13 reasons why calculators are not allowed for calculus?

A lot of students ask why calculators are not allowed in calculus classes or exams?

calculators can be a way of cheating in calculus?

More than 37% of college students are cheating in the United States.

In this article, we’re going to discover the 13 reasons that make calculators banned in calculus classes.

calculators make students lazy

Using a calculator in calculus classes makes students lazy and don’t push any effort to use their brain, everything is done by a calculator even the small and silly operations.

students love to take the easy route instead of training their minds and keeping them fresh, they click on buttons. That it.

So it teaches students laziness and helps them to build wrong habits. As a result, makes them depend on a calculator for any movements in their life.

a lot of students forget that the most interesting thing that we learn in school or college is not math or calculus, is the ability and mechanisms to solve problems.

The second thing is patience that is needed to acquire in this process. So this is what students lack in their real life.

calculators are not allowed in calculus because teachers find them as tools that teach students laziness more than any other thing useful.

sometimes math students become stupid using calculators in calculus

as an ancient stem student, I’ve seen some stem students who are belonging to the pure mathematic branch( STEM ) doing silly calculations in calculators like:

  • -5+5
  • 0*5x
  • sin π/2
  • cos π/2
  • sin 0

The list is so long, so how can we explain that for calculus students to do these silly things?

The response is clear the dependency on calculators. Students are getting used to doing anything by calculator even the silliest things. So it makes them stupid in math by always depending on calculators.

Being unable to have a simple and basic knowledge of math like multiplication or division is worrying. In addition how much time take to memorize the sin of π/2 or cos?.

This is one of the reasons why calculators are not allowed in calculus classes.

for cheating

people are using today’s calculators to cheat not to get help with, even they don’t need to. Especially if we talk about the graphical calculators that students use for calculus.

Graphical calculators are like phones, students can save sheets and information on them to reuse in exams. In addition, Theses kinds of calculators give immediate results of calculus graphs.

For instance, students can

  • verify if its function is correct drawn or not
  • save notes
  • recover deleted sheet notes after resetting calculators
  • completing table graphs
  • drawing graphs

for instance, if you are asked as a student to draw X² on the exam you will have to do it manually by making a graph table and doing all the replacement stuff.

but you won’t finally know if you graph that you drawn is correct or not until the teacher corrects an exam or…

using this

why calculators are not allowed in calculus

So graphical calculators help students to check if their work is correct or not which is considered cheating on exams.

aren’t so helpful for calculus

one of the reasons that make calculators are not allowed in calculus is its usefulness, so to clarify:

Having a calculator for calculus won’t help students to solve math issues, it is right that they can check calculus problems. But calculus or any math subjects requires profs not individual numbers.

To clarify you could get the derivative of for example, but the calculator doesn’t show you how it did. So this is what a teacher expects from you as a student to find how you found that the derivative of x² = 2x, more than a result.

So calculators aren’t a magical tool that will respond and makes students score high in maths exams, it is just a tool to use for checking up nothing more than that.

Calculators are expensive

calculators are not affordable for some poor students, it is right that noraml or scientific calculators don’t cost so much. But what about graphical calculators?.

can any students spend $150 to bring a calculator to a school or college?

Scientific calculators don’t cost more than $20 but graphical ones, are 10 time expensive. if you love to use a graphical calculator in calculus classes you need to spend $100 to $150 to get one or even more.

So does all students have the ability to spend that budget?.

The response for sure is not, but what is unfair is to let rich students use these types of calculators why poor students can’t. So it will the inequality and some sort of discrimination.

Most professors design calculus exams that don’t need calculators

the majority of professors or teachers are designing or making exams that don’t need calculators. The goal is to push students to count on themself and be more independent doing calculus by their mind not using machines.

The goal in calculus is not to test if students calculate well or not but the ability to evaluate if a student understood the 3 calculus pillars that are:

  • limits
  • derivatives
  • integrals

allocating numbers on functions is not needed it can be easily done in draft paper or by a mind if you have more confidence in yourself.

so for this reason they don’t find any interest to use calculators in calculus rather than building laziness and delusional dependency.

if students use calculators they will not memorize the simple calculus operations

the majority of teachers discovered that students became so lazy and don’t make effort to memorize basic calculus rules. There are many students who don’t even know Sin(x) or Cos(x) derivatives.

They don’t make any effort to memorize some mathematics rules. But the worst thing is some students still struggle with multiplication tables as high schoolers.

Calculators froze students’ minds, for any silly question, a student starts pushing buttons, it becomes an addiction.

calculators have a poor screen

Calculators can be a good tool to help students, especially graphical ones. But their price makes them ineffective compared to what computers or at least smartphones can provide to students.

computers are so effective to help students to learn calculus especially when you use Matlab or any mathematics software. Computers have bigger and more colorful screens, not like poor quality screens that calculators have.

you could find the 10 best math tools that students can use to learn calculus.

studetns can forget the basics of math calculus

the excessive use of calculators makes students forget basics and become slower doing calculus operations. Students face some problems like:

  • forgetting some math basics
  • making mistakes in infractions like reducing or adding
  • becoming slower in calculus operations
  • have doubt about themselves
  • being afraid to lose marks without using calculators

with time, a mind becomes rusted and lose its flexibility which makes student prefer more to use calculators and find non-comfort to make even simple operations in their minds.

For this reason, many calculus classes try to renew or refresh students’ minds by forbidding calculators.

Teachers want to evaluate the calculus levels of students

Sometimes using calculators might hide some shortcomings that students suffer from or disguise by using these machines.

As we said before there are a lot of students who still struggling with simple trigonometry rules like Sin or Cos. In other words they can solve calculus exercises without putting a calculator on the side.

While others and which is the most dangerous are using calculators to know what is the result 9*8 or 6*7. Because simply they don’t memorize multiplication tables. It is shocking but is happening in high schools.

Many mathematics teachers and especially in calculus love to evaluate students’ levels and shortcomings they have. So they ban calculators to discover “calculus surprises issues students”.

All that is to solve a problem from the ground and help their students rise from the ashes.

For this reason, we find some students asking like: Being bad in math means I’m stupid? (solved)

Graphic calculator gives students just a solution

Calculators can help you to solve some mathematics problems but you will also get a response. In other words, you won’t be able to know how the solution is proved which is the core goal of calculus and mathematics at all.

For this reason, teachers find them unuseful and just a checker tool not anymore else. Because the calculator can’t do the job like this one below

calculators will just give you immediate results which are worth nothing to the teachers.

its lowers the confident of students

many students say, are afraid to not use calculators in their exams. They have a fear to make mistakes and lose scores in exams, their inner confidence in themselves is low.

regarding being good in calculus and math choosing the easy and undoubtful path is more comfortable but detrimental in the long run.

They paly with calculators

The unexpected thing is some calculators can be distracting in classrooms. In other words, students can play video games with their graphic calculators. it is like bringing a gaming console into the classroom.

It is amazing to see students playing famous video games on their calculator like

  • fruit Ninja
  • doom
  • Sonic

you can watch this video to know more about this subject.


calculators are not an interesting tool for calculus it might be helpful for some checking tasks. But it, unfortunately, doing harm more than good for students.

calculators are not allowed in calculus for the principal reason which is cheating and other reasons that we discovered in our article.


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.