April Maguire 3 min read 11th Grade, 12th Grade, ACT Info and Tips

ACT Calculator Policy + List of Approved Calculators

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What’s Covered:

 

If you’re prepping to take the ACT this year, you’re likely wondering what to expect from the exam. Among the many questions students have is what calculators are allowed on the ACT. While you don’t actually need to use a calculator on the test — the organization that administers the ACT strives to ensure that it’s accessible to students who can’t afford one — using an ACT-approved calculator will likely make the testing process easier and faster. As a bonus, checking your answers with a calculator can help you avoid making simple mistakes that could negatively affect your score. 

 

Keep reading to learn more about the ACT calculator policy and find out which ACT permitted calculators to bring with you on the big day. 

 

The ACT Calculator Policy

 

The ACT calculator policy aims to minimize disturbances while preventing any one test taker from gaining an unfair advantage. However, the testing company also wants to ensure that students can use whatever calculator they have on hand. To that end, ACT permitted calculators include any 4-function, scientific, or graphing calculator not on the banned list. Additionally, students can use accessible calculators (audio or Braille options), provided that they get permission from the ACT in advance. 

 

You can use your ACT approved calculator on all sections of the ACT Math test. However, calculators are not allowed on other parts of the ACT, including the Science test. Note that test administrators don’t provide calculators at the testing site. Students must bring their own if they want to use one on testing day. 

 

List of Acceptable ACT Calculators and Prohibited Calculators

 

Most calculators are allowed on the ACT. However, the testing organization does not permit students to use devices with computer algebra system (CAS) functionality. CAS calculators enable users to solve problems algebraically, thereby defeating the purpose of some of the questions on the test. Similarly, calculators with built-in or downloaded computer algebra system functionality are not allowed by the ACT.

 

Below are the calculator models that are NOT permitted by the ACT:

 

Texas Instrument

Casio

Hewlett-Packard

Other

Model numbers beginning with TI-89

fx-CP400 (ClassPad 400)

HP Prime

Handheld, tablet, or laptop computers

Model numbers beginning with TI-92

ClassPad 300 or ClassPad 330

HP 48GII

Electronic writing pads or pen-input devices 

TI-Nspire CAS (Non-CAS Nspire is permitted.)

Algebra fx 2.0

Model numbers beginning with HP 40G

Cell phone calculators

 

Model numbers beginning with CFX-9970G

Model numbers beginning with HP 49G

Calculators with an infrared data port or power cord

   

Model numbers beginning with HP 50G

Calculators that make noise

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Where Calculator Use Is Allowed on the ACT

 

ACT-approved calculators are permitted only on the math portion of the test. Comprised of 60 multiple choice questions, the Math Test is divided into three sections:

 

Section

Number of Questions

Percentage

Basic algebra, linear equations and functions

24

40

Intermediate algebra and coordinate geometry

18

30

Geometry and trigonometry

18

30

 

You can expect the 24 questions in the first section to test your knowledge of basic algebra. In most cases, you won’t need a calculator to solve these questions, as they’re fairly simple and straightforward. Moreover, using a calculator in this portion can actually slow you down. On the other hand, a calculator will likely be hopeful for the next two sections. In particular, you should be prepared to use your calculator on the last section, which covers geometry and trigonometry. Expect questions asking you to find area, circumference, and basic functions.

How Does Your ACT Score Impact Your College Chances?

 

Standardized tests have long been a crucial part of the college admissions process. And while the test-optional movement is gaining momentum, with the UCs and other prestigious institutions dropping their requirement, many students are still choosing to take the test to be more competitive. To that end, your ACT score still has a significant impact on your chances of gaining entry to your dream school. 

 

It’s worth noting that many admissions officers use something called an Academic Index (AI) to compare students. This single numerical score is calculated using students’ grades, test scores, and class rank. Not only are competitive schools likely to reject students with low AIs, but they also look for students whose test scores match up with the grades they earned in classes.

 

Additionally, many schools still have minimum test score requirements for the ACT. While some schools provide these numbers online, others offer average ACT and SAT scores for incoming freshmen. For best results, try to make sure your test scores meet or exceed the college averages. 

 

Wondering if you can get into your top-choice colleges? At CollegeVine, we created a free Admissions Chances Calculator to help students assess their odds of acceptance at top colleges and universities. Simply input information such as grades and test scores to discover your chances. Additionally, we can provide tips on improving your profile to better your odds of success. Give it a try to get a jumpstart on your college strategy!

 

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April Maguire
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.