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The Best Scientific Calculators for Your Back-To-School Shopping Needs

Technology in classrooms may be evolving, but one item that has remained a constant is the need for one of the best scientific calculators. Scientific calculators continue to not only be a valuable aid in completing complex math equations but also in providing an additional teaching tool in the classroom and at home.

Scientific calculators have several features, including helping students and professionals do floating-point arithmetic, logarithmic functions, exponential functions, trigonometric functions and giving fast access to several commonly used mathematical functions, like Pi.

Scientific calculators are often grouped with graphing calculators, but we’ve focused specifically on non-graphing scientific calculators. For the best graphing calculators, we recommend checking out Target’s back-to-school sale, which includes super-affordable options from Casio and Texas Instruments.

  

What To Consider Before Buying a Scientific Calculator

When shopping for calculators, you’ll likely be deciding between scientific and graphing calculators, the latter of which is capable of performing far more functions. So you might be wondering why you should buy a scientific calculator when a graphing calculator can do more. There are several key reasons. Scientific calculators are less expensive, so if you don’t need all the functions of a graphing calculator,  you might opt to save money by sticking with a scientific calculator. Many simple and advanced problems can be solved with just a scientific calculator.

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There are also some settings where a scientific calculator would be the only option. For example, you might not be permitted to use a graphing calculator during certain school, college or professional exams and tests. The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) engineering exam permits several scientific calculators, but no graphing calculators. There are other high school tests and college exams where this may be the case as well.

How We Chose the Best Scientific Calculators

When selecting the best scientific calculators, we started with calculators that would be approved for test-taking. These include models from Casio and Texas Instruments. HP’s HP 33s and HP 35s calculators are approved, but they’re currently scarce, prompting rumors that they’ve been discontinued, and you can currently find them on places like Amazon and eBay for close to $200. Fortunately, there are other models you can pick up that are approved for NCEES tests, such as the TI-36x and Casio fx-115 and fx-991 calculators that can be had for far less than that.

Of course, not everyone who is in the market for a calculator is looking to be an engineer or surveyor. That’s why we also picked out more basic, affordable models for everyday calculations. Whether you’re filing your taxes or you need a calculator for school, a scientific calculator is a handy thing to have (and won’t be as distracting as your phone’s calculator). Other handy features we looked out for were solar cells, which make it easier to keep your calculator running without worrying about backup batteries.

From junior high to college students, as well as professionals in the medical and surveying field, finding the right scientific calculator suited to your needs can make a huge difference in one’s success. Here are the best scientific calculators that fit the bill.

  

1. Texas Instruments TI-36X

BEST OVERALL 

Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro is one of the most trusted and widely used calculators for students. It’s approved for exams by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, making it a great test-taking calculator where a graphing calculator might not be accepted. The calculator has a four-line display for easy legibility. This calculator also has a solar cell for a longer-lasting battery.

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2. Casio FX-991EX Engineering/Scientific Calculator

SPREADSHEET DISPLAY

The FX-991EX is a great option if you’re looking for a slightly more advanced Casio calculator. It has a natural textbook display for easy legibility and a bigger memory with more functions. The display can show spreadsheets and matrix calculations, and it can even generate a QR code to modify your calculation from your phone. This calculator also has a solar-powered panel.

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3. Casio fx-115ESPLUS2 2nd Edition Scientific Calculator

TEXTBOOK DISPLAY

This is the second edition of Casio’s advanced scientific calculator with a price and functionality that’s sure to satisfy students and professionals alike. The 16-digit four-line display makes it easy to see your calculations in full, the same way they would appear on paper. There are 280 different functions. The calculator has a sturdy build and a solar panel for increased battery longevity.

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4. Texas Instruments TI-30XIIS Scientific Calculator

TWO-LINE DISPLAY 

The TI 30X series is on the approved list by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, and it’s an affordable calculator with a simple two-line display showing the entry and result at the same time, making it easier to double-check for errors or mistyped equations. The solar and battery power ensures you won’t run out of juice mid-exam.

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5. Casio FX-260 Solar II

MOST PORTABLE

If you’re looking for a basic and intuitive calculator, the Casio FX-260 is a great option to get. It’s an affordable and compact option with a single-line display, making it a good option if you prefer a simpler display. This calculator is also solar-powered and it comes with a sliding case to protect it.

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6. Sharp Calculators EL-W535TGBBL

BEST DESIGN

Sharp has a solid selection of scientific calculators, such as this 16 digit option that’s ideal for classes or personal use. The “write view” display shows calculations as they would appear written down, making for easier legibility. It’s battery and solar powered for reliable power, no matter what, and you can set 8 temporary and 3 definable memory functions. The back of the calculator case has a textured design for easy carrying.

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7. Helect 2-Line Engineering Scientific Calculator

ALSO GREAT

This calculator comes with 240 scientific functions and can be used for one- and two-variable statistical calculations. Degrees, radians and grads make up the three angle modes that are possible with the Helect, which can display functions in scientific/engineering notation mode. A hard, sliding case keeps the Helect protected when not in use and the inside of the case provides examples of how to use the two-line digital display.

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