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Best Calculator for Exams: SAT, ACT, FE, ISC, CFA – 2024 Buyer’s Guide and Reviews

Antonio Evans November 13, 2019

Best Calculator for Exams 2018Buying a calculator for exams is the most valuable thing you can do as a student.

These calculators will not only help you in class, but they will also come in handy when tackling tests and strict exams.

You will be able to handle complicated functions as well as deal with complex equations.

Here are our TOP Recommendations for the best calculator for exams 2024. We’ll be taking you through calculators permitted on exams. From SATs to ACT, FE, ISC, and even CFA exams.

Top Pick for exams

Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS


Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS
Best choice for exams

  • 100MB of RAM
  • 64MB of Flash ROM
  • 3.2″ Color Display
  • Color-Code Equations on Backlit Display
  • Chem Box for Chemical Notation
  • SAT, PSAT, AP & Praxis Exams

In a hurry? Top Pick is your choice!

Calculators for Exams Comparison Chart

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5 Best Calculators For Exams (as of July, 2024):


1. Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS Calculator For Exams – Best for SAT Review

Editor's choice

Texas Instruments TI Nspire CX CAS

  • 100MB of RAM
  • 64MB of Flash ROM
  • 3.2″ Color Display
  • Color-Code Equations on Backlit Display
  • Chem Box for Chemical Notation
  • SAT, PSAT, AP & Praxis Exams

The newest on the Texas Instruments, the TI-Nspire CX CAS is the ideal calculator for understanding complex math.

With all the fancy features, this model represents a decent calculator for both class and sitting the SAT. It comes at an attractive price considering the conveniences it brings to the table.


TI-Nspire CX CAS is quite an attractive model. It is thin and lightweight meaning you get to take it to all your classes without it dragging you down. With a rechargeable battery, it gives you the convenience of never having to replace alkaline batteries again.

With a single charge, this calculator is going to give you up to two weeks’ battery life with regular use. It gives you a pretty good idea when to recharge so that you are never with a dead battery when sitting your SAT.

Functional Features

Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS Graphing Calculator - Functional FeaturesWhen it comes to helping in SAT, TI-Nspire has a ton of features. First, it uses Computer Algebraic System that allows you to solve math analytically.

It can solve variable expressions, find antiderivatives, complete the square, and many other functions in proper math notation.

You will have a color display which lets you color code equations, points, equations, and lines on it.

An interesting feature we found must be the ability to import digital images so that you can make real-life connections. It sets you on a path of better understanding.

You can use your photos or digital images when you want real-world representations.


Convenient Features

TI-Nspire is a graphing calculator with so many applictions. You can plot and graph equations in the most straightforward methods using box plots, pie charts, histograms, bars, etc.

This gives you a chance to explore functions, animate points on graphs, and solve equations and inequalities using graphical methods.

It uses the Vernier DataQuest Application which allows collection of data, tabular and graph representation of that data, and also its analysis.

Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS Review, Pros and Cons. Check our Best Calculator for SAT 2018


Using this calculator is pretty easy. It comes with intuitive drop menus to quickly guide you through its functions. It gives you a 100MB memory to help you store data since you can program it and add the formulas you desire.

All the buttons are thoughtfully arranged like other TI calculators, but then TI-Nspire allows you to access a function by pressing a button or using the control (Ctrl) and another key.

TI-Nspire is the most advanced graphing calculator by Texas Instruments. If you are looking for the best calculator to sit the SAT; look no further than in the TI-Nspire.

Main Features:

  • Permitted for use on SAT, PSAT, AP and Praxis exams; 100MB of RAM, 64MB of Flash ROM and 3.2″ color display
  • Exact values in variables when doing step-by-step arithmetic, algebraic and calculus calculations
  • Symbolic algebra and calculus as well as standard numeric calculations; color-code equations on backlit display
  • Chem Box for chemical notation; graph and rotate 3D functions and change surface color of 3D graph
  • Includes rechargeable battery with wall adapter and slide-on, hard case
What we like
  • Thoughtful user interface
  • Uses a computer algebra system
  • Gives exact answers to complicated math problems
  • Retains programmable capability
  • It has a trackpad and cursor
  • Color display
  • It has Wi-Fi capabilities
What we don’t like
  • Although the user interface uses drop-down menus, it may take a little time to get used

