Calculators for the ACT

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One of the most common students ask before taking the ACT is, “Can I use my calculator on the test?”  The answer is yes… but be careful.  You do have to be careful to stick with the ACT’s list of approved calculators. Basically, any of the following features on a calculator means it will be banned from use on the ACT:

  • No calculator that can communicate wirelessly, like a phone, an iPod Touch, or via an infared port.
  • No stylus or pen based devices, so no tablets like an iPad or Nexus.
  • No calculators that have a computer-like “QWERTY” keyboard.  Even though the latest TI-Nspire models have had full keyboards for several years now, you will notice it is alphabetical, not QWERTY, like a computer.
  • No calculators with a computer algebra system (CAS)

Also, if your calculator makes sounds, it has to be muted. If it has a paper tape printout feature, that has to be disabled (seriously, no adding machines!)

What does all of this mean?  Basically, if you own a Texas Instruments calculator, you’ll be o.k. if you have one of the following:

  • TI-30 (including multiview)
  • TI-34
  • TI-73
  • TI-82
  • TI-83
  • TI-84 (any model)
  • TI-Nspire (any model but the CAS models)

You’re NOT going to be allowed to use any of the following:

  • TI-89
  • TI-92
  • TI-Voyage
  • TI-Nspire CAS

Other popular calculators that are not from TI OK for the ACT include:

  • Casio Prizm
  • Casio 9750 GII
  • Casio 9860 GII
  • HP 40 GS

This list is not all-inclusive, but it does cover the most popular calculators on the market today.  Other non-TI products that are banned include:

  • HP 40G
  • HP 48GII
  • HP 49G
  • HP 50G
  • HP Prime
  • Casio Algebra fx 2.0
  • Casio ClassPad 300
  • Casio Classpad 330
  • Casio CFX-9970G

One last important note on the ACT rules–you are allowed to bring more than one calculator.  You can only have one out at a time, but you can switch whenever you feel like it with the spare you have under your desk.  I would strongly advise you to bring a backup calculator in case your primary has a problem. For more info:  ACT’s FAQ page.

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Lucas Allen

Lucas Allen

For more than a decade, Lucas Allen was a high school math teacher and math team coach in Illinois. His 2012 Morton High School math team won the Illinois state championship. Recently, he made the jump from public education to the corporate world and is now working as a data scientist. He is interested in just about all forms of technology, including the TI-Nspire, Nexus devices, R, MOOCs, and more. You can follow , and if you are nice, he will probably follow you back.

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