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HP Prime and ICGSE/A-Level exams
07-31-2014, 03:43 PM
Post: #1
HP Prime and ICGSE/A-Level exams
Cambridge International Examination gives only general guidelines, rather than black/white listing specific models, as to what calculators are allowed on math and science exams.

With HP Prime Exam mode configuration, I believe that all of them can be met. But that's my opinion and I anticipate a resistance from the examiners - HP Prime just looks too fancy...

Does anyone have any experience, information, or a precedent as to HP Prime acceptability (or lack thereof) on CIE exams?

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07-31-2014, 08:33 PM
Post: #2
RE: HP Prime and ICGSE/A-Level exams
I'm a Physics teacher in a UK secondary school. I can't directly help - no students here have the Prime, and nearly all of them use Casio FX-83 GT Plus calculators. Several do use TI-84 and similar machines, but the specifications we follow do not prohibit graphing calculators as CIE does.

I think that your first step should be to convince the Head of Mathematics that with exam mode turned on the Prime meets the specifications. Then, with their support you can try to convince the school's examination officer. They may insist on contacting the exam board before giving permission. Your calculator will probably have to be inspected before the examination - an HP Prime not in exam mode is in clear violation of the requirements.

Sorry I can't offer more definite help.
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08-05-2014, 08:06 AM (This post was last modified: 08-05-2014 08:26 AM by mcjtom.)
Post: #3
RE: HP Prime and ICGSE/A-Level exams
Would anybody know under what specific condition the HP Prime was allowed for use on the AP exams? Did they specify what needs to be disabled in Exam mode?

Even though I've corresponded with the CIE for a month on it, it's still unclear to me what would be OK for IGCSE/A-Level exam: providing clear answers do not seem to be one of CIE's fortes. Their guidelines seem to ban any 'graphic display', yet in other documents there is only mention of 'calculators capable of plotting'. Main justification for the ban, as I was given, was to force students to learn how to eyeball best fit regression lines through a scatter plots.

Under such rules, there are obvious Apps that need to be turned off, such as CAS, Function, Advanced Graphing, and Stats graphing (I guess that means all the stats as I don't think graphing can be separated from the numerical part of the App.), but there are many options that are less then obvious. So for instance, Triangle Solver - it doesn't plot anything, nor it is a 'graphic display' application, yet it shows a triangle, which is 'graphic' I suppose.

It's easy to turn off everything, just in case, and unnecessarily lobotomize the Prime even if the specific exam regulations don't really call for it (it happens to be CIE in my case that has the graphing phobia). So here is the challenge: what is the minimum set of functions and Apps in Exam mode that needs to be disabled to satisfy the exam rules, leaving the greatest possible range of functionality untouched?


p.s. I can't find it, but perhaps there is a way of disabling Plot button in all Apps - that would likely satisfy most of the CIE restrictions, yet wouldn't kill numerical capabilities of Apps like Solve or Stats....

CIE also restricts 'data banks'. Would that mean that Inferential Stats distributions would have to be turned off? How about constants?
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08-31-2014, 06:36 PM
Post: #4
RE: HP Prime and ICGSE/A-Level exams
I just introduced my new students to demo units of HP Primes, trying to promote them and generate some excitement before more units come to class. The most common question was "can we use them on external Cambridge exams?".

All I could answer is that if I lobotomize them properly, I believe they can be used, but I don't set the external exams' restrictions, so I'm not really sure, even though I've asked, but we will see... This is embarrassing.

The suggestion above is an excellent one: present an argument to the that in certain Exam modes the HP will meet all the specification to the Exam Centre Officer. I'm not sure about confirmation from CIE: this would be nice, but as I mentioned before I had a long conversation with them and all I was able to extract from them was that the calculator needs to meet the written specifications.

Which brings me to this question: what would be the minimum set of Exam Mode restrictions on HP Prime that would meet the CIE requirements?

I figured that the following need to be turned off:

- User Apps
- Physics? (what does it do?)
- Help (not sure about it - seems like text storage)
- USB (I'm not sure - but the capability of communicating is one of restrictions)
- Notes and Programs

Also I believe that "New Notes and Programs" should be turned off because recording the exam content is a malpractice. But CIE explicitly states that a programmable calculator can be used - so I would have to take away programability from the students even if it's not restricted.

Plus erase memory and blink LEDs.

The problem I can see is that since the there is 'Graphical Display' restriction, the following Apps should probably be turned off.

+ System Apps:
- Function
- Solve
- Statistics 1 Var
- Statistics 2 Var
- Parametric
- Polar
- Sequence
- Finance?
- Linear Explored
- Trig Explorer
- Quadratic Explorer
- Geometry
- Advanced Graphing

And since there is no way I know of to turn off just the Plot mode of the Apps, many capabilities that otherwise wouldn't have to be restricted are being lobotomized as well... Perhaps there is some other way to turn off only graphics, but I can't figure it out.

Would people agree with the list above? Is there anything else that I'm missing?

The condensed CIE restrictions for calculators can be found here.

It seems like an uphill battle: the calculator is guilty of not meeting the requirements, until proven innocent. Unless there is some support from either HP or or some official document that would confirm what I think is true, it's just my professional opinion.

Even if I'm able to convince the school (which is also the examination centre), that the calculator meets the relatively vaguely written CIE restrictions, it's a risky proposition. For example: interpretation of 'no graphic display' clause can take a few different forms. What's gonna happen if one of the candidates or the parents files a complaint with CIE that Graphic Calculator, HP Prime, was allowed to be used during the exam and the exam therefore should be nullified? I can just imagine myself explaining the intricacies of the Exam Mode on HP Prime to the CIE lawyers...

I think it is an important issue (certainly for me and my students), and so far I have drawn blanks asking around for help. If my students ask me tomorrow if they can use Prime on the Cambridge science exams, I will be embarrassed again...

Please help...
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