best calculator for act

ACT Calculator Policy: Can You Use One?

Preparation is key when it comes to test day success on the ACT. But what about calculators? Can you use a calculator on the ACT? The answer may surprise you.

The ACT has a specific calculator policy to ensure fairness, avoid disturbances, and protect test security. Understanding this policy is crucial for every examinee aiming for top scores. So, let’s delve into the details and discover what calculators are allowed, which ones are prohibited, and how to navigate the ACT calculator policy like a pro.

Are you ready to unveil the truth behind using a calculator on the ACT? Let’s get started!

Types of Prohibited Calculators on the ACT

Certain calculators are not allowed on the ACT due to their advanced functionalities. Examinees must know the prohibited calculator list to ensure compliance with the ACT calculator policy. The following table provides details on the types of prohibited calculators:

Prohibited Calculators
TI-Nspire CAS
HP Prime
Casio fx-CP400
Handheld devices
Electronic writing pads
Calculators with QWERTY format letter keys

Permitted Calculators and Required Modifications

Many calculators are allowed on the ACT, but some may require modifications. After removing any software with computer algebra system functionality, examinees can use calculators to hold programs or documents.

Calculators with paper tape should have the tape removed, and calculators that make noise should have the sound turned off. Calculators with an infrared data port should be covered with opaque material. It is essential to follow the required modifications to ensure compliance with the ACT calculator policy.

Permitted Calculators and Modifications

The ACT has specific guidelines regarding using calculators during the test to ensure fairness and consistency. While many calculators are allowed without additional modifications, some require specific adjustments to comply with the ACT calculator policy. These modifications aim to maintain test security and prevent potential advantages or distractions.

Examinees can use calculators to hold programs or documents if they remove any software with computer algebra system functionality. This ensures students rely on their understanding and problem-solving skills rather than advanced calculator capabilities.

Removing the tape before bringing it into the test center is necessary for calculators with paper tape. This prevents any unauthorized information from being stored or accessed during the exam.

Calculators that make noise, such as those with audible keypress feedback, should have the sound turned off. This ensures a quiet testing environment and prevents any disruption to other test-takers.

Additionally, if a calculator has an infrared data port, it should be covered with opaque material. This prevents any potential communication or sharing of information through infrared connectivity.

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Permitted Calculators and Modifications Table

Calculator Type Permitted Required Modifications
4-function calculator Yes No modifications required
Scientific calculator Yes No modifications required
Graphing calculator Yes No modifications required
Calculators with computer algebra system (CAS) functionality No Software with CAS functionality must be removed
Calculators with paper tape Yes Tape must be removed
Calculators with audible keypress feedback Yes Sound must be turned off
Calculators with an infrared data port Yes Data port must be covered with opaque material

Recommended Calculators for the ACT

While the ACT does not specify a particular calculator brand or model, choosing one that is familiar and easy to use is crucial. The correct calculator can greatly enhance your testing experience and help you tackle ACT math questions efficiently. Two popular options among test-takers are the TI-30 and TI calculators with numbers between 30 and 40. These calculators offer all the necessary functions required for the ACT math section.

Examinees should opt for a calculator they feel comfortable using and practice using it extensively before test day. Becoming well-acquainted with your calculator’s functions and features will allow you to navigate the ACT math questions confidently and accurately.

To help you compare and select the best calculator for the ACT, here is a side-by-side comparison of some key features:

Calculator Model Features Price Range
TI-30Xa Basic scientific functions, fraction calculations, powers and roots, logarithms, trigonometry functions $10 – $20
TI-30XIIS All functions of the TI-30Xa, two-line display, statistical calculations, fractions, and decimals $10 – $15
TI-84 Plus CE Advanced graphing capabilities, preloaded apps, USB connectivity, enhanced display $100 – $150
TI-Nspire CX II CAS Computer algebra system, graphing calculator, touchpad, color display, USB connectivity $150 – $200


best calculator for act

Calculator Usage on the ACT Math Section

Calculators are an integral tool allowed on the math section of the ACT. The math test encompasses three sections, each focusing on different mathematical concepts:

Basic Algebra

This section consists of 24 questions that test the examinee’s understanding of fundamental algebraic concepts such as equations, inequalities, and operations with polynomials and rational expressions. While some questions in this section can be solved without a calculator, using a calculator can expedite calculations and reduce the risk of computational errors.

