High school math is a big step up from middle-grade math and the difference will be noticeable in a student's life. Courses change, programs too, math teachers change, even schools change in many cases.

Theorem, equation, probability, algebra, arithmetic, mental arithmetic, trigonometry, Square roots, Mathematical modelling, inequalities, Complex numbers, fraction, to cope with this all-new mathematical program, students must start by acquiring a piece of new equipment.

It is possible to wait until the beginning of the school year to wait for the advice of your math tutor but this basic list will get you started.

You and your willingness to learn
Being a student is a lot of fun but it also requires hard work. Photo Source: Unsplash

How To Get Prepared For The Start Of The School Year

First let's make sure to plan your list, going to the school supply shops and dumping every shiny thing into your basket. While this may be fun is only going to achieve a few things.

  1. You are going to forget something
  2. You are going to pay for things that you will never us.

4 Point Plan

  • Point 1 Is Plan.
    • Lessons plans and curriculums stay the same year after year so when you are planning your back to school shopping ask the school to send over a list of the classes that the first year will be studying.
  • Point 2 Is Ask!
    • The math education program doesn’t change much through the years and syllabus is set up and has been running for years. Teachers know what students need in the classroom.
      1. School open days.
      2. Parents evenings.
      3. Arrange an end of year chat with the teacher.
  • Point 3 Is Make A Modest List
    • Although it is great to be prepared and have everything that you think you will need for school before school starts. You have to remember that the shops do not close once school starts so once you have a basic equipment list. Just wait to start school and then add to the supplies that you have. This is good for 2 reasons:
      1. You get what you need
      2. You use what you have.
    • Something you wouldn’t know since you haven't started high school yet is that when you need to bring something into class or buy something for class the teacher is going to tell you. So outside of the basic items, you can just wait to see what is required.
  • Point 4 Use What Is Available
    • The school has educational resources and teachers have teacher resources you do not have to buy everything.
    • While it's nice to have your own stuff, the school is full of resources for students to use. In fact, it makes educators happy to see you using the resources. So use them.

Finding a good math tutor can be fun on Superprof.

time to plan your school list
First let's make sure to plan your list. Photo Source: Unsplash

The Most Important Thing In The High School Mathematicians Toolkit?

The math curriculum requires you to buy some back to school supplies as it is a specialist subject. School math needs you to invest in things like a scientific calculator, post it, paper clips, a binder, rulers, pocket folders, markers, highlighters, a sharpener, an eraser, not to mention the geometric tool kit. This excludes any real modern conveniences like laptops, tablets or voice recorders or digital ebook readers which can all be extremely useful.

Being a student is a lot of fun but it also requires hard work. If you don’t work hard it won’t matter which equipment you have, this is because it is not the equipment but the math student that is responsible for true student achievement. So the most important thing in the toolkit is YOU. This is the only thing that matters, with a pen and a sheet of paper you can excel higher than the students who have a mini stationary shop on their desks. You and your willingness to learn can take you all the way if you let it. Everything else is just a tool to support you.

The Best Calculator For High School

Casio calculators are probably the most popular school calculators as they are reasonably priced and have all of the settings required to excel in mathematics.

Of course, there are other brands which also release their models like Texas or HP. But by choosing a common calculator you have the added bonus of knowing that your teacher and classmates will be able to help you will it should you get stuck.

Going from the basic calculator to a scientific calculator can be overwhelming because it is full of buttons that you don’t know how to use yet.

 Benefits Of Calculators

In today's fast-paced world, calculators are a gift because they speed up calculations that would otherwise take a long time. For students these days to remain interested in mathematics a high percentage need fast feedback showing that they are making progress.

Calculators increase on many levels the interest in mathematics and also improve student attitude to towards the subject. Which give better results when calculating  Advanced numerical functions such as Algebraic, Geometric, trigonometric calculations.

Casio calculators are probably the most popular school calculators
Going from the basic calculator to a scientific calculator can be overwhelming. Photo Source: Unsplash

Is Using A Calculator Cheating?

Like any tool, you have to know how to use it to be able to get the best out of it. With all calculators, if you don’t know what to dial in then you won't get the right answer out. Just like a fancy camera isn’t cheating for a photographer or a power tool for a carpenter. A calculator is not a crutch for lazy students, It's just a tool.

What can the calculator do at a glance:

  • Basic math: Multiplication and division, Addition and subtraction.
  • Advanced numeracy: Geometry, arithmetic, probability, algebra, Calculus trigonometry, inequalities, relative numbers, fraction mixes, equation mixes, fraction puzzles, memory and much more.
  • Specific buttons for pi, parentheses, trigonometric functions, exponents and inverses of trigonometric functions.

Equipment For Young Students

Young mathematicians need different tools as they face a different curriculum.

  • The abacus Many teachers use this tool in class or in tutoring to help kindergarten and primary students learn how to work with numbers, adding, dividing, multiplying and subtracting. Children slide the beads along the bar, moving the necessary number of beads required for the calculation. This is great alone or accompanied by an adult, the child can really progress thanks to the abacus.
  • Multicubes Children can build geometric and natural shapes with these cubes. Which allows them to work their motor skills and especially the imagination. Young children build shapes that represent things that exist like animals, trees, buildings etc others build shapes straight out of their brains

You can imagine combining calculation games and construction games to awaken the imagination and combine it with some basic notions of mathematics. The focus for the younger student is to keep it hands-on, engaging and fun.

The Basic Back To School List For Math Students

A Calculator

  • Simple calculators can do only addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. More scientific and graphing calculators can handle exponential calculations, square roots, hyperbolic functions and trigonometric equations.

Geometric Measuring Tools

  • Rulers come in different styles and sizes but a regular ruler is fine for math.
  • A compass is a metal v-shaped tool which draws circles. It works by placing the point at one side of the tool into the paper which anchors it at one point. The other edge where the pencil is slotted into then is free to rotate and draw a perfect circle. It is adjustable so it can draw shapes of different sizes.
  • Protractor - This tool is a measuring tool to measure angles.


  • Scratch paper – This is low-quality paper that you can use to do all of your calculations.
  • Graph paper –has lines that cross to create squares on the page, used in maths to more easily write out equations and draw graphs.


  • A pencil case – The pencil case is a great tool to organize your smaller school tools and equipment.
  • Backpacks and bags – You need the main one for your books then additional smaller bags for gym kits, swimwear and art supplies.

Other Basic Stationery

  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Coloured pencils
  • Highlighters
  • Notebook, planner

Now that you have a good idea of what you need to buy. Next, you need to consider how you are going to study. An engaged learner, great tools and a proactive study plan equals student achievement. Ideas for free math resources for self study.

  1. Visit website that offers free worksheets and exercises that you can practise. Of course you need to find the right website and ensure that it is for your level. Look for exercises that define and teach you about what you need and that give demonstrations to help you to better understand.
  2. Look for websites that allow you to perform free tests either for mock exams from the previous years or assessment exams. So that you can really test your knowledge on the
  3. If you are a visual person or you are just tired of reading you can watch YouTube videos and watch tutorials made by mathematics teachers to better understand. Simply type your search term for example "number e", "natural logarithm" or "exponential function" into the search bar to access a huge selection of dedicated math courses.

No matter how you like to learn, be sure to integrate your learning into your day. when you go to the shop do a square root calculation of your change for example. You will find many chances to practice math in the real world, which will help you gain confidence and improve. Good luck.

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A student by trade, Daniel spends most of his time working on that essay that's due in a couple of days' time. When he's not working, he can be found working on his salsa steps, or in bed.