Before you get all wound up about finding out what calculators are allowed on the SAT, make sure you understand why it matters.
Why Are Calculators Allowed on the SAT?
You probably know by now that the SAT includes two math sections, one called “No Calculator” and one called “Calculator.” Obviously the No Calculator test is designed to see how much math facility students have without relying on a machine; in other words, do students have the arithmetic and number relationship background necessary to reflect strong algebraic thought?
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The No Calculator section recently included a question that rewarded students who knew square numbers beyond 12 x 12. If the College Board is checking to see if you can quickly discover that a number is actually the square of, say, 17, it is reinforcing that you are expected to show a deep understanding of arithmetic to be successful on the SAT.
It may seem like the Calculator section circumvents all that. It can feel like this section, which comes after the No Calculator section, intends to say, “Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s see what you can do with a calculator!”
…but that assumption is entirely wrong.
Calculators Are Allowed on the SAT to Check Your Strategy Skills
Just because you’re allowed to use a calculator on the SAT doesn’t mean you should use a calculator, and that’s the central idea behind the Calculator test. In other words, you are allowed to use a calculator to solve quadratic equations, but does that mean taking the time to enter values into your calculator is the right choice?
Sometimes Using an Allowed Calculator on an SAT Problem Is Still a Bad Idea
It may be the wrong choice to turn to your calculator when it would actually be faster to work through the problem by hand. Here are some examples to help you think about this:
- Many kids fear fractions and convert entire problems to decimals so they can use their calculators. This kills time and can lead to confusion.
- If you don’t know your multiplication tables, you have to spend time entering even silly data into a calculator. Not only does this kill time, but it creates an opportunity for calculator error. How many times have you said, “Oh, I put that into my calculator wrong?” If you don’t need to use your calculator, you eliminate that risk.
- Students often overlook the way numbers relate to each other when they are calculator-reliant. Some questions on the SAT are designed to have elusive answers if you use your calculator. For example, the fraction 4/16 might clearly illuminate the answer to a question about a portion of sixteen people, but ¼ or .25–which you’d get on a calculator–distracts from it.
If you want to understand more about the math, check out my post about What Math Is on the SAT.
What Type of Calculators Are Allowed on SAT Test Day?
Now that you know you should use your calculator judiciously on the SAT, let’s look at what you’re allowed to take to the test.
First of all, use your common sense: the calculator restrictions are designed to do three things:
- Keep you from having computational access that gives you an unfair advantage,
- Prevent you from distracting other test-takers by creating an inconvenience, and
- Ensure you aren’t helping other students, even inadvertently.
That means if you bring a calculator with 1” buttons on it, you’ll likely be seated by yourself so that the person next to you can’t watch you perform your calculations. You also can’t bring in something that has a plug, not only because it’s annoying, but because it’s not the College Board’s job to make sure you have an outlet you can access.
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The detailed list is below, but the bottom line is that you can bring in most graphing calculators, any scientific calculator, and any four-function calculator.
You’ll probably want to make sure you have a scientific calculator rather than a four-function, and a graphing calculator can be great for double-checking quadratics or higher-degree functions.
You can’t share a calculator with someone else, obviously.
You can’t bring a laptop. You can’t use your flip phone or smartphone calculator, an iPad, or other stylus-based tablets. You can’t use your Apple Watch. Use your common sense: no Bluetooth, nothing that records video, nothing that has a QWERTY keyboard. These are calculators that are allowed on the SAT, not machines more advanced than you’d need to operate a data-gathering satellite in space.
In other words, you don’t need to go out and buy yourself some crazy calculator for the SAT.
If you’re one of those kids who does have a particularly high-end calculator, you can verify that your model is permitted on the list below.
The Most Recent List of the Calculators That Are Allowed on the SAT
This list is borrowed directly from the College Board’s official calculators that are allowed on the SAT.
Casio Calculators Allowed on the SAT
- FX-6000 series
- FX-6200 series
- FX-6300 series
- FX-6500 series
- FX-7000 series
- FX-7300 series
- FX-7400 series
- FX-7500 series
- FX-7700 series
- FX-7800 series
- FX-8000 series
- FX-8500 series
- FX-8700 series
- FX-8800 series
- Graph25 series
- FX-9700 series
- FX-9750 series
- FX-9860 series
- CFX-9800 series
- CFX-9850 series
- CFX-9950 series
- CFX-9970 series
- FX 1.0 series
- Algebra FX 2.0 series
- FX-CG-20 series
- Graph35 series
- Graph75 series
- Graph95 series
- Graph100 series
Read More: What Subjects Are on the SAT?
Hewlett-Packard Calculators Allowed on the SAT
- HP-28 series
- HP-39 series
- HP-40 series
- HP-48 series
- HP-49 series
- HP-50 series
- HP Prime
Radio Shack Calculators Allowed on the SAT
Sharp Calculators Allowed on the SAT
- EL-9200 series
- EL-9300 series
- EL-9600 series*
- EL-9900 series
*The use of the stylus is not permitted.
Texas Instruments Allowed on the SAT
- TI-83 Plus
- TI-83 Plus Silver
- TI-84 Plus
- TI-84 Plus CE
- TI-84 Plus Silver
- TI-84 Plus C Silver
- TI-84 Plus T
- TI-84 Plus CE-T
- TI-89 Titanium
- TI-Nspire CX
- TI-Nspire CX II
- TI-Nspire CX II-T
- TI-Nspire CM-C
- TI-Nspire CAS
- 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
Miscellaneous Calculators Allowed on the SAT
- Datexx DS-883