9 Best Calculators for ACT Test 2020:
Top Picks & Reviews

TI 84 Plus

Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus

4.5/5
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TI 84 Plus SAT

Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator

4/5
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Texas Instruments TI

Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus

3.4/5

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First-time examinees usually ask this question; can you use a calculator on the ACT? Our answer to that is also based on the ACT’s calculator policy (1) and that is yes. You can bring a calculator but keep in mind that it has to be an ACT-approved calculator.

Otherwise, you’re most likely to be dismissed from the ACT test. 

This post will ensure this doesn’t happen to you. We will give you an extensive roundup review of the best ACT calculators. Further down below is also a quick overview of the brands and models of calculators that are not approved by ACT, Inc., so read on to be guided accordingly.

What are the qualified types of calculators?

  • Graphing Calculator – This is a handheld calculator that is capable of solving simultaneous equations, plotting graphs, and performing variable tasks.
  • Scientific Calculator – This is an electronic type of calculator that’s widely used in Math, Science, and Engineering fields.
  • Four-Function Calculator – This is a simple type of calculator that can perform basic operations, such as Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Addition.

These are the three types of calculators that are mostly approved by the ACT, Inc. However, please keep in mind that you still have to check what particular brands and models are approved. 

Remember that the configurations of other calculators may not meet the ACT standards; hence they are prohibited for use during the test.

Do you really need a calculator in the ACT test?

Calculator ACT TestThe ACT administration does not require you to bring a calculator because most of the questions in the Math section can be solved without it. However, we encourage you to bring one to have an advantage, even just a little bit. Some questions require lengthy and difficult calculations, so solving them on your own without a calculator would consume much of your time even if you took the best ACT preparatory courses.

Your goal is to finish the ACT Math section with the most accurate answers as much as possible, so bringing an ACT approved calculator provides you with an optimum advantage.

Now, with all these fundamental introductions, let’s move forward and discuss what are the best calculators for the ACT.

1. Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator

TI 84 Plus

One of the common questions among ACT examinees is, “Are TI 84 calculators allowed on the ACT“? The answer is yes, 

In fact, this particular type is the holy grail for most students because of how functional it is. The Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus can perform various calculations even outside of the ACT. No wonder it is popular among students and teachers. Most users find its functionality as a major highlight. 

It is also highly popular that most classes would often teach students how to use this particular calculator. If not taught in classes, there are also several articles online that provide a detailed guide. The good thing about having a popular model of a calculator is that it is a lot easy to compare calculations and results with your colleagues.

Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator may not be as advanced as the other calculators, but its complete functions and ease of use always make it a great option. We also enjoy how huge the screen is despite not being colored or backlit like other ACT calculators. It can properly display all the details when calculating.

Other features:

  • It can be used for Pre-Algebra, Algebra I and II, Trigonometry, AP Calculus, Physics, AP Statistics, Business & Finance, AP Calculus, Physics Biology, Chemistry, and AP Chemistry.
  • It has the ability to convert decimals to fractions.
  • It has MathPrint functionality.
  • It can calculate real and complex numbers up to 14-digit-accuracy.

Affordability: Expensive

You can purchase this here (2).

2. Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator

TI 84 Plus SAT

This graphing calculator may not be as popular as the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus, but it surely does compete well with it when it comes to functionality. The Casio fx-9760GII is not only commonly used in the ACT but also for the SAT and PSAT. It is also less expensive than the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus, so this comes out as another highly recommended for those in need of budget calculators.

Another thing we found amazing about this budget ACT-permitted calculator is its high-resolution LCD screen. It can display graphs and numerical values with clarity despite not possessing a colored backlit screen like other more advanced calculators. It is also known for its efficiency, thanks to its high-speed CPU that makes it possible to move from one function to another without a fuss.

Getting to the more advanced functions, using this calculator is easy because you don’t have to memorize certain keys in order to move from the simple function to the advanced ones. This is a great feature for test-takers because it cuts down the time needed to calculate answers. You won’t be stuck trying to figure out which key you have to press to move to the advanced functions, either.

If those features are a sure win for you, here are other features of the Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator enough for you to be more convinced.

Other features:

  • There are quick pie charts and bar graphs.
  • USB connectivity for file sharing is possible.
  • It boasts an intuitive software design.
  • It has 200+ hours of battery life.
  • It has built-in graphing for conic sections. 

Affordability: Mid-range

You can purchase this here (3).

3. Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator

Texas Instruments TI

For some students who are taking the ACT test, the Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator is another must-have. This calculator is not approved only in the ACT, but also in the SAT, PSAT, AP, and even International Baccalaureate. This calculator can handle various functions for calculus, trigonometry, engineering, and finance.

This ACT test calculator is part of our list because of its easy-to-use graphic interface and pragmatic key layout. It is indeed a powerful problem-solving tool that can store, graph, and analyze up to 10 functions. It is also equipped with basic programming language capable of creating conversion programs.

