Calculators for the ACT

By Tech Powered Dad | June 3, 2016

TI-Nspire CX
I picked the TI-Nspire CX as the best calculator for the ACT.

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 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.

If you are looking for some additional ways to prepare for the ACT, check out my post on the best ACT prep courses. Regardless of whether you are looking for some last minute cramming or to bulk your skills up over the course of a weeks or months, there’s a program for you.

STEM careers are the future. Will you be ready?

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