Best Graphing Calculator for College – 2021 Buyer’s Guide and Reviews
The Casio FX-7000G was the first graphing calculator made for commercial sale in 1985.
Since then, we have seen the rise of graphing calculators which are essential tools for the college student.
Graphing calculators are designed to help students solve complex math and scientific problems. They can plot points on a graph and display the graph for better understanding.
These devices can have a few features to advanced functions to suit each user’s level of learning. In this industry, the price reflects on the advancement expressed in a calculator.
But not every student will benefit from a high-tech calculator. That’s why you need to know what to look for before picking a graphing calculator for college.
Here’s our list of the best graphing calculators for college ’2021’. They feature wide display screens, intuitive interfaces, large storage capacity, and long battery life.
Let’s see why they made it to this list.
Best Graphing Calculators for College Comparison Chart
Here is a list of the top graphing calculators in 2021:
3.2-inch 16-bit color LCD
320 x 240 pixels
320 x 240 pixels
384 x 216 pixels
160 x 100 pixels
320 x 240 pixels
SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, and AP exams
SAT, ACT, PSAT, IB, and AP
SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, ACT, and AP tests
AP tests, PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, and Praxis exams
PSAT/NMSQT, SAT subject tests in mathematics exams, SAT, and select AP exams
5 Best Graphing Calculators for College (as of July, 2021):
Have you just joined the college? Have you already had gone beyond the basic math solving? That’s where a graphing calculator comes in.
The most powerful tool of the Texas Instruments is The TI-Nspire. Are you looking for something that has intuitive and innovative features? Or something that supports a lot of strategies for teaching? The TI-Nspire is the best deal!
Thanks to its slim design, you are able to take this calculator anywhere you need and want even if there are a lot of books in your backpack.
Moreover, this tool makes it possible to perform complicated math scientific tasks.
Why is this graphing calculator the most unique comparing with the other calculators in this budget range? Let’s have a closer look at its model features!
Computer Algebra System (CAS)
This calculator is an essential hands-on tool. It is adequate for mid school and college curriculum requirements. You can make real-world connections by importing your own digital images such that you can graph on them so that you can make comprehensible solutions.
This makes it easy for students to connect and visualize what they learn in class and what is in the real world. It has multiple graphing options where you can define equations, save, graph, and analyze at the same time.
Only this versatile model has hundreds of functions.This model differs from other models thanks to its feature of constructing and exploring geometric figures. Moreover, you can create animations, enter notes and other relevant comments.
Do you want to be more surprised? It has applications like the Vernier DataQuest, List and Spreadsheet, and applications for data and statistics
Eases the Understanding Process
Amazing but you can enter values in proper notation! Only this incredible calculator has an integrated mathematics template so you can see symbols, figures, stacked fractions, and formulas like they are on the board. As a useful advantage the TI-Nspire has a Chem Box Feature. What does it give you? Input of chemical formulas effortlessly!
Why is the the TI-Nspire is on the top above others?Because this model has user-friendly menu features a drop-down menu where you can navigate like you would on a computer. Do you want to scroll, create and save your input fast and easy? With this tool everything is possible! Do not worry about exams! It has been standardized for many test organizations including SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, and AP exams.
- 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
The Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE is designed to help students understand concepts in advanced math, science, engineering, and other high-level academics.
This particular model is a sophisticated make of the TI-83. It features more memory, more apps, improved display, and better performance.
TI-84 Plus CE has an HD screen. It’s much lighter and got a much faster processor than a basic TI-84 model. The problem with the last model was the processor wasn’t fast enough to compensate the screen so graphing was much slower. This one is at least two times faster than the last model processor.
You will be more engaged in the problems you solve thus you’ll understand better and perform well in your exams. It is approved for use in tests by many testing organizations including ACT College Entry Exams, SAT, PSAT, AP, and IB tests.