Intermediate Algebra and Coordinate Geometry

In this section, examinees will encounter 18 questions that assess their proficiency in intermediate algebraic skills, including exponential functions, logarithmic functions, matrices, complex numbers, and plane coordinates. Additionally, questions involving coordinate geometry will challenge their ability to solve equations of lines, circles, and parabolas. A calculator can be beneficial for performing complex calculations and verifying solutions.

Geometry and Trigonometry

The final section of the math test comprises 18 questions that evaluate examinees’ knowledge of geometric principles, trigonometric ratios, angles, triangles, circles, and three-dimensional figures. Utilizing a calculator for intricate calculations and trigonometric functions can assist in solving problems efficiently and accurately.

Note that although a calculator is allowed for the math section, it is essential to understand that not all questions require its usage. Familiarity with mathematical concepts and problem-solving techniques is crucial for effectively identifying when and how to apply the calculator.

Math Section Number of Questions Topics Covered Calculator Usage
Basic Algebra 24 Equations, inequalities, polynomials, rational expressions Helpful for complex calculations
Intermediate Algebra and Coordinate Geometry 18 Exponential functions, logarithmic functions, matrices, complex numbers, coordinate geometry. Useful for complex calculations and verifying solutions
Geometry and Trigonometry 18 Geometric principles, trigonometric ratios, angles, triangles, circles, three-dimensional figures Assists in solving complex calculations and trigonometric functions

Calculator Use on Other Sections of the ACT

While calculators are allowed in the math section of the ACT, it’s important to note that they are not permitted in other sections of the exam, including the science test. Examinees should know the specific calculator rules for the ACT and understand that calculators are only allowed for certain portions of the test.

The ACT calculator policy is designed to ensure fair testing conditions and maintain test security. By limiting calculator usage to the math section, the ACT aims to assess an examinee’s mathematical skills and problem-solving abilities without relying solely on technology.

To comply with the ACT calculator rules, test-takers should familiarize themselves with the calculator policy and refrain from using calculators on sections where they are not permitted. It’s crucial to read and understand the guidelines to avoid violations on test day.

Here is a brief overview of the sections where calculators are not allowed on the ACT:

  • English section: Calculators are not required or allowed in the English section of the ACT. This section primarily assesses grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and rhetorical skills, which do not rely on calculator usage.
  • Reading section: The Reading section of the ACT does not involve calculations or mathematical operations. It focuses on reading comprehension, analysis, and interpretation of texts, making calculators unnecessary for this exam.
  • Science section: Calculators are not allowed in the Science section of the ACT. This section evaluates a test-taker’s scientific reasoning skills, data analysis, and interpretation of graphs, charts, and experiments. No specific calculations or mathematical functions requiring calculators are included in this section.
ACT Section Calculator Usage
Math Allowed
English Not Allowed
Reading Not Allowed
Science Not Allowed

Impact of ACT Score on College Chances

The ACT score holds significant weight in the college admissions process. Admissions officers at many colleges utilize an Academic Index (AI) or a similar scoring system to evaluate applicants, considering their grades and test scores.

Competitive schools typically establish minimum test score requirements and aim to admit students whose scores align with their academic performance. Therefore, obtaining a strong ACT score is crucial in improving one’s chances of admission to college and meeting or exceeding the average test scores of desired institutions.

A high ACT score showcases a student’s academic prowess and demonstrates their ability to perform well academically. It helps distinguish applicants from a large pool of candidates and can be a determining factor in gaining admission to competitive colleges and universities. A strong ACT score can also open doors to various scholarship opportunities and financial aid packages, potentially making higher education more affordable.

ACT score impact on college chances

ACT Score and College Admission Considerations

When evaluating applicants, colleges consider many factors, with the ACT score being one of them. However, it is essential to note that colleges have a holistic review process and consider other components, such as extracurricular activities, essays, letters of recommendation, and personal achievements.

The ACT score indicates an applicant’s ability to perform well on standardized tests and provides colleges with an insight into their potential success in an academic setting. While each college establishes its own admission criteria, a higher ACT score generally enhances one’s chances of acceptance, particularly at more competitive institutions. Students should research the average ACT scores of colleges they are interested in and work towards achieving scores that align with those institutions.

Importance of Preparation

Preparing for the ACT can significantly impact an applicant’s score and, consequently, their college chances. Adequate preparation involves understanding the format and content of the test, practicing with sample questions and full-length practice tests, familiarizing oneself with the test-taking strategies, and identifying areas that require improvement. By adopting effective study methods and seeking appropriate resources, test-takers can optimize their performance on the ACT and increase their likelihood of achieving a competitive score.

