Knowing your calculator and using its functions efficiently will be a key factor in your test performance. In many instances, employers allow candidates to bring their personal calculators.

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Calculating Techniques

1. Using the memory in simple calculators:

Although a pocket calculator allows for only the most basic of functions, it can save at least one number in its memory which can be of use for the next calculation. This can be done in several easy steps:

  1. View the number you wish to save
  2. Click on M+. The number is now saved to the calculator’s memory.
  3. Pressing the MRC button (memory recall) will place the saved number into the screen, and will use it immediately in the calculation if one has been made.

For example: Let us assume that we saved the number 12 to memory. We then begin a new calculation by pressing the number 36, and then pressing the division sign. Finally we press the MRC button, which will place the number 12 after the divisor giving us the equivalent calculation of 36/12. Pressing the equals sign will give us the correct result of 3. Alternatively, we could have stored the number 36, and recalled it from memory at the beginning of the calculation.

A double click on the MRC button will clear the memory of any saved numbers.

In addition, we can add or subtract from the value stored in the memory directly by clicking on the M+ or M- buttons.

For example: Assuming we store 10 into the memory, should we select the number 15 and then press M-, the calculator will subtract 15 from the value saved in the memory, giving us -5 and storing that number in its place in the memory. Similarly, pressing the M+ button when a number is displayed will add that number to the one stored in the memory.

2. Getting it organised

When a question requires more than one calculation step, it is extremely important to think ahead and organise the operations. This way, there would be minimum use of paper and maximum use of the calculator, since you would perform all the calculations in a row. Test writers are aware of this, and thus they create questions that provide the shortcut, and those who won't use it would waste precious time.

3. Look for repetitive operations

Always ask yourself - is there a specific operation that will be used more than once? If so, treat it like a common multiple, and leave it to the last step. Consider this example: 

example for numerical test calculator

Q: If a driver covered 500 miles with Navut's vehicle and 325 miles with Muto's, how many gallons did he end up using in total?

Solution: This question involves converting units, so it's a classic example for applying our technique:

Main calculation we're asked to perform: Find the amount of fuel used in two trips combined, by dividing each trip by the fuel consumption.

Secondary calculation: Convert miles to km and litres to gallons.

→ Main calculation: Navut's fuel usage: (500 miles) / (16.4 km/litre) = 30.48.  We save this to our memory by pressing M+.Moving on to Muto's : (325 miles)/ (14.7 km/litre) = 22.10. Now we add this number to the stored result in our memory by pressing + and then MRC to get: 30.48 + 22.1 = 52.596=52.6

→ Secondary calculation: Divide the above sum by 0.62 to get km instead of miles and then divide by 4.546 to get gallons instead of litres:52.6/0.62/4.546=18.66 gallons.

If have you problems with the unit conversion procedure, check out our numerical practice tests in which an entire section is dedicated to this topic.

4. Always leave the last calculation on screen

And don't restart the calculator. There are great chances you will be using the last calculation in the next step. 

Further reading on numerical reasoning tests:


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