How To Use A Graphing Calculator

Last Updated On: January 3, 2019

Calculators can vary from user to user. Some most common calculators are the business class calculator and scientific calculator. Scientific calculators are used for various scientific educational purposes. Graphing calculators are the modern addition of the scientific calculator.

How To Use A Graphing Calculator

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After buying a graphing calculator you should prepare your mind to learn how to use a graphing calculator properly. Cause, this calculator is not a typical one. In this article, you are going to have the right information about how to use a graphing calculator.

Calculator History

The first commercial company to announce the first graphing calculator with the market was Casio. The first graphing calculator was Casio fx-7000G. Since then, a lot of modifications have done since then and now we have got some upgraded versions of the best graphing calculator with some renowned brands.

What does a graphing calculator do?

Graphing calculators are mainly used for solving graphical problems using the values of x, y, and some other functions. To be more specific, the easiest way to narrate a graphing calculator is, you just put a function and put some values for any of the x or y. It will give you the value of the other unknown factor and then it will display your desired graph for your equation.

In briefly, you can use a graphing calculator for pre-calculus works. Solving differentiation and Integral problems are also the main usages of a graphing calculator. Let’s begin with some tips that you need to know when you are going to use a graphing calculator.

Working in the right mode : Before performing an equation or problem you have to make sure that you are in the right mode for that problem. Make sure you know how to change the mode because this option varies from a calculator to calculator. But most commonly there will be a button named with MODE. It will let you change the calculation mode from degree to radian or gradient or anything else.

Simplify your equation to solve for y : In your textbook, equations will be given randomly. But you have to simplify your given equation to a specific equation that may only give the value of y. Make sure you can solve your equation by your hand. Then you can go for a quick graph. Because It will be a foolish work if you try to make a graph without knowing how to solve it practically. Moreover, in high schools and college exams, you will not be allowed to take a graphing calculator.

Using the general scientific functions : Though it is a graphing calculator, it also contains the general functions like trigonometry, vector, matrix, equations, and others. That means you can use a graphing calculator in various ways. So, learn as many as functions you can perform in a graphing calculator.

Axial graphing : It means you can draw a graph within 2 axis. That is X and Y axis. Before doing axial graphing you have to input value for x and then you will get the value of y. Then you will get your desired graph.

Using the Built-in constants : Most of the calculators have built-in constants and unit conversion mode. It contains universal, electromagnetic, motion, atomic constants. Some also contain whole periodic table.

Numerical conversions : Yes! Like all other scientific calculators, you can change your number from decimal to binary, octal, hexadecimal. To do so, you must put your mode to Base.

A graphing calculator is broadly used for solving calculus problems. It lets you to make a graph for your integral and differential equation. All you just need to put the integral or differential equation and then put the range. This calculator lets you to make graph of parabola, hyperbola, ellipse etc. So as you can see you can make any kind of graph you want.

Doing Pre-Calculus Problems in a Graphing Calculator

We are going to perform this application on TI-84 Plus calculator.

Finding Derivatives

Finding “MATH” button

At first look for the button “MATH” in your TI-84 Plus calculator. You may find this button at the left side of your calculator. Press the “MATH” button to bring up a menu.

Entering to “nDeriv“ function

After appearing of the MATH menu, scroll over the nDeriv option and press Enter button.

Inputting the nDerive function

When you press “Enter” button you can see a differential operator on your screen. Under the “d/d_” you have to put a variable same as your function. Like, you have to press “X” if your function is x derivative. Example: x2 + 2x+3. If your function is y derivative, Press “Y”. Then enter your desired function. After that put a point for this differentiation. Press “ENTER” to get the answer.

Finding Integrals

Finding “MATH” button

Again, look for the button “MATH” in your TI-84 Plus calculator. You may find this button at the left side of your calculator. Press the “MATH” button to bring up the menu.

Entering to “fnInt(“ function

After appearing of the MATH menu, scroll over the “fnInt” option and press “ENTER” button.

Inputting the “fnInt(” function

When you enter to the fnInt( function you can see a integral operator asking for the variable, function and limit. There are to types of limit. One is upper limit which is situated at the upper side of the summation sign. The other one is the lower limit. It is situated at the lower side of the summation sign. Enter the function and enter the variable according to your function. Then set the limits and press “ENTER”. This will show you the result for your function.


Finding the “Y=” button

The “Y=” button is situated at the top left of your calculator. Pressing the “Y=” button will be appeared with the graph equation editor.

