I highly recommend that parents purchase the exact calculator recommended by the math teacher (usually a Texas Instruments 83 or 84). Although you might save a couple bucks by buying another brand that may even look like it has more features, it will not help your student. The teacher will use the recommended calculator and explain how to use special features like graphing or editing and solving matrices. In class, the teacher will tell students the exact buttons to get to the correct menus and features. If your student is working with a calculator that is different than the teacher, he/ she will spend too much time trying to find where the features exist or how to use them and therefore miss out on other critical information. If you're concerned about the price of these calculators, look on Craigslist for used ones. College students are always getting rid of them after they complete their math credits.
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