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Using Special Keyboards/Calculators in Homework
Using Special Keyboards/Calculators in Homework
Emma Anderson avatar
Written by Emma Anderson
Updated over a week ago

Some questions in Math, Chemistry, Accounting, Economics, and Finance books will require you to enter information using special characters or formatting. In these cases, when you click or tap on the answer space a special keyboard will appear. If the keyboard does not appear, you will not need anything beyond your usual keyboard to answer the question.

Note: The special keyboard that pops up is not actually a calculator, even though the number pad looks very similar to what you see on calculators. Questions that require a calculator will have one linked at the bottom of the page:

A screenshot of a question in FlatWorld Homework. A red arrow points to the lower left corner where a red box highlights a calculator icon and the words "Use online graphing calculator".

The keyboards cannot be used to do calculations, only to enter your answers.

Contents

Basics of using a special keyboard

  1. Like all questions where you need to write the answer, you should begin by clicking into the answer box. This will open the special keyboard.
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  2. This question asks students to type an equation, so the special keyboard has been set to appear. The equation involves a square root symbol, which is available on the basic special keyboard, and includes x and y as variables.
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    screenshot of the words "Write out this equation using the special keyboard: y=5 square root 6-x end of square root symbol +4.
  3. Before you start to enter your answer, note if there is part of what you might enter that is already present; in this case, y= has already been provided, and so you do not need to enter that part. Therefore, you will begin with 5.

  4. You can either use the 5 key on your physical device or the 5 on the special keyboard. Then, use the square root key in the upper right of the special keyboard:

    A screenshot of the question mentioned, with the 5 and the square root symbol typed into the answer space. The 5 on the special keyboard is outlined in red and labeled "1st" and the square root is outlined in red and labeled 2nd. The square root key is the rightmost key on the top row of the basic special keyboard.
  5. Keys like the square root that have a dotted rectangle outline (or more than one) indicate that you will enter the value(s) in that space. Once you've entered the square root you'll see that your cursor is under the symbol in the space indicated by the rectangle, allowing you to enter the value that goes in the square root symbol. Note that the square root symbol extends to cover the characters entered here.

    A screenshot of the problem with 6-x entered under the square root sign.
  6. Once you've typed the values that go inside the square root symbol you need to move your cursor out of the square root before typing +4. You can use the arrow keys on your physical device to move the cursor or you can use the left and right arrows in the lower left of the special keyboard:

    screenshot of the problem with the move cursor right arrow (second from left on the bottom row of the special keyboard) highlighted in red. The words "Move cursor right" appear in the box at the top of the keyboard indicating the purpose of the key.

    Note that next to the word "Basic" (which indicates that this is the basic spacial keyboard) words appear describing the key in use. To see this for other keys you can hover your cursor over the key.

  7. Once you've moved your cursor to the right you can type +4 and the square root symbol won't extend further:

    Screenshot of the problem with the full equation written out correctly, including the final +4 which was not included in previous images.

    Make sure that you do not place characters inside a symbol like square root that do not belong there.

Entering characters not on the special keyboard

If you need to enter a character that is not on the special keyboard that first pops up you have two options: you can use the physical keyboard on your device, or you can change what special keyboard is displayed.

Changing the displayed special keyboard

  1. Here is a question that requires an answer using the letter A, in both upper and lower case:

    A screenshot of a question in FlatWorld Homework. The question reads "Write out lowercase a squared plus upper case A. Pay attention to the upper and lower case letters. The cursor is in the answer space and the "Basic" special keyboard is displayed with the number pad, basic math operations, x, y, and other math notations.
  2. You will notice that while the Basic special keyboard includes the common variables x and y it does not include the letter A in either case. You can type the letter using the physical keyboard on your device, or you can change the special keyboard being displayed. To do this, click the arrow next to "Basic" in the upper left corner of the special keyboard to open the keyboards menu:

    A screenshot showing an answer space and the basic special keyboard, with the keyboard menu open in the upper left corner. The list of available keyboards is Basic, an icon of a regular alphanumeric keyboard, and a parentheses keyboard.
  3. If you select the second keyboard shown here, the alphanumeric keyboard, the special keyboard will change to a regular QWERTY keyboard, with numerals 1-9 and 0, all the letters in the English alphabet, and a colon, comma, and period:

    A screenshot of the question mentioned with the special keyboard set to the alphanumeric keyboard. A red rectangle highlights that the alphanumeric icon option has been selected from the keyboard menu. The shift key in the lower right has been selected and the keyboard is showing capital letters.

