What Kind of Scientific Calculator Is Best for High School Algebra 2?


Algebra 2 is a follow-up course to the introduction to algebra taken as a requirement in most high school. Most students usually take it around the 10th grade. Topics taught in Algebra 2 courses include polynomials, solving quadratic equations, systems of equations and graphing different types of equations such as linear, quadratic, logarithmic and exponential. Scientific calculators are needed in Algebra 2 to work with exponential and logarithmic functions, solve quadratic and graph equations. The best calculators are the ones that can evaluate and graph functions.

Evaluating Functions

  • Calculators produce tables of values for functions much quicker than by hand. Further, you can adjust the table of numbers easily if the function changes. Students often input ranges of values instead of inputting the actual numbers, which allows them to complete homework and test questions more efficiently. In addition, values can be in decimal integers or fraction format. A calculator will order the numbers from the positive to negative y-axis and x-axis.


  • While a scientific calculator that works with equations is adequate for beginning algebra, a calculator with graphing capabilities is essential for the topics in Algebra 2. Graphing calculators such as the TI-84 give you a visual interpretation of different equations such as lines, parabolas (U-shaped) and circles. Advanced equations such as logarithmic and exponential equations can be plotted and graphed. You can even compare graphs by inputting two tables of values on different calculator screens.

Advanced Topics

  • Statistics and probability are covered as advanced topics in Algebra 2. Calculators can also handle statistical analyses such as linear regression. It also can handle matrix operations to solve systems of equations. Graphing calculators can solve inequality equations algebraically and graphically. These topics at the end of a typical Algebra 2 course prepare students for courses such as pre-calculus and statistics. For students preparing for more technical careers, using a graphing calculator early (for example, by the ninth grade) is useful for a number of years to come. Students who start with these tools are more technologically more comfortable and efficient than ones that do not.

Future Use

  • Unlike the scientific calculator, one that has graphing capabilities can be used for more advanced math courses. For students pursuing technical fields such as computer science, math, statistics, economics or business administration, other math classes will be required. The graphing calculator can be used for geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus, statistics and business mathematics.

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