As some of 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. Make sure you know the permitted calculators for the ACT test before going into the exam!
Due to the sheer number of different calculators floating around, we’ll focus on the warning signs 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: because they do all the work for you. For engineers and mathematicians, these shortcuts (pre-installed software) are great, because they allows the users to do their work faster while making fewer mistakes. On the other hand, for high-school students, these shortcuts provide 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 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 you to have any programs installed on your calculator. Though some of you might have put Tetris on your calculator for a little clandestine fun during your math teacher’s lectures, your proctor may verify 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.
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 do 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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