How to Skip the $100 Graphing Calculator for Your Math Class

Don't feel like having to drop $100 on a graphing calculator for your math class? Well there's good news - you might not have to! Education Insider takes a look at some alternative options.

By Jessica Lyons


It's hard to believe that a calculator can cost so much money, but it does. When you're trying to keep your expenses down, you probably want to avoid spending that much money on a graphing calculator, especially if you're only going to use it for one class. Luckily, advancements in technology mean you can have a tool to do your graphing calculator work without actually having to buy one.

Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha describes itself as a 'computational knowledge engine.' You can use this website for a variety of functions, including ones you'd typically do on a graphing calculator. All you have to do is plug in the information in its field box and it will calculate or plot it right on the screen for you.

While this site allows you to rent physical graphing calculators, you can also use it to get a free online graphing calculator. It opens up in a separate window and doesn't involve a subscription or special downloads and software.

Graphing Calculator App

If you have an iPhone or an iPad, you can download this free app to use as a substitute for actually having a graphing calculator. You'll even be able to do as many as four graphs at a time.

CLEP Exam Graphing Calculator

If you're going to be taking the CLEP calculus exam, you might want to hold off on purchasing a graphing calculator. One is incorporated into the exam software and you can download the graphing calculator for a free 30-day trial period.

Just Remember

If you do skip out on buying your very own graphing calculator, just remember that you're probably still going to need one for exams. The chances are pretty slim that your professor would allow you to use an alternative on your computer or your phone during the test.

Of course one of your options is to borrow a graphing calculator from a friend. Talk to friends who are taking or have taken the same course to see if they can spare their calculator during your exam periods.

If that doesn't work, then you can actually rent a calculator. Through, you can rent a graphing calculator for a monthly student rate of $9-$12. You'll also have to pay a delivery fee. Before you rent a calculator, though, just make sure that it makes sense. If you're going to need it for so many exams that you'll spend more than $100 renting, you'd be better off just buying your own graphing calculator.

Are you also spending too much on textbooks? Check out five secrets to reducing your textbook costs.

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