The SAT is a standardized test that is used as an admissions requirement by most U.S. colleges and universities. It was first introduced in 1926 by the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) as a competitor to the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program, which had been launched in 1933.
The SAT was originally designed to assess verbal and mathematical reasoning skills and knowledge, but later added a writing section. The SAT is usually taken by students in their junior or senior year of high school, although students may take it earlier if they wish.
Following a tough and quick no-calculator math section, SAT testers hunker down for their last multiple-choice section: SAT Math with Calculator. For many students, this brings a sigh of relief, and we can’t blame them (I mean, who really wants to do arithmetic by hand anymore?). But to reap the benefits of the SAT calculator section, you need to make sure you bring a calculator that is allowed. Read on for everything you need to know about what calculators are allowed on the SAT.
An Overview of The SAT Mat With Calculator Section
The SAT Math With Calculator Section is a 35-minute, 60-question section that tests your ability to solve problems using a calculator. This calculator is provided in the test booklet, but you may use any other calculator on the market. You’ll be asked to solve problems in arithmetic, algebra and geometry. The calculator is your primary tool for solving these problems, but you’re not allowed to use any other aid, such as scratch paper or a calculator that’s not on the approved list.
Which kind of calculator is allowed for the SAT?
Most graphing calculators, all scientific calculators, and all four-function calculators are permitted on the SAT. If that describes your calculation machine, you’re probably all set.
The good news is that most students already have one of the allowed calculators on the SAT. Many even use one of our recommended calculators in their math classes at school. It never hurts to check though, so make sure you’re prepared.
But just in case, we’ve listed all of the calculators that are allowed on the SAT below.
List of SAT Approved Calculators By Brand
While a variety of different calculators are allowed on the SAT, you’ll want to make sure that the calculator you currently own or are planning on purchasing is on the approved list. Below, we’ve broken down which calculators are allowed on the SAT by popular calculator brands.
Permitted Texas Instruments Calculators for the SAT:
Below is a list of all Texas Instruments calculators that are allowed on the SAT. Of this list, we recommend the TI-84 due to its accessibility, user-friendliness, and ease of use.
- TI-73, TI-80, TI-81, TI-82, TI-85, TI-86
- TI-83, TI-83 Plus, TI-83 Plus Silver
- TI-84 Plus, TI-84 Plus CE, TI-84 Plus CE Python, TI-84 Plus C Silver, TI-84 Plus T, TI-84 Plus CE-T, TI-84 Plus CE-T Python Edition
- TI-89, TI-89 Titanium
- TI-Nspire, TI-Nspire CX, TI-Nspire CX II, TI-Nspire CXII-T, TI-Nspire CX CAS, TI-Nspire CX II CAS, TI-Nspire CXII-T CAS, TI-Nspire CX-C CAS, TI-Nspire CM-C, TI-Nspire CM-C CAS, TI-Nspire CX II-C CAS
Is the TI-89 allowed on the SAT?
The TI-89 is a graphing calculator that runs on the computer algebra system (CAS) platform. The CAS platform was developed by Texas Instruments to allow users to solve equations symbolically, which means that it will automatically find the solution instead of requiring users to enter it manually. The TI-89 has been approved by the College Board for use on their exams since 1999.
Permitted Casio Calculators for 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
- 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-10, FX-CG-20 series, FX-CG-50
- Graph25 series, Graph35 series, Graph75 series, Graph95 series, Graph100 series
Additionally, the Casio FX-CG-500 is permitted on the SAT, although you are not allowed to use the stylus with this calculator.
Permitted HP (Hewlett-Packard) Calculators for the SAT:
- HP-9G, HP-38G
- HP-28 series, HP-39 series,
- HP-40 series, HP-48 series, HP-49 series
- HP-50 series
- HP Prime
Permitted Sharp Calculators for the SAT:
- EL-9200 series, EL-9300 series, EL-9900 series
Additionally, the Sharp EL-9600 series is permitted on the SAT, but you will not be allowed to use its stylus.
Permitted Radio Shack Calculators for the SAT
Other Permitted Calculators for the SAT
- Datexx DS-883
What calculators are not allowed on the SAT?
The SAT is pretty lenient when it comes to the calculators it allows, but just in case, here’s the list of what calculators that are not allowed on the SAT:
- No smartphones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, etc.
