Should calculators be banned in SATs?

  • 15 May 2014
AP Image copyright David Jones

There's a big debate on whether you guys should be allowed to use calculators in your SAT maths exams.

Thousands of Year 6 kids are preparing to take their SATs exams in the subject today and they'll be the first to face new rules banning the use of calculators for some maths papers.

Until this year, the Key Stage 2 tests taken at the end of primary school included a mental arithmetic paper, one maths paper where calculators were used and one where they were not allowed.

But in November 2012, it was announced that calculators would be banned in maths tests at Levels 3 to 5 from this summer.

However, calculators can be used for Level 6 papers which are sat by a small number of high-achieving pupils.

The limit on the use of calculators was intended to make sure that children learned maths skills for themselves rather than relying on the help of a calculator.

The government say it will raise standards in exams, but experts from some top universities say it's a backward step.

But what do you guys think?

Should you be allowed to use calculators no matter how clever you are?

Or is it better to leave them in your school bag and just use brain power for big tests?

Many thanks for your comments. This chat is now closed.

Your comments

I think that calculators should be banned in SATS because children need to learn basic maths skills without relying on a calculator for the answers.

Maya, Surrey, England

On the mock SATs, we had to do last year's calculator test without a calculator which was quite tricky. I am doing the level six tests for maths. I do not agree with removing the calculator from the 3-5 paper.

Dana, London, England

I think having separate papers for calculators and no calculators works because then you're learning basic calculator skills. One of the first things I remember doing in secondary school in maths is scientific calculator skills.

Callum, West Sussex, England

I think calculators are good in some tests but not all of them, as am doing SATs at the moment to. They can help you if you struggle to learn maths.

Billy, Norfolk, England

I have been taking my SATs this week, today, tomorrow and Friday I am taking my maths tests, and I think that calculators should be banned and we aren't using them because through the year we learn lots of good mental methods that we can use in SATs.

Owen, Birkenhead, England

I definitely think we should use calculators because it shows our skills on a calculator and for the level six papers there are certain questions where you just have to use a calculator.

Kareshram, Kent, England

I think you should have a calculator test and a non-calculator test, because the non-calculator one will test your use of doing the maths in your head and the other paper will test your calculator skills!

Jodie, Manchester, England

In our school we do a calculator test with harder questions compared to the non-calculator test. Calculators should be banned in my opinion because you are learning nothing. You can get full marks if you can use a calculator correctly but can you work out that sum in your head?

Hilal, Lincoln, England

I think that calculators should not be banned, because using a calculator will help you to learn a new method and know how you got the answer.

Katie, London, England

I think we should be allowed to use calculators, because when you're older you might need to use a calculator in your job.

Emma, Holmbridge, England

I don't think calculators should be allowed in tests because it's meant to be testing your brain, not what the calculator knows also you don't learn anything from it, you just get the answer.

Chloe, England

I think depending on the level, calculators shouldn't be banned when a child moves on to do their GCSE exams they will sit two papers one of which is calculator based. I think if a child is allowed to use a calculator it will help them prepare from that big step to GSCE. But then again I think if using a calculator avoids thinking and does all the work for them they shouldn't be allowed.

Alice, Torquay, England

I think we should have one paper where they're not allowed and one where they are allowed. For the papers with them normally contain big sums. However, as long as you know how to work it out then you're fine. It's just testing your method.

Ellie, Retford, England

I don't think calculators should be banned because we have practised with them through most of school and some questions are too hard without them.

Lily, Nuneaton, England

I'm sitting my Maths SATs today and I think that it is not fair because we still get the harder question and I have been practicing with a calculator! Plus in the future we will do nearly everything on a computer or calculator.

Mia, Leicester, England

I think that you shouldn't use calculators in SATs because you're not using your head to calculate anything.

Bethany, Sevenoaks, England

Yes, because when you get a job you will be able to use a calculator for most things.

Sophie, Wakefield, England

In previous practice SATs I have lost marks because of typing mistakes or the actual calculator making a mistake so I think it will be much better without calculators.

