There are a few rules to consider when it comes to shopping for approved ACT calculators. If you use a calculator that is not permitted by the ACT, you can actually be dismissed from the test and will receive no score. That’s pretty scary, so be sure you know what the best ACT calculators are so that you can rock the math section carefree!
Still studying for the ACT? Have a look at the best ACT prep books for this year!
In a hurry? Here is our top pick for the best calculator for the ACT:
Top 5 ACT Approved Calculators:
If you are looking for the best ACT-approved calculators, you have come to the right place! Check out our favorite graphing and scientific calculators that are not only allowed on the ACT, but will help you to reach a top score!
Texas Instruments TI-84 plus
The TI-84 Plus makes the best overall ACT calculator for its functionality as well as application outside of the ACT. This calculator can be used from classes that range from Pre-Algebra to AP Calculus and is invaluable when it comes to ACT prep class.
A feature it can do that makes it really helpful for the ACT is its ability to convert decimals into fractions, saving you precious time when taking the test.
This model of the TI-84 Plus now features high-resolution and a full-color backlit display.
- MathPrint functionality
- Can be used for Pre-Algebra, Algebra I and II, Trigonometry, AP Statistics, Business & Finance, Biology, Chemistry and AP Chemistry, AP Calculus, and Physics
- Converting decimals into fractions
Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator
Casio fx-9750GII makes our best budget calculator among graphing calculators for the ACT. This calculator can be used on the PSAT, ACT, as well as is among the best calculators for the SAT.
This calculator is way more applicable than just for standardized tests and can be used for a variety of classes including Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, AP Calculus, AP Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Finance & Business.
- USB connectivity for file sharing
- Quick bar graphs
- High-resolution LCD display
- High-Speed CPU
Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator
Next on our list of the best SAT calculators is the TI-83 Plus graphing calculator. This specific graphing calculator is permitted on multiple testing formats including the SAT, ACT, PSAT, AP, and International Baccalaureate. This calculator can be used in classes up to calculus, engineering, trigonometry, and finance.
This calculator is ideal for the algebra classroom and lets students graph and compare functions as well as perform data plotting and analysis.
- Analysis up to 10 matrices
- Can display graphs and tables on split screen
- Built-in memory for storage
Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line Scientific Calculator
Approved for the use of the ACT, SAT, and AP exams, this TI-30X scientific calculator is a great budget option for those who are not looking to invest in a graphing calculator. This calculator features a 2-line display with fraction features and conversions and can perform basic scientific and trigonometric functions.
This calculator is ideal for Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and 2, Geometry, Statistics, and general science.
- Solar and battery powered
- One- and two-variable statistics
- Edit, cut, and paste entries
- Fraction features
Casio fx-115ES Plus Scientific Calculator
Here is the second scientific calculator that makes our list for the best ACT calculators. This Casio calculator has been designed for high school and college students taking Trigonometry, Statistics, Algebra I and II, Calculus, Engineering, and Physics.
What makes this the “Plus” version are small features that really add up: lines over repeating decimals, GCD and LCM, and remainders, to name a few.
- Solar with battery backup
- Over 280 functions
- Multi-replay function
- Multi-line display
Guide to Buying an ACT Calculator
The best calculator for the ACT is going to be approved by the ACT guidelines as well as one that you are familiar with. Should you decide to purchase any of these ACT calculators, be sure to practice and familiarize yourself with it well before taking the ACT. There is no point having the best calculator for the ACT and not being able to perform basic functions with it. Please keep this in mind and do not open it out of the package the night before the ACT.
What Qualifies as an Acceptable ACT Calculator?
- Graphing calculators*
- Scientific Calculators*
- Four-Function Calculators
* assumes it does not have the prohibited features listed under this text
Some calculators can be used if you modify the calculator:
- Calculators with any paper tape must have this tape removed
- Sound must be turned off any calculators that emit noises
- A calculator with an infrared port (HP 38G, 39G, 48G series) need to have this infrared port covered up with duct tape
- Power cords on calculators must be removed
Approved ACT Calculator FAQ
Do you really NEED a calculator for the ACT Math?
You don’t absolutely need a calculator for the ACT. That said, we certainly encourage bringing an ACT approved calculator on test day. If you were to try to complete the full ACT math section without a calculator, odds are you would not finish this section and score lower than if you had a calculator.
What are the “ACT approved calculators?”
If the calculator you want to use is not on the restricted list or can be modified with the efforts mentioned above, then it is likely ACT approved. This list of best ACT calculators has been double checked to meet requirements. Check the ACT Calculator Policy for rules on clearing documents on the calculator as well as any other CAS capability.
Which calculators are not allowed on the ACT?
1) Texas Instruments model numbers that begin with TI-89 or TI-92 as well as TI-Nspire CAS
2) Hewlett-Packard: HP Prime, HP 48GII, and all models that begin with HP 40G, HP 49G, HP50G
3) Casio: fx-CP400, ClassPad 300 of 330, Algebra fx 2.0, all model numbers that begin with CFX-9970G
Is the TI-83 or the TI-84 Plus better?
At the end of the day, the TI-84 is twice as fast and has more than double the storage as the TI-83. If this is of importance to you, then it’s worth spending the extra for the TI-84 Plus. That said, the TI-83 is still a great graphing calculator and is more budget-friendly.
The One Rule You MUST Follow with your ACT Calculator
Whatever ACT approved calculator you decide you will be using on the test, we need to reiterate the necessity to be sure that you have spent an adequate amount of time familiarizing yourself with it. If you purchased a high-tech graphing calculator, you need to know how to efficiently use basic functions (as you wouldn’t need any of the extra whistles it provides, at least on test day).
We suggest purchasing or using your ACT calculator well before you take the ACT, bringing it to all your math classes and using it for this time. The best ACT calculator is going to be one that you are familiar with on test day, not a fancy graphing calculator that you can use to draw cool pictures.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the best calculator for the ACT doesn’t need to be hard. If you’re looking for a graphing calculator, then you cannot go wrong with the Texas Instruments TI-84 plus.
What else should you bring on test day? Check out our ACT test-day checklist.