Is worth it to buy a graphical calculator? (solved)

is worth it to buy a graphical calculator? this question is always asked about stem students.

In this article, we’re going to discover the 16 pros and cons that you should as a student understands before buying a graphical calculator.

graphical calculators are Expensive

graphical calculators cost 10 times than traditional scientific calculators. In other words, if you want to buy a scientific calculator it won’t cost more than $10 or $20 bucks at maximum.

While the minimum price to spend for a graphic calculator is $90 to $120. But the good ones that have colorful screens can reach up to $200 which is not affordable for any student.

80% of Us students are working part-time jobs that reflect the big expenses and occupations they have.

according to Education data 20 years is the average time that students spend to repay their loans. In other words, people stay paying debts loans for over 45 years. For instance, Obama finished his loans debt at the age of 40.

the graphical calculator is not a good option for short-budget students it doesn’t worth that much

can help in calculus but is not like you might expect

it will be helpful to use a graphical calculator to solve some calculus problems like integral or derivative. But students have to understand that graphic calculators show only the results, not the procedure.

In other words and for example, if you want to make a derivative of the function, you enter the function on the calculator then you hit the button where you get instantly a result.

But as a student, you won’t get the procedure of how this equation was solved step by steps like a professor or instructor doing. So for students who might think that graphical calculators do the same job as the math teacher or professor, they’re totally wrong.

we can make an explanation or an approximation of what a graphical calculator can do in this image below.

this is the image that you can do by your hand

and this is what the graphical calculator gives you, as a result.

Is worth it to buy a graphical calculator

it is right that the result of the derivative expression that we mentioned in our image is 0. But how it is done that you can’t know. So graphical calculator is not magical or an instructor you have between your hand.

It is just a tool to check if the results of the equation are equivalent or right between what you’ve done.

Students can install games in their graphical calculators

One of the facts that the majority of students might find is graphical calculator can be used as a game console. in other words, you can install some games like:

  • sonic
  • Fruit Ninja
  • Dom and etc

it is close to like having a Nintendo switch which a lot of students love it. You could read this article 12 reasons Why do students love Nintendo switch?.

So it might be good for entertaining but for students who love gaming so much, it could be distracting and not helpful to install games or use them in graphical calculators.

your professor or teacher might not accepted it

graphical are forbidden in exams because students use them to cheat, with graphical calculators students can:

  • save notes or sheets to reuse in exams
  • check function graphs if they are correct or not
  • make table graphs
  • calculate derivative or integral in aritmitic way
  • even if a professor or a teacher asks a student to reset their calculators they still could recover all informations

For high school classes, graphical calculators are mostly not allowed, for students who think to use them in exams they have to forget about that. Teachers will not let if you are a high school to use them in exams.

While other teachers think they are useless for high school students and make students lazy, especially for calculus.

You could read this article 13 reasons why calculators are not allowed for calculus?

Graphic calculator are excellent to visualise graph functions

For students who need or love to visualize their functions, graphical calculators are great for that. In other words, you can visualize any function you have, like:

  • linear function
  • polynomial functions
  • trigonometric functions
  • integral functions and so on

graphical calculators are an excellent tool to transform math from numbers to explainable graphical design.

Graphic calculators allow students to save notes

students can save thousands of notes in their graphic calculators, this might be helpful to save some math functions and rules. It will be useful to reuse them later.

In addition, students can write texts and save them in their calculators, a lot of students use this method to cheat in exams making their calculators a sheet library.

Graphic calculators are good to make table graphs

For students who are looking to make or build table graph math, that is possible they can do that with CAS graphical calculators. To clarify CAS is a computer algebra system that students use to visualize mathematics graphs and even more.

They can determine the exact coordinates for the table which allows students to build table graphs with extremely exactitudes.

But students have to understand that these graphical calculators are not allowed for most exams or tests.

graphic calculators can solve equations

For students who love to check or solve their equations, using graphical calculators is useful to verify your work. You could watch this video to know more about it.

But as you’ve seen from the video solving equations won’t be like some students would expect. The graphical calculators give a student just a solution not how the problem is solved as professors or teachers do.

graphic calculators have apps statistics

for students who are studying statistics, graphic calculators are useful for them. They have many options that students can take advantage of. In other words, students can do like:

  • simple interest operations
  • compound interest operations
  • cash flow calculations
  • amortization conversion

In addition, more statistics operations that might students or mathematicians need for studies.

graphic calculators have periodic tables

For physic or chemistry students, graphical calculators come with periodic tables which allow students to visualize 118 elements in nature.

students can go and check each element alone. But is better to check a periodic table for graphical and colorful calculators.

Some graphic calculators can create 3d functions

some graphic calculators give the ability to users to visualize 3d dimensional functions like spheres and volumes. That is so helpful for physical and mathematical students.

You can even scroll around the objects and turn them. they give a sense of work with 3d dimensional software like CAD.

for high school students, you can read this article Get involved in CAD as a high schooler? (5 Advices).

Are so helpful to do triognomery and calculus

 Calculus is the powerful point that graphical calculators strong at it allow students to:

  • Find derivatives
  • find integrals
  • find specific points of convergence or divergence
  • Find modulus
  • determine the argument of imaginary
  • do operation on complex numbers.

Graphical calculators are to check calculus work. In addition, it gives students a map and determines if they are wrong or right.

Are difficult to work and need a little bit of time to practice

learning to use or master graphical calculators takes time, they aren’t easy to manipulate. Because the majority of them aren’t touch screens.

So students have to hit a lot of buttons and make an additional effort to learn the all steps for given tasks. Frankly, they are hard to use instead of computers or laptops math apps.

In the beginning, it will annoying and time-consuming but students get used to them with a time

it help a lot to prepare for SAT and ACT exams

for some test some math test like ACT or SAT recommends using graphical calculators, especially for level 2.

So for high schoolers who are waiting for SAT or ACT exams borrowing or buying graphical calculators is worth it. Especially for students, you are going into engineering they will surely use it later.

But students shave to understand that noraml graphical calculators are allowed, not CAS. we will explain that in the next paragraph.

Is worth it to buy a graphical calculator for students who want to pass the ACT or SAT exams, in case they don’t find someone to borrow them. But if you found someone to give it to you wont need that.

Some graphical calucaltors aren’t allowed in exams

Graphic calculators that have a CAS aren’t allowed or accepted in SAT or ACT exams in other words all calculators that are able to:

  • do factor operations
  • that can do give results without numerations instead of giving 0.33333 they give 1/3
  • calculators that generate graphics functions

In other words, these calculators can students help students to cheat in exams. you could find more details in this article about all graphical forbidden calculators for the ACT and SAT exams.

graphic calculator are not for math students also

if you are an engineering student having a graphical calculator is a good choice because engineers use them a lot. Graphical calculators reduce work and time for engineering students.

it is right that engineers use computers for calculations but having a portable device like a graphical calculator is what a lot of engineers prefer instead.

Is worth it to buy a graphical calculator if you are an engineering student it will be helpful for making calculations.


after the all advantage that graphical calculators have the answer is no and yes.

The only reason to get a graphing calculator is if you need it for a test, and you should verify if it is allowed or not before buying.

The second thing is if you are in engineering and you feel that you could afford to spend $150 then do that.

Other than that it won’t Is worth it to buy a graphical calculator for $150 or more for just doing a simple operation a $10 calculator can do.


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.