Attack of the Mathematical Zombies: Calc vs non-calc

Another horde of zombies lumbered into view.

"What are they saying?" asked the first, readying the shotgun as he'd done a hundred times before.

"Something about the calculator exam," said the second. "It's hard to make out." He pulled some spare shells from his bag.

"Calculator papers are easier!" groaned the distant horde. "Calculator..."

The first sighed. Bang bang.

"How on earth do you get through eleven years of schooling and believe that?" muttered the second.

"Beats me." Bang bang.

"It's as if they think the point of maths is following recipes to get a number."

"There's always one right ans..." said a zombie, who had escaped from a previous episode. Boom.

"And it's as if," said the first, "they've not noticed that the involved non-calculator questions use much easier numbers than the calculator ones." Boom.

"Or that when they do non-calc, they're more likely to check their answers make some kind of sense."

"Eeeeaasier..." Bang.

"The grade boundaries, if zombies ever stopped to look at them, are pretty much the same (in percentage terms) in each paper." Bang.

"Which ought to tell a zombie something about the relative difficulty of the two," said the second.

"You would think," said the first. "More bullets, please."


Colin is a Weymouth maths tutor, author of several Maths For Dummies books and A-level maths guides. He started Flying Colours Maths in 2008. He lives with an espresso pot and nothing to prove.


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I teach in my home in Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth.

It's a 15-minute walk from Weymouth station, and it's on bus routes 3, 8 and X53. On-road parking is available nearby.

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