Review Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS Graphing Calculator look at the video:

The TI-Nspire™ CX Handheld

2. Casio FX-115ES Plus Calculator For Exams – Best for Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam Review

Budget Pick

Casio FX-115ES PLUS

  • Natural Textbook Display
  • Over 280 Functions
  • List-Based STAT Data Editor
  • Multi-Replay & Table Function
  • Matrix & Vector Calculations
  • 40 Metric Conversions
  • 40 Scientific Constants

Casio FX-115ES is the perfect example of a calculator that you can take to your FE exam. It is not only permitted to such exams, but it is a practical solution for solving complicated math.

This model has over 280 functions. You will be able to solve computer science problems, linear regression, polar-rectangular conversions, standard deviations, fractions, and many others.


Who doesn’t like a natural textbook display? Casio allows you to input math precisely as it is in your textbook. There’s no more disconnect between what you input and the answers you get. It is an incredible solution when dealing with complex engineering questions.

Casio FX-115ES PLUS Review, Pros and Cons. Check our Best Calculator for Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam 2018

It has a 2-line 10-digit display which means it won’t be presenting answers and the problem on one screen.

Basic Math Functions

If you are getting ready for college, this model comes in handy as it is good for general math. You will be calculating algebraic functions, chemistry, geometry, biology, and of course fundamental engineering questions.

Advanced Functions

Apart from the natural display, this calculator comes with advanced features like product notation templates, finding derivatives, hyperbolic functions, matrix and vector calculations, complex number functions, and reoccurring decimals, prime number factorization, list-based STAT editor, etc.

Casio FX-115ES has one independent memory and six constant memories.

This means you can keep numbers and formulas for later use. It saves you time as you won’t be recalculating similar questions over and over again. With the multi-replay function, now you can backtrack and edit entries when you want to recalculate to get the correct answers.

Casio FX-115ES is a popular calculator more so if you are an engineering student. With a natural display and a multi-replay function, solving math will be a breeze.

Main Features:

  • Natural textbook display shows expressions and results exactly as they appear in the textbook
  • Over 280 functions, including fractions, statistics, complex number calculations, base arithmetic, linear regression, standard deviation, computer science, and polar-rectangular conversions
  • Improved math functionality with standard deviation, multi-replay function, logarithm log
  • List-Based STAT Data Editor
  • Table Function
  • Matrix and Vector Calculations
  • 40 metric conversions/40 scientific constants
  • Multi-replay function allows you to backtrack step-by-step through calculations, where you can edit expressions and recalculate answers
  • Casio scientific calculator is suitable for use in pre-algebra, algebra I and II, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics and engineering classes
What we like
  • Natural textbook display
  • Over 280 functions for simple to advanced math
  • It has a multi-replay function
  • 40metric conversions
  • Uses solar and battery power
  • Solves higher mathematical functions
  • Comes with a hard protective case
  • Ideal for the FE exam
What we don’t like
  • Isolated user complaint about the buttons being at an angle

Many Reasons of Liking the Casio fx-115ES Plus. Fractions, Mixed Numbers, Decimals and Percentage:

[Many Reasons of Liking the Casio fx-115ES (plus)] Fractions, Mixed Numbers, Decimals and Percentage

3. Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Calculator For Exams – Best Value for ACT Review

Best Value Pick

TI-84 Plus CE

  • Available in Different Color
  • Color Screen
  • Rechargeable Battery
  • Preloaded Apps and Images
  • MathPrint Feature
  • Lightweight

The TI-84 CE Plus is another incredible design by Texas Instruments. It is a total upgrade from the TI-84 Plus C, but it follows its sleek look.

This slim calculator is a good candidate for ACT exams. It is 30% lighter than other TI-84 models making it easy to take it wherever you want.


This calculator has a 2.8 inch 320x 240pixels screen. It is a full-color backlit display with a 140DPI resolution. It lets you see everything clearly so that you can understand concepts much easier.

You’ll be able to graph and read equations in full-color thanks to the enhanced readability. Making connections between the functions on the screen will be so effortless you can finally start enjoying math courses.

