web analytics
Get Started
 Jul 28, 2020
Choosing the Right Calculator

Starting in high school, owning a high-quality calculator becomes more than just useful. It becomes essential. From solving logarithmic equations to creating scatter plots, calculators can help you complete math tasks that are difficult, not to mention time-consuming, to do by hand. Especially on exams such as the ACT and SAT, calculators are key to finishing the Math sections in an efficient and timely manner. But you may be wondering how to decide which calculator is worth your investment. After all, some calculators have far more features than others. In this article, we’ll explore and compare the best kinds of calculators as well as when (and why!) you should consider purchasing one.

When should I buy a calculator?

It is in your best interest to invest in a calculator before high school, preferably in the eighth grade. This way, you will have time to familiarize yourself with all the functions of your calculator so that you’re not scrambling when school starts. I can guarantee that once you enter high school, you will benefit greatly from having a calculator for courses such as Chemistry, Calculus, Physics, PreCalculus, Statistics, and more. The list goes on! So, save yourself the hassle and buy a calculator early so that you’re all set to go!

Which calculators are allowed on the SAT, PSAT, ACT, etc?

Take a look at these websites to learn more about which calculators are (and aren’t) permitted on standardized or college admissions exams:

The Calculators

All three of the calculators below have been approved for use on the SAT, PSAT, and AP exams. You can find them on Amazon or in most school supply stores. So, it’s time to crunch the numbers!

TI – 84 Plus CE

Voted as one of the highest-quality calculators out there, the TI – 84 Plus CE has a clear backlit screen and offers almost every function you can imagine, from a photo- importing feature to a colorful graphing option. But that’s not all. Aside from the practical perks, this calculator is one of the sleekest, most lightweight machines of its kind. 

I have been using the TI-84 Plus CE for nearly five years now, and I can attest to the fact that it lives up to its name. It has helped me conquer matrices in Algebra II, logarithms in Chemistry, graphs in Physics, and so much more. And I know that as I continue through the rest of high school, I will have it by my side.

To learn more about the TI – 84 Plus CE, visit this website. 

TI – 84 Plus

Product details TI-84 Plus graphing calculator with test bug Hero

Unlike its CE counterpart, the TI – 84 Plus is certainly chunkier, clunkier, and funkier. Weighing slightly more and featuring a slightly less clear screen, this calculator does not match its peer in dimensions or design. However, it maintains most of the same functions as compared to the TI – 84 Plus CE, including but not limited to function graphing, split screen options, and advanced statistics. 

Most middle and high school math classes use TI – 84 Plus calculators as they are relatively inexpensive and serve their purpose well. Although I would personally recommend the TI – 84 Plus CE due to its added advantages, the TI – 84 Plus is definitely a viable contender.

Click here to learn more about the TI – 84 Plus. 

HP Prime

Standing apart from the calculators of the Texas Instruments brand, the HP Prime calculator is another feasible option. Unlike most calculators, this one boasts a touch screen so that you can sketch graphs with your fingers. Pretty neat, right? But that’s not all. The HP Prime also features parametric applications, a Trig Explorer, and more. The downside? This calculator is not allowed on the ACT, whereas the TI-84 Plus and the TI-84 Plus CE are permitted.

Like the TI – 84 Plus, the HP Prime offers a lot for a small investment. To find out what else this calculator has to offer, check out this website.

In the end, choosing the right calculator all comes down to the features you want and the price you’ll have to pay to get them. But one thing is certain: it’s important that you buy a calculator that you can count on. No pun intended.

Trisha Bhujle is a former Brilliant Prep student with the goal of answering your questions about high school, standardized tests, and everything in between. Having received a 36 on her ACT and a 1560 on her SAT, she now actively works to inform students and parents alike of how to prepare for not only these tests, but also other high school hurdles. In her spare time, she likes to experiment in her kitchen, conquer DIY projects, and most of all, write!