What Calculators Are Allowed on the ACT?

Comstock Images / Getty Images

Calculators are allowed, but not required, on the math section of the ACT. All math questions can technically be answered without a calculator, but most test-takers find that a calculator helps them complete the math section faster and more accurately. 

Not all calculators are allowed in the ACT testing room. Before test day, review this list of accepted and banned calculators and make sure that yours is on the "approved" list. 

Four-Function Calculators: Allowed

Close-Up Of Calculator Over White Background
Panpreeda Mahaly / EyeEm / Getty Images

A simple four-function calculator costs just a few dollars and will handle nearly any calculation you're likely to make during the ACT. A model such as the Texas Instruments TI1503SV handles addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It also has a square root function.

All standalone four-function calculators are allowed on the ACT. You can even use a printing four-function calculator as long as you remove the paper from the device before the exam. If the screen on your calculator is tilted outward, keep in mind that the exam proctors may seat you towards the back of the room to avoid anyone else seeing your screen.

Important Note: A four-function calculator built into a cell phone, tablet, or laptop computer is NOT allowed.

Scientific Calculators: Allowed (With Exceptions)

Advanced calculator detail
Photography taken by Mario Gutiérrez. / Getty Images

Most scientific calculators are allowed on the ACT. Many of these calculators can be purchased for under $10. Although scientific calculators have far more functions than a simple four-function calculator, most of these extra functions are not relevant to the ACT. Still, you may find them handy for a problem or two.

Scientific calculators typically have a screen that displays one to two lines of text. (If the screen is larger, it's probably a graphing calculator and may not be allowed.) If your scientific calculator has a built-in or downloadable computer algebra system, it most likely will not be allowed in the ACT testing room.

Graphing Calculators: Some Allowed, Some Banned

Graphing Calculator

John Jones / Flickr /  CC BY 2.0

Older graphing calculators, such as the one pictured here, are generally allowed when taking the ACT. However, if your calculator has a built-in or downloadable computer algebra system, it will not be allowed unless the algebra functionality can be removed.  

Here are some of the graphing calculator models that are not allowed in the ACT testing room: 

  • Banned Texas Instruments Models: TI-89, TI-92, and TI-Nspire CAS
  • Banned Hewlett-Packard Models: HP Prime, HP 48GII, and all models that begin with 40G, 49G, and 50G
  • Banned Casio Models: FX-CP400 (ClassPad 400), ClassPad 300, Class Pad 330, Algebra FX 2.0, and models that begin with CFX-9970G.

Remember that this list is not exhausted. Check your own calculator to find out whether it has a forbidden computer algebra system.  

Phone/Tablet/Laptop Calculators: Banned

Iphone 6s with calculator application
Jlende / Getty Images

You cannot use any calculator that's part of your cell phone, tablet, laptop or any other communication device. Even if the calculator itself is as basic and four-function as can be, it will not be allowed in the testing room. 

In addition, any calculator that has a typewriter keyboard in QWERTY format is not allowed because these devices are commonly computers as well as calculators.

Calculator Modifications

Some calculators are allowed in the test room as long as you make modifications to them before test day.

  • Calculators with a printing function must have their paper removed.
  • Calculators that make noise must be silenced
  • Calculator with any kind of external cord must have the cord detached.
  • Programmable calculators must have all documents and algebra programs removed.
  • Calculators with an infrared data port must have the port covered with opaque tape. 
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Grove, Allen. "What Calculators Are Allowed on the ACT?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/what-calculators-allowed-act-4172311. Grove, Allen. (2020, August 27). What Calculators Are Allowed on the ACT? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-calculators-allowed-act-4172311 Grove, Allen. "What Calculators Are Allowed on the ACT?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-calculators-allowed-act-4172311 (accessed June 10, 2023).