What Calculators Are Allowed on the ACT: Common Mistakes to Avoid
The ACT is this weekend and I’ve been making sure my private ACT tutoring clients have calculators that meet testing regulations. Although I’ve reminded them for weeks to pick up a calculator for the test, most hadn’t. So I’ve been handing out basic calculators so they can spend Saturday focusing on the test and applying the techniques they’ve learned. Do you know the common ACT calculator mistakes and how to avoid them?
ACT is NOT like the SATLast weekend my students took the SAT with whatever calculators they regularly use for school. Many have graphing calculators; the TI-89 and TI-Nspire CAS are the most common. For the SAT, I don’t sweat the calculator issue. Students should bring what they are most comfortable using. Not the case on the ACT.
ACT Has Strict Calculator PoliciesThe ACT presents a challenge because some of the most current and popular calculator models are not permitted. Here is the current list of prohibited calculators from the ACT website:
The following types of calculators are prohibited:
calculators with built-in computer algebra systems Prohibited calculators in this category include:
- Texas Instruments: All model numbers that begin with TI-89 or TI-92 and the TI-Nspire CAS—Note: The TI-Nspire (non-CAS) is permitted.
- Hewlett-Packard: HP Prime, HP 48GII, and all model numbers that begin with HP 40G, HP 49G, or HP 50G
- Casio: Algebra fx 2.0, ClassPad 300 and ClassPad 330, and all model numbers that begin with CFX-9970G
handheld, tablet, or laptop computers, including PDAs
electronic writing pads or pen-input devices—Note: The Sharp EL 9600 is permitted.
calculators built into cell phones or any other electronic communication devices
calculators with a typewriter keypad (letter keys in QWERTY format)—Note: Letter keys not in QWERTY format are permitted.
Students Can Be Dismissed for Using the Wrong CalculatorThe ACT takes their calculator policy seriously. Many test administrators try to avoid problems by warning students prior to the test and collecting prohibited calculators. This results in students finding out minutes before the test that they will have to work all problems by hand. The worst-case scenario is starting the test with a prohibited calculator and having to leave as a result of this rule violation. ACT states:
Using the TI-89 is the most common reason students are dismissed from the ACT for prohibited calculator use.