Calculators used on Coast Guard License Exams

They must be the reason the NMC has outlawed all calculators except for the Texas Instruments 30XIIS. How dare you try to use a Casio. Your calculator must also be Jones Act approved.

The Casio FX-300ES Plus is the finest calculator a mariner could ever own.

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I could easily see putting a preprogrammed calculator innards in a case that looks like an acceptable device, and cheating that way.
If the calculator is going to be controlled, and issued, like the available documents are, it’s only reasonable that a standardized unit and it’s documents be available.

I’ve used an old TI 30X for a number of exams, but think the two-line display will be a useful step up. And it’s available in orange, easier to keep track of.
I also have a bright pink Casio.

Casio fx-260 solar is my preferred if I’m not allowed to use a graphing calculator.

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Same here. Super light and compact and does just what I need it to do.

I like the Casio 300 ES PLUS because of the super handy degrees, minutes, and seconds button and easy stats functionality.

The Casio handles sexagesimals really easily in general, much better than the TI does. Once the number is entered with the DMS button you can press it again to switch between degrees, minutes, and seconds and just decimal degrees, the internal calculations are handled the same. This makes anything with lat/long or time/distance a breeze.

For interpolation stuff (anything in tabular format, which is half of the USCG nav math problems) DMS functionality becomes extremely powerful – just enter the values as they appear in the tabular format with the DMS button and use the calculator’s regression function for the interpolations. This completely removes the need for all of the d, v and any other almanac corrections where you’ll make little mistakes, you don’t even have to reference the correction pages at the back at all.

I’m sure the TI can do a version of this stuff, but the Casio is dead simple to use, is in compliance with all of their previously stated calculator rules and is uniquely convenient for navigational mathematics. It is also very cheap. When I was at Schuyler there was a Mate on SST who walked around with 2 of them in his pockets at all times.

Hard to understand where this new rule came from.

Obviously, there are too many different calculators with too many preprogramable functions. The USCG exam proctor cannot know how to check them all for prohibited stored information that could be used to cheat on the exam. A simple solution is to only allow one particular calculator with known functions.

What about the test at the school and certificate schools? Are they allowing any calculator to be used?

The goal of the school is to make money. They need to have a high pass rate so that many mariners will keep coming to the with big wads of money.

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The policy as currently worded is “all mariners testing at a regional examination center, monitoring.
unit, or federal/state maritime academy will be issued a Texas Instruments TI-30XIIS
calculator to use during their examination(s).”

It’s hard for me to see how much of an advantage this actually is on the test day. With a Bowditch II and a 2-line scientific calculator you’re 80% of the way there. You can just enter the formulas as they appear in Bowditch into the calculator and recover your answers, I don’t see how that’s markedly different than some sight reduction script you’ve got stored in your calculator.

There are other far more mathematically rigorous certification examinations (for example Surveying and Engineering certifications) that offer a selection of calculators to choose from. It varies a bit state to state but mostly it is something like this: Calculator Policy


Maybe they don’t have, or are less concerned with, cheating.