How to use Scientific Calculator – Step By Step Ultimate Guide

Last Updated On: October 17, 2018

The wonders of modern science are blessings for human civilization. From Charles Babbage's "Abacus" to modern computational devices a scientific calculator has the most impact on a science background student.

It is true that you may know a lot of formulas but without knowing how use a scientific calculator could make a great loss to you. But it is a matter of sorrow that most of the students do not know how to use scientific calculator.

How to use Scientific Calculator – Step By Step Guide

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What is scientific calculator?

Scientific calculator is the modern equipment for scientific calculation. There are many kinds of calculator such as, business calculator, scientific calculator and so on. But a scientific calculator is different from all of them.

It contains both basic and scientific calculations. You can solve Trigonometric problems, Vector, Matrix, quadratic equations and others by using a scientific calculator. So it is a must need for all of these science background students to learn how to use this equipment thoroughly.

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  • Texas Instruments TI-30XS Multi-view Scientific Calculator
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  • Texas Instruments TI-30Xa Scientific Calculator
  • Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro Engineering/Scientific Calculator
  • Casio FX-300MS Scientific Calculator Black

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What does a scientific calculator do?

The main and foremost duty of a scientific calculator is to solve the hardest problems which may be impossible for other ordinary calculators. It has many calculation modes that are relief for students. For example, it has statistics mode. So a statistics reader can easily do his operations.

In this article I'm going to show how to make proper use of a scientific calculator. So let's begin.

scientific calculator

General Usage and calculations:​​​​

Let's take a Casio scientific calculator for example. Most of the Casio calculator has a slid hard case. Remove the case and then look down the slide hard case. It contains 40 numbers of scientific constants and 40 unit conversions.

We will talk about it later. On the backside of the calculator, there is a DC 1.5v battery which is the main power source. Some calculator may have a Solar Cell which may also be the source of power.

Getting started

After the case removing, Press ON button to turn on the calculator. If you want to turn off the calculator press SHIFT+AC.

Important scientific calculator functions

There are some basic functions which are the most important. You have to find out these. Basic operations are:

Doing general math

Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, division are the basic calculation. If we want to sum 6 & 9, then

+ =

we have to follow this procedure in calculator : 6, + , 5 then if we press "=" button it will show the result 11 on the screen.

For Subtraction

- =

For Multiplication

* =

For Division

/ =

Trigonometric Function

To do trigonometric function you have to use the sin, cos, tan, cot etc button. If you want to know a sine value of a degree simply follow this:

PRESS sin, INPUT the degree , for example 30

Scientific calculator

PRESS =

Scientific calculator

you can see the answer is  0.5

Scientific calculator

you can also put a sine value to know the degree value . for this follow this procedure:

PRESS SHIFT, and then PRESS sin. You may see in the screen sin-1

Scientific calculator

INPUT the sine value , for example .5

Scientific calculator

PRESS = , You can see the answer in 30 on the screen (if the calculator is in degree mode)

Scientific Calculator

How to Use Scientific Calculator for Exponents

There are a lot of exponential functions such as ex, 10x etc. To solve exponential problems you can use ex button, x10x button, E button (for Casio fx-82 ms).

ex: To do this Press SHIFT+ln .Enter a value of x Press = Answer is on screen.

Scientific Calculator

x10x : It is used for scientific value . Like 5x103, 3x108 etc. you can find the x10x button in the lower side of the calculator.

Scientific Calculator

E: If there is no x10x button, you may find an E button which refers to an exponent. It is same as x10x.3E6 refers to 3x10x.

Scientific Calculator

How to use a scientific calculator for fractions

For fractional calculations there is a button under SHIFT and CALC. Its sign is likely "/" this.

Example: 2/5 + 6/5 = 8/5

Using the Scientific Constants

There are 40 scientific constants in a Casio calculator. They are shown in the back case of the Calculator according to their number. To get the value of these constants Press SHIFT+7 .Then put a number which you want to know from the list given.

Scientific Calculator

Using the scientific unit conversions

There are 40 scientific unit conversions in a Casio calculator. They are shown in the back case of the Calculator according to their number. To get the value of these constants Press SHIFT+8 .Then put a number which you want to convert from the list given.

Scientific Calculator

Solving an unknown factor

You can use SOLVE and CALC button to solve or calculate an unknown factor from an equation.

Store or Memory

You can store any digit by using the button STO. Input a number, press STO. Then choose A/B/C/D etc where you want to store your digit.

