Technology in classrooms may be evolving, but one item that has remained a constant is the need for the best scientific calculators. Approved for use in most major tests, including SATs, ACTs, AP exams and more, 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 give fast access to several commonly used mathematical functions, like Pi.
While technological advancements mean that computing complicated math equations is easier than ever thanks to smartphones, tablets and laptops, it’s still important that students understand the computations and can explain their formulas on their own without the help of the latest technology. Thanks to scientific calculators, students can actually learn not only the answer but also the steps to get to the answer, knowledge they must be able to display during tests and exams as well as later in their careers.
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 seven scientific calculators that fit the bill.
1. Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro
The only scientific calculator you’ll need, the Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro can take students from junior high algebra to college-level calculus. The Texas Instrument features TI-36X Pro is a great alternative when in classes, courses and testing situations that do not permit graphing calculators. Great for junior high, high school and college, the TI-36X Pro uses MathPrint to show math expressions, including symbols and stacked expressions, as they appear in textbooks, acting as an excellent teaching aid.
Pros: Using MultiView, students can display multiple calculations on the screen at the same time.
Cons: If graphing functions are required, another option would be better.
2. HP 35s Scientific Calculator
With over 800 memory registers and 100 built-in functions, the HP 35s Scientific Calculator is ideal for high school and college students, as well as professionals working in medicine, engineering, surveying and various scientific fields. The HP features 30 KB of power and has an adjustable contrast with two lines and 14 characters. It can be used for specific SAT, ACT, PSAT and PLAN exams.
Pros: The HP 35s Scientific Calculator is the only scientific calculator on the market to offer users the ability to switch between RPN and algebraic entry-system logic.
Cons: The battery life on the HP is less than one year.
3. Casio fx-115ES PLUS
Casio’s most advanced scientific calculator, the Casio fx-115ES PLUS uses a natural textbook display that shows functions, fractions and equations as they appear in textbooks, making it a great visual learning tool for students in high school and college. The Casio fx-115ES PLUS is designed for general math, trigonometry, algebra, statistics, calculus, engineering and physics at both the high school and college level.
Pros: Approved for most major exams, including the SATs, ACTs, AP tests, and PSAT/NMSQT, the Casio has a table function, matrix and vector calculations, 40 metric conversions, and a multi-replay function that lets you go back through your steps to check your work.
Cons: The Casio buttons can feel flimsy.
4. Helect 2-Line Engineering Scientific Calculator
For professional and academic use, we recommend the Helect 2-Line Engineering Scientific Calculator. The 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 on how to use the two-line digital display.
Pros: The Helect is designed with an ergonomic grip and comfortable to use, responsive buttons that have a smart layout.
Cons: The screen can be difficult to read from several angles.
5. Sharp EL-501XBGR Scientific Calculator
The 10 digit LCD display screen and ergonomic design make the calculator easy to use. The Sharp comes with 131 functions already preset and one variable statistic. The lightweight and durable calculator is designed for academic and personal use.
Pros: The Sharp comes with a protective cover that has basic instructions printed on the inside for easy reference.
Cons: The Sharp is limited in its abilities and if students plan on taking more advanced classes, they will need to purchase an additional calculator.
6. CATIGA Scientific Graphic Calculator
For a scientific calculator that also has a graphing function, we recommend the versatile and affordable CATIGA Scientific Graphic Calculator. Designed for use in Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, AP Calculus, AP Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Finance, the CATIGA has a programmable system that works for students in both beginner and advanced courses. Promoting student learning instead of simply plugging in numbers, the CATIGA’s graphing function allows users to see a visual of their work. The CATIGA comes with nine variable memories, 40 Scientific Constants and 40 Metric Conversions, as well as over 280 functions.
Pros: The CATIGA is available in several colors and measures 7-inches by 3.3-inches and has the largest screen on our list.
Cons: The batteries included with the CATIGA are not the most reliable.
7. Victor 940 Advanced Scientific Calculator
For a calculator that won’t quit in the middle of your big test, we recommend the Victor 940 Advanced Scientific Calculator. The Victor is designed for students in General Math, Algebra 1 and 2, Science, Statistics, Trigonometry, and Geometry and comes with 240 functions, including quadratic and cubic equations. The Victor stands out from the crowd thanks to its clean white design and protective case. The 10-digit, two-line digital display provides enough room for students to be able to see their work.
Pros: The Victor has a dual-power design including built-in batteries and a solar panel for extended life.
Cons: The protective case can be difficult to remove and the Victor comes with limited instructions.