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SAT and ACT Calculators: TI-89 Plus

By Kathleen Cantor, 30 Jul 2021

Should you get a graphing calculator for the SATs? Absolutely. Graphing calculators are a must-have for most math classes and tests, including the SATs and ACTs.  The TI-89 Plus is especially tailored towards the advanced mathematical problems found in trigonometry and calculus.

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How Are SAT-Approved Calculators Different?

While there are many products to choose from on exam day, calculators allowed during the SATs or ACTs have certain requirements. Any that have typewriter-like keyboards (QWERTY), require electricity, make sounds, or use paper isn't permitted. Additionally, devices with embedded calculator functions such as cell phones, PDAs, organizers, laptops, or handheld computers aren't allowed.

And even though test centers allow students to take advanced calculators into exam halls, they banned devices that had QWERTY keyboards, simply because they fit into the traditional definition of a "computer." For example, the TI-92 wasn't allowed on most standardized tests mostly because of its QWERTY keyboard. Its larger and bulky size was also inconvenient compared to other graphing calculators.

What Exam Calculators Are Out There?

The best calculator to use on the SAT test is the one you're most familiar with. Of course, it should also be one that's officially approved by the testing center as well. Make sure you learn all of your graphing calculator's functions in advance as this will help you out a great deal. If asked, most math instructors would highly recommend that you work with a graphing calculator on the SATs.

When used correctly, it can help you solve problems faster while boosting your confidence in your answers. Among the best SAT-approved calculators are the Texas Instruments TI-89 Plus Graphing Calculator, Casio fx-115ES PLUS Scientific Calculator, Texas Instruments TI-34 MultiView Scientific Calculator, Casio fx-9750GII Graphing Calculator, and Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator.

Comparing Features

When you're staring at that scantron sheet, you don't want to be wondering if your calculator was the best choice. In general, the TI-89 is a resourceful graphing calculator, featuring advanced functionality and 3D graphing. It helps make advanced mathematics and engineering courses easier. It's also one of the few calculators on the market that has a built-in Computer Algebra System (CAS), which you can use to manipulate mathematical expressions in symbolic form.

TI-89 vs. TI-83

The TI-83 Plus is an easy-to-use graphing calculator for math and science that lets you both graph and compare functions. You can also complete data plotting and analysis. Its ROM memory allows for updates and adding software applications or apps.

On the other hand, the TI-89 PlusTitanium lets you perform basic math, algebra, calculus, graphs, matrices, and statistical functions and create animations, graphing 3-D rotations, and plotting contours. If you use regularly the calculator in your calculus course, the four AAA batteries will last you for about a year and the backup battery will last anywhere from 2 to 5 years.

TI-89 vs. TI-84

The TI-84 Plus graphing calculator comes preloaded with lots of applications, including components, which invite students to explore interactive geometry, inequality graphing, and real-world data collection and analysis.

One of the main differences between TI-84 and TI-89 is that TI-89 can solve more equations and is much more effective. As we mentioned above, the TI-89 stands out with its Computer Algebra System (CAS) that allows the calculator to factor polynomials, take derivatives, solve integrals, and so much more.

If your tech and math skills are on the next level, you can program your TI-89 directly in a language called TI-BASIC 89. This is TI's derivative of BASIC for calculators. Here, you can develop more complicated programs, translate them into machine language, and copy them to your calculator. You can even link your calculator using TI Connect software, which you can find online easily.

Getting Your Calculator Ready for the SAT/ACT Exam

Review your TI manual to learn how to adjust the settings on your graphing calculator. In general, Texas Instruments graphing calculators and software typically use an easy-to-learn programming language called Python. You can optimize your TI graphing calculator to work through mathematical examples faster, verify answers, and model difficult problems.

Just like any software, you'll want to make sure it's updated to the latest version. Here's how to update a TI-89 and TI-89 Titanium calculator:

  1. Turn on your calculator.
  2. Press F1 from the home screen of the calculator. Scroll to About.
  3. Press Enter.
  4. Check for the latest OS version number

If you need to reset your calculator, remove one of the alkaline batteries from the unit and while holding the [(-)] key simultaneously with the [)] key, push the battery back into the unit.

Using the TI-89 Plus After the Test

Texas Instruments gives you the option to install an application, making your TI-89 function as a financial calculator. This could come in handy in economics or in future college courses. There are a number of ways graphic calculators can benefit your math class experience. And once you're done studying for the SATs and ACTs, check out all of the fun and creative ways your calculator can help you become a math master.

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