Monday, August 21, 2006

Choosing the right calculator for the SAT’s (and school)

With so many different calculator options out there, choosing the right one for the SAT’s can seem like a daunting task. Texas Instruments isn’t the only calculator maker out there, but they are by far the most popular, so I would suggest purchasing one of their calculators. The main calculators they offer are the Ti-83 plus, Ti-84 plus, Ti-84 plus silver edition, and the Ti-89 titanium edition. All of their other calculators are being phased out, so I would recommend going with one of these options. To further narrow the options down, you can group the 83 and 84 calculators together (they are 100% compatible keystroke for keystroke), leaving you with the 83/84 family and the 89 titanium.

Now that we have narrowed our calculator choices down to the Ti-83/84 series and Ti-89 series, the first thing that should be noted is that the Ti-89 series is more advanced than the 83/84 series. This does not necessarily mean it is better, however, as the 89 is more expensive and also more difficult to learn and use. The added capability of the 89 allows it to use variables and solve problems that the 83/84 calculators simply cannot. The Ti-89 could potentially help you solve more SAT problems than the Ti-83/84 series would, however you must take into account the time you might save with an easier to use calculator. The way I tell people to decide is first by asking what version your teacher will be using – this is usually in the 83/84 series, and if you are not so great with computers/technology I’d say stick with one of those. If you are a little daring, however, and pick up things quickly when it comes to technology, I’d recommend the Ti-89. A word of caution: remember that because the Ti-89 is more complex you will want to be very familiar with it before the SAT test so that you don’t waste any time figuring out your calculator during the SAT.

A quick sum up:

Go with the Ti-89 if you

  • Are a fast learner when it comes to technology and ready to spend a little more time figuring out your calculator
  • Want a more powerful calculator that could potentially help solve more SAT problems

Go with the Ti-83/84 series calculator if you

  • Are not great with technology (not “tech savvy”)
  • Want the most common calculator on the market (easier to troubleshoot problems)
  • Don’t have the time or patience to learn how to use a new calculator

Next time I’ll examine the differences between the 83 plus, 84 plus, and 84 plus silver edition models, and remember you can find SAT programs at for each of these calculators which are used during the SAT to help increase your math and verbal scores.


At 9:54 PM, Anonymous said...

You cant use the TI-89 on the SAT.


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