What Calculators Are Allowed on the SAT?

Picture of student taking test with black calculator
July 7, 2022
SAT Calculator Rules Types of SAT-Approved CalculatorsTips for Using a Calculator on the SAT SAT Calculator FAQs Final Thoughts


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/13/22

The SAT Math Test is divided into two parts, one of which you’ll be able to use a calculator to find answers. If you’re wondering what type of calculator is allowed on the SAT, read on!

Math is the longest SAT section, requiring test-takers to answer 58 questions within 80 minutes. SAT Math encompasses two sections: one where you can’t use a calculator and one where you can. You must bring an SAT-permitted calculator on test day, or you might be left high and dry with no way to do tricky equations in a timely way.

Below you’ll learn everything you need to know about what calculators are allowed on the SAT, including rules, types of calculators allowed on the SAT, tips for using one effectively, and more. Read on to ensure you’re prepared for anything the SAT Math Test calculator section throws at you.

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SAT Calculator Rules 

The fact you can use a calculator for some of the SAT Math Test brings a sigh of relief to some test-takers. However, there are many rules you must follow to ensure your calculator is permitted on SAT test day.

The first rule is that you must bring your own SAT-allowed calculator: you won’t be able to share one with your peers in surrounding seats, even if they’re nice enough to offer.

The other major rule is you can’t use your calculator to share information from the test or use it to remove test questions or answers from the room. If you try to do either of those things, you’ll immediately be dismissed and have your scores canceled: not worth it.

Most students wonder, “Can I use a calculator on the SAT anytime I want?” The answer is no: you can only use your calculator during the portion of your SAT labeled “Math Test—Calculator.”

You’re not allowed to have any access to it while you work on the Math Test’s other part or during the Reading or Writing and Language Tests. If you’re working on anything other than the calculator section of the Math Test, you must put your calculator away.

Types of SAT-Approved Calculators

Types of calculators allowed on the SAT include:

Only battery-operated calculators can be used for testing, meaning you can’t bring one that plugs into an outlet.

If you bring a large calculator with characters one inch or higher or has a raised display, you’ll be seated at the test coordinator’s discretion. Your chosen seating ensures no one can see your answers because your calculator’s features can make them visible to other test-takers.

Here is a list of all SAT-permitted calculators:

Casio Calculators

Many Casio calculators are allowed on the SAT, including:

*Note that if you choose to use the FX-CG-500, you cannot use the stylus.

Hewlett-Packard Calculators

Hewlett-Packard calculators allowed on the SAT include:

Radio Shack Calculators

Approved Radio Shack calculators include:

Sharp Calculators

Sharp calculators you’re permitted to bring on test day include:

*If you choose to use the EL-9600 series calculator, you can’t use its stylus.

Texas Instruments Calculators

Like Casio, many Texas Instruments calculators are SAT-approved:

Other Calculators

These are all the other calculators you’re allowed to use on the SAT that don’t fit in any of the previous umbrellas:

Tips For Using a Calculator on the SAT

The calculator section makes up most of the SAT Math Test, so you’ll need to have yours ready to go. Below are some tips and tricks to use your calculator to your advantage.

Don’t Use a Brand-New Calculator

If you don’t already have an SAT-approved calculator and you’ve been using your phone or laptop instead, you’ll need to get one. However, it would be best if you weren’t ripping open the packaging ten minutes before your test.

Ensure you pick out your calculator well in advance of test day. You’ll need time to familiarize yourself with using it. Some calculators are set up slightly differently than others. Remember, the best calculator allowed on the SAT is one you're confident using (and that it’s approved, of course).

Ensure Your Calculator is SAT-Ready

A nightmare scenario would be that you’ve just finished up your first calculation on the SAT Math Test, and your calculator decides it’s the perfect time to run out of juice. Don’t let it happen to you! Either change your calculator's batteries before test day or ensure you have extra batteries with you. You can even bring a second backup calculator if you want.

The testing center won’t have any additional materials for you if your calculator dies mid-test. Avoid putting yourself in a situation where you’d have to do all calculations by hand and bring backup equipment!

Just Because You’re Allowed Doesn’t Mean You Need It

Some students are tempted to use a calculator for every math question they come across, even if they really don’t need it. Don’t fall into this pattern. It can cost you precious time if you’re working through a complicated equation that all you needed to know was an equation or fundamental math rule.

Don’t Neglect Writing Down Your Work As You Go

Some students may want to start with writing down essential information on their test paper instead of immediately delving into plugging in numbers in their calculators. After doing this, write down everything you do with your calculator on your test paper.