    Note that the shift key in the lower right corner has been selected, and the keyboard is therefore showing uppercase letters. If it is unselected you will see and be able to type lowercase letters.

  4. This keyboard can be used to type the upper and lower case letters required by the question. Note that questions that use special keyboards distinguish between upper and lower case letters, and you cannot interchange case without being marked wrong.

  5. In this instance you should use the alphanumeric keyboard to type a lowercase a, then return to the basic keyboard to add the square using the x squared button:

    Screenshot of the problem with a squared in the answer space and the basic keyboard open. The x squared button is highlighted with a red rectangle.
  6. Then you can add the plus sign using the basic keyboard, and return to the alphanumeric keyboard to add the capital A. The final result looks like this:

    A screenshot showing the question above with the answer filled out correctly. The basic keyboard is visible.

Using the keyboard on your device

  1. Here is a question that requires an answer using the letter A, in both upper and lower case:

    A screenshot of a question in FlatWorld Homework. The question reads "Write out lowercase a squared plus upper case A. Pay attention to the upper and lower case letters. The cursor is in the answer space and the "Basic" special keyboard is displayed with the number pad, basic math operations, x, y, and other math notations.
  2. Instead of changing the special keyboard being displayed, you can use the physical keyboard on your device to type the letter a in lower case, then use the x squared button as above to enter the power, the plus button on the special keyboard (or on your physical device), and then use your physical keyboard to type the capital A. This will give the same result as the method described above.

    A screenshot of the problem with lowercase a squared plus capital A entered in the answer blank. The Basic special keyboard is open.

Fractions

  1. To enter fractions you can use the fraction keys on the basic special keyboard:

    A screenshot of a question reading: Write out this equation using the special keyboard: a equals b squared over 5 minus 3. The minus three is not part of the fraction. The second row third and fourth keys from the right are highlighted as the fraction keys.

    The key on the left allows you to create a fraction with whatever term you have just entered as the numerator, and the key on the right allows you to create a fraction next to the term you have just entered.

  2. To enter the equation shown, start by entering b squared, which will be the numerator of your fraction. Then, click the fourth key from the right in the second row (called "fraction using previous expression as numerator"):

    Screenshot of the previously described question. a= is shown before the answer blank, and b squared has been typed in the blank. The 'fraction using previous expression as numerator' key is highlighted with a red outline.

    Tip: You can also use the slash button on your physical keyboard to accomplish this.

  3. Your cursor will automatically go to the denominator, and you can enter 5 there:
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  4. Use the right arrow key which is second from the left on the bottom row to move your cursor out of the denominator and enter the minus 3 as normal:

Using the Chemistry keyboard

The basic Chemistry keyboard will allow you to enter chemical symbols and the required subscripts and superscripts. Writing numbers next to a chemical symbol when they should be written as sub- or superscripts will result in your answer being marked wrong. The Chemistry "Chem" keyboard will usually be the first one available when you click into the answer space on a chemistry question, but if it's not there you can change to the Chem keyboard as described in Changing the displayed special keyboard.

Chemistry keyboard basics

  1. Here is a question that asks the student to enter Ag2SO4 with the numbers as subscripts:

    A screenshot of the stated question in FlatWorld Homework. The keyboard menu is open and the Chem keyboard has been selected. The keyboard selection menu is highlighted with a red outline.
  2. You can either use the alphanumeric keyboard to type the letters for the chemical symbols, or you can use the physical keyboard on your device. After entering the relevant chemical symbol (in this case Ag for silver; note that capitalization matters in chemical symbols) make sure to open the Chem keyboard to enter the subscripts. Click the Subscript button then enter the appropriate number:

    Screenshot of the question with Ag entered in the answer space. The Chem keyboard is open and the subscript key is highlighted with a red outline. It is third from the right on the top row.
  3. After entering the correct number for a given subscript, use the "move cursor right" key to remove your cursor from the subscript before entering the next chemical symbol. If you are using both sub and superscripts you can also use it to move between the different blanks available to you.

    Screenshot of the question with Ag subscript 2 entered in the answer box and the 'move cursor right' button highlighted with a red outline. The move cursor right button is the second button from the left on the bottom row of the Chem keyboard.
  4. Use the alphanumeric special keyboard or your device's keyboard to enter the next chemical symbol(s), then return to the Chem keyboard and add the next subscript:

    Screenshot of the question with the full equation written in the answer space and the Chem keyboard still visible.

