Before the permitted use of scientific calculators for students sitting for their Cambridge GCE `O’ Level exams, the only mathematical instruments allowed into examination hall were the compass, protractor, divider, set-squares, writing instruments and the Cambridge Elementary Mathematical Tables. Before students enter into the examination hall, invigilators would be stationed at the doorway to check the pencil case of each student looking out for any non-permitted items except those mentioned above. The pages of the Logarithms Table booklet would be thoroughly flipped by the invigilators to ensure it does not contain any formulas nor any other forms of scribbled notes embedded within. Sometimes, an invigilator may randomly asked a student to remove the cap of the ball-point pen to check for any pieces of paper hidden inside.

^ The Cambridge Elementary Mathematical Tables which is about the size of half an A4 paper.

^ A page from the Log Table where you compute Common Logarithms, Logarithms of Sines, Cosines, Tangents, Hyperbolic Equations, Binomials. You can see that some of the numbers have been underlined. These were numbers which were frequently computed for logarithms sums.

Penalty for cheating? It can range from getting a big fat zero for that paper to being barred for the entire exam. Now, everything is just at the press of a button from the scientific calculator. Can you remember how to use the Log Table?

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This entry was posted on September 24, 2008 at 10:55 am and is filed under History. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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September 25, 2008 at 10:49 am |

I’ve never used such tables before, only statistical tables. Are the lookup skills similar?

September 26, 2008 at 12:08 pm |

I really can’t remember how to make use of the Log table. Was hoping if anyone can throw some light on this.

September 26, 2008 at 10:10 pm |

I have written something similar; i.e. the slide rule as well as the periodic table. Do check it out if you have not read them before.

September 26, 2008 at 11:14 pm |

Maybe you can find the answer here.

September 27, 2008 at 9:38 am |

Hi Lam and Victor,

Yes, the hazy memory is coming back in using the log table. Thanks

May 11, 2009 at 10:55 pm |

I actually wanted table of logarithm. Thogh this site is somehow useful.

May 10, 2010 at 12:21 pm |

[…] Logarithm tables were used in schools around the world until the 1980s, when calculators took over. A table of common logarithms. [Image source] […]

January 3, 2011 at 1:36 am |

Hi I am meshack bongo from kawangware

and i woul say that internet services should allow someone to download a mathematical log table