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My son will be taking the Explore pre-ACT test next week, and a note we just received from the test administrator listed a calculator among the things to be brought to testing. We have not yet used a calculator in our math lessons, so we don't have one. We are in the first part of Saxon Algebra 1.

 

Would you please recommend some makes/models of calculators?

 

I believe my son will be able to do the math portion of the test without a calculator - I don't want to bog him down by introducing one so soon before testing - but I guess we will need one for the future. I would also like to know, if your child took the Explore test, did s/he need to use a calculator? I am wondering if it is a true necessity, or something to accommodate the students who are instructed to use calculators from early on in their math lessons.

 

Thanks for your help.

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The calculator is not strictly necessary, but unless he's very fast, you might end up with too much to do in too little time to work it out on paper. The Explore math section is 30 problems in 30 minutes, so there is a time crunch unless you're super-speedy.

 

I think it might be worth introducing one, even at this point, and spending maybe an hour just using it for basic calculations... What I had DS do with his before he tested (since we had never used calculators before) was a stack of arithmetic problems -- just big numbers and decimals, fractions and percents. That got him used to the whole layout and using parentheses and all that. We had more time than you do now, so I had him do about ten problems a day with the calculator for about a month, and I pointed out things like don't pick up the calculator every time you use it, don't turn it off between problems, etc. He might not use it, but he might find it gets him past a tricky problem without wasting too much time.

 

The calculator I got for DS is a TI-30X-IIS. I wanted to go with a TI because the graphing calculators are all TI and the layout is similar (one less thing to learn later...) The 30X-IIS has a two-line display, which I thought would be ideal for a kid who had no calculator experience, because you can see what you typed (and check that it was right before you accept the answer), and you can backspace through the current line if you make a mistake. It's also not terribly expensive. Staples has it for about $15.

 

Hope this helps!

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I love the TI-30X-IIS. It was the only calculator allowed in pre-calc, calc, chem 1&2, physics, ochem 1&2 at ds's college.

Wow! Glad I picked that one then! ;) Most of the colleges I've looked at (only casually... not there yet!) require TI graphing calculators for calculus and statistics. Actually I think the AP Stats test requires a graphing calculator... I've let DS play with my TI-84 but until we're up to our eyeballs in AP Stats he won't be using it for schoolwork. But the TI-30X-IIS I let him use on any problems marked "calculators may be used for this section" in NEM. They are few and far between, but enough for now! :)

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Kari, thanks especially for your suggestions on familiarizing him with the instrument. I can easily prepare a stack of problems!

 

Jann, Susan - thanks for validating Kari's recommendation. So good to know that such a reasonable investment will result in good future value. We're off to Staples!

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Of course I meant kar1200 - I should just have said Erica! Lack of sleep + over 40 eyes = mucho typos. Glad my son is the one who has to learn to push the new little buttons : ) Thanks again!

Things I should have considered before choosing a screen name ;) You're not the first to have done that!

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For a basic calculator that is allowed in the ACT tests, we opted for TI-30Xa. It has all the functions that are needed. I really like the TI calculators.

 

Once you get to graphing calculator age, I would recommend TI-83.

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