By Tech Powered Dad | June 24, 2022
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, why would you bring an adding machines?)
What Calculators Are Acceptable on the ACT?
Most students have a Texas Instruments calculator. If you own a Texas Instruments calculator, you’ll be o.k. if you have one of the following:
- TI-30 (including multiview)
- TI-83 Plus
- TI-84 Plus
- TI-84 Plus CE
- TI-Nspire CX
- TI-Nspire CX II
What Calculators are prohibited on the ACT?
While most Texas Instruments calculators are fine, you are NOT going to be allowed to use any of the following:
- TI-Nspire CAS
- TI-Nspire CX CAS
- TI-Nspire CX II CAS
Can You Have a Backup Calculator on the ACT?
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 calculator policy 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. Thinking of taking the SAT? Check out my post on calculators for the SAT.