Also, we specifically love how this calculator’s split-screen enables the display of graphs and evaluation of tables simultaneously. Of course, we shouldn’t forget, too that this calculator is equipped with a FLASH RAM memory that allows students to update and add software applications (apps).

What purpose do the apps serve? When you download TI-83 Plus software applications, you will have the opportunity to add more functions in your calculator that goes beyond Math and Science. Therefore, there is an added value to your calculator.

Other features:

  • It has 14 interactive zoom features.
  • There is an option to upgrade the operating system and software.
  • It can perform data plotting and analysis.
  • It can solve equations for different variables.

Affordability: Expensive      

You can purchase this here (4).

4. Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line Scientific Calculator

Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line

This calculator comes in different colors like Pink, Black, White, Blue, and Green.

If you’re looking for a scientific calculator, then this one’s a great start for you. This is definitely an ACT-approved calculator that’s also accepted for use in the SAT, PSAT, and AP tests.

It features a 2-line display for both entry and calculated result to show up simultaneously. If we’re asked what makes this scientific calculator unique, this would be the fact that it is solar and battery-powered. This makes it highly economical in that sense. Basically, this calculator can handle statistics and other advanced scientific functions. It is also ideal for General Math, Algebra 1 & 2, Geometry, and Trigonometry.

For its inexpensive price, however, we would expect that this scientific calculator has fewer features compared to other calculators. However, as student reviews show, the Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line Scientific Calculator is worth spending money on. 

It is important to mention that the syntax for operations in this calculator is quite different from other scientific calculators, which may need some getting used to. 

Other features:

  • It can easily handle 1 and 2 variable statistical calculations.
  • It can also handle three angle modes (degrees, radians, and rads) and Scientific and Engineering Falsetation modes.
  • It has a convenient menu that allows you to select settings appropriate for your needs.

Affordability: Low-priced

You can purchase this here (5).

5. Casio fx-115ES Plus Scientific Calculator

Casio fx-115ES Plus Scientific

This is another scientific calculator that’s approved by the ACT, and we have included it on the ACT calculator list because it’s one of the most advanced scientific calculators out there. This is also a little more expensive than the Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line Scientific Calculator, but it’s worth the investment as it supports over 280 functions. That’s a lot, especially for a standard scientific calculator.

Moreover, the Casio fx-115ES Plus Scientific Calculator comes with a Natural Textbook Display that can display root forms of equations, product notation templates, finding derivatives, and advanced inequality functionality. This feature helps students navigate easily, especially when calculating with a time limit.

It is indeed an impressive ACT test-permitted calculator because it does a lot yet give students room to calculate intuitively. Its solar-powered feature also makes it a budget-friendly calculator. Plus, it is a recommended problem-solving tool for the courses, such as General Math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 & 2, Statistics, Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry, Chemistry, Physics, and Engineering. 

Other features:

  • It covers 280 functions e.g. complex number calculations, statistics, base arithmetic, fractions, standard deviation, linear regression, polar-rectangular conversions, computer science.
  • It also supports matrix and vector calculations.
  • It has a multi-replay function that you can use to backtrack your calculations step by step in case your answer is incorrect and you need to recalculate or edit expressions used. 
  • It is capable of supporting 40 metric conversions.

Affordability: Low-priced

You can purchase this here (6).

6. Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX Graphing Calculator

Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX

This is one of the ACT graphing calculators. The Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX Graphing Calculator is a bit inferior compared to its cousin TI-Nspire CX CAS. The latter is not ACT-approved because of its powerful functionality, hence the regular TI-Nspire CX brings all the luck with its highly advanced functions and features.

We consider it as a top-of-the-line graphing calculator because of its many functions, just enough for it to pass the ACT standards for calculators. It is powerful enough to cover the essential functions any student needs during the exams. 

It also boasts of a sleek design and weighs less. Other calculators are big enough to fit your pocket and the TI-Nspire CX is an exemption to that. More so, as any graphing calculators would usually have, this calculator is also equipped with a colored backlit display perfect for studying on-the-go even on dimly-lit places.

Its rechargeable battery is also one of its amazing features as it can last up to two weeks of use. 

Other features:

  • It has significantly large storage and operating memory.
  • It can import digital images so you can make use of photos when solving problems.
  • It has integrated mathematics templates that allow students to enter expressions and view math formulas, symbols, and stacked fractions just as they are printed in textbooks or written on boards.

Affordability: Expensive

You can purchase this here (7).

7. Casio fx-300ES Plus Scientific Calculator

Casio fx-300ES Plus Scientific

If you are studying for the ACT, then you might assume that you have to own highly advanced graphing calculators. While it is a huge advantage, you don’t necessarily have to own one because the actual ACT test does not involve complicated and more advanced functions. In fact, bringing a calculator on the test day is not required, but bringing at least a basic calculator like the Casio fx-300ES Plus Scientific Calculator saves the day.