Millie, Richmond, England

I am doing SATs next year and I think there should be tests where calculators are provided, other tests where it is optional and some where they are banned. This is because some children may not do as well in real life if they cannot complete a test without a calculator and some children may not have a calculator or be able to bring it into school, which is unfair on them.

Carys, London, England

I think there should be two papers, one paper calculator the other none calculator. This will give you both the skills you need. If you couldn't use a calculator when you're older then, you wouldn't be able to do more complicated maths quickly.

Harriet, Basingstoke, England

I feel confident doing my Maths SATS today without a calculator. I prefer to work it out myself on paper.

Megan, Chichester, England

I think that calculators should be banned for the SATs paper today, it will develop our ability to solve questions without the use of a calculator and bring out the grade we should be at.

Maddie, Staines, England

I think we should be allowed to use calculators. I don't see why they changed it.

Robbie, Verwood, England

No because it's kind of cheating, SATs are to test your knowledge.

Amina, London, England

We should be allowed calculators, because some Maths questions are hard enough without a calculator. If we at least showed the working out and only use the calculator for averages and square roots etc.

Aoife, Northern Ireland

I am taking the test today and tomorrow and I think it is unfair because over the years in my practise SATs I've had a calculator on one test but now there is no calculator and I don't think I'm ready!

Haasher, Northwood, England

I think it would be better to keep the calculator test because some children find it harder without a calculator and then they might be able to get a higher level.

Lewis, Chelmsford, England

I think we should be able to use calculators because on some questions you need to. It's not good to use a calculator but it's and important resource in the classroom.

Jamie, Wales

I don't think that calculators should be banned because there are two types of test, one without calculators and one with calculators, so it's not like everything depends on the calculator! We will use them in the future so I think that they shouldn't be banned in SATs. Also, SATs are hard enough without a bit of help!

Poppy, Southampton, England

I'm homeschooled and I recently started using a calculator for chemistry. I really don't like using it and I find myself writing out the sums on scrap paper to make sure they are right! I just can't get used to not seeing the steps in the sum!

Ameerah, Glasgow, Scotland

I think they should be banned as they don't give you a chance to show your education. It's silly that we learn lots of methods in school about how to work things out ourselves and then you go and just use a calculator! Lazy!

Ben, Aylesbury, England

I think we should use calculators in some tests. I'm in year 5 and I think it would be very unfair if we weren't allowed.

Anya, Essex, England

I think it's cheating if you take a calculator into your SAT exam because the calculator is doing all the work and you don't bother to use your own brain.

Sophie, Sutton Coldfield

If we do one test without a calculator, what difference does doing a separate test with one make? In real-life, no adult goes through a sum without a calculator handy!

Iona, Huncoat, England

I think you should continue with a calculator test and a non calculator test so then you can test skills and abilities with and without calculators.

Geo, Essex, England

I think that you should be able to use a calculator during your maths SATs paper because you may not know the answer to big sums which could lead you to failing your test.

Grace, Bath, England

I think that calculators should be banned in SATs because children need to learn basic maths skills without relying on a calculator for the answers.

Maya, Godalming, England

I am taking my SATs today and I think that if the papers have a similar level of hardness then it'll be OK. I'm also taking the L6 and you can still have a calculator in that so I'm fine! Some kids aren't able to do the basic sums so this should wake them up!

Libby, Bath, England

In my SATs I had one calculator booklet and one non-calculator booklet. I think it should stay like this to test their calculator skills.

Emily, Liverpool, England

I think we shouldn't have calculators because tests are to show how much we know not how much a calculator knows.

Mia, Essex

I think they should definitely be allowed. And I'm doing my maths SATs today as well.

Maeve, Dorset

I think you should get a calculator because it is not going to help you with every question and in the future when you're older you're going to use a calculator.

Ellie, Swanley

I think it is unfair because we may use calculators in future so it is important that we use them now.

Freddy, Surrey