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AP Calculus can be a challenging subject, and I believe that having the right tools is essential for success. One of the most important tools for successfully passing AP calculus is a reliable graphing calculator.
A graphing calculator can help make complex problems easier to understand and solve. However, with so many options available, choosing the best graphing calculator for AP Calculus can be overwhelming.
In this article, I will guide you through the process of selecting the right graphing calculator for your AP Calculus course based on factors such as capability, ease of use, and affordability. If you wonder between AP Calculus AB and BC, which one is harder, I wrote a whole article.
Consider the Capabilities
A graphing calculator with advanced features can help you solve complex problems quickly and efficiently. Some essential features to look for include a large screen, the ability to graph and analyze multiple functions at once, and the option to store and recall previous calculations.
Before purchasing a calculator, you need to ensure that it has the required capabilities, such as the ability to solve derivatives, integrals, and equations.
I encourage you to consider picking a graphing calculator with a Computer Algebra System (CAS) since it is capable of performing complex mathematical calculations required in calculus.
Another factor to consider is the ease of use of the graphing calculator. I found that most graphing calculators have a steep learning curve, and if you are not tech-savvy, using them can be overwhelming.
Before purchasing, ensure that the calculator you pick has a clear, readable screen, a friendly user interface, and intuitive navigation.
Even though the best graphing calculators for AP Calculus come with a hefty price tag, there are still some affordable options available in the market.
Generally, the price of graphing calculators can vary widely, with some models costing several hundred dollars. Some of my students invest in a higher-priced model for greater long-term benefit.
I suggest you consider picking a less expensive graphing calculator if you are worried about the expenses. And when it comes to affordability, the Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus and the Casio fx-9860GII are great budget graphing calculators that offer similar capabilities to the high-end models.
Compatibility with College Entrance Exams
Most colleges require students to take standardized tests, including the SAT, ACT, and AP calculus exams.
Before purchasing a calculator, I encourage you to make sure that it is compatible with the requirements of the exams you plan to take and also consider whether the calculator meets the requirements set by the College Board for the AP Calculus exam.
Some calculators are banned from being used during the exam, and using one of these calculators could result in disqualification.
More importantly, you need to consider the battery life of the graphing calculator you intend to purchase. A calculator with a longer battery life will save you the headache of having to change the batteries frequently.
I suggest you look for calculators that use rechargeable batteries or have long-lasting alkaline batteries. Typically, the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE and the Casio fx-CG50 have a battery life of up to 2 weeks, making them ideal for AP calculus students.
What Your Teacher Recommends
It is always a good idea to find out what your AP Calculus teacher recommends. Some teachers may have specific calculators that they have used in past courses and found to be the best for the subject.
Your teacher may also have a recommended list of calculators that are approved for use on the AP exam.
Some popular graphing calculator options include the TI-84 Plus CE, the Casio fx-CG50, and the HP Prime. These calculators all have advanced features that make them popular choices for AP Calculus students.
What to read next:
- Is AP Calculus Worth It? (Yes, and here’s why!)
- 9 Best YouTube Channels to Learn Calculus.
- Is AP Calculus AB Harder Than AP Statistics?
I personally believe that choosing the right graphing calculator is an essential part of success in AP Calculus.
When selecting a calculator, I encourage you to consider the features you need, compatibility with exam rules, user-friendliness, affordability, battery life of the calculator, your teacher’s recommendations, budget, and popular options.
I hope this guide has helped you in making the right choice when it comes to selecting the best graphing calculator for AP Calculus.