MODE features in a scientific calculator

There is a MODE button in the calculator.It contains various features like:

Calculate mode (default)

Complex mode (CMPLX)

Statistics mode (STAT)

Base mode (BASE-N)

Equation mode (EQN)

Matrix mode (MATRIX)

Table mode (TABLE)

Vector mode (VECTOR)

Some other calculators may have inequality mode and ratio mode. But it depends on the model of that calculator. But the fundamental modes are     these eight.Let's talk about these a bit.

Calculate Mode

It is a default mode for general calculation such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division etc.

CMPLX Mode

This mode is used for complex numbers like "3+2i". "i" is called as an imaginary number. In this mode you can sum, divide, multiply etc for a complex number.

STAT Mode

This function is used for statistical and regression calculations.

BASE-N Mode

Calculation involving specific number systems such as binary, octal, decimal, hexadecimal.

EQN Mode

It calculates equations and functions like quadratic equations. If you have a equation like x2 + 5x +3=0 or x3+2x2+5x+13=0 it will give you the 2 or 3 value of x .

MATRIX Mode

Every kind of matrix calculations can be done via this mode. Just input the order of MAT A or MAT B. Then you can multiply them, get the inverse matrix, find determinant etc.

TABLE Mode

It is used for generating a number table based on one or two functions.

VECTOR Mode

All kinds of general vector calculations can be done by this mode. Just put VEC A and VEC B. Then you can do Dot and Cross product of them.

scientific calculator features

SETUP button can work when SHIFT+MODE button is pressed.

Here you can find some essential modes like Deg (DEGREE), Rad (RADIAN), Gra (GRADIENT), Sci (SCIENTIFIC) etc . Scientific mode is used for making a number to scientific mode. The scientific number of 3000 will be 3x103

Trick: If you press ENG for a natural number, it will turn into scientific number

Error Messages in a scientific calculator

There would show some error messages if we do some wrong calculation. Some most common errors are:

Math ERROR

Syntax ERROR

Dimension ERROR

Cannot Solve (only SOLVE feature)

Math ERROR

Cause

If the result of the calculation exceeds the range of capacity of the calculator, such as if the answer is more than 9.99x1099 etc. 

If input goes outside from the allowable range. As like in Functions you cannot use an input which is out of domain.

If you input an illegal mathematical expression. For example: dividing something by zero.

Action

Recheck your input values, shorten your input number and then try again.

Try to resolve the problem which is created for an illegal mathematical expression.

Syntax ERROR

Cause

The problem created for input a wrong format. Example: 9+ and then pressing "=" button.

Action

There is a problem with input. So it has to be corrected.

Dimension ERROR

Cause

You did not define the vector or matrix's dimension and you are going to do the operation.

You are not eligible for doing that type of calculation but you are doing that.

Action

Define the dimension of the vector or the matrix and then try again.

Check if your dimensions are compatible with that kind of calculation.

Cannot Solve ERROR

Cause

The calculator is unable to solve the equation.  

Action

Check which errors you have made in the equation. Try to fix it.

Input a close value for the solution variable to the expected solution. Then try again to solve this.

Usage of scientific calculator in science background

Scientific calculator for Math

A student knows how much important is a scientific calculator for solving math problems. He can do so many operations by using a scientific calculator. Like equation solving, differentiation, integration, trigonometric problem solving etc.

Scientific calculator for physics

Many formulas related to physics needs to be solved by a scientific calculator because the value of variables are likely very huge sometimes. A student can also use the Constant and Unit Conversion option to get rid of many problems.

Scientific calculator for chemistry

Applied chemistry based chemistry needs so solve many mathematical questions. To calculate the pH of a solution you must need a scientific calculator.

Replacing the battery

You can understand a low battery by its dim display even it is at its high brightness. Besides, failure of the calculator can also show dim light. If the calculator shows this behavior, you have to replace your calculator with a new battery.

Some best scientific calculator [Recommended]

There are a lot of companies for scientific calculator. But the best companies are Casio, Texas Instruments, Sharp, Canon etc. The most famous scientific calculator brand is Casio all over the world.

You can also search for their user manual pdf file to know about their products and how to use it.

On the conclusion, A scientific calculator is a must need for science students as well as engineering students. To attain success in student life you must know the proper use of a scientific calculator.Usage of a calculator may vary to other calculators. 

But the fundamental basics remain same. You may know a lot of formulas but if you do not know how to use a scientific calculator properly all of your hard works may go in vain. 

So it is high time we started so learn the usage of scientific calculator properly.

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(Last Updated On: October 17, 2018)
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Summary

Got a new scientific calculator & do not know how to use it? well, we found this a common problem for students and here you will get all the solutions you need.

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