What Calculators Are Allowed on the ACT (Top Recommendation)

What Calculators Are Allowed On The ACT - 2400Expert

Calculators play a major role in speeding up your calculations and getting an accurate answer to the problem. In order to ace the ACT test, you need to have a calculator that suits your needs as well as follows the guidelines of the ACT. Using a calculator that is not permitted by the ACT will get you dismissed from the test, and will you will receive no scores. 

Isn’t that scary, after you have studied day and night for the test? Getting a proper calculator for the ACT test is, therefore, very crucial. Don’t worry; we got you covered. 

In the following article, I have mentioned all the required details a candidate must know about the ACT calculators, which calculators are not permitted, and our top recommendations that are suitable for the students. 

ACT Calculator Policy

The ACT has permitted calculators that include any 4-function, graphing, and scientific calculators. They are excluded from the banned calculator list. 

The main aim of ACT is to minimize disturbances and prevent any candidate from taking undue advantage during the test. However, they also want to ensure that the students use the calculators that they are familiar with and comfortable with. 

You can use the calculator in all the sections of the ACT Math test, but it is not allowed in the other sections of the test. You will have to carry your own calculator to the examination center as the administration does not provide one. 

ACT-approved calculators

Most calculators are allowed by the ACT for the test. But the testing administration suggests students avoid using calculators that include computer algebra systems (CAS). 

The CAS calculators help the students to solve the problem algebraically, dismissing the intent of some questions. Similarly, calculators with built-in or downloadable CAS functionality are expected to be avoided. 

Prohibited Calculators in ACT

The calculators that are prohibited in the ACT test must be avoided at any cost to exempt oneself from creating any issues during the examination or being suspended due to the violation of the rules. 

  1. The texas instrument model numbers TI-89, TI-Nspire CAS, and TI-92 should be avoided. 
  1. The calculator models from Hewlett-Packard prohibited are the HP 48GII, HP prime, and the series of HP 40G, and HP 50G, HP 49G. 
  1. The models that are prohibited from the Casio line are fx-CP400, Algebra fx 2.0, ClassPad 300 of 330, and all the models that are from the series CFX-9970G. 
  2. Handheld, tablet, or laptop computers are also prohibited. 
  1. Electronic writing pads and pen-input devices are included in the list as well. 
  1. The calculators that have the QWERTY format letter keys are not allowed in the test. 

Recommended calculators for the ACT.

A suitable calculator for the ACT test is a must-have. Practicing the calculations using the calculator will help you to speed up during the final test and provide you an edge with the high calculation speed. 

The calculators used for the ACT must follow the standard test guidelines. Here is a well-curated list of the calculators that are best for the ACT tests:

1. Texas instruments TI-84 plus. 

It is a suitable companion for students aiming to score on the ACT. With the functionalities it provides, it can be used for calculus as well as Pre-algebra. 

Texas instruments TI-84 plus. 

Working with decimals becomes easy and saves you a lot of time and hard work. The calculator has a high-resolution display with a full-color backlight. 

Key features:

  • It can be used for pre-algebra, algebra I and II, AP Statistics, Trigonometry, AP calculus, etc. 
  • The calculator has MathoPrint functionality. 
  • It easily helps you to convert decimals into fractions. 

2. Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator

It is a budget-friendly calculator with graphing features. Students are allowed to use the calculator for the PSAT and SAT exams as well. 

Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator

The calculator can be utilized to solve problems of Algebra I and II, Pre-algebra, trigonometry, geometry, AP calculus, calculus, AP statistics, etc. 

Key Features:

  • The calculator has a USB connectivity option to easily share files. 
  • You get to solve the bar graph problems within a few seconds.
  • The CPU of the calculator has a high speed and saves time. 
  • The display comes with a high-resolution LCD display. 

3. TI-Nspire CXII 

The calculator is a value-for-money deal. A worth-it calculator to go with for your CAT test. It will provide you with a great helping hand if you are familiar with its formulas, functions, and shortcuts. 

TI-Nspire CXII 

You can use TI-Nspire CX to solve problems of the topic like algebra, calculus, statistics, graphs, and trigonometry. 

Key Features: 

  • The calculator has a slim design and is easy to carry.
  • The display has a color LCD and is backlit.
  • You get a rechargeable battery in the calculator that tends to last long. 
  • Comes with many mathematical and graphical functions. 

4. Texas instrument TI-83. 

It is a suitable calculator if you just need the basic functions. It will fulfill all your calculation needs for the ACT  and has an affordable price. The calculator suits the college requirements and the high school requirements as well. 

Texas instrument TI-83

It is a graphing calculator. You can use this calculator to solve problems on the subjects like pre-algebra, statistics, basic graphics, etc. 

Key features: 

  • The built quality of the calculator is great and is sure to last long. 
  • The calculator provides pre-loaded apps and extensive support.
  • Simple to use and easy to understand

I hope the above list will help you to find the most suitable calculator for you. You can pick the calculator based n its functionality and the budget. 

Sections that allow the use of Calculators in the ACT. 

The ACT has approved the use of calculators only in the Math portion of the test. The portion is divided into three sections. 

The first section consists of basic Algebra, functions, and linear equations. It has 40% of the weightage and consists of 24 questions. The next section comprises intermediate algebra and coordinate geometry with a weightage of 30% in the Math portion. The section consists of 18 questions. The last section comprises trigonometry and geometry with 18 questions. The section sums up to 30% of the maths portion. 

