Timothy Peck 5 min read SAT Info and Tips

SAT Calculator Policy + List of Approved Calculators

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On the SAT calculators are a valuable tool, and like any tool, they’re only as good as the person operating it. While all of the SAT’s math problems can be answered without electronic aid, a calculator can provide confidence and increase the speed with which you formulate answers—both huge advantages when taking a high-pressure, time-restricted test such as the SAT. However, there are some things to know about the SAT’s calculator policy, like when calculators are allowed, and what calculators are allowed. 

 

Read on to learn more, plus get tips for acing the SAT Math No Calculator Section.

 

The SAT Calculator Policy 

 

The SAT calculator policy allows test takers to use calculators on certain sections on the exam, but it doesn’t provide them. Rather, test takers need to provide their own machines, and are not permitted to share calculators. The SAT allows all scientific calculators, certain graphing calculators (see below for a comprehensive list of permitted graphing calculators), and doesn’t recommend students use four-function calculators—they lack important functions you might need on the test such as exponents and logarithms.

 

In general, SAT-approved calculators meet certain criteria, most notably, they run on batteries. The use of calculators with power cords is forbidden. And if your calculator features characters an inch or higher, or has a raised display—either of which will potentially allow other test takers to view your work—the test coordinator will assign you a seat.

 

According to the SAT calculator policy, other no-nos include models that have a QWERTY (computer-style) keypad or use a stylus—some touch-screen models such as the Casio ClassPad are also not permitted. Calculators with the internet, Bluetooth, and cellular functions are also not allowed, and neither are machines with cameras or other audio/video recording features. You’re also not allowed to use a laptop, tablet, smartphone, cell phone, smartwatch, or other wearable technology in place of a calculator. 

 

The following graphing calculators are permitted for use on the SAT:

 

Casio Hewlett-Packard Sharp Texas Instruments Radio Shack Other
FX-6000 series HP-9G EL-5200 TI-73 EC-4033 Datexx DS-883
FX-6200 series HP-28 series EL-9200 series TI-80 EC-4034 Micronta
FX-6300 series HP-38G EL-9300 series TI-81 EC-4037 NumWorks
FX-6500 series HP-39 series EL-9600 series (use of the stylus is not permitted) TI-82 Smart2
FX-7000 series HP-40 series EL-9900 series TI-83/TI-83 Plus
FX-7300 series HP-48 series TI-83 Plus Silver
FX-7400 series HP-49 series TI-84 Plus
FX-7500 series HP-50 series TI-84 Plus CE
FX-7700 series HP Prime TI-84 Plus Silver
FX-7800 series TI-84 Plus C Silver
FX-8000 series TI-84 Plus CE-T
FX-8500 series TI-84 Plus T
FX-8700 series TI-85
FX-8800 series TI-86
FX-9700 series TI-89
FX-9750 series TI-89 Titanium
FX-9860 series TI-Nspire
CFX-9800 series TI-Nspire CX
CFX-9850 series TI-Nspire CM-C
CFX-9950 series TI-Nspire CAS
CFX-9970 series TI-Nspire CX CAS
FX 1.0 series TI-Nspire CM-C CAS
Algebra FX 2.0 series TI-Nspire CX-C CAS
FX-CG-10
FX-CG-20 series
FX-CG-50
FX-CG-500 (use of the stylus is not permitted)
Graph25 series
Graph35 series
Graph75 series
Graph95 series
Graph100 series

 

Where Calculator Use is Permitted on the SAT

 

The intention of the SAT is not to disadvantage students from different backgrounds and income levels; because of this, a calculator is not needed to complete either of the Math sections. However, as stated earlier, the use of a calculator can eliminate doubt and increase the speed with which a student answers questions.

 

The SAT breaks the Math section into two parts: a 20-question, 25-minute No Calculator Section and a 38-question, 55-minute Calculator Section—in other words, test-takers can use a calculator for roughly two-thirds of the SAT’s Math Section. Test takers are only authorized to use a calculator on the Calculator portion of the Math section of the SAT, and they must clearly be put away when working on the No Calculator portion of the math test, as well as the Reading, Writing, and Language sections. 

 

Section  Number of Questions  Time Allotted
Reading 52 65 minutes
Break  –  10 minutes
Writing and Language  44 35 minutes
Math No Calculator  20 25 minutes
Break  5 minutes
Math Calculator 38 55 minutes
Break  2 minutes
Essay (optional)  1 50 minutes 
TOTAL 4 hours 7 minutes

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SAT Math No Calculator Section Breakdown 

 

The No Calculator Math Section of the SAT covers three content categories: Heart of Algebra, Passport to Advanced Math, and Additional Topics. 

 

Heart of Algebra: Questions in the Heart of Algebra category cover linear equations, inequalities, functions, and graphs. 

 

Passport to Advanced Math: The Passport to Advanced Math category measures a test taker’s ability to work with and analyze complex equations. Students will deal with quadratic equations and other polynomials and cover topics including nonlinear expressions, exponential expressions, radicals, functions, and word problems. 

 

Additional Topics: Additional Topics is a catch-all that mainly includes questions about geometry, basic trigonometry, and complex numbers.

 

Content Category  Number of Questions  Percentage of Score 
Heart of Algebra  8 40%
Passport to Advanced Math  9 45%
Additional Topics 3 15%

 

Tips for Acing the No Calculator Section of the SAT 

 

There are numerous strategies for scoring well on the No Calculator Math Section of the SAT. First and foremost, don’t panic! The majority of these problems focus more on reasoning than arithmetic, vastly diminishing the usefulness of a calculator. 

 

Memorize: You have about 1 minute and 15 seconds per question to arrive at an answer in the No Calculator Math Section of the SAT—memorizing foundational math will buy you precious seconds during the exam. A good place to start is with multiplication tables through 15, the squares of integers, and common fractions and how they’re represented as decimals and percentages. While you’re at it, memorize the information on the No Calculator instructions page to save even more time on test day. 

 

Read Carefully: One of the abilities the No Calculator Math Section of the SAT tests is your reading comprehension; in many cases, these questions are designed to fool you. Answer choices may contain one or two answers that would be correct if the problem were written in a slightly different way. Word problems can also be overly involved and even contain information not necessary for finding a solution. Be sure to underline the important details as you read the question so you don’t get tripped up. 

 

Show Your Work: Sure, the grading machine won’t see how you arrived at an answer—but on questions that require multiple steps to solve, writing out your work can help you catch mistakes and avoid errors. An added bonus of writing out your work is that if you end up with extra time at the end of the section, you can go back and review your work. 

 

Identify and Drill Weaknesses: It seems all of our advice on the SAT (and the ACT, for that matter) include this step. The more time you spend drilling for the SAT, the more familiar you’ll become with its categories, questions, and formats. With that said, your time is limited, so make the most of it. When taking practice exams or just going through flashcards, you should review what you got wrong, identify underlying concepts, and focus on improving in that area. 

 

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Timothy Peck
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.