So far, this is the least expensive calculator allowed on the ACT that we have covered in this post, and we vouch for it despite being a basic problem-solving tool. It supports over 200 functions that are useful for various mathematical problems. This calculator is also solar-powered.

Basically, Casio fx-300ES Plus Scientific Calculator is your best option for its affordability. It may not support the more advanced functions, but it does the job very well when it comes to mid-level mathematical problems. Plus, it’s both SAT and ACT-approved!

Take a look at its other features here.

Other features:

  • It has a natural textbook display.
  • It also features a large, multi-line display crucial for multi-replay options.
  • It supports various courses, such as General Math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 & 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, Statistics, and Physics.

Affordability: Low-priced

You can purchase this here (8).

8. Hewlett Packard 39GS Graphing Calculator

Hewlett Packard 39GS

The Hewlett Packard 39GS Graphing Calculator is less expensive than the Texas Instruments TI-84 and has over 600 functions, making it a budget-friendly ACT graphing calculator.

Furthermore, this graphing calculator is very intuitive to use, hence entering algebraic data and other numerical values are easy. It is also equipped with a special function that allows you to switch between numeric, graphic, and symbolic views rapidly that solving problems is made more efficient, especially in standardized tests like the ACT.

Like most graphing calculators, the Hewlett Packard 39GS Graphing Calculator also boasts of a split-screen function that permits you to view different sets and values simultaneously. It is also less expensive than its other graphing calculator counterparts because it doesn’t support higher functions such as Calculus, but it already does the job well for ACT tests. However, keep in mind that its infrared feature for file transfer should be covered during the ACT test to avoid restrictions.

Other features:

  • It is also equipped with HP solvers.
  • The split-screen feature is dynamic as it can easily be adjustable.

Affordability: Mid-range

You can purchase this here (9).

9. Casio Prizm FX-CG50 Color Graphing Calculator

Casio Prizm FX-CG50

For students who are highly visual learners, the Casio Prizm FX-CG50 Color Graphing Calculator is the best option for you. So far, it’s the most expensive on our list and it’s no surprise because its main feature is the colored display. It is a colored graphing calculator that has a high-resolution LCD display with over 65,000 colors.

Despite being a colored graphing calculator, this problem-solving tool also features a natural textbook display that a lot of students prefer. Unlike other graphing calculators, you no longer need to transfer photos to this calculator to create that experience because this calculator’s capability to give you real-life images while learning is built-in.

Of course, this ACT test-approved calculator is also easy to use because of its icon-driven menu system. It also features graphic displays and statistical regressions. If there’s a downside we would like to point out, well it would definitely be its price. It’s highly expensive for students, but we can say that it’s priced like that for all those good reasons.

Now, here’s a glimpse of its other impressive features.

Other features:

  • It is equipped with a 3-dimensional graphing capability.
  • It has improved catalog function that allows for greater engagement and real-life application in the mathematics classroom.
  • It is permitted in all major exams e.g. ACT, SAT, PSAT, AP, and NMSQT. 

Affordability: Expensive

You can purchase this here (10).

What are the ACT-prohibited calculators?

Texas Instruments

  • TI-Nspire CAS edition
  • TI-Voyage
  •  All TI-89 models
  • All TI-92 model

Casio 

  • Casio ClassPad 300
  • Casio Classpad 330
  • Casio CFX-9970G
  • fx-CP400 (ClassPad 400)
  • Casio Algebra fx 2.0 

Hewlett-Packard

  • HP 40G
  • HP 48GII
  • HP 49G
  • HP 50G
  • HP Prime

Are there other guidelines when using ACT-approved calculators?

Yes, there are and you have to be extra mindful about them in order to have a smooth-flowing ACT test day. Here are the most important guidelines you have to bear in mind.

  • Make sure your calculator has sufficient battery. Bring extra for good measure.
  • Turn off any extra sound on your calculator during the test period.
  • Remove any paper tapes on your calculator, if there are any.
  • Be sure to remove any documents on your calculator.
  • Eliminate all electrical and power cords from your calculator.
  • Check if it is in great condition because you will not be provided with a spare calculator in case yours suddenly shuts off. 

What’s next?

Now that you know what are the ACT test permitted calculators, you can face the challenge of taking the exam with a bit of an advantage. 

Having the best calculator when taking the ACT is one of the ingredients in acing the ACT Math section. Remember that learning how to use the basic and difficult functions of your calculator along with good knowledge in Math is the key. That being said, we would like to end this post with a reminder to prepare your calculator way ahead of time. If possible, practice using it during test prep so you will have ample time to familiarize all its functions.

References

Best Overall

TI 84 Plus
4.5/5

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