Writing your work as you go can help you if you make a mistake while inputting, or your answer comes out not quite the way you expected.

Use It For More Time-Consuming Equations

Even if you’re familiar with solving complex equations in your head, you should still use your calculator for particular questions in this section. Not every SAT question will use complex concepts: some of them require time and patience.  

Using your calculator makes things go faster, and having excellent time management can help you achieve a high SAT score. For example, if you see a question asking you to plug in numbers in an equation, use your calculator to do just that.

Know When to Use Parentheses

Your calculator may be your best friend on the SAT Math Test, but it can’t tell what you’re thinking. Your calculator will follow PEMDAS operations. Use parentheses where you can to ensure your calculator understands what you’re looking for so you don't come up with wrong answers.

Make Good Use of the Graphing Functionality

Throughout all the courses you took to gain the background knowledge you need for the SAT and college, you probably know how to find a function’s intersections, minimums, and maximums.

However, your graphing calculator can make quick work of any problems looking for these data points. Don’t be afraid to use your calculator and speed up these problems for you.

Don’t Use It For Simple Problems, Even If You’re Tempted

Some students fall into a pattern of using their calculator at every turn on the SAT. Don’t use it for simple problems that you 100% can do in your head. Plugging in 6 x 8 probably takes more time than pulling the answer out of your memory bank.

Break Up Calculations to Minimize Mistakes

Stringing together a gigantic calculation at once can do more harm than good. If you make one mistake you don’t notice, you’ll have to do the whole thing over again. Redoing problems is frustrating and eats up your precious time.

Instead, break up problems where you can. Figure out the answer to small portions of a question before you jump into doing the entire thing.

SAT Calculator FAQs

Still have questions about calculators acceptable for the SAT? Check out these FAQs to get the answers you need.

1. What’s the Best Calculator for the SAT?

The best calculator for the SAT depends on who you ask and your personal preferences. Calculators by Casio and Texas Instruments appear to be most popular with SAT test-takers.

However, the best device is the one you’re familiar with using and one that is an SAT-allowed calculator. A new calculator with all the fixings doesn’t mean much if you’re not comfortable using it.

2. What Are the Prohibited SAT Calculators?

Calculators not allowed on the SAT include:

Even if your approved calculator has a stylus, you won’t be able to use it. Some models with touchscreens also aren’t permitted, such as the Casio ClassPad.

3. Do I Really Need to Use a Calculator on the SAT?

It's in your best interest to use a calculator during the appropriate section of your test. While you can probably get away with answering some questions without it, you most likely won’t have time to tackle all of them. Do you really want to answer 7456 x 947 on paper when you have a calculator handy? Probably not.

4. What Does the SAT Calculator Section Look Like?

The SAT Math Test’s calculator section is longer than the no-calculator portion. When you’re allowed access to your calculator, you’ll have 55 minutes to complete 38 questions. Of these questions, 30 are multiple-choice, and 8 are grid-in.

5. Why are Four-Function Calculators Not Recommended?

This may not be the best type of calculator allowed on the SAT because what it can do is limited compared to graphing or scientific calculators. Four-function calculators perform basic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

While some of them can perform calculations with percentages and square roots, they likely won’t have all the buttons you need to make sense of all the SAT’s Math Test questions. There are many calculators permitted on the SAT: graphing and scientific calculators are the better option.

6. What Happens If I Forget My Calculator?

If you forget your calculator, you’ll have to do the SAT without it. Testing centers don’t carry extra equipment for students: there are no calculators they can loan you and no extra batteries if your calculator dies mid-test.

With that in mind, you must remember your calculator on the day of your test. Our advice is to pack everything you need for the SAT the night before. Setting up your bag with your No. 2 pencils, accepted forms of ID, your calculator, and anything else you need helps ensure there’s no way you’d forget anything.

7. Are Scientific Calculators Allowed in the SAT Math Section?

Yes, all scientific calculators are permitted in SAT Math as long as you’re working in the calculator-permitted section.

Final Thoughts

As long as you follow all the SAT’s rules and bring an SAT-approved calculator, you’re ready to tackle the Math Test. Remember to get familiar with your calculator well before the test: the best calculator for the SAT is one that’s approved and one you’re comfortable with.

The tips and tricks above should help you navigate the SAT Math Test with ease. Remember to know when to use parentheses, use your graphing functionality to your advantage, and write down your work as you go in case you make a mistake. After that, you’re ready to tackle the SAT Math Test and ace it like a pro!

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