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Choosing the Best Graphic Calculator

Updated on September 29, 2010
Calculator for Graphing
Calculator for Graphing


Who would have ever thought that a calculator would be the most expensive school supply on the list? With the high prices of backpacks, new school clothes, yearbooks and enrollment fees, it’s easy to begin feeling tapped out.

A graphing calculator is no exception and these small tools run between $80 and $200, depending on the features and model. Chances are it’s not the lower priced model your child’s teacher is looking for, either.

Fortunately, there are many ways to help save on the costs of a graph calculator while still ensuring that your child has exactly what he or she needs for the school year. While there’s really no way to get out of buying this type of calculator, you can at least walk away feeling good about your purchase.

What is Graphing Calculator?

So what exactly is a graphing calculator? Before you knew of this high priced little gadget, calculators cost $10 or less, even if they came in fun colors and designs. A

Graph calculator is responsible for calculator graphing which can be done in 3D graphics, making it easy for kids to work on algebra and geometry problems. They can solve several problems at one time and offer many features that aid kids on their mathematical tests, including the ACTs and SATs.

Usually it is recommended during the freshman or sophomore year of high school that a child gets this type of calculator, although it may be earlier depending on the classes taken.

Recommendation from teacher

First, be sure to get a recommendation from the teacher. Some say specifically what they’re looking for on the syllabus, while others will wait until Back to School Night. If you’re not sure which calculator is recommended, contact the teacher to find out.

You may just find that the teacher has plenty of extras on hand to use in the classroom, saving you from having to buy a calculator right there and then. It’s also important not to jump ahead of the game, as you may be left with an outdated calculator or one that doesn’t have the right functions.

Learn the model

It’s also crucial that you don’t cut corners when buying a graphic calculator, as not all work the same. If the teacher recommends a specific model, stick to it. Otherwise, your child will have trouble following along to class discussions and instructions, as the models will have different buttons and functions.

To help avoid this confusion, learn your calculators and know the difference between a Texas Instruments calculator and a Hewlett Packard Calculator. Also learn the differences between grabbing a TI-83 Plus or TI-89 off the rack. On a side note,

Texas Instruments are what most classrooms use and they are rated highest amongst students and teachers because of their ease and understanding.


Of course, you can always look into borrowing or renting a calculator to save on costs, but remember that you may be faced with the same issues of having an off-brand or outdated calculator, which will only cause frustration for your child.

Remember that although pricey, these innovative calculators are intended to help your child complete math courses and tests, gateways toward a better education.

Graphing Calculator Software

If you don't want to buy new calculator, you can download graphing calculator software. It is like a real graphing calculator. You just download the software and install it.

Here some graphing calculator software you can donwload:

Dream Calc GUI
Dream Calc GUI

DreamCalc Graphing Calculator

DreamCalc is a realistic graphing calculator software for Windows.
You don't need physical calculator just use this software you will have the same result.

- You will feel it is real. It is like real graphing calculator, you will no need to learn more.
- You will able to plot data list and graph function.
- Support statistical, financial functions, complex numbers, scientific, unit conversions and a powerful polynomial solver.


GraphCalc Screenshot
GraphCalc Screenshot


GraphCalc is one of good free graphing calculator software. It is release under GPL license and works on Windows and Linux.

- Easy to use
- All-in-one solution to everything from everyday arithmetic to statistical analysis, from betas to Booleans, from cubes to calculus, from decimals to derivatives
- Easy to learn with friendly GUI
- User friendly help and tutorial guides



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      Dan 7 years ago

      I do agree that students should stick to what their teachers knows, unless they are willing to do some extra reading and learn the calculator themselves. Myself as an engineering student, i cant go past the TI Nspire CAS!