ACT Score Comparison

The following table provides a general overview of ACT score ranges and their corresponding percentile ranks:

ACT Score Range Percentile Rank
36 99-100
32-35 98-99
29-31 93-97
26-28 86-92
23-25 77-85

Calculating Your Chances with CollegeVine

The CollegeVine Admissions Chances Calculator considers various factors that admissions committees consider. It utilizes a sophisticated algorithm to analyze your academic profile and compare it with the requirements and average scores of your desired colleges or universities.

The Admissions Chances Calculator provides you with a numerical probability of acceptance and offers personalized tips and recommendations on how to enhance your profile. Whether suggesting academic improvements or highlighting areas where you can showcase your unique talents and experiences, this tool helps you strategize and make informed decisions about your college application.

How to Use the CollegeVine Admissions Chances Calculator

The CollegeVine Admissions Chances Calculator is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive. Follow these steps to calculate your chances at your dream schools:

  1. Visit the CollegeVine website and navigate to the Admissions Chances Calculator.
  2. Input your academic information, including your GPA, standardized test scores (such as the ACT), and class rank (if applicable).
  3. Provide details about your extracurricular activities, leadership positions, community service, and other notable achievements.
  4. Select the colleges or universities you are interested in, including both reach and safety schools.
  5. Submit the information and wait for the Admissions Chances Calculator to process and generate your personalized results.

Once the calculations are complete, the CollegeVine Admissions Chances Calculator will display your probabilities of acceptance at each school, usually represented as a percentage. It will also provide you with valuable insights and suggestions on how to improve your chances of admission.

Interpreting the Results

The results obtained from the CollegeVine Admissions Chances Calculator should be viewed as a helpful guide rather than a guarantee. Various factors influence admissions decisions, and the calculator’s predictions are based on historical data and trends. Remember that individual circumstances may vary, and the calculator’s results should be a starting point for your college planning.

CollegeVine Admissions Chances Calculator Example

Here’s an example of how the CollegeVine Admissions Chances Calculator could present your chances of acceptance at different colleges:

College/University Acceptance Chance
Harvard University 10%
Stanford University 25%
University of California, Berkeley 60%
University of Michigan 80%
University of Texas at Austin 95%

CollegeVine’s Chancing Engine

The Chancing Engine compares your academic index with the requirements and average scores of your desired colleges. By analyzing this information, it provides valuable insights into how your ACT score influences your college chances. Additionally, it offers guidance on areas where you can improve to enhance your profile and increase your odds of acceptance.

With CollegeVine’s Chancing Engine, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of the impact your ACT score has on your college admissions journey. This innovative tool empowers you to make informed decisions and strategically plan for your future.

Key Features of Collegevine’s Chancing Engine
Calculate your chances of admission to various colleges and universities
Considers your academic profile, including grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities
Analyze your academic index and compare it with college requirements and average scores
Provides insights on how your ACT score impacts your college chances
Offers guidance on areas for improvement in your profile

Maximizing Your ACT Score for College Admission

To maximize your ACT score for college admission, it is essential to prepare effectively. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

  1. Take practice tests: Taking practice tests is essential to ACT preparation. It allows you to familiarize yourself with the format, timing, and questions you’ll encounter on the test. Use official ACT practice tests or reputable test prep resources to simulate test conditions and assess your performance.
  2. Review content areas: The ACT covers a range of subjects, including English, math, reading, and science. Identify your strengths and weaknesses in each region and allocate your study time accordingly. Review each section’s key concepts, formulas, and strategies to build your knowledge and confidence.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the test format: Understanding the structure and timing of the ACT can help you manage your time effectively during the exam. Familiarize yourself with the number of questions, the time allotted for each section, and any specific instructions or rules. This knowledge will enable you to pace yourself appropriately and avoid unnecessary mistakes.
  4. Focus on time management: Time management is crucial in the ACT. Practice pacing yourself to complete each section within the allotted time. Work on strategies to quickly identify and answer more straightforward questions and flag more challenging ones to revisit if time permits.
  5. Strive for accuracy: While speed is essential, accuracy should not be sacrificed. It’s better to answer fewer questions correctly than to rush through and make careless errors. Focus on understanding the question, eliminating wrong answer choices, and selecting the best option.
  6. Understand question types: Each section of the ACT has specific question types and formats. Learn to recognize and understand the different types of questions you’ll encounter. This will allow you to approach them strategically and select the most appropriate solution or answer.
  7. Utilize test prep resources: Numerous resources are available to help you prepare for the ACT. Look for reputable test prep books, online courses, or tutoring services that align with your learning style and needs. These resources can provide additional practice, strategies, and insights to enhance performance.
  8. Seek guidance if needed: If you’re struggling to improve your ACT score independently, consider seeking advice from a tutor or test prep service. They can provide personalized instruction, identify areas for improvement, and offer targeted strategies to help you achieve your desired score.

