The Best Calculators for the ACT

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Having a calculator for the ACT is not the most important part of taking the test. However, bringing one does help save you time and effort when it comes to doing some of the more lengthy and difficult calculations. If you were to do everything by hand, there is a chance that you might not even finish the entire test. That said, everyone should definitely bring a calculator for the ACT but not all types of calculators are allowed. This list serves as a guide for the best allowable ACT calculators you should use for ACT.

Our Favorites for the Best Calculators for the ACT (the best out of the bunch)

TI-Nspire CX Graphing Calculator by Texas Instruments

The Nspire series by Texas Instruments is one of the newest types of graphing calculators on the market. In that sense, they have all the advanced features and functions you can expect for a top-of-the-line model to have. This one, the TI-Nspire CX is one of the best ACT-approved calculators you can find anywhere but is merely just a runner-up to its bigger brother, the TI-Nspire CX CAS. But because the latter is not allowed for the ACT due to how powerful it is, the little brother takes the cake as the best calculator on this list.

TI-Nspire CX is not only our top choice but is also the top choice of almost any expert because of how it has all of the features and functions you need to ace the ACT. It does not leave out any of the more important programs and formulas that are essential to a student’s life. The best part is that it does not have the more powerful but banned functions that some of the modern calculators have.

This calculator is also known for its sleek slim and lightweight design. This makes it one easy calculator to carry around wherever you go. It is like you are carrying another smartphone with you as the TI-Nspire CX easily fits your pocket.

Aside from that, this calculator also has a colored backlit display on a large screen. That makes it easy for you to see what is on the screen even if the lighting is dim. Finally, it comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts for up to two weeks on one single charge. In that sense, you will never have to change batteries or worry about it suddenly dying in the middle of the ACT.

With its price tag, the TI-Nspire CX is quite expensive. But, if you are looking for an all-around calculator you can use in any kind of situation or math-related class, its price is an investment that can reap benefits in the long run.

What makes it unique:

  • It comes with a slim and lightweight design that makes it easy to carry around.
  • It has all of the top-of-the-line features of the newest calculators on the market but has no features that are banned in the ACT.

Why choose this calculator:

  • Simply put, its features and design are enough to convince anyone to go for this calculator.
  • It is future-proof in the sense that it might be expensive but it is a calculator that probably will not turn obsolete for a very long time.

TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator by Texas Instruments

The TI-84 is by far the most popular calculator in all of America or even of all time. It is widely used in most American schools and is actually recommended by most teachers. In fact, some classes teach students how to properly use the TI-84. And even if your teachers don’t teach you how to use it, there are a lot of online articles you can use to educate yourself. The best part about its popularity is that everyone else around you seems to be using it. That makes it easier for students to compare results and help each other out.

This calculator is not as advanced as some of the others on this list but it already has everything a student needs from a trusty calculator. Its screen, although not colored or backlit, is big enough to display all of the necessary details. And when it comes to mathematical functions, it performs just as well as the other top-of-the-line models.

The TI-84 Plus’ latest price can be found here on Amazon. It is a lot more affordable than the other advanced models. That said, it is a great alternative for anyone looking for a graphing calculator that is easy to use and is already complete in functions without carrying the hefty price tag that some other models have.

What makes it unique:

  • Its popularity and widespread use is its unique selling point.
  • Since it is used by most teachers and students, it is easy to understand how to use it properly and to its fullest capabilities.

Why choose this calculator:

  • It is more affordable than many other options of calculators to use on the ACT
  • It has all of the important functions a student needs to perform well in the ACT.

The Runners-Up for the Best Calculators for the ACT (still good but a little lacking)

Casio fx-300ES PLUS Scientific Calculator by Casio

One of the most popular scientific calculators in existence, the fx-300ES PLUS by Casio is an essential tool any student should have for the most basic mathematical functions. In that sense, since the ACT does not involve complicated and advanced functions, a scientific calculator such as this one already does the job really well.

The Casio fx-300ES PLUS is quite responsive and has a display that looks quite clear and well for a calculator that tends to be very affordable. Also, since it is solar powered, battery life will not be a common problem for students. On top of that, it has over 200 functions that can be used for a lot of mathematical problems. It is completely approved for both the ACT and the SAT so that you do not have to purchase two different calculators.

