Navigating the SAT: A Guide to Calculator Policies and Guidelines

The SAT, administered by the College Board, is a critical standardized test that plays a pivotal role in college admissions. To ensure a fair testing environment, the College Board has established strict guidelines regarding the use of calculators during the exam.

In this article, we will delve into the official SAT calculator policies, explore the types allowed and prohibited, and provide valuable tips on selecting a calculator that aligns with these guidelines.

Understanding SAT Calculator Policies:

The College Board has outlined specific rules to maintain a level playing field for all test-takers. Understanding these policies is crucial to avoid any complications during the exam. According to the official guidelines:

  1. Permitted Calculator Types:
    • The SAT allows the use of four specific types of calculators: basic calculators, scientific calculators, most graphing calculators, and approved calculators with Computer Algebra System (CAS) functionality.
    • Basic and scientific calculators must be battery or solar-powered and should not have a QWERTY keyboard.
    • Most graphing calculators are permissible, but some advanced models with specific features are prohibited.
  2. Prohibited Calculator Types:
    • Calculators with built-in or downloaded computer algebra system (CAS) functionality are not allowed.
    • Calculators with a stylus, pen input, or a touchscreen feature are not permitted.
    • Electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones are strictly prohibited.

Tips on Choosing an SAT-Compliant Calculator:

Selecting the right calculator is a crucial step in preparing for the SAT. Here are some tips to ensure your calculator complies with the official policies:

  1. Check the College Board’s Official List:
    • Consult the official list of SAT-approved calculators provided by the College Board.
    • Ensure that your calculator model is on the list to avoid any issues on test day.
  2. Understand Calculator Capabilities:
    • Know the functionalities of your calculator and whether it meets the SAT requirements.
    • Avoid calculators with advanced features that may lead to disqualification.
  3. Test Your Calculator:
    • Before the exam, familiarize yourself with your calculator’s functions.
    • Ensure the batteries are fully charged or replace them to prevent any disruptions during the test.
  4. Have a Backup Plan:
    • Consider bringing a spare calculator to the test centre in case of malfunctions.
    • Be aware of the test centre’s policy on sharing calculators with fellow test-takers.


Adhering to the College Board’s calculator policies is essential for a smooth SAT experience. By understanding the permitted and prohibited calculator types and following the provided tips, you can confidently choose a calculator that meets the guidelines.

Proper preparation ensures that your focus remains on showcasing your academic abilities without any unnecessary distractions on test day.