You will require the calculator in the second and third sections. In the first section, you will be able to perform calculations using your basic knowledge. Using a calculator in the first field is sure to reduce your speed in the first section. 

You can make the most out of the calculator while finding the area and circumference and working on the basic function. 

Tips to remember while buying a calculator for the ACT

The best calculator that you should carry with you for the ACT test is the one that is approved by ACT guidelines, and you are well familiar with. Before attempting the test, you must be well-equipped and familiar with the calculator that you have decided to use for the ACT test. Hence, you must make a point to practice well the use and hacks of the calculator. 

Next, before you go out to buy the calculator, take a look at the calculator recommended for the ACT and compare them according to your needs. You can check out which calculator fits your budget and your function requirements. You can avoid unnecessarily going for the expensive ones if your needs are met by the budget-friendly calculator.  

If you already own a calculator, here are a few tips to modify your calculators to make them acceptable for the ACT test:

  1. You must turn off any sound that is emitted by the calculator.   
  1. Remove the paper tape from the calculator if there is any. 
  1. Any power cord attached to the calculator must be removed and detached. 
  1. If you own a calculator that has an infrared port like HP 38G, 39G, or 48G series, you need to cover up the infrared port with transparent duct tape. 
  1. The calculators can store documents or programs that have computer algebra system functionality are permitted only if all the documents and data are erased. 

What features does an ACT-acceptable calculator have? 

Your ACt test calculator can have the following features:

  1. Four-function calculator:

The four-function calculators are the most affordable and easy to use. They are easily available in the market and are suitable for carrying out all the basic calculations. 

The calculator model of Texas Instruments TI1503SV is great when it comes to the four-function calculator. You can also use a printing four-function calculator for the test, provided that you remove the paper from the device before the exam. 

However, a four-function calculator in a phone, tablet, or laptop is prohibited. 

  1. Scientific calculator:

Scientific calculators are also quite affordable and fall under the permitted calculators according to the ACT guidelines. Although most of the functions in the scientific calculators are not relevant for the ACT exams, you can still take advantage of a few extra functions as compared to the four-function calculators. 

However, if your calculator includes CAS, it will be prohibited for the ACT test. You must make sure that you are purchasing the right calculator available. 

  1. Graphic Calculators

Graphic calculators of the older versions are allowed for the ACT test. Graphic calculators that consist of the CAS are strictly prohibited unless you remove them. 

The calculators that are prohibited are already mentioned in the article; make it a point to check out the list before you buy the graphic calculator for your ACT test. 

Moreover, make it a point to check that no matter which calculator you buy, it doesn’t contain the computer algebra system as it is prohibited for ACT candidates. 

Tips to efficiently use your ACT calculator 

  1. Strategize about how to use your calculator during the exam.
Your calculator during the exam

Having a crucial idea about how to use and when to use your calculator is a crucial idea you need to strategize. Knowing your calculator, its features, and what it has to offer is all you need to keep track of. 

  1. Practice solving questions with your calculator:
 solving questions with your calculator

While you are preparing for the test, make sure to practice questions with the help of the calculator. This will give you an edge over others during your test. Make a point to practice the use of a calculator before you appear for the test. If not practiced properly, during the test you will face speed issues during the test. 

  1. Use the graph function:
Use the graph function:

The use of graph calculators is allowed for the ACT test. These calculators will help you to easily solve the coordinate geometry and algebra problems that involve finding the x-intercept. If you don’t have an idea about using the graphic calculator, you must prefer. 

  1. Back-solve with the help of the calculator

Back-solving the equations by replacing the variable using the options available to solve the given equations will help you to find the answers. This may save more of your time if you are familiar with the back-solving technique. 

  1. Have a backup calculator

Having a backup calculator will surely be a savior. There are many students that face issues with the calculator during the final examination. 

Impact of your ACT scores on your college admission chances.

Many of the standard colleges require the tests as a standardized process for admission. However, the tests are getting optional, and many students still prefer to appear for tests to gain a more competitive place and get admitted to prestigious universities. ACT score has a great impact on a student’s chance to get enrolled into the top colleges of the nation or into a prestigious university. 

Many schools today have a minimum ACT test score requirement for admission. On the other hand, some institutes choose average ACT scores and SAT scores for their admission process. However, to ensure your entry into your dream college, you need to have a good ACT score. 

Many admission officers prefer to compare students with the help of an academic Index (AI). It is calculated using the student’s grades, class grades, and test scores. Competitive schools usually do not prefer students with low AI. Here your ACT score can prove to be quite handy in helping you to grab your position in college. 

Wrapping up!

That’s all about the ACT calculators. 

The crucial phase in a candidate’s life is D-day of the test that he has prepared for, so you must make sure that you follow the ACT guidelines and ace your test. 

If you are still confused about which calculator is best for you, here are our top picks. 

  1. Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Color Graphing Calculator
  2. Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator

I hope that the above article has helped you to clear your doubts regarding the calculators used in the ACT test and the guidelines related to it. 



Hi, I'm Karen with 18 years of SAT and competitive test preparation and teaching. In the constantly changing field of education and learning, it is my mission to provide students make the right decision while choosing online learning platforms.