Relate Math with the World
It’s not a matter of reading for the sake of exams, with this calculator; you can deepen the connection you have with the world. You can understand math much better by importing photos from a computer to the calculator. This way, you can easily graph on those pictures for an all-around understanding of the concept.
This calculator comes with preloaded apps and images. You will have Polynomial Root Finder, Conic Graphing, and Vernier Easy Data. You can view an equation alongside its graph and coordinates with this calculator. In it, you will have all the help you can get for statistics like data analysis, graphical, and regression.
If color helps you to visualize concepts, the TI-84 Plus CE is your best friend. You’ll be able to separate equations, objects, and plots by color coding them. This way, you can distinguish between multiple plots and diagrams. It has a backlit display with high resolution to enhance readability. This makes it easy and comfortable for your eyes.
Mastering its Usage
Graphing calculators are not simple devices, and the TI-84 Plus CE is no exception. But this calculator follows in the navigation and menu structure of the TI-84 Plus series where it will be easy to learn after a little while. The MathPrint functionality allows you to view and input math symbols as they would appear in the textbook.
- 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
Unboxing Texas Instruments TI 84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator look at the video:
This is another sought graphing calculator. The Casio FX-CG10 PRIZM features a full-color LCD.
You will be able to plot different graphs and distinguish them since they will appear as they would in your textbook.
It’s a new addition to the Casio FX line, bringing you revolutionary features to make your leaning in college much more relaxed and enjoyable.
You will be working with a large keyboard which makes it easy to input variables and numbers without making mistakes. It is an intuitive way of learning to use the calculator more so if you are just using a graphing calculator for the first time. You can plot many equations on the screen since the color will allow easy distinguishing between them.
It has the classroom functionality to create a realistic method of teaching and learning. With the icon-based display system, it will only be a matter of time before you are familiar with every function of this calculator.
USB Connectivity and Large Internal Memory
Now you can share concepts with other students or connect it to a computer when you need to transfer graphs. This makes it easy to print out homework as you can display your working formula and graphs alongside your work.
It also has 16MB memory to help with storing and recall of plenty of formulas. You’ll be able to use the same formula over and over again.
Casio FX-CG10 PRIZM integrates many applications including eActivity. It allows you to input your notes alongside the graphs so that you can comprehend as you solve the equation. It also has In-Depth Conics application, pre-loaded geometry application, and a built-in spreadsheet application.
It can handle calculations in pre-algebra, Algebra I & II, Geometry, Trigonometry, AP Calculus, AP Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Business, and Finance.
The simple interface on the Casio FX-CG10 PRIZM makes it an ideal pick for a freshman who does not want to deal with a complicated calculator on your first classes.
- Easy to use, Icon-Based Menu System
- Dynamic Graphing, Dual Graph & Table Display
- Natural Input and output of Inequalitiy graphs
- Natural Display allows entry and output of mathematics just like in a textbook
- Built-in spreadsheet application
- In-Depth Conics application
- Pre-loaded Geometry application
- USB connectivity, 1.5MB of flash memory / 62KB RAM
- 140 hours of battery life (AAA x 4)
The Texas Instruments TI-89 is a versatile graphing calculator best for students who are joining college.
It does not feature a color display, but instead, it offers 3-D graphing and rotation making it easier for graphing and solving AP and advanced mathematics.
It comes with an inbuilt Computer Algebra system which helps to manipulate and explore mathematical expressions in symbolic form.
Pre-loaded Graphing Software
This calculator features sixteen preloaded software applications. This includes NoteFolio, CellSheet, and EE Pro for engineering students.
With it, you’ll be able to solve differential equations and linear and non-linear equations. For differential equations, you can choose to graph them or solve them numerically, or symbolically.
Translate and Visualize Expressions
This graphing calculator helps you to solve and visualize complex expressions. It has a pretty print feature which enhances the display into radical notation. It is what you would usually see in a textbook. It offers scatter plots, inverse matrix operations, XY-lines, and simple numeric equation solvers.
