The PSAT has two Math sections, one that allows a calculator and one that does not. With this in mind, it is important to look at the list of PSAT approved calculators to be sure that you either currently own a calculator that is allowed on the PSAT or that you are purchasing a PSAT approved calculator. We’re going to share some tips on what to look for in a calculator for the PSAT as well as share a list of our favorite PSAT approved calculators for 2019-2020.
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Top Recommended PSAT Approved Calculators
You probably have a pretty good idea on whether you want to purchase a scientific calculator or a graphing calculator for the PSAT. Here are our top recommendations of PSAT approved calculators for each category based on students’ reviews and input.
Best PSAT Approved Calculators – Scientific Calculators
Texas Instruments TI-34 MultiView Scientific Calculator
All scientific calculators are allowed on the PSAT, but the TI-34 is our favorite among the scientific calculator options out there. This model, by Texas Instruments, has menus similar to that of its graphing calculator versions; easy to read and and navigate.
The table feature allows you to view an (x, y) table of values for a given function, or even with entering x-values. The fraction feature allows you to view and perform fraction computations in textbook format. These features come in handy on the PSAT and will save you time.
- 4-line display enables scrolling and editing of inputs
- MATHPRINT mode: includes pi, square roots, fractions, percents, and exponents
- Previous entry allows for previous entry reviews and looking for patterns
- Table features
- Fraction Features
- Scientific Notation output
Related: 7 PSAT Tips to Rock the PSAT
Casio fx-55 PLUS Scientific Calculator
Casio is another name that’s featured on our best SAT calculators, ACT calculators, as well as here on our best PSAT calculators list. This is a pretty basic calculator that can do things like convert fractions into decimals, reduce fractions, and find remainders. If you’re looking for an easy-to-read display and an intuitive data entry, this is the calculator for you.
This calculator does not have advanced scientific functions, but because you don’t really need this on the PSAT, you may prefer to wait to buy your graphing calculator when you have time to learn how to use it effectively.
- Fraction calculator
- Natural textbook display
- Percentage key
- Two way power: solar panel and battery
Casio fx-300MS Scientific Calculator
This scientific calculator is super budget friendly and still makes it as one of the best PSAT calculators on the market. You still get the 2-line display in large, easy-to-read display. This calculator comes with batteries, but its solar panel should keep it pretty charged up as well. Be sure to bring extra batteries on test day.
- 2-line display
- 240 functions
- Multi-replay function
- 9 variable memories
Best PSAT Approved Calculators – Graphing Calculators:
Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator
Here’s one of our favorite budget graphing calculators for the PSAT. This calculator can be used on the PSAT, SAT, as well as ACT. It has uses outside of standardized testing and can be invaluable in classes including Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, AP Calculus, AP Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Finance & Business.
- Quick pie chart & bar graphs
- USB connectivity
- High-res LCD display
- High-Speed CPU
Texas Instruments TI-73 Graphing Calculator
Texas Instruments TI-73 graphing calculator is designed for those in Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, and Statistics. It features a large display screen and easy-to-use keyboard. This is a great starter calculator for those who are new to graphing calculators, but may need to be retired as you enter more advanced math classes in your high school/college career.
- Stacked fractions
- Can be used for Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Statistics, and Physical Science
- Upgradable with flash technology to keep up with curriculum changes
The TI-84 calculator is a powerhouse and a step up from its previous TI-83 model. as you do not need to remember to close parenthesis to get a correct answer. This can be a lifesaver when you are hurrying through a test and miss out on one tiny keystroke.
The TI-84 can store full-color graphs, images, and data. It’s powered by a rechargeable battery and 3.0 MB flash rom memory.
- MathPrint functionality
- Can be used for Pre-Algebra, Algebra I and II, Trigonometry, AP Statistics, Business & Finance, Biology, Chemistry and AP Chemistry, AP Calculus, Physics
The 3 Types of PSAT Approved Calculators
The PSAT allows only 3 types of calculators to be used on test day:
What is the Best Type of Calculator for the PSAT
We recommend either a scientific or graphing calculator for the PSAT. Although you are technically allowed to bring a four-function calculator into the PSAT, we don’t recommend this. A four-function calculator can only do four things: add, subtract, multiply, and divide. On the PSAT, you will likely need to use features like parentheses and entry lines. For this reason, we don’t recommend a four-function calculator for the PSAT.
Benefits of using a Scientific Calculator on the PSAT
A scientific calculator has all the basic features of a four-function calculator: adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. It also, however, has additional and useful features that will be necessary on the Math of the PSAT including parentheses, pi, and trigonometric functions. Using a scientific calculator can be good for the PSAT because it does not have additional functions that may trip you up on test day. All scientific calculators are allowed on the PSAT.
Benefits of using a Graphing Calculator on the PSAT
A graphing calculator is great for the PSAT because it has all the functions of a scientific calculator as well as entry lines. These entry lines can be extremely useful for visualizing solutions to linear equations. The only consideration when using a graphing calculator is to not overly rely on the calculator, as not every problem requires you to use its functions to come to a solution. Not all graphing calculators are allowed on the PSAT.
What to Look for in a PSAT Calculator
Every PSAT calculator needs to be able to perform four-function calculations including adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. You also should be able to use the following functions:
- trigonometric functions (e.g. sin, cos, tan)
Calculators You Cannot Use for the PSAT
If you have a calculator that does not fall in our list as the best calculators for the PSAT, you don’t have to worry. Just make sure your calculator does not have any of the following features or capabilities:
- it’s part of a portable computer
- it has QWERTY (a typewriter)
- it has a pen or stylus capability
- it can be wireless or connect to bluetooth
- it can paper tape
- it can make any noises or talk
- it needs to be plugged in for use
- it can go online
- it can be a cell phone
- it can play audio
- it has a camera
More than likely, your calculator will not have these features, but it’s worth noting, as the worst thing that could happen to you is not being able to use your calculator on the portion that allows for the calculator. Some examples of calculators that are not approved for the PSAT include the TI-92 Plus and Voyage 200 because they do not meet the previous specifications.
PSAT Calculator Tips
1. Be familiar with your calculator before test day
The most important PSAT calculator tip that you can draw from this article is that you should be familiar with whatever PSAT approved calculator you bring into test day. That means using this calculator in classes as well as while you are practicing and preparing with PSAT practice tests.
2. Understand when the calculator is not needed
Not all questions on the math portion of the PSAT will require you to enter functions into your calculator. In fact, 36% of the PSAT Math section does not even allow a calculator. . Similarly, doing so will eat into the time you have to complete the section. Know when you can do a problem in your head and when a calculator and its functions are necessary.
3. Using storing to solve for “x”
When you come across an equation to solve for “x,” a faster way than actually solving for x would be to plug in answers choices for x into your calculator. If you have the TI-83 or TI-84, you can actually do this with the storing button! Learn how to store a number here.
4. Finding absolute zeros
You can use your calculator to find absolute zeros quickly. Simply select MATH and use the right arrow key to NUM and choose choice: 1 abs(. View this quick how-to-guide for more help finding absolute zeros on a graphing calculator.
Do you currently own one of these PSAT approved calculators? Which one? Let us know how you like it by commenting below!