ACT Math Calculator Tips

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Unlike the SAT, you can use a calculator for every ACT math question. With that in mind, here are a few ACT math calculator tips that’ll help you out.

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ACT Calculator Tip What You Must Know
Bring An Approved Calculator
  • Your calculator can’t have a Computer Algebra System (CAS) functionality
  • You have to clear all documents on your calculator
  • You must remove all programs or apps with CAS capability
Practice With Your Calculator
  • Practice using relevant features and function buttons
  • Review your user manual
Algebra And Function Tips
  • Make sure to know where the following buttons are:
    • Square root
    • Exponent
Geometry And Trigonometry Tips
  • Make sure you have the following function buttons down:
    • Pi function
    • Sin, Cos, and Tan functions
    • Inverse Functions

Bring An Approved Calculator

The ACT is strict with what you can use.

The SAT and ACT both allow calculator usage. However, the ACT is stricter than the SAT. There are specific guidelines you have to follow.

More importantly, the list of restricted calculators is long. Make sure that your calculator is allowed on test day.

A couple of quick notes:

  • Your calculator can’t have a Computer Algebra System (CAS) functionality
  • You have to clear all documents on your calculator
  • You must remove all programs or apps with CAS capability

Check out our ACT Calculator List article for more information.

Practice With Your Calculator

Don’t bring one that you haven’t used before.

Practice using your calculator on ACT math sample questions. Remember the whole point is saving time when answering.

When you have a calculator picked out:

  • Practice using relevant features and function buttons
  • Review your user manual

The faster you accurately get answers, the quicker you finish the Math section correctly. Remember that it’s possible to solve every ACT Math question by hand.

The problem is you won’t finish everything because of the time limit. Every minute honestly counts.

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Algebra And Function Tips

Know when to use your calculator on these questions.

The good news is algebra and linear equation questions are easy to solve by hand. You don’t need to fuss over what to punch into your calculator.

Most of these questions can be worked out in your head. You’ll need a calculator for the following circumstances:

  • Solving complex function questions
  • Finding a number’s exponent value

Make sure to know where the following buttons are:

  • Square root
  • Exponent

Geometry And Trigonometry Tips

Geometry and trigonometry questions require a calculator the most.

These questions are where a calculator will save you time. For example, if you need to figure out the area or circumference of a circle fast.

Make sure you have the following function buttons down:

  • Pi function
  • Sin, Cos, and Tan functions
  • Inverse functions

Use practice test questions to work on using those calculator functions. That way, when taking the test, you’ll know exactly what to do.

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