The TI-89 comes with a TI connectivity cable plus a USB cable. You can connect it to other Texas Instruments devices as well as to other computer devices. It has an incredible 2.7MB flash memory for a device that comes at such an affordable price.
You’ll like that it can store data and you can add more apps for your upcoming classes. Although it is a useful tool for college and high school students, it is not permissible for ACT or IB exams. But you can use it for AP tests, PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, and Praxis exams.
- Sixteen preloaded Graphing Calculator Software Applications (apps), including EE*Pro®, CellSheet™ and NoteFolio™
- Calculate with precision
- Display expressions in proper notation
- Simplify collection and analysis of real-world data
- Built-in USB port with cable
Handheld calculating has come a long way, and the HP Prime is here to bring all that into perspective.
It is a graphing calculator that features a flat design in brushed metal. It is such a small package that performs even better.
You will enjoy working with a 3.5-inch color LCD screen with a familiar HP keypad for a fulfilling calculating experience.
You can move graphs by sliding your finger which saves you from the tedious process of navigating through keys to achieve a precise overlay.
You can quickly switch from graphical, symbolic, and numeric table views by navigating on the keys. It provides both the textbook input mode and HP Typical RPN input mode on the Home screen. This means you can round off numbers, probability matrices, and gain access to complex numbers, trigonometric functions, and hyperbolic functions.
The CAS mode allows symbolic input of all arithmetic operations. The CAS menu has sections for algebra, analysis, number theory, polynomials, graphing, solving, and converting.
IB and College Board Approved
This is a time-saving calculator that is acceptable by many test organizations like; PSAT/NMSQT, SAT subject tests in mathematics exams, SAT, and select AP exams. It is also acceptable for use on IB Diploma programmable exams.
Creates an Exciting Learning Process
The HP Prime allows visualizing of experiments since you can stream data live using the HP Streamstart 410. It is a companion device which you can bring along to capture sound, motion, light, temperature, etc.
This makes your calculator especially useful in pre-calculus, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, earth science, and many others.
This product helps students to explore math concepts with CAS, Dynamic Geometry, Spreadsheet, and Advanced Graphing Applications. It has compatible devices and apps like the HP Prime Mobile App 2 which together offer a wholesome learning experience.
- A feature-rich calculating experience with familiar HP keypad and a large 3.5-inch diagonal, multi-touch display
- Select AP® ExamsExplore math concepts with Dynamic Geometry, CAS, Advanced Graphing, and spreadsheet applications
- Easily switch between symbolic, graphical, and numerical table views with dedicated buttons
- Add an image as a background and sketch and manipulate a function with your finger to create a blended learning environment
- Support blended learning and 1:1 device environments with the optional HP Prime Mobile App2, which has all the same features as the calculator so students can easily switch between the calculator and the Windows®-, iOS-, and Android®-compatible app
- Create a STEM ecosystem with the HP Prime Graphing Calculator, HP Prime Wireless Kit, and HP Connectivity Kit
- Connect to calculators to poll students, send data, and project screens
Examples of using
Graphing calculator to find extrema
For example, let’s say we want to determinate the relative extrema of next function:
- Input the function into the graphic calculator
- Press Zoom 6 to build a graph
- This looks like a very good window to calculate the relative extrema. If we didn’t have a good view of the graph here we’d had to adjust the window by pressing “Window” button. On this graph, we see a high point -- relative maximum and low point -- relative minimum. To calculate coordinates of this points press “2nd” button which brings up the calculation menu.
- We have to decide whether we want to find a minimum or maximum first. Let’s find the minimum first by choose option 3.
- Now it’s going to ask us a series of questions. The first one is “What is left bound?”. So if we’re trying to find the minimum we need to locate the left side of minimum point and press enter.
- Now it’s ask about right bound, so we need to move the cursor to the right of the relative minimum and press enter again.
- Now we see the coordinates of this point. (2, -4) record this.
- Repeat steps 3-7 to find the relative maximum.
