“I use my calculator to think.” Said Jessica, a very bright Waterford High School junior said as she evaluated the new SAT math section that prohibits the use of a calculator. Jessica had taken the new PSAT. Although the results have not been released, she felt that she did well on the PSAT math section that allowed for calculator use and terrible on the section that does not.
Having worked with students throughout the last several months on the new SAT, I understood Jessica’s point. I’m old school in relation to calculators. I try not to use calculators, except, as was the intention of calculators, to solve complex calculators faster than can be done by hand. Over time, I have witnessed Connecticut high school students relying on calculators for the simplest of calculators and, increasingly, to “think”. In other words, students such as Jessica would use the answers – a smart move – to back solve answers on multiple choice tests. With the new SAT, calculator free test, this is no longer possible.
Fortunately, most of the students who have gone through our new SAT training have learned that only they “think”, calculators just calculate.