TI-83 Plus: The Math Exam Calculator
By Kathleen Cantor, 31 Jul 2021
The TI-83 series has been around for over 20 years, with a "silver" reissue about a decade ago. Though most technology this old is usually useless by today's standards, the TI-83—specifically the TI-83 Plus—has stayed relevant. In fact, it is one of Texas Instrument's best-selling graphing calculators.
Part of its popularity is its ability to carry students through their exams. But is it a strong enough model to earn the title of "The Math Exam Calculator?" It takes a lot of guts to use "the" to describe yourself.
We've done all the research on the TI-83 Plus to find out.
Key Features of TI-83 Plus
Okay, math students. Do you need a calculator that can get you through more than a handful of math classes? You got it. You can use the TI-83 for:
- Probability Distributions
- Financial Applications
- Time-Value-of-Money Cash Flow
- Amortization (interest)
- Solving Equations
The TI-83 Plus can switch from Radian to degree mode, and handle both real and imaginary numbers. It's perfect for graphing and comparing math and science functions and works with any data plotting and analysis you might do in class.
If you need to use it in a language besides English, you can program it for nine different languages.
You can download and install various apps on the TI-83 Plus. These apps enable it to do financial work and analyze data and simulate dice, coins, and equations.
One app you might find particularly helpful is the SciTools app. The app comes with a unit converter and vector calculator.
Can I Use It For Exams?
Fortunately, you can use the TI-83 for college and high school math exams. It's even approved for SATs and ACTs.
How Does it Compare to Other TI Calculators?
The TI-83 Plus is an updated version of the TI-83. The main differences are more memory and some nice aesthetic changes. If you were looking for more features, however, you may want to pick up the 84 or 84 SE. Still, the TI-83 Plus is a perfect choice if you need a powerful graphing and programming calculator.
TI-83 Plus Usability
This calculator has one of the most user-friendly menus we’ve seen. It is simple and intuitive—which is also why it's so great for use on exams. You won't have to fumble around trying to remember convoluted instructions. And if you do need help in class—before the exam, of course—there should be plenty of people who know how to work it. It's also a generally popular model so there are several videos online that can teach you how to set it up and use it.
Pros & Cons
Before you commit to the TI-83 Plus, let's hype it up a bit more—and take it down a couple of notches. Though the calculator is mostly good, there are a few downsides.
- You can print out and transfer documents.
- Great for beginners and intermediate users.
- Comes with a handy guidebook
- Widely used
- You can download apps
- Long battery life
Perhaps the greatest advantage to using the TI-83 Plus is that so many people globally recognize and use the brand. Texas Instruments just recently introduced the calculator in the UK. It also has so many great uses in math. You can use it to plot graphs, calculate functions, compare data sets, perform various logarithmic equations, and so much more. You can even work in linear algebra and statistics—like averages and standard deviations. It also solves complex high-level integrals and works with asymptotes.
- Dead pixels on the display
- There is a significant learning curve, despite user-friendliness
- Only displays the final answer to integrals and derivatives, not steps.
- No CAS
- No direct calculator-to-computer connection port
Though it seems that the TI-83 Plus isn't that durable, this should only be an issue if you purchase a used one.
When it comes to getting the job done, the TI-83 Plus is a great mid-level graphic calculator. Prices range around $60-$90, with some sites even listing it above $100. We'd say that the calculator could take you through high school and some of your early college classes, but for upper-intermediate and advanced calculators, you'll probably want to go with a more durable calculator with a wider range of capabilities.
Is The TI-83 Plus Really the Math Exam Calculator?
When you sit for a math exam, you want to use a calculator that is one) approved for use in your school/exam location, and two) comfortable to use. It should be able to handle graphing—so you may want to forgo the multi-function scientific calculator for higher-level exams. But your calculator should only give you what you need.
The TI-83 Plus is this balance. It may not be the best calculator for all math exams in college, but again, if you're dealing with mid-level concepts, you should be okay.
It's also a great solution for students who only need a graphing calculator for a standardized test. You won't have to shell out top price for something you may only use a few times.
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