Exciting news: you’re allowed to use a calculator on the second, and longer, section of math on the SAT. That’s about two-thirds of the total number of math questions on the test.
That said, The College Board has a strict policy on what types of calculators are okay and which are not. You’re responsible for choosing one that fulfills all of the requirements.
|Number of multiple-choice questions||Number of Grid-In Questions||Time Allowed|
Approved calculators include:
- Most graphing calculators
- All scientific calculators
- All four-function calculators
To get you started on your calculator quest, here are four of the most popular ones students use on the SAT. All of these are on the College Board’s list of approved models. You can find the complete list below:
1. The Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator
When I ask among friends who tutor SAT Math, this is the calculator I hear mentioned most often. It has easily accessible mathematical functions, so you won’t waste precious seconds during the test digging around in menus. Also, its high-resolution LCD display makes it easy to see what you’re doing.
2. Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator
This calculator actually has a lot more capabilities than you’ll need for the SAT. But it meets all of the College Board’s requirements, and it’s many people’s favorite for all kinds of standardized tests. One big reason why this calculator has so many fans is it gives you answers in both fraction and rationalized form, so you get a nice, clear “10/19” instead of something like “0.5882352.”
3. Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX Graphing Calculator
Another graphing calculator explicitly approved for the SAT, the TI-Nspire is intuitive to use and nice to look at, with a 3.5” color screen. It’s also exceptionally thin and light, and you don’t need to worry about the batteries running out during the test. Possibly its most famous feature is its CAS (Computer Algebraic System) functionality. You can use this calculator to solve for X without first simplifying the equation to get X by itself on one side.
4. The Aibecy Scientific Calculator
If you’re just looking for a reliable calculator to support you through SAT Math, the Aibecy is a great no-frills pick. Its 240 functions support basic calculation, scientific function calculation, and statistical calculation.
Remember, this isn’t an exhaustive list. Every calculator listed in “Brands and Models” below has been approved for use on the SAT.
If you already have a calculator, or if the ones mentioned above are outside your price range, don’t worry–there are plenty of other approved calculators. The College Board’s rules here are mostly about what isn’t allowed. The best calculator for the SAT is one that avoids all of the following no-nos:
- No power cords (Calculators must be battery-operated and hand-held).
- No phones
- Nothing with internet access
- No Bluetooth, cellular, audio/video recording and playing, or camera capabilities
- Smartwatches and other wearable technology are not allowed
- Nothing that has a computer-style (QWERTY) keypad or pen-input. (The Sharp EL-9600 series is fine, but you can’t use the stylus).
- Models that use electrical outlets, make a noise of any kind, or have a paper tape are not okay.
It’s best to leave all disallowed equipment at home on test day.
Brands and Models
With all that in mind, here are all the calculators that the College Board specifically approves:
|FX 1.0 series|
Algebra FX 2.0 series
EL-9600 series (no stylus use allowed)
TI-83 Plus Silver
TI-84 Plus CE
TI-84 Plus Silver
|TI-84 Plus C Silver|
TI-84 Plus T
TI-84 Plus CE-T
TI-Nspire CX II
|TI-Nspire CX II-T|
TI-Nspire CX CAS
TI-Nspire CX II CAS
TI-Nspire CX II-T CAS
TI-Nspire CM-C CAS
TI-Nspire CX-C CAS
TI-Nspire CX II-C CAS
All those model numbers may look overwhelming, but don’t worry. Just ask yourself these three quick questions:
- “Is my calculator listed in ‘Brands and Models’ above?” If so, congratulations! You’ve got an approved calculator and you’re good to go. If your answer is no, move on to Question #2.
- “Is my calculator a four-function, scientific, or graphing calculator?” If yes, good news! Move on to Question #3.
- “Is my calculator built into a phone, laptop, or other electronic device? Or does it break any of the rules mentioned in ‘Mandatory Features’ above?” If your answer here is no, your calculator should be fine.
More SAT Calculator Tips
- You definitely need to bring your own calculator. The test center won’t loan you one, and students aren’t allowed to share.
- You can only use your calculator on the “Math Test—Calculator” section of the SAT.
- The best calculator for the SAT won’t help you if you’re struggling to use it. Make sure you’re familiar with your calculator before test day.
- Pick a calculator that has an entry line so you can glance down and check for careless errors.
- If you need a calculator whose characters are 1” high or larger, or if your calculator has a raised display that might be visible to other test-takers, the test coordinator may choose to seat you in the back of the room.
- If you can, bring a second backup calculator to the SAT just in case. Remember to pack extra batteries for both.