Final Thoughts on the ACT Calculator Policy

The ACT calculator policy is designed to ensure fairness and uphold the integrity of the test while still allowing students to use approved calculators. Examinees must familiarize themselves with the policy and adhere to its guidelines to optimize their performance on test day.

Before taking the ACT, students should carefully review the list of prohibited calculators to ensure they do not bring any restricted devices. They should also verify that their calculator complies with the policy and make any necessary modifications as required. This includes removing certain functionalities or features not allowed during the test.

While calculators can be a valuable tool for certain math sections of the ACT, students must remember that calculators are not permitted on all exam parts. Examinees should be mindful of this and develop strategies to effectively tackle questions that cannot be solved using a calculator.


Q: Can I use a calculator on the ACT?

A: Yes, you can use a calculator on the math section of the ACT. However, calculators are not permitted in other sections of the exam. It is important to familiarize yourself with the ACT calculator policy to ensure compliance on test day.

Q: What calculators are prohibited on the ACT?

A: Calculators with built-in or downloaded computer algebra system functionality, handheld devices, tablets, laptops, electronic writing pads, and calculators with QWERTY format letter keys are not allowed on the ACT. Examples of prohibited calculators include the TI-89, TI-Nspire CAS, HP Prime, and Casio fx-CP400.

Q: Can I use a calculator on the ACT with modifications?

A: Yes, you can use a calculator on the ACT with certain modifications. Calculators that can hold programs or documents must remove any software with computer algebra system functionality. Calculators with paper tape should have the tape removed, and calculators that make noise should have the sound turned off. Calculators with an infrared data port should be covered with opaque material.

Q: Which calculator is recommended for the ACT?

A: While the ACT does not require a specific calculator brand or model, popular choices include the TI-30 and TI calculators with numbers between 30 and 40. These affordable calculators provide all the necessary functions for ACT math questions. It is important to choose a calculator that you are comfortable with and practice using it before test day.

Q: Can I use a calculator in the ACT math section?

A: Yes, calculators are allowed on the math section of the ACT. The math test consists of three sections: basic algebra, intermediate algebra and coordinate geometry, and geometry and trigonometry. While some questions can be solved without a calculator, a calculator can be helpful for more complex calculations and functions in the latter sections.

Q: Are calculators allowed on other sections of the ACT?

A: No, calculators are only permitted in the math section of the ACT. They are not allowed on other sections, such as the Science test. Examinees should be aware of this and not rely on calculators for different exam sections.

Q: How does the ACT score impact college chances?

A: The ACT score plays a significant role in college admissions. Many colleges use an Academic Index (AI) or similar scoring system that considers a student’s grades and test scores. It is essential to aim for a strong ACT score to improve college admission chances and meet or exceed the average test scores of desired colleges.

Q: Can I calculate my college admission chances with CollegeVine?

A: Yes, CollegeVine offers a free Admissions Chances Calculator that helps students assess their chances of acceptance at top colleges and universities. By inputting information such as grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities, students can discover their chances of admission and receive tips on improving their profiles.

Q: How does CollegeVine’s chancing engine work?

A: CollegeVine’s chancing engine considers a student’s academic profile to calculate their chances of admission at various colleges and universities. The engine analyzes the student’s academic index and compares it with the requirements and average scores of the desired colleges. This information helps students understand how their ACT score impacts their college chances and provides insights on areas for improvement.

Q: What can I do to maximize my ACT score for college admission?

A: To maximize your ACT score for college admission, it is essential to prepare effectively. Strategies such as taking practice tests, reviewing content areas, and familiarizing yourself with the test format can help improve your performance. Focusing on time management, accuracy, and understanding the specific question types can also contribute to a higher score. Utilizing resources like ACT prep materials and seeking guidance from tutors or test prep services can also be beneficial.

Q: What are the final thoughts on the ACT calculator policy?

A: The ACT calculator policy aims to provide fairness and maintain test security while allowing students to use permitted calculators. Examinees should review the list of prohibited calculators, ensure their calculator complies with the policy, and make any necessary modifications. By understanding and following the ACT calculator policy, students can be well-prepared for test day and optimize their performance.

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