Chemistry sub- and superscripts before a chemical symbol

Sometimes, like when entering isotopes, you will need to enter sub and superscripts before a chemical symbol. To do this, you will need to use the Atomic symbol button (second from the right on the top row of the Chem keyboard).

  1. This problem asks the student to "Write the notation for an isotope of carbon with mass number 12 and atomic number 6." These mass and atomic number notations will go before the chemical symbol (C), with the mass number on top and the atomic number on the bottom.

  2. To begin entering the relevant sub- and superscript values click the atomic symbol key. You will be given spaces to write sub- and superscripts at the start of your answer:

  3. Once you've entered the superscript you can use the "move cursor left" key (the leftmost key on the bottom row of the Chem keyboard) to move your cursor into the subscript position or you can click into the subscript position:

    A screenshot of the question with 12 entered as the superscript. The move cursor left key is highlighted with a red outline. The cursor is in the subscript position.
  4. Once you have entered the subscript you can move your cursor all the way to the right in order to enter the atomic symbol, in this case C for Carbon. This can be done either with your physical keyboard or with the alphanumeric special keyboard. The final answer looks like this:

    A screenshot of the question showing an answer with 12 in the superscript, 6 in the subscript and C as the chemical symbol.

The letter X and the multiplication symbol

Sometimes you will need to enter the multiplication symbol. This is distinct from the letter 'x' which is a common variable; the two are not interchangeable. This comes up particularly often when writing out values in scientific notation.

  1. In this question, you can see the difference between the letter x and the multiplication symbol. The question asks the student to enter a lowercase X in the first blank and a multiplication/times symbol in the second.

    A screenshot of a question in FlatWorld Homework. The question states: Write a lowercase x in the first and a multiplication/times symbol in the second. There is then a capital X next to a blank, and the words "multiplication/times symbol" next to a second blank.
  2. To write a lowercase x you need to be in the alphanumeric special keyboard or the basic special keyboard, or use the physical keyboard on your device. The basic keyboard has x and y variables, so you can use that to enter the lowercase X:

    A screenshot of the question with the box next to the letter X visible. A lowercase x has been entered in the answer space, and the basic special keyboard is visible. The x variable on the keyboard is highlighted with a red outline. It is the fourth key from the right on the top row.
  3. You can use either the Chem keyboard or the Basic keyboard to enter the multiplication symbol; both keyboards have the operation keys down the center. The multiplication symbol is the fourth key from the left in the second row:

    A screenshot of the question with the lowercase x already filled in. The Chem keyboard is open in the second blank, and the multiplication symbol has been entered in it. The multiplication symbol (called "Multiplied by" on the keyboard) is highlighted with a red outline. The multiplication symbol and the letter x do not look the same.
  4. You can see that in the boxes where they have been entered the multiplication symbol and the letter x do not look the same. The x is thicker, and slightly asymmetrical, with one line thicker than the other, while the multiplication sign has very thin lines which are both of the same thickness. Make sure that you use the correct character in your assignments.

    A screenshot of just the two answer boxes from the question. The symbols are as described.

Dollar symbols and other signs around answer spaces

Some questions have answers that require symbols around them, like answers in dollars that require a dollar symbol in front of the number, answers in percent format that require a percent symbol, or measurements that require a unit symbol after the number. If this symbol is already present before or after the answer area, you should not include it in the answer you enter. If it is not, then you should.

  1. This problem asks the student to write five dollars in one blank and five thousand dollars in the second. The first blank has a dollar sign before the blank, so the symbol does not need to be included in that entry, but the second does not have a dollar symbol, and therefore does need the symbol to be entered.

    A screenshot of a question in FlatWorld Homework. The question reads "Write five dollars in the first blank and five thousand dollars in the second. Include two decimal places as is usual in writing dollar amounts. If the dollar sign is included before the blank you do not need to write it. If it is not, you do." There are two blanks. The first is labeled Five dollars and has a dollar sign in front of it. The second is labeled Five thousand dollars and does not have a dollar sign. The first has a red arrow pointing to it with the words "Dollar symbol already present" and the second has a red arrow pointing to it with the words "No dollar symbol present"
  2. For the first blank in the example you can use the special keyboard to write 5.00 without a dollar sign:

    A screenshot of the question with 5.00 entered in the answer space. The basic special keyboard is also open.
  3. For the second blank in the example you need to begin your answer with a dollar sign, because there isn't one present already:

  4. You can see the completed answers here:

    A screenshot of the question with the answers filled in for both blanks. The first blank has 5.00 and the second has $5000.00. There is a dollar sign before the first answer blank.
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