Best Calculator for the FE Exam

Updated on September 6, 2018

Best NCEES-Approved Calculators for the FE Exam

The top four scientific calculators competing for the #1 position:

  • Hewlett Packard: HP 35s
  • Casio: fx-115 ES Plus
  • TI-30XS Multiview (Texas Instruments)
  • TI-36X Pro (Texas Instruments)

There are a total of 16 calculators approved by NCEES for the FE exam. I weighed several factors before reducing the 16 approved calculators to the four above. Ease of use, visual arrangement of keypad, quality of the user's manual, and availability of video instruction. I also considered user reviews on Amazon. After all these considerations, I chose the Casio fx-115 ES Plus.

Note: Under the Pearson VUE testing center rules, you cannot take your calculator cover with you into the exam.
Note: Under the Pearson VUE testing center rules, you cannot take your calculator cover with you into the exam.

Why Is It the Best?

The primary reason for choosing this model over the other contenders is the availability of free instructional videos for the Casio fx-115 ES Plus.

If you don't go into battle knowing how to use your sword properly, you have a disadvantage. The calculator is your weapon, and the exam is the thing you want to conquer.

The Casio is very light weight. It is supported on four small nodules. This means it feels unstable when mashing the keys during a quick calc. The fx-115 has a flat cover and back; it is stable.

Pearson VUE administers the new CBT format for the FE exam. Under Pearson rules, calculator covers are not permitted into the testing center. Each testing center provides a locker for your backpack, calculator cover, lunch, water bottle, or whatever you want to store. Or, just leave the cover at home or in your car on your test date.

The Casio is very light weight. It is supported on four small nodules. This means it feels unstable when mashing the keys during a quick calc. The fx-115 has a flat cover and back; it is stable.

Here is a direct link for the Casio fx-115 ES Plus Guide.

The user's guide explains the multi-line display, how the input and results are displayed, and how to perform the functions of the calculator. The first pages show how to change modes, and how to set up the calculator. Before reading this guide, I had no idea a user could set the number of significant figures to be displayed (see page 10.)

Best FE Exam Calculator Prices

Amazon Cost
Amazon 3rd Party
Casio fx-115 ES Plus
TI 36 X Pro
HP 35s
Note: The Amazon cost assumes you will make additional purchases to achieve $35. After $35, shipping is free on Amazon (or if you have Amazon Prime, you get free 2-day shipping.) Amazon's policy is: If you sell it on Amazon, it can't be cheaper elsew

Best TI Calculator for the FE Exam?

Which Texas Instruments calculator is best for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam?

See results

TI-36X Pro vs. Casio fx-115 ES Plus

Many engineering graduates know how to use TI-89's and TI-90's. They are comfortable with the navigational layout of TI's menu system.

Because they already know it, most examinees will have an accelerated learning curve to adapt from a TI-89 to a TI-36X Pro. This time discount will save a few hours which can be applied in working practice tests and reviewing problems.

The functionality of the Casio fx-115 is similar to the TI 36X. This is because Texas Instruments developed the TI-36X Pro to compete in the marketplace with Casio's fx-115 ES Plus.

Two reasons I recommend the Casio fx-115 ES Plus are availability of free and pay for use instructional video and the visually perfect algebraic method entry. The ES Plus also has an option to use V.A.P.M. (visually perfect algebraic method.) With V.A.P.M., you enter data as it is written.

The fx-115 is a solar powered unit. This means the fear of battery death is eliminated. Texas Instruments also make the TI-36X Solar. So, if you decide to purchase a solar calculator, you can still go with TI.

Although the two models are similar in many ways, the 115 ES Plus edges out the TI-36X Pro.

Data Entry Styles

sin (90) = ?
[sin] [9][0][=]
cos (90) = ?
Traditional vs. V.A.P.M. methods for calculators: V.A.P.M. follows the order of speech. How you say it is how you enter it. Thought flow is more natural.
HP 35s Scientific Calculator
HP 35s Scientific Calculator
One of the key advantages of the HP 35s is that it is programmable. The TI and Casio versions do not offer this.

HP Calculators for the FE Exam

The Hewlett Packard HP 35s is the better of the two options available from HP. Both the 35s and the HP 33s are on the NCEES approved calculator list for the FE exam.

Both are programmable. Both have books available for sale on Amazon which include equations for the FE exam to enter into your calculator.

Many people choose this option when they have prepared extensively in advance. Others need less time to review (e.g. college seniors), so the they have time to learn how to utilize the equations and the HP.

Best Overall Calculator for the FE Exam?

Now that you have reviewed the best of the eligible calculators from the NCEES approved list, which do you think is the best unit?

Free Tutorial for the Casio fx-115 ES Plus

Which is the Best Calculator for the FE Exam, Overall?

Which will you use as your primary calculator?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      2 years ago

      The HP35S is by far the best, complex numbers, solve, rpn make this calculator the best for engineer. No doubt.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Are the calcs allowed for the entire time frame of the exam? Like even in the math portions, we can still do the matrix in our cals basically?

    • Taric25 profile image


      3 years ago

      You forgot to mention that the only one of these calculators that will solve simultaneous equations that contain complex numbers is the HP 35s. The TI and Casio do not allow imaginary numbers in a matrix. This is crucial for solving problems from differential equations and circuit theory. It would take an extraordinarily long time to do this out by hand on the exam, even with assistance from the TI or Casio. The HP allows this natively.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)