The ACT test is a standardized test used for acceptance into colleges and universities. It is split into subsections based on subject. Students are not allowed to use laptops, tablets, or cellular devices on the exam, but they can use calculators to assist them with the math section, as long as they have cleared their calculator for use with a proctor prior to the beginning of the test. However, your testing center is not obligated to provide you with a calculator (so you should plan accordingly). Finding the right calculator to assist you on those tricker math problems is a crucial part of ACT prep.
What Calculators are Allowed for the ACT?
Permitted calculators include (but are not limited to) many texas instruments calculators:
- TI-83 Plus
- TI-84 Plus
- TI-84 Plus CE
- TI-Nspire CX
- TI-Nspire CX II
Note: The TI-Nspire CAS (computer algebra system) is one of the prohibited calculators, so make sure you pay close attention to the model of your calculator prior to testing so you don’t need to scramble for an acceptable backup calculator.
Note: No calculators that have a “QWERTY” keyboard are allowed on the ACT.
Prohibited calculators include calculators from the texas instruments, Hewlett-Packard, and Casio brands:
- TI-Nspire CAS
- TI-Nspire CX CAS
- TI-Nspire CX II CAS
- HP Prime
- HP 48GII
- All model numbers that begin with HP 40G, HP 49G, or HP 50G
Look at the ACT calculator policy before your test day for more information on which calculators are allowed for the act math test.
Preparing the TI-84 Calculator
The TI-84 is a mid-range graphing calculator made by Texas Instruments targeted to high school and college math students. The TI-84 is commonly used on the ACT math section, but take some precautions to allow its use.
Remove any paper inserts/paper tape that may have come with your TI-84. When you first purchase a TI-84, paper inserts with quick reference information are included underneath the screen cover. The ACT has a strict rule against any outside resources being brought into the test environment. These paper inserts could potentially contain material for cheating and cause an unfair advantage.
Cover the infrared data port on your calculator and confirm that your proctor has seen this modification. Some later models of the TI-84 shipped with an IR-data port for transferring information between calculators. These ports use light to transmit data. When the ports are covered, they are inoperable.
Erase the stored memory completely on your TI-84. ACT proctors will check your calculator for saved programs and documents. If proctors discover anything they will usually delete it immediately; however, the contents of programs and documents on a calculator can be cause for dismissal from the test if cheating is suspected. Press the "2ND" button and then the "MEM" button to open the memory management menu. Press "7" on this menu to select "Factory Reset." Use the arrow buttons to highlight "ALL" from the list of displayed memory locations. Press "1" to select "Delete." Press "2" to confirm your factory reset. Your TI-84 is now ready to use for the ACT.
Jacob Stover is a writer and editor from Ann Arbor. He has been writing professionally since 2009. His work has been published in the "Wayne State University Literary Review." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and film studies from Wayne State University.