Not to mention, you will easily color-code graphs, plots, and equations so that you can distinguish them with ease. The vibrant backlit screen will be useful both in normal and in low-lit conditions.

Useful Functions

The use of MathPrint Technology is perhaps the most thoughtful feature on the TI-84 CE Plus. It gives you an engaging experience as you will be making entries in proper notation. There’s very little change between the TI-84 C and TI-84 CE Plus.

Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Review, Pros and Cons. Check our Best Value Calculator for ACT 2018

For example, the MODE options have changed only slightly where the CE allows you to choose the language while the C does not. When selecting the format, C model retains all three formats AUTO, DEC, and FRAC-APPROX. In the CE, the last option has been eliminated.

Otherwise, this unit is programmable and only limited by the 3MB memory. It is also compatible with Vernier EasyLink, Vernier EasyTemp, CBR 2 Motion Sensor systems. They allow you to collect, graph, and analyze data.

You will also love that it can connect to other devices like your computer for transfer of data.


If you are looking for a handy graphing calculator for handling the ACT exam, you are going to find it entirely easy working with the TI-84 CE Plus.

Main Features:

  • 30% lighter and thinner than earlier generation TI-84 Plus models
  • Vibrant backlit color screen
  • TI Rechargeable Battery
  • Available in a variety of fun colors
  • Pre-loaded Apps and Images
  • MathPrint™ functionality
What we like
  • Includes polynomial root finder and conic graphing applications
  • Full-color high-resolution display
  • Rechargeable battery via a wall charger or USB cable
  • MathPrint Technology
  • Slim and lightweight design
What we don’t like
  • It has a steep learning curve if you are not familiar with Texas Instruments calculators

Review TI 84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator look at the video:

TI 84 Plus CE graphing calculator

Graphing Basics with the TI-84 Plus CE graphing calculator:

Graphing Basics With the TI-84 Plus CE: Graphing a Function, Locating Points and the TRACE Feature

4. Casio FX-82MS – Best Calculator for ISC Exams Review

Casio FX-82MS

  • Large 2-Line Display
  • 240 Integrated Functions
  • Variable Memory/Balancing Memory
  • Trigonometric, SCI/FIX/ENG Functions
  • Percentage & Regression Calculations
  • S. – V.P.A.M. & 24 Parentheses Levels

The Casio FX-82MS comes with lots of value for the student who is going to sit their ISC exams.

Remember that graphing calculators are not permitted to ISC, and the only recommended calculator is the Casio FX-82MS or any other that closely resembles this model.

It could be the Casio FX-300MS, but we are going to focus on the FX-82MS today.

With over 240 functions, we can tell that this calculator is going to be of great help throughout your course.

Functional Features

This calculator uses an algebraic entry system. This is much like an immediate-execution calculator. You will never have difficulties calculating questions with a series of numbers.

This model has the essential functions; square root, sin, cos, tan, backspace, percent key, etc. It does not need any learning to master and use the color-coded buttons.


This is a 2-line 12-digit display. You will see the formula and the results simultaneously. It allows you make connections fast and easy. In the process, understanding will be much easier.

It uses a Dot-Matrix display that allows seeing the numbers without squinting the eyes. You’ll note it is an LCD screen, but the lighting is perfect both day and night.

Casio FX-82MS Review, Pros and Cons. Check our Best Calculator for ISC Exams 2018

Useful Features

You will love that this calculator comes with one independent memory and six constant memories. Even without other bells and whistles, it makes it effortless to solve complicated math by allowing you to store formulas for future use.

Of all scientific calculators applicable in major exams, this model is the most affordable. Casio lets you enjoy the convenience of a well-built calculator without digging too deep into your pocket.