- Relative maximum is (-2, 4)
- That’s it.
Buyers’ Guide and FAQ
If you are moving towards advanced math solving, you will need a calculator that is up to the task. A graphing calculator serves as the best choice for any student who is joining college and wishes to own a calculator for math, science, engineering, business, and finance, etc.
The calculator will also be a gadget you use when sitting important exams like the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, AP tests, and IB exams.
What is CAS?
CAS — means computer algebra system. It means calculators are capable of producing symbolic results.
These calculators can manipulate algebraic expressions, performing operations such as factor, expand, and simplify. In addition, they can give answers in exact form without numerical approximations. (source)
Is graphing calculator allowed on the SAT?
If your question is about to use the graphing calculator on the SAT. The answer is YES, regarding the type of calculator you bring, SAT has some features stipulated on the calculator you bring.
Your Calculator will be banned if:
- It can communicate wirelessly like an iPod Touch, a phone, or infrared port
- It is a stylus-based device like the Casio Touch
- It has a QWERTY Keyboard like that on the computer
- It has a tape printout feature, and it produces a sound as you use it
- If it has to be plugged into an electric socket
Can you use graphing calculator on ACT?
On the ACT some of graphing calculators are allowed and some are banned. You can use any graphing calculator without Computer Algebra System functionality.
Texas Instruments: TI-Nspire (non-CAS), TI-83, TI-83 Plus, TI-84, TI-84 Plus, TI-84 Plus CE
Sharp: EL 9600
Texas Instruments: all models that begins with TI-89 and Ti-92, Ti-Nspire CAS (none-CAS version is allowed)
HP: Prime, 48GII, all models that begins with 40G, 49G and 50G
Casio: FX-CP400, Classpad 300 and 330, Algebra fx 2.0, all models that begins with CFX-9970G
Can you use a graphing calculator on PSAT/NMSQT?
Here is the list of allowed graphics calculators on PSAT/NMSQT:
Casio: 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‐9970 series, FX 1.0 series, Algebra FX 2.0 series, FX‐CG‐10 (PRIZM), FX‐CG‐20
HP: HP‐9G, HP‐28 series, HP‐38G, HP‐39 series, HP‐40 series, HP‐48 series, HP‐49 series, HP‐50 series, HP Prime
Radio Shack: EC‐4033, EC‐4034, EC‐4037
Sharp: EL‐5200, EL‐9200 series, EL‐9300 series, EL‐9600 series**, EL‐9900 series
Other: Datexx DS‐883, Micronta, Smart²
Texas Instruments: TI‐83, TI‐80, TI‐81, TI‐82, TI‐83, TI‐83 Plus, TI‐83 Plus Silver, TI‐84 Plus, TI‐84 Plus CE, TI‐84 Plus Silver
TI‐84 Plus C Silver, TI‐85, TI‐86, TI‐89, TI‐89 Titanium, TI‐Nspire, TI‐Nspire CX, TI‐Nspire CM‐C, TI Nspire CAS, TI‐Nspire CX CAS, TI‐Nspire CM‐C CAS, TI‐Nspire CX‐C CAS
Why use a Graphing Calculators (Advantages)
Speedy Math Solving. When you master a skill, it is easier to compute, create, and graph a table of values quickly. They allow students to understand complex mathematical problems by having an easy method of calculating and connecting the problems with real-life activities.
Better Understanding of Concepts. For many students, achieving high-tech skills is a must if you want to gain employment in a demanding company. A graphing calculator helps to lay the foundation for solving problems in a much more realistic way.
Approved by Numerous Educators. These calculators are built with the support of many educators all over the world. They are therefore approved as ideal in achieving the education level and meeting curriculum requirements in schools. That’s why they are permissible for sitting various exams.
Disadvantages of a Graphing Calculator
It may have a Steep Learning Curve. Graphing calculators can be complicated to use for many students in mid school and the first college year. It can take time before you finally understand the menu and user interface when trying to solve problems so you may lag behind if you are using a very advanced graphing calculator.
