The Best Calculator for AP Calculus

By September 11, 2019 October 16th, 2019 Calculator & School Supplies Reviews
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A calculator is required for the AP Calculus test because there are certain sections in the exam that can only be answered by using one. In that case, you should bring a calculator that is not only good to use for the AP Calculus test but also has all the functions you need as well as the features that make it much more efficient for you to answer the exam. In this post, we’ll detail the best calculator for AP Calculus.

It is advised that you use your calculator throughout the entire AP Calculus course so that you will be used to it by the time you take the exam. Use one that you are not only familiar with but also one that is as complete as any calculator can be so that you no longer need to bring two during the test. A good calculator for the AP Calculus test needs to have a graphing function as well as all of the capabilities to solve functions and integrals. And while there is a list of allowable calculators, we have already narrowed down the best AP Calculus calculators to make things easy on your part.

If you’re looking for the best AP Statistics calculator, check out our post on that here. Or, for comprehensive AP Calculus tips, go here.

Our Favorites for Best Calculator for AP Calculus (the best out of the bunch)

Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator

The Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator is your best bet for a calculator during the AP Calculus exam. It has all of the basic functions and computational applications you need to do well in the AP Calculus exam. It also has the graphing capabilities that are essential in answering certain questions. All of that comes in a package that is in the middle of the pack when it comes to price as well as functionality.

In terms of its display, the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator carries a crisp high-definition screen that is amazingly clear. Its full-colored backlit display is great for helping you see all of the values, numbers, and graphs so easily. The colored display even makes it easy for you to distinguish between different graphs, objects, and equations.

The Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator has the functions and the technology used in the original TI-84 models released several years ago. What that means is that this upgraded model carries an old-school technology and navigation in a package that is new and improved. You will find that it is very easy to use and navigate through so long as you have already used an older TI-84. And even if you have not used one in the past, the learning curve with this calculator tends to be very easy.

On top of how this graphing calculator comes in different fun colors that fit your style, it is also a lot lighter and thinner than previous models. And when compared with previous models, the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator is pretty powerful in its own right because of its 3mb ROM and 154k RAM.

The best part about this calculator is that you can practically use it in any kind of test, course, and standardized exam. So long as you have a Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator in your arsenal, you probably would not need any other calculator in the future unless you are taking a math course that needs better and more advanced functions.

What makes it unique:

  • The high-definition full-colored screen is crisp and very clear.
  • Comes with a good mix of tradition and new-school technology to make it one of the best all-around graphing calculators on the market.

Why choose this calculator:

  • It is one of the easiest calculators you can use for the AP Calculus exam because of how simple its functions are to use.
  • Great for versatile use because you can also use it for other courses and standardized tests and having one dispenses the need for you to buy another calculator in the future.


The Runners-Up for Best Calculator for AP Calculus (still good but a little lacking)

Casio fx-9860GII Graphing Calculator

If you are wondering which calculator to buy for AP Calculus if you are on a tight budget, then this one is for you. The Casio fx-9860GII Graphing Calculator is a standard graphing calculator that comes with all of the basic functions necessary for the AP Calculus exam. It does not have a lot of standout features or the technology and power that some other graphing calculators have. But, for an entry-level calculator, it sure does really well in its job especially when you are only using it for basic calculations and functions.

The Casio fx-9860GII Graphing Calculator comes with an amazingly large backlit screen that is able to display graphs and numbers visibly. While it does not have the full-colored display of more expensive calculators, this one has a high resolution on a large screen for easy visibility. As sharp as its display is, you will be able to see graphs, formulas, and numbers easily and clearly.

Another striking part about its display is how natural it looks like when you are inputting data. When you are entering mathematical data on it, it does not look like you are using a calculator as it has a textbook-like feel to it. That makes it easier on the eyes since you will feel like you are reading your Statistics textbook when you are inputting and analyzing the data.

When it comes to its functionality, comes with all of the important AP Calculus functions. For other courses such as Business, Finance, Chemistry, and Physics, the Casio fx-9860GII Graphing Calculator comes with a spreadsheet application that allows you to input data for easy analysis. And the best part about its functionality is how easy it is to use and navigate through them. What you simply have to do is to navigate through the icon-based menu as if you were using a cellphone with all the apps placed on the menu. It is that easy.

With its 1,500kb Flash ROM, the Casio fx-9860GII Graphing Calculator is not the most powerful calculator on the market. But if you are merely using it for basic computations and graphs, it can possibly be the best calculator for calculus, especially for high school students. However, you may need to get a more advanced calculator for advanced college courses. Nevertheless, this one still is very much capable of helping you out in the other standardized tests.

What makes it unique:

  • It has a large LCD display that has a natural feel to it when you are inputting data.
  • The interface is so easy to use as it makes you feel like you are simply navigating your way through a smartphone.

Why choose this calculator:

  • It is basic and simple yet very functional.
  • This is arguably the best entry-level graphing calculator available especially if you are simply using it for the AP Calculus test and for other standardized exams.


Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS Graphing Calculator

For those who are not so particular when it comes to budget, then the Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS Graphing Calculator is a remarkable machine that is able to make things so simple and easy for you for AP Calculus as well as for other tests and college-level courses in science, engineering, and math because of how powerful and advanced its functions  are.

Like any advanced Texas Instruments calculators, the Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS Graphing Calculator comes with a beautiful full-colored screen that is large and clear enough for you to see all of the graphs and data on it. The interface is also nice in itself since the functions are laid out in a way that you merely choose a menu on the screen to go from one function to another.

The best part about this graphing calculator is the CAS, which stands for Computational Algebra System, allows you to simply input a certain equation and then the calculator does all the algebraic computations necessary to find certain variables in that equation. This dispenses the need for you to manually do algebra in certain calculus problems for the AB Calculus test.

For the graph part, a great thing about this product is that it has the capability to store and import images from external sources and save them in the calculator using its high storage capacity. You can also create documents using this calculator and save it the way you normally do with a computer. That goes to show how powerful the Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS Graphing Calculator.

A downside, however, is that the Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS Graphing Calculator is not universally accepted in standardized tests because of how powerful its functions are. It also carries a pretty hefty price tag, which is more than what you pay if you choose other calculators that have all of the fundamental functions required for the AP Calculus test. But, as a calculator for future use especially when you get to college, it is pretty much a solid choice especially when you consider its raw processing, computing, and storing powers, which trump all of the other calculators on this list.

What makes it unique:

  • The CAS allows you to solve and manipulate algebraic equations easily.
  • It has an interface that is neatly laid out and organized so that all you have to do to reach certain functions is to choose them on the menu.
  • Can save graphs and images.

Why choose this calculator:

  • It is very powerful and possibly even future-proof because of its advanced functions and insanely high specs, which make it one of the more tech-advanced calculators on the market.
  • Effective at making things easy for you whenever you are performing algebraic computations during the AP Calculus test.


The Value Pick for the Best AP Calculus Calculator (good and affordable)

Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphics Calculator

The Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphics Calculator is the basic version of the TI-84 line today. It surely does not have the power and the colored display of the TI-84 Plus CE but it comes with the same basic functions that are required for the AP Calculus exam. This is favorite among high school students because of how basic, affordable, and convenient it is as an entry-level graphics calculator. As such, it gives you the bang for your buck.

When it comes to its display, the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphics Calculator has a large and high-resolution screen that makes graphs and numerical values easy to see. It might not have a colored display but it still is very clear. On top of that, it allows you to make use of a horizontal or vertical split-screen function so that you can see tables and graphs together.

The Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphics Calculator’s interface is the same as most TI graphing calculators in the sense that it is menu-based. It is so easy for you to choose the functions you need for the AP Calculus as you simply pick them out in the menu instead of pushing a lot of buttons to get from one function to another.

With its MathPrint technology, the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphics Calculator has the ability to mimic a textbook-like appearance in its graphs and tables when you input certain equations on the calculator. This makes it easy for high school AP Calculus students to comprehend and understand the data on the calculator as it looks the same as the ones they see on their textbooks.

In conclusion, the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphics Calculator is a great entry-level calculator that will not break the bank but still has the same calculus functions and capacity as more advanced TI versions. It offers you value and functionality in a single package. You no longer have to spend hundreds of dollars for a good graphing calculator for the AP Calculus test.

What makes it unique:

  • Essentially the same as the TI-84 Plus CE except that it does not have the colored display and the power of its more advanced brother.
  • The MathPrint feature is great at giving you a natural textbook-like feel and experience when inputting data for graphs.

Why choose this calculator:

  • It offers you the bang for your buck because of how affordable and functional it is.
  • You will be hard-pressed to find another calculator with the same quality as this one at the price range it comes with.


Summary for the Best Calculator for AP Calculus

To sum up, here are the calculators for AP Calculus we looked at today:

ProductList PriceWarranty
Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator $150.00 1 year manufacturer
Casio fx-9860GII Graphing Calculator, $79.99 N/A
Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS Graphing Calculator $185.00 1 year
Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator $99.94 N/A

A graphing calculator is an important necessity when it comes to the AP Calculus test. But knowing which types of calculators to use for the exam is just as important as well because there are certain calculators that are not allowed or are not functional enough. There is a list you might need to consult if you want to know the allowable calculators but you do not have to do so if you use our picks of best calculators for AP Calculus.

The TI-84 Plus CE may be our best choice because it offers you great quality at the mid-level price and functionality it comes with. However, the Casio fx-9860GII Graphing Calculator is just as functional and is more affordable. If budget is not a concern, the Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS Graphing Calculator brings more than enough power to handle your AP Calculus needs. And if you are looking for value and quality rolled into one, the basic TI-84 Plus gives you all you need.

So long as you use any of the calculators on our list, there is a good chance that you will come out of the exam with a 5 as we guarantee that these graphing calculators provide you with all of the necessary functions and computational capabilities required for AP Calculus.

If you’re looking for the best AP Statistics calculator, check out our post on that here. Or explore our other calculator reviews here.

Taking the SAT? Give yourself the best calculator for the SAT by reading this post here.


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