Main Features:

  • Large two-line display, easy menu navigation for statistical calculations
  • 240 integrated functions, variable memory/balancing memory
  • Trigonometric, SCI/FIX/ENG functions
  • Percentage & regression calculations, 24 parentheses levels, summation
  • S. – V.P.A.M. (Super Visual Perfect Algebraic Method)
  • Automatic fraction calculations, random number generator
  • Calculations in gradian, degree and radian measure
  • Converts between polar coordinates and rectangular coordinates
  • Two-dimensional statistics with mean, estimation and summation
  • Calculation of 6 different regression types and the coefficients A, B
What we like
  • Comes with a protective cover
  • Numeric display notation
  • Eighteen levels of parentheses
  • It has a random number generator
  • Over 240 inbuilt math functions
What we don’t like
  • It has a small memory so it can’t store many numbers and formulas

Casio fx-82MS Memory and Variables:

Casio fx-82MS Memory and Variables

How to Reset A Casio fx-82MS Scientific Calculator:

How to Reset A Casio fx-82MS Scientific Calculator

5. HP 12 C Platinum – Best Calculator for CFA Review

HP 12C Platinum

  • 1-Line-by-10-Character Display
  • Over 130 built-in Functions
  • RPN & Algebraic Data Entry
  • Keystroke Programming, up to 400 Steps
  • Carrying Case & Long-Life Battery

CFA is regarded as one of the toughest business courses. Why not conquer it with this time-tested calculator?

HP 12C Platinum Financial Calculator has been around since 1981.

It is no wonder many people swear by this calculator. From an easy layout to its durability, this model is a sure steal.

Functional Features

This calculator uses Reverse Polish Notation for data entry. It runs its computations in a simplified manner where you don’t need to enter the equal sign.

You just need to enter the numbers you need to compute with the operator after the operand like in (2ENTER 2+). You will get the answer as (4), but you can still add other calculations on it.

With this calculator, you can attempt many complex problems with fewer entries. It is programmable to 400 keystroke programming memory.

Display and Financial Features

HP 12 C Platinum uses a 1-line 10-digit display. It has a simplified layout, and the LCD screen is fast and easy to read. This model gives you access to numerous financial functions.

Now you can solve standard deviation problems, calculate loan payments, TVM, IRR, NPV, Amortization, cash flows, interest rates conversions, bonds, and many others. It gives you a nice mix of business and finance so that you will never lack use for it for many years.

HP 12 C Platinum Review, Pros and Cons. Check our Best Calculator for CFA 2018

Built to Last

This calculator expresses durability thanks to its shock resistance. It has been tested on numerous occasions against damage caused by falls. By being shock-proofed, this means you can take it on the field without the worry it’s going to fall apart when you drop it.

The battery life shows remarkable dependability. It is a highly energy-efficient model with up to two years of use with the included CR2032 battery. Some users have indicated getting ten years of life with regular use of the battery. It comes down to how much you use your calculator for day to day solving of financial math.

Getting the HP 12C Platinum guarantees you practicality in a calculator that is permitted on CFA exams. The price, functions, and construction all add up to one handy CFA calculator.

Main Features:

  • Simple, easy-to-read 1-line-by-10-character display
  • Over 130 built-in business, financial, statistical, and math functions
  • RPN and algebraic data entry
  • Keystroke programming, up to 400 steps
  • Includes carrying case and long-life battery
What we like
  • It has both RPN and Algebraic entry options
  • Can survive impact from falls
  • Programming capacity to 400 steps
  • Numerous financial functions to handle CFA exams
  • Long-life battery
  • Intuitive buttons and display
What we don’t like
  • It can be complicated to learn the RPN entry system, but HP provides online help

Getting Started with an HP 12C Financial Calculator:

Getting Started with An HP 12C Financial Calculator

Best Calculator for Exams – Buyer’s Guide

If you wish to get better grades, a good calculator is a must-have. Here, we take you through the most common questions you may have when looking for a calculator for your exams.

Calculators that are prohibited on exams

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Calculators that are allowed on exams

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Advantages of a Calculator for Exams

Helps to Understand Math Better

Here, we are talking about either a scientific or a graphing calculator permitted to exams. It is a calculator enables you to deal with complex math. It allows you to focus on the math you are solving.

Maybe it is a linear regression question, or you are dealing with correlations. Instead of performing long and tedious calculations; your work is much shorter, and understanding is easier.

Allows Connecting Questions with Real Life Problems

Many times you will find some courses are difficult if you are not relating the knowledge to real-life situations. But when you have data, with the help of your calculator, you will be able to graph and analyze it using the applications provided on your calculator.