What does graphing calculator do? Various Uses of it:
For Students. The graphing calculator is an influential piece of technology. For many students, it is vital to reduce the complexity of a math or science problem when solving it to enhance understanding of a concept.
For Algebra. If you are trying to multiply or factor algebraic expressions, a graphing calculator will help you to use several approaches to solve that problem.
For example: Calculate y= 2x+1
The algebra calculator will help you graph the equation as:
How to find the minimum and maximum values using the TI-84 Plus CE Graphic Calculator, look at the video:
For Trigonometry. Make short use of a graphing calculator to solve complex trigonometric equations.
For example, solve Cos 2x=2Cos x.
You’ll just need to graph the two functions as y1=Cos 2x and y2=2Cos x.
y=Cos 2x and y= 2Cos x where the intersections will help you solve for x.
For Physics. Analyzing data in Physics experiments is also easy with a graphing calculator. It is used to calculate the maximum value of a parabola in an investigation like the bouncing ball shown in this graph.
Placement Tests. First-time users of the graphing calculator are advised to buy a calculator with an exact/appropriate mode. This gives you accurate answers instead of an estimate of the solution like in decimals.
Tax Refund Students
If you are learning how to prepare tax returns, the graphing calculator provides modes for inputting figures and numbers for tax computation, depreciation methods, calculating bad debts, and many other calculations surrounding taxes.
You can use your graphing calculator to determine a teacher’s salary and how much goes into federal payments, Medicare, Taxes, and social security. Teachers can also calculate how students spend their hours and present the information in a graph to assist students to manage their time properly.
As an investor, you can use a graphing calculator to solve a certain parameter of a particular investment plan. You can calculate the return rate needed to reach a certain amount like your kid’s college fund. These calculators can have a return rate tab to help with the calculation of CDs, Bonds, Stocks, and many others.
Which Calculators are not accepted in College?
Calculators that are not accepted in College:
- Every college has a calculator policy, but most rules apply across many colleges.
- Calculators that are not battery-operated
- Cell phones, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and computer calculators
- Calculators with a computer-like keypad or use a stylus for input
- Calculators that have a paper print or make noise during use
- Some touchscreen calculators are also not acceptable
Features to Expect in a Graphing Calculator
Table and Points. They allow you to view tables and points so that you can trace a graph when solving a problem
Factorial, piecewise Functions, and Trigonometric Functions. These are calculators that support operations like sin (x), cos (x), tan (x), etc. and factorial solving. It is usually the exclamation mark (!) which represents a much more complicated math solving identity.
Graphing calculators will allow you to explore piecewise functions such as:
Coordinates, Imaginary numbers, Matrix. Arriving at an answer can be in many ways when using a graphing calculator. They offer methods of solving equations using coordinate points by giving you a plane with the x and y-axis. A point in a complex plane is in the form (a+bi) where a represents real numbers and b the complex part of the equation.
You can then follow through by plotting real numbers on the x-axis, and imaginary numbers on the y-axis like you would plot (x,y). Now, you will have the coordinate points to solve that particular equation.
The matrix function allows input of matrices when solving problems involving a system of equations.
Graphing Calculator vs. Phone App
Graphing calculators are fully developed, and you can use them in classes and exam rooms while phone calculators are mostly in the development stage; so they are not allowed in exams.
Having a graphing a calculator as an app can be good if you can stay away from the need to text, play games, and more. But we are far from seeing these calculators allowed in the classroom setting.
Finding the right calculator for college depends on the features you need for that specific model. There are many capabilities on a graphing calculator from those that use Computer Algebra Systems (CAS) to non-CAS versions which help in solving basic math problems.
We hope we have covered the best calculators for college students. These are models that solve scientific and mathematical problems both in the classroom and exam room. The advanced features will help you understand problems so that you can perform better and advance your career.
We believe you’ll get the most out of these graphing calculators.