Graphing Calculator Guide For Students (13 Quick Answers!)

This is the most comprehensive graphing calculator guide for college students who are interested in learning about everything graphing calculator related.

In this new guide, you’ll learn everything ranging from what a graphing calculator is to the best graphing calculator to use for college students.

(Including lots of answered questions that have never been shared on any website before.)

Let’s dive right in:

1. What is a Graphing Calculator?

A graphing calculator is a device capable of calculating complex mathematical problems which include but are not limited to; parabolas, calculus, vectors, and geometric equations.

They are essentially scientific calculators, but come with advanced features, larger screens to show data, and are more expensive than a regular scientific calculator.

2. Who Uses a Graphing Calculator?

Graphing calculators are used by college students and professionals in STEM fields that involve calculating complex problems like engineering, programming, finance, and statistics, etc.

Although most colleges don’t allow their students to use them in class, they can be used by students taking SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, ACT, or AP exams and students studying for their masters.

3. Do I Need a Graphing Calculator For College?

Graphing calculators are not meant for scientific research only so yes, you will most likely be needing one as a college student.

Although having a graphic calculator won’t directly increase your speed and accuracy in solving complex mathematical problems, it is a very useful device that can perform a variety of calculating tasks for you easily.

4. Are Graphing Calculators Allowed in College?

Using a graphic calculator in college largely depends on your institution.

While most colleges will allow the use of a graphing calculator for courses like statistics and physics, they may not be allowed in math classes and examinations as it can be used to cheat rather than solve the complex problems it was originally designed for.

5. Is It Worth It To Buy A Graphing Calculator in High School?

Buying a graphing calculator in high school is worth it, especially for students that study courses involving lots of calculation. 

Also, before entering college, you will need a graphing calculator for your SAT exams, so it is a smart option to get a graphing calculator early and practice with it.

6. What Grade Level Maths Do You Need A Graphing Calculator For?

There are no specific level maths that a graphing calculator is used for.

This implies that a graphing calculator can be used for all levels of maths provided your college professor allows it.

7. What Are The Best Graphing Calculators For College Students?

While there are numerous graphing calculator brands with different purposes and functions, you want to be able to make sure you are going for a graphing calculator that can carry out all your needs in college, as well as is also acceptable by your lecturers.

Here are 5 of the best graphing calculators you can get as a college student:

1. Ti-84 Plus CE

Best graphing calculator for college students

The Ti-84 Plus CE has every functionality of a graphing calculator, a modern back-lit color, and comes preloaded with several useful math applications to aid student’s learning experience.


  • Display: High resolution backlit color
  • Approved exams: PSAT, SAT, ACT, NMBST, AP, IB
  • Mathprint feature 
  • File transfer feature


  • Lightweight
  • 7 different graph style
  • Back-lit screen present
  • Thin form factor present


  • Quite expensive
  • Longer charging time

2. Casio FX-9750GII

Best budget pocket calculator

This graphing calculator comes with all the necessary functionality of a graphing calculator and can handle any college test ranging from calculus, to finance, to statistics without any glitches.


  • Display: Monochrome LCD
  • Approved exams: PSAT, SAT, NMBST, ACT. AP, IB
  • 21 character x 8-lines display


  • Very affordable
  • Portable size
  • User-friendly
  • Fast and efficient


  • No built-in battery available
  • Few programs available
  • Hard to figure out how to use certain functions 

3. Ti-83 Plus

Best simple graphing calculator

The Ti-83 Plus is a simple old-school calculator that offers a wide range of functions. From algebra to geometry to trigonometry classes, the

Its calculator is a superb machine that does its job right.


  • Display: Monochrome LCD
  • Approved exams: PSAT, SAT, ACT, NMBST, AP, IB
  • 16 characters x 8-line display


  • Perfect for precalculus work
  • Split Screen function available
  • Long lasting battery life
  • Calculator system upgradeable


  • Limited display 
  • Bulky to use
  • Lacks more advanced function of more recent models

4. Casio FX-CG10 PRIZM Color

Best display calculator 

The Casio FX-CG10 PRIZM Color comes with a high-resolution LCD display with more than 65,000 colors and is useful for calculating standard maths in college. 


  • Display: Full color LCD display 
  • Approved exams: PSAT, SAT, NMSQT, ACT, AP
  • Casio “picture plot” technology feature 
  • PC-linking port 


  • Creates 3D graphing designs
  • Easy to use menu interface 
  • Different graphing colors
  • Allows you to input your own note and solve equations at the same time 


  • Graphing lag
  • Display quality appear a bit grainy

5. HP Prime Graphing Calculator

Best features for college calculator 

Whether you’re dealing with quantum mechanics or linear algebra in college, the HP Prime graphing calculator is sufficient for handling all college students’ needs.


  • Display: Full color LCD display 
  • Approved exams: PSAT, SAT, NMSQT, AP
  • Touchscreen feature
  • HP PPL Language present 


  • HP PPL allows you to create your own game with your calculator 
  • Sleek looking body design
  • Back-lit color screen


  • Only one programming language present
  • No 3D graphing 
  • Minor bugs present 

8. How Can You Save Money on Graphing Calculators?

As a college student, graphing calculators are an indispensable tool, however the price is rather costly. 

There are however some tips to help you save money and reduce cost when planning to get a graphing calculator in college. 

Here are some tips to help save money while buying a graphing calculator in college:

  • Buy a used one
  • Rent a graphing calculator from your local store or on lending platforms like Graphtor
  • Train yourself to handle calculations without a graphing calculator
  • Borrow your roommate’s calculator whenever you need it 
  • Use calculator apps on your phone 
  • Ask your seniors for their old graphing calculators

9. Do You Need A Graphing Calculator For Algebra in College?

No, you do not need a graphing calculator to handle algebra in college. 

However, having one for Algebra II is important as you can use it to improve your understanding of the topic tremendously and also cross-check linear equations easily. 

10. Do You Need A Graphing Calculator For Statistics in College?

Yes, a graphing calculator is an important tool to have for Statistics. 

Here’s why you need a graphing calculator for college:

Graphing calculators come with statistical software like R which makes solving statistical problems faster. Although, you will need to check with the exam board if it’s usable in exam halls.

11. Do You Need A Graphing Calculator For Calculus in College?

Yes, a graphing calculator is a must-have device for calculus. To improve your understanding, you should have one to visualize graphical solutions

However, you should check with your lecturer and school exam board if a graphing calculator is allowed during class lectures and in exams as they aren’t allowed in all institutions yet.

12. Do You Need A Graphing Calculator For SAT?

No, a graphing calculator is not absolutely necessary for the SAT college entrance examination.

However, having a graphing calculator before taking the SAT mathematics examination is recommended as it’ll help improve accuracy and speed in calculating complex problems. 

13. Is A TI-84 Graphing Calculator Good For College?

The TI-84 graphing calculator by Texas Instrument is an excellent device to have in college. 

It is a valuable investment for college students as it helps to perform a range of functions from solving basic algebra to calculus, etc., and can be used in subjects like biology and chemistry classes as well in college.