Having a bad calculator can really set you back during your ACT. If it malfunctions or stops working, you probably won’t have enough time to calculate everything yourself. And in turn — you won’t do so well and you’ll probably have fewer points than you normally would.
To avoid stressing out during your ACT, you need to find a good calculator that won’t let you down, but one that follows the ACT guidelines, of course. Before we get into the best ACT calculators, let’s see what you need to consider when buying one.
Which Calculators Are Approved on the ACT
For a calculator to be ACT-approved, it has to be a 4-function, graphing, or scientific one. Before the test starts, you’re responsible for making sure it works and to bring a backup one, just in case.
What’s more, if the calculator is battery-powered, you should bring another set of batteries with you in case the first one fails. To ensure the best results, the ACT always recommends getting familiar with the calculator beforehand.
During the ACT, you won’t be allowed to use calculators that have a downloaded or built-in computer algebra system. Also, you can’t use tablets, handheld computers, or laptops. What’s more, the ACT prohibits using any calculator that’s built into a cellphone or any other communication device.
There are also a couple of specific models from the three most popular calculator manufacturers that the ACT forbids using.
From Casio, you can’t use:
- ClassPad 300, 330, or 400
- Algebra fx 2.0
- Any model that starts with CFX-9970G
- HP 48GII
- HP Prime
- Any model that starts with HP 40G, HP 49G, or HP 50G
Finally, from Texas Instruments:
- TI-Nspire CAS
- Any model that starts with TI-89 or TI-92
There are some types of calculators that you can modify to get them to be ACT-approved. For example, if you have an HP 38G with an infrared port, all you have to do is cover the port with some heavy-duty tape.
You could also use calculators that can hold documents or programs; you just have to delete everything from them. If your calculators have power cords or paper tape, just remove them and you’re ready to go. Also, make sure to turn off the sound on your calculator if it has that option to avoid distracting others during the ACT.
1. Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator
The TI-84 Plus comes with expanded graphing technology and about a dozen applications. Some of the applications include: real-world data collection and analysis, interactive geometry, and inequality graphing.
Texas Instruments also claims that this calculator is perfect for all high schoolers because of its MathPrint technology. With it, you can enter equations and fractions and the screen will show you graphic representations of them.
The calculator also has 14 interactive zoom features and it can store up to 999 elements. What’s more, the TI-84 Plus can convert decimals into fractions. It is also pre-approved for the ACT, SAT, PSAT, IB, and AP tests.
On the Texas Instruments official website, you can find different guidebooks, product tutorials, and a software service center. Also, you can reach their customer support system via phone, e-mail, and live chat. What’s more, you can access the self-service knowledge base for any warranty and service questions, as well as troubleshooting and product usage.
2. Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator
If you’re looking for a reliable, sturdy graphing calculator that’s half the price of the TI — Casio’s fx-9750GII is the way to go. The calculator has a 10-digit, 8-line LCD screen, perfect for all of your graphs and equations. What’s more, it features a simple icon menu and is pretty easy to use.
Casio’s calculator also comes with a built-in hard case and in three different colors. But possibly one of the most impressive things about it is its battery. Once you put 4 AAA batteries, Casio claims this calculator can last up to 200 hours. You’ll also be happy to know that the batteries are included when you order from Amazon.
Now, the Casio does come with a bit of a learning curve. Since nowadays most high schools recommend using the TI, it might be difficult figuring this one out at first. But the calculator does come with a manual and you can find plenty of tutorials on how to use it.
3. Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator
The TI-83 Plus model from Texas Instruments is easy to use, durable, and works great for both science and math applications. With it, you can do data plotting and analysis. What’s more, it’s one of the best ACT calculators for comparing functions and making graphs.
Since it has FLASH ROM memory, you can update the software from time to time and install some apps. Also, the TI-83 can store up to 10 matrices and display the tables and graphs on its LCD split-screen.
Now, the calculator comes with four AAA batteries, so you can start using it right out of the box. But it also has one lithium battery for backup and saves energy with its automatic shutoff feature. Also, just like the TI-84, this model comes with 14 zoom features and you can use it for calculus, algebra, and much more.
4. Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line Scientific Calculator
As one of the cheapest and best ACT calculators, the TI-30X is one of the most popular models for high schoolers. It’s a scientific calculator that features a robust and sturdy design. You can use its 2-line display to see your entries and the calculated result at the same time.
The TI-30X can easily handle one- and two-variable statistical calculations. You can also use it to work with angle modes, including grads, degrees, and radians. What’s more, the calculator can work in both engineering and scientific modes.
The model comes with a protected case and you can get it in two different colors. If you buy it on Amazon, you’ll get a lithium battery included with your purchase. But if the battery ever fails you, you’ll be happy to know that this model is also solar-powered.
5. Casio fx-115ES Plus Scientific Calculator
The scientific calculator from Casio is one of their most popular and possibly best ACT calculators. It’s extremely versatile and you can use it for algebra, statistics, chemistry, and so much more. The calculator also has a natural textbook display, making it easy to read your results.
You’ll be happy to know that with this model, you can do over 280 different functions. For example, you can do fractions, arithmetics, and computer science, to name a few. The fx-115ES also has a table function and 40 different metric conversions.
Moreover, you can use the Multi-replay function on the calculator to see and edit expressions and recalculate your answers. The calculator has a 2-line display and needs one LR44 battery to work. But in case the battery fails, you can charge it using solar power.
Even though the standardized test laws state that you don’t need a calculator for the exam, it’ll be much easier for you if you use it. But getting the right one is of the essence. So, when looking at which one to buy, think of the classes you’ll be using it for and the functions you’ll need to use.
Also, to avoid wasting time during the ACT, make sure to familiarize yourself with the calculator beforehand. If you can, always bring it with you to your math and ACT prep classes.
All of the models you’ve seen here today are precise, reliable, and durable. No matter which one you choose, you won’t be making a mistake, as these are the best ACT calculators on the market right now.