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Thomas Broderick

Permitted Calculators for the ACT Test

Happy summer, Magooshers! Mr. B here. Today I come with an important lesson about your upcoming test date with the ACT. As you probably already know, you can use your own calculator during the ACT Math Test. But there a lot of calculators out there, some of them quite fancy. Which ones are ACT permitted calculators?


Permitted Calculators for the ACT Test -Magoosh

This TI-92 is BANNED for more reasons that just having a lot of buttons!


Glad you asked. Due to the sheer number of different calculators floating around, this article will keep its focus on the warning signs to look out for that might make your calculator ineligible for test day. For those of you with further questions after reading this article, be sure to check out ACT’s official policy on calculators.

Why are some calculators banned?

Short answer: it’s because they do all the work for you. For engineers and mathematicians, these shortcuts (pre-installed software) are great because it allows them to do their work faster while making fewer mistakes. For high school students, it provides an unfair advantage on test day. Basically, you have to show what you know as a student before you earn the right to ‘cheat’ on the job as an adult.

What are ACT permitted calculators?

Again, there are way too many ACT permitted calculators to list them all. Here’s some basic information that should answer the calculator questions for 95% of readers:

  • Have a basic four-function calculator? You’re good to go.
  • Have a TI-83+/84? You’re good to go, but continue reading.
  • Anything else? Continue reading.

For those of you with TI-83+/84 calculators, there’s a big ‘wait a minute’ before going into the testing room. ACT forbids that your calculator has any programs installed. Though some of you might have put Tetris on your calculator for a little clandestine fun during your Math teacher’s lectures, your proctor might ask to see that your APPS bank is empty before allowing you to test. So if you have any high scores (or anything else) on there, back them up now.

If you have a TI, HP, or Casio model calculator, be sure to check it against ACT’s list. I know that’s not a lot of advice, but I would hate to publish misinformation or assumptions that could get students in trouble on test day.


Permitted Calculators for the ACT Test -Magoosh

The HP Prime, a beautiful, but BANNED calculator.

Any other ACT permitted calculator advice?

Once you know that your calculator is permitted, be sure to use it exclusively when you take practice ACT Math Tests or practice problems. Doing this will make you more comfortable with your calculator. Also, make sure to bring some extra batteries on test day. Unlike your phone, most calculators will not warn you about low batteries until they stop working altogether.

That’s all for now, Magooshers. Best of luck on your calculations, and have a great summer!

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About Thomas Broderick

Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.

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