Inputting the graph function/equation

Input your equation with x variable. Because your calculator accepts only Y=f(x) functions. Example: x3 , then press “TRACE”.

Calculating the function

Now press “SECOND” + “CALCULATE”. This will bring up operation lists which you are going to use. If you want to differentiate, scroll over “dy/dx” and if you want to integrate, scroll over “(integrand)f(x)dx”. Enter the point for differentiation, upper and lower limit for integration. Your graph will appear according to your operation and calculation.

interesting features of a graphing calculator

There are some very interesting features in a graphing calculator that you might find nowhere. Those features have made its decoration more interesting. Some features are-

CAS : It refers to Computer Algebra System. Using this system, you can perform an equation to get the symbolic answer. That’s why these calculators are also called symbolic calculators. You can do factor, simplify and expanding in this method.

Laboratory use : Some calculators can be adjusted to a pH meter, electronic thermometer and weather instruments and so on. Some have the feature of plugging in a USB. Also, some upgraded calculators have Wi-Fi feature.

Built-In Rom : Graphing calculator can also be used for programming. There are two types of a calculator. One is programmable and the other one is non-programmable. Graphing calculator is programmable. It has 3/5 MB Rom to memory these programs.

Gaming option : In the past calculators used to be boring. But not now. As it is a programmable calculator, you can create a gaming program over it. Then you can play games on a graphing calculator.

Adjusting to the computer : A graphing calculator can be adjusted with a PC. You can do this via a USB cable. You can program over it an can modify whatever you want.

Graphing calculator in physics

A graphing calculator can be used to solve calculus related problems in physics. It can also do Matrix, Vector related mathematical problems. Some partial differentiation-related problems can also be done in specific calculators.

Graphing calculator in chemistry

A graphing calculator contains a full periodic table. So, it is helpful for students who suffer from memorizing full periodic table. It can also be used for identifying the pH of a solution. That means use of a graphing calculator in chemistry has no limits.

Graphing calculator in Mathematics

A graphing calculator is mainly used for the mathematical problem which is related to graphs and functions. The importance of a graphing calculator in mathematics knows no bound. Calculus, function, calculus and function related geometry, 2 axial geometry, conics specially parabola, hyperbola, ellipse are the fundamental function of a graphing calculator.

Best graphing calculator app

Well, now we have changed our path from the typical system. Good for you to hear that you can do your graphing calculation not only using your graphing calculator but also with your android phone. Yes! You heard it right. Some of them are free apps and some of them are paid.

Some popular graphing calculator applications are- Almost TI(paid), Calculator by Xlythe (free/paid), Desmos Graphing Calculator(free), Droid48(free), Graphing Calculator by Mathlab(free/paid) etc. You can download them from Google play store and make your android phone to a graphing calculator.

Which is the best graphing calculator to buy?

Now we will talk about some best graphing calculators. As we know there are a lot of graphing calculators in the market. It will be a hard task to choose the right one if you do not know which calculator has which feature. A graphing calculator can cost from 20$ to 200$. So you should keep this your mind that not every graphing calculator is same and you need.

Best graphing calculators for engineers and best graphing calculator for high school will not be the same product. In schools and colleges, teachers do not allow a graphing calculator to their students. And if they allow, it would be a specific type. So, it has become a common question that which is the best graphing calculator to buy?

Some also ask which TI graphing calculator is the best. Some top graphing calculator selling companies are Texas Instruments, Casio, HP etc. But I am going to make a short list of top 5 graphing calculator that you may find best.

TI-Nspire CX CAS : It has high resolution and full-color display, 3D functions, and files can be transferred to a computer. Useful for engineers.

HP Prime :It has a multi-touch display. It is rechargeable and has metal body. Useful for both students and engineers.

Casio fx-9750GII : USB power system, different colors, hard slide cover, advanced functions are the features of this calculator. Students can use this as their wish because it has both scientific and graphing functions.

TI-84 Plus : This is the most popular calculator in USA. It was first introduced to the market in 2004. Since then, it is running on the market constantly. This calculator can be used in SAT, ACT exams. So students can use this calculator without any hesitation.

HP 40gs: This is very useful for high school students. As you can probably guess, this calculator is accepted for high school students. It has 750+ built-in functions. It is cheaper than most other calculator and a good kit for the starters.

So, these are the best graphing calculators for students and engineers. You can also search for other calculators as your requirement. But you should not forget to study briefly about what is your budget and which functions you need, and which are not useful to you. If you are a student, you must buy a graphing calculator which is suitable and acceptable for your studying and exams.    

(Last Updated On: January 3, 2019)
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