- This should hopefully be obvious. Anything that can access the internet and/or has camera/video capabilities isn’t permitted. Otherwise, cheating would just be too easy. (For legal purposes, I am required to make it clear that we absolutely do not condone or encourage cheating. It was a joke, people.)
- No calculators with a QWERTY keyboard
- No calculators that make noise
- No calculators that can access the internet
- No calculator with wireless, Bluetooth, or cellular functionality
- No calculators that need to be plugged into an electrical outlet
- If your calculator charges by being plugged into an outlet, that’s okay! You just won’t be allowed to charge it while you’re in the test room, so make sure you charge it the night before.
- No stylus usage, even if its with an approved calculator
- Some touch screen calculators are not allowed
You can visit the College Board website for the full list of SAT approved calculators and restrictions.
Does the SAT provide calculators?
The SAT does not provide calculators to test-takers. Students must bring their own hand-held devices with them on test day. However, there are a few restrictions on what types of devices can be used and where they can be used during the exam.
SAT Calculator Policy
Beyond the rules and requirements for the different types of calculators allowed on the SAT, there are some other basic rules that test takers must follow:
- There is no sharing of calculators – you must bring your own
- Calculators can only be used on the “Math Test – Calculator” section of the SAT
- Calculators can not be used on the “Math Test – No Calculator” section, nor can be a calculator be used during the Reading, Writing, and Language sections
- If you use your calculator to share information during the test, or if you use it to remove test questions or answers from the testing room, you will be dismissed and your SAT scores will be cancelled
Recommended SAT Calculators
The most important thing isn’t how fancy your calculator is or how many capabilities it has. The most important thing is that you know how to use your calculator to do what you need to do. That being said, we recommend using a graphing calculator on the SAT, assuming that you have access to one and know how to use it.
The graphing calculators we find most common for the SAT are the TI-84 and the TI-Nspire, but other brands work just as well.
If you don’t already use a graphing calculator for school but could get access to one for the SAT, we recommend that you do. If you’re only comfortable using a scientific calculator, it’s not the end of the world, but a graphing calculator does make many questions much simpler.
Other SAT Calculator Tips
As stated above, we recommend knowing how your calculator works prior to bringing it to the SAT exam, meaning you shouldn’t be using a brand new calculator that you are unfamiliar with. Additionally, just because you are allowed to use a calculator doesn’t mean you should use it for every calculation: for example, simple arithmetic is better done in your head. Below are some additional SAT calculator tips and tricks:
- Use your calculator for annoying arithmetic, as the SAT math section involves some pretty big numbers. You shouldn’t attempt to solve complex problems in your head – that’s what the calculator is there for
- Use your calculator for all questions involving a graph – this is arguably one of the most important uses for your calculator and why the SAT permits you to use one. Even if you’re able to find intersections, minimums, and maximums of functions in your head or by hand, using your calculator will simplify this process and save you a heap of time
- Know when (and how) to use parentheses with your calculator – No matter what calculator you bring to the SAT, it follow the standard order of operations (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction, or PEMDAS). This means you should be familiar with how your calculator handles inputs vs. outputs; for example, if you type in -5², you will get -125. If you were trying to find the square of negative five, you’ll need to type in (-5)².
- Use your calculator to check your work – When time permits, its always a good idea to check your work with your calculator, especially for more difficult questions or one’s that you’re not sure of your answer on.
- Do simple calculations in your head vs. your calculator – For simple arithmetic like 9 x 4, its better to figure that out in your head. Doing simple math problems in your calculator will only slow you down on the SAT math section.
- Utilize both your scratch paper and your calculator – While all of your calculations should be done with the calculator, you also should be writing down your math on the scratch. This will save you time in the long run, especially if you need to go back and check your work or make a mistake in your calculator.
- Break your calculations up – Don’t type extremely long number sequences into the calculator at once, because if you make a mistake during the input, you could jeopardize the entire calculation. Instead, it’s better to do calculations step-by-step so that you can ensure the correct answer.
Frequently Asked Questions About SAT Approved Calculators
Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding approved calculators on the SAT.
Can you take the SAT without a calculator?
Technically, every math problem on the SAT can be solved without the help of a calculator, though we absolutely recommend bringing one to help improve your chances of scoring high. Some people believe that a calculator can you slow you down during the exam, but as long as you have practiced using your calculator for the types of questions on the SAT, then using a calculator will only serve your best interests.