Its price falls into the lower end on Amazon. That makes it one of the more affordable calculators on the market. Of course, it is only a scientific calculator and is not capable of the more advanced features that graphing calculators can do. But if you are simply looking for something that can solve basic mid-level mathematical problems, it is more than enough.

What makes it unique:

  • This calculator is solar powered.
  • Its display is larger and clearer than most scientific calculators.

Why choose this calculator:

  • It is a basic calculator that can do your everyday functions at a price that is a lot more affordable than graphing calculators.

HP 39GS Graphing Calculator by Hewlett Packard

Not your common brand name (as some of the most widely used calculators are either TI or Casio), the HP 39GS is a budget graphing calculator that is meant to perform the basic functions that students need to pass the ACT. This means that it is a lot more powerful and has more functions (over 600 functions) compared to scientific calculators.

Though it is tagged as a budget graphing calculator, it still is easy to use and very intuitive. It is quite easy to enter algebraic data as well as other numerical values in this calculator. It also has a function that helps you switch between numeric, symbolic, and graphic views quickly so that learning and solving problems is made more efficient. And what is even better is that it has a split-screen function that allows different values and sets to be seen at the same time.

However, because it is not the most advanced graphing calculator, it is not capable of the more difficult and advanced functions (such as calculus) that the expensive variants can do. Another knock on this calculator is that it has an infrared function that allows file transfer. When taking the ACT, they will require you to cover that part of the calculator. That said, it is best for high school students but it might not be ideal for college and post-graduate students. A brand new HP 39GS costs less than a TI-84. Used HP 39GS’ are even more affordable.

What makes it unique:

  • It comes with a split-screen function that allows you to see two different sets of values.
  • It makes switching between three different viewing options easy and efficient.

Why choose this calculator:

  • It is an entry-level graphing calculator that already fits the bill for the ACT. If you are merely looking for a calculator to use for the exam or for your high school classes, this should be a good choice.

The Best Value for Your Money (good and affordable)

Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator by Casio

The Casio fx-9750GII is famous for being able to do what all the top calculators on this list can do at a much more affordable price. It is just as high-quality as any top-of-the-line graphing calculator and has most of their functions. This makes it a great value for your money and a really great tool to have not only for the ACT but also for high school and college classes.

This great calculator has a large enough high-resolution LCD screen that displays numerical values and graphs in as clear a manner as possible although it does not have the colored backlit screens that some of the more expensive variants have. It also boasts a high-speed RAM CPU that is able to do all of the necessary functions quickly and efficiently.

What makes this calculator truly the best value for your money (other than its price) is that it is easier to get to the advanced functions. In simple terms, you do not have to memorize five or more key presses to get to one function because it is easier to access them with the Casio fx-9750GII. Say goodbye to the days when you suddenly fold under pressure during an exam because you forgot how to get to a certain advanced function.

What makes it unique:

With the Casio fx-9750GII, it is easier to access advanced mathematical functions.

Why choose this calculator:

  • It has advanced features but is not as expensive as most of the calculators on this list.
  • It performs all of the necessary functions you need for the ACT at a price that is almost half of any TI graphing calculator.

Summary of the Best Calculators for the ACT

Wrapping everything up, here are the Calculators for the ACT we went over today:

ProductList PriceWarranty
Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX Graphing Calculator $165.00 1 year
Texas Instruments Ti-84 plus Graphing calculator N/A 1 year
Casio fx-300ES PLUS Scientific Calculator $12.99 Comes with Manufacturer Warranty.
HP39GS Graphing Calculator N/A N/A
Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator $49.99 90 day

If a list price is marked as “N/A”, click the link provided to see the latest price as our tools aren’t able to pick up what the most recent price is.

While you may have the best calculator in your ACT toolbox and all the mathematical knowledge required to ace the test, it is still important for you to be able to take enough time to familiarize yourself with the functions of the calculator. Even the most advanced calculator can spell your doom if you do not know how to properly use it. In that regard, we suggest that you purchase any of our top choices of ACT calculators well before the test to first master how to use its functions.

Looking for more help for the ACT? Check out our post on 125 ACT study tips and tricks here.

Or, find yourself the best review books for the ACT here.

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