To most people, graphs and pictures make more sense than formulas.

It makes Studying Fun

When you see the numbers, formulas, and answers on the screen, you can easily relate whether you have the answer you anticipated. If not, you can edit entries and recalculate your answer.

Using any other calculator like a basic one creates a set of problems. From not being able to retrace your entries and sometimes missing a step and not realizing it.

Disadvantages of using an Exams Calculator

The main drawback of using a calculator for Exams is associated with using any other calculator.

This brings up the issue of over-dependence on the tool such that it can be challenging to solve simple algebra without the help of a calculator. You can only achieve so much if you are nothing without your calculator.


Frequently Asked Questions about Calculators for Exams

Can a calculator for Exams solve the inverse of a matrix?

After ensuring that your matrix is a square to enable solving the inverse of a matrix.  The formula for finding the inverse of a matrix is a^ (-1). For example, if you have a 2×2 matrix:

For example, if you have a 2x2 matrixType it in the calculator like this and press enter.Matrix 2 x 2

But it can be a process to actually put in the matrix if you don’t have an idea how to go about it.

Go to the Menu: Matrix Editing.

For Inverse, you will need to look for the symbol x-1. It should take you to the menu where you can enter the matrix. On that window, you will need to select the matrix, indicate how large the matrix is in terms of rows and columns.

Enter the numbers in order from left to right. After you enter the matrix, some calculators will require that you quit to prevent entering into a loop. In this case, press the keys to go back to the main menu.

At this point, go back to the matrix menu, press your saved matrix, the inverse symbol and press ENTER to get its inverse.

What is Computer Algebraic System?

In the TI-Nspire, this is a system that manipulates, plots, and solves mathematical expressions using an analytical method. Computer Algebraic Systems is super helpful in calculus, linear algebra, and ordinary differential expressions. It works with equations without the necessity to generate any numeric data.

How to choose calculator for exams // Calculator for exams buyer’s guide

It uses sophisticated algorithms to help solve algebraic equations, systems of differential algebraic equations, and regular systems of equations. This improves accuracy as it eliminates the risk of suffering from floating-point errors.

How do you use the memory keys?

Memory keys allow you to access a number you often use in the form of a variable.

For this question, we are going to refer to the TI-84 calculator:

  • The symbol The symbol STOlets you store any number or formula you want
  • Go to the home screen by pressing [2ND] [MODE]
  • Enter the number or formula you wish to store
  • Press The symbol STO
  • Press [ALPHA] and the corresponding letter that you want to store the number. This should be an alphabet letter and Greek letter theta
  • Press [ENTER] to store the value

Now you can use the number in an expression by just placing the cursor where you want it to appear. Press [ALPHA] and the letter that you stored the number.

Your stored number will always be in the letter you allocate it until you change it or store a new number.

Which is better; a calculator for Exams or Excel?

Excel program is useful in many aspects when studying for exams. It is advantageous mainly because it can process data much faster than a calculator.

For the exams we have discussed here today, a laptop is only allowed for presentation of work and not for accessing the calculator. As such, we can all agree that you will not be accessing the Excel program in an exam room.


Whether you are studying for the SATs, ACT, FE, ISC, or CFA, we go you covered with the best calculators for exams. These are models permitted to the above major tests and more.

By investing in any of these calculators, you are choosing better understanding of your studies and passing of your exams.

Best Calculator for Exams 2018


  1. ali July 18, 2018

    i was searching for the best guide to calculators this the best guide

  2. mahesh July 19, 2018

    best exam caluculator guide. thanks for sharing. i am very much impressed by your guide, can you suggest some good scientific calci for my exam under 30$

  3. digital fopper April 28, 2020

    my budget is low please suggest me under 20$

  4. vatsal August 26, 2020

    Best calculators ( as far as I know)- Casio FX82(MS or ES, although ES is better), Casio FX991(MS or ES, once again ES is better), Texas Instruments Ti36PRO(only one configuration- by default ES). ES is basically a display system that shows equations as they appear in textbooks or as you write them on paper. This is especially helpful. Advantage of Ti36pro- larger storage space to save history.


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