Can I bring an extra calculator to the SAT?
Yes, test takers are allowed to bring a back-up calculator to the SAT, so long as it is on the list of approved calculators. During the exam, your second calculator will get placed underneath your chair (but not your bag or backpack); if you want to change calculators, you must raise your hand to get permission from the SAT proctor before doing so. While one calculator should be enough to successfully complete the SAT, some students bring both a scientific and a graphic calculator. Remember: the best calculator strategy is whatever one works best for you.
You can use only one calculator per math section. You might be thinking, “Is there really anyone who needs more than one?” The answer is yes. If you’re taking your SATs at school, you may have access to multiple calculators if they’re available (especially if the school has an AP program). If you’re taking your SATs at home, then you may have access to some other kind of device (like a smartphone) that can act as a calculator. However, if you’re using both at once and then try to switch back and forth between them in order to find the answer on each question, it’s going to look like cheating.
What happens if I forgot my calculator for the SAT?
Unfortunately, if you forget to bring your calculator to the SAT exam, you will be required to complete the test without one, as test centers do not have extra calculators to provide students. If your calculator runs out of battery during the exam, you will need to finish the test without a calculator; because of this, we recommend bringing a set off back-up batteries (or a second calculator) in case worse comes to worst.
Can you use a TI-84 calculator on the SAT?
Yes, you can absolutely use a TI-84 calculator on the SAT – in fact, its one of the SAT calculators that we recommend. The TI-84 is a very ease to use graphing calculator that comes preprogrammed with a variety of mathematical functions that are easily accessible with a few presses of a button. Because of this, a TI-84 or comparable graphing calculator can help save you time during the SAT exam. We recommend using the TI-84/TI-83 model B or newer, with an operating system of 4.02 or greater and a screen resolution of 320 x 240 pixels or higher.
Is a four-function calculator good for the SAT?
A four-function calculator is better than no calculator at all, though we highly recommend bringing a graphing calculator to the SAT. Since a four-function calculator is limited to only addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square roots, and percentages, using this type of calculator will put you at a disadvantage when it comes to the more complex logarithmic equation questions found on the SAT.
Do I need a scientific calculator for the SAT?
While certainly better than a four-function calculator, a scientific calculator still has some disadvantages when compared to a graphing calculator. Scientific calculators typically have much smaller screens and do not usually have the ability to generate graphs. Additionally, graphing calculators usually have more functionality and options, which can make its operation much easier than a scientific calculator. Despite these disadvantages, scientific calculators will get you through the SAT no problem, so long as you are familiar with the device prior to the exam and know how to use it efficiently.
Does the SAT allow Casio calculators?
Yes, the SAT permits a variety of different Casio calculators to be used during the exam, and Casio has been a preferred SAT calculator brand for years. If you’re looking for an affordable, entry-level SAT calculator, we recommend the Casio fx-9750GII.
The Casio FX-9750GII is a scientific calculator that can be used on the SAT. It has a large, easily readable display and a large keypad. The FX-9750GII has many functions, including:
• Trigonometric Functions (SIN, COS, TAN, etc.)
• Cube Root, Square Root, Logarithms and Exponents
• Programmable Memory and Regression Statistics Functions
Smartwatches aren’t allowed; what about other types of watches?
The SAT does permit test takers to bring watches into the exam; however, watches must not have an alarm or make any noises. If you bring a digital watch, be sure to have all alarms and other sounds turned off, or you risk being removed from the exam.
If you’re looking for more help on the SAT, connect with one of Inspirica Pro’s private online SAT tutors today, or check out our related SAT resources below. Or, if you’re planning on taking the ACT instead, we also have a team of experienced ACT tutors who are ready to help with whichever test you choose.
Related SAT Resources
- Choosing Between Taking the SAT and the ACT
- 2023 SAT Test Dates: An Overview of Upcoming SAT Test Dates for 2023
- An Overview of the SAT and SAT Test Prep
- Should You Take the SAT For Test-Optional Schools?
- SAT Prep and Khan Academy: What They Won’t Tell You
- 100 Ways To Increase Your Score on the SAT
- The Best Ways To Prepare Yourself for the SAT and ACT