10 Best Calculators for College 2020

The transition to college can be difficult for some students. In addition to leaving the comfortable familiarity of home, many new college students are faced with a heavier workload and more difficult assignments. Even at the lowest level, general college math and science classes can be far more challenging than anything they experienced in high school.

A dependable calculator can make the life of a busy college student easier, but the best calculator for college will depend on what courses you are taking. There are many different models on the market, but to help simplify your search for a great college calculator, we have compiled a list of the top ten products that are worth a look.

Top 10 Calculators for College Table

PictureNameTypePriceRating (1-5)
Rating (1-5)
1. Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro Engineering/Scientific CalculatorScientific$4.7
2. Casio fx-115ES PLUS Engineering/Scientific CalculatorScientific$4.7
3. Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing CalculatorGraphing$$4.6
4. Casio FX-300MS Scientific CalculatorScientific$4.6
5. Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS Graphing CalculatorGraphing$$$4.6
6. HP 35s Scientific CalculatorScientific$$4.5
7. Sharp EL-W516XBSL 556 Scientific CalculatorScientific$4.4
8. HP 32Sii Scientific CalculatorScientific$$4.2
9. Avalon A-25x Scientific CalculatorScientific$4.2
10. Texas Instruments TI-92 Plus Graphing CalculatorGraphing$$$$4.0

Choosing a Calculator for College Classes

There are many different calculators available for today’s college students, and plenty of them are designed specifically for higher level college work. However, different courses may require different calculator features. Knowing what to expect from each one of your college classes will help you narrow down your options, decide which features will be most useful, and choose the best calculator for college success.

Types of Calculators

  • Basic. Most basic calculators have very simple numeric keyboards and perform only simple mathematical operations. This most elementary type of calculator is not really suitable for most college courses due to its limited memory and minimal functionality.
  • Financial. Also commonly referred to as business calculators, these are best used for financial equations and formulas. These perform all the same functions as the basic calculator but also incorporate useful financial shortcut keys. These calculators work well for some business and accounting courses but lack many features that higher-level math and science classes require.
  • Scientific. A scientific calculator, also sometimes referred to as an engineering calculator, performs the same functions as a basic calculator and goes several steps further. Scientific notation, exponential, trigonometric, and floating point arithmetic are functions that a basic scientific calculator can aid in solving.

Some higher-end scientific calculators can even be used to solve complex calculus. These calculators are good choices for the average college student, although they lack the large screen and graphing technology that are helpful in some math classes. However, some testing circumstances and classroom settings prohibit the use of graphing calculators yet allow scientific calculators.

  • Graphing. The best choice for engineering, advanced mathematics, and many science functions, graphing calculators are designed to plot graphs and solve multiple equations at the same time. They feature large screens that can display graphs with x and y-axes or several lines of numeric text.

Many graphing calculators also feature Wi-fi capabilities to help log data from external scientific devices such as electronic thermometers, light, and decibel meters, or pH gauges. These are great all-purpose calculators for college students. They can be pricey, however, and many users find them complicated to use, especially for more simple computation.

Top 3 Best Calculator for College Reviews

1. Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro Engineering Calculator

This affordable scientific calculator is perfect for coursework or testing situations where graphing technology may be prohibited. Useful for Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Statistics, Biology, and more, this is the calculator you want readily available in your backpack.

Probably the best feature of this calculator is its MathPrint feature. MathPrint displays expressions, symbols, and fractions as they most commonly appear in textbooks; this makes the device easier for students to use and understand. Another great feature is the MultiView display which allows you to view multiple equations on the screen simultaneously.

Texas Instruments TI-36X is solar powered so you can conveniently perform fractional equations, unit conversions, or solve derivatives and integrals just about anywhere. No batteries required. It is hands down the best calculator for college classes, especially those with a non-graphing calculator requirement.

2. Casio fx-115ES PLUS Engineering Calculator

With over 280 functions, this calculator can handle almost anything your college classes can throw at it. Perfect for the struggling math student, the Casio fx-115ES PLUS features a multi-replay function that allows you to backtrack step by step through your calculations to find mistakes, edit, and then recalculate your answers.

This easy-to-use calculator solves systems of linear equations with up to three variables, matrix and vector calculations, polar-rectangular conversions, and even simple addition and subtraction. It is highly recommended by math majors and science majors, so purchasing this calculator is a wise investment in your college success.

3. Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator

The first thing you’ll notice about the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus is the large LCD display. Perfect for plotting graphs and equations, the large screen also allows you to scroll through table values and store, graph, and analyze up to ten functions simultaneously. It comes with more than a dozen pre-loaded apps and is capable of transferring data to and from your computer using the included USB connection cable.

It comes with an impact-resistant slide case for extra protection from the abuse college students can dish out, a full reference guidebook, and a limited lifetime warranty. While many graphing calculators can be confusing and difficult to use, especially for inexperienced college students, Texas Instruments has many on-line tutorials and videos to help get you started. With the guidebook, free apps, and online help, you won’t have to fumble around lost. You’ll actually walk into class already looking like a pro.