What Calculators Are Allowed On The ACT?

Elizabeth Witbeck

If you are planning to take the ACT, then you need to know which supplies to take with you to the exam. You are allowed to bring a calculator with you, but only certain types. The ACT has an official calculator policy that has been designed to ensure fairness amongst all students, to avoid disturbances in the test setting, and to protect the security of testing materials. The following information is from the official current ACT calculator policy, updated November 7, 2016.

Many types of calculators are prohibited from being used during the test. The ACT has even prohibited certain models of calculators. The following types of calculators are not allowed during the exam:

  • Calculators with built-in or downloaded computer algebra system functionality. Prohibited calculators in this category include:
    • Texas Instruments:
      • All model numbers that begin with TI-89 or TI-92
      • TI-Nspire CAS —Note: The TI-Nspire (non-CAS) is permitted.
    • Hewlett-Packard:
      • HP Prime
      • HP 48GII
      • All model numbers that begin with HP 40G, HP 49G, or HP 50G
    • Casio:
      • fx-CP400 (ClassPad 400)
      • ClassPad 300
      • ClassPad 330
      • Algebra fx 2.0
      • All model numbers that begin with CFX-9970G
  • Handheld, tablet, or laptop computers are prohibited.
  • 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. You will not be allowed to use the calculator on your smartphone during the examination.
  • Calculators with a typewriter keypad (letter keys in QWERTY format)—Note: Letter keys not in QWERTY format are permitted.

The above listed devices will not be allowed in the examination room during the day of the test.

In some situations, a calculator would not normally be allowed to be used. However, this some modifications, it may be acceptable. The list below describes some situations in which a calculator may be acceptable to be used with modifications.

  • Calculators that can hold programs or documents—remove all documents and remove all programs that have computer algebra system functionality.
  • Calculators with paper tape—Remove the tape.
  • Calculators that make noise—Turn off the sound.
  • Calculators with an infrared data port—Completely cover the infrared data port with heavy opaque material such as duct tape or electrician’s tape (includes Hewlett-Packard HP 38G series, HP 39G series, and HP 48G).
  • Calculators that have power cords—Remove all power/electrical cords.

Examinees may bring any 4-function, scientific, or graphing calculator as long as it is a permitted calculator modified if needed as described above. This means that as long as your calculator is an acceptable calculator, and not on the list of prohibited calculators described above, it is okay to use it for the examination.

Some people may take the ACT in a traditional testing environment. Others may take the test in a newer computer based testing environment. For those who are taking a computer based tests, there are rules that apply for calculators. These rules are new to the ACT calculator policy for this year.

  • An on-screen calculator may be provided during the examination.
  • Hand-held calculators may not be connected in any way to the computer or device being used for testing.

Students are allowed to use calculators only during the mathematics portion of the exam. Calculators may not be used during any other section, such as the reading section.

Students who have a disability may be allowed to bring an accessible calculator to the examination, such as a braille calculator or an audio calculator.

You must bring your own calculator with you to the exam. The test proctors at the exam will not provide calculators. The test proctors will not allow you to leave during the middle of the exam in order to retrieve a calculator. Also, sharing a calculator with another student during the test is not allowed. Please come to the ACT fully prepared with everything you need in order to take the exam.

You must make sure that your device works properly before entering the exam. Before the exam, test your calculator. Shut it on and off; make sure all of the buttons are functioning; try different equations and ensure it is functioning. If you enter into the examination room and discover your calculator does not work, you will not be given a substitute calculator. You will not be allowed to go retrieve a new calculator.

You may bring a spare calculator with you to the examination. You may also bring spare batteries. It is a good idea to pack these extra items with you and bring them to the exam. In the case that your batteries die in the examination, you will have additional ones already prepared. In case your entire calculator decides to crash, you will have packed another one. It is always a good idea to be prepared for these emergencies.

A calculator is a necessary tool for your ACT exam day. Read these rules to make sure that you bring the right one. Best of luck on your ACT.

About The Author

Elizabeth Witbeck

Elizabeth Witbeck works as a college consultant and educational entrepreneur. She launched the first business in the United States that sends care packages to first generation college students, and also helps prospective college students on their applications. Her interests include education, poverty, and working with youth.

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