills is equally important!

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