On calculators...

Please note–I am not looking for a discourse on which calculator is better. That’s Level 1 stuff.

But I am curious as to what calculator everybody uses, or what you noticed in the test center. Also, how many calculators did you bring?

When talking to rookie candidates, I think most of us tell them to get the BA 2+ (the “regular” one), because it’s less expensive and it has plenty of horsepower to get the job done. Some people suggest the HP-12C I know there are a lot of people who think the HP-12C is inherently superior to the BA 2+, and that the vast majority of financial professionals use it. However, almost nobody recommends getting the BA 2+ Professional.

But when I took Level 3 in San Antonio, there were about 15 Level 3 candidates. And of the 15, only about 3 had HP-12C’s. And of the other 12, only about 4 were using the “regular” BA 2+. Over half of us (including me) were all using the BA 2+ Professional.

And very few of the Level 3 candidates brought more than one calculator. I brought two, but I think that only one other person brought two calculators. (For the record–my backup calculator was a “regular” BA 2+.)

I use the Professional, and Iove it. I don’t know what the difference is between the “regular” and the “professional” though…there wasn’t a huge difference in price, and it was a one-time purchase that would last me years, so I figured why not go with the higher model?

As for the BA2 vs. the HP12C, it was simple…I had to make a choice when I started studying, and I didn’t want to waste time with the learning curve (however small) of the HP12C…I just wanted to get to the material.

And I didn’t bring a backup calculator either, but I did bring a backup battery.

I had the HP 12C, had debated what to get in Level 1, once I settled on one just stick to it. Everytime when I showed up for the exam day, I brought an extra HP 12C borrowed from a friend who decided not to continue the CFA journey. Therer you have it. I found it interesting that I never had to change my battery after 4 years, maybe I am not practice questions enough.

I have the BA2+, since it was the first finance calculator I had to buy for University. Went into the exam with 2 calculators because I didn’t feel it was a hassle and there is no downside to bringing an extra one. My thoery is: The test is tough enough, why put yourself in a bad spot if your calculator dies on you half way through the exam. Better safe than sorry? =)

I notice most people use Texas Instruments BA II Plus PROFESSIONAL - that’s what i use too, so perhaps i’m little biaed? i only notice what is familiar to me?

I don’t think so. I looked around at all the other candidates before the afternoon session started, just to see what we were using. And more than half were using the Professional.

I just think that’s odd, considering that the Professional is the ONE calculator that is strongly discouraged, yet it’s the one that most Level 3 candidates use.

I have both the BA 2+ and BA 2+ Professional. I bought both for actuarial exams years ago (2006) and they are still going strong. I have brought both to every test I have taken.

I find the BA 2+ to be MUCH better than the BA 2+ Professional simply because the keys are easier to press. It’s also less noisy.

I didn’t look at what others had. Was too focused…

I think it was about 8/10 in favor of the TI machine in L2 San Fran. Notice a lot of younger candidates punch numbers with thumbs like they text on their cell phone! Perhaps this is why the TI is so popular, it has similar form as an oversized cell phone. Myself, I like single, left- handed operation with HP-12 30th Anniv, pencil down in right hand.

IT’s strongly discouraged? why??

i didn’t know that.

I liked it because it’s the best looking :slight_smile:

I use and HP12 and seems like I am only one of 2 of people in the room using it or the only one using it every time I write an exam.

I’m actually on my 3rd one now so the famous build quality is obviously not there anymore.

I use it for the reverse polish notation. I wouldn’t even consider using a calculator without it.

I was using HP12 C Orgeon make manufactured in 1986. I read somewhere online to dechipher the alphanumeric code at the back of the calculator which gives the year and location of the make.

I saw no one in my centre bringing a HP 12 C. I think in India hardly anyone uses a HP 12 C as it is not readily available. I remember a proctor picking up my calculator and giving it a good look and he was like oh! this is the other calculator. I had shipped mine from USA through Ebay. I liked the RPN and now I find it very friendly than the regular calculator in my office. I had always hated it.

I loved to use my HP 12 C and loved to program it for annuities and interest rates in my previous organization. So much so that I had already drained my batteries before the L 1 exam. I agree its a bit slow and takes lil seconds to calculate IRR but the RPN is totally worth it. I had become very much addicted to its operations. Also I simply loved the spread out horizontal layout of the calculator which basically also given a broader screen for numbers. Agreed you wont deal with that huge numbers but it was so much more pleasing to the eyes. The enter button was nice and just in the middle of the keypad, which separated the number, memory and financial functions. It simply looked so much more organized and efficient.

I didnt use it that much for L II and hardly anthing for L III but I made sure to use new batteries each time before the exam.

I have both the BA II+ and BA II+ Professional, and brought both to the exam. Bought one of each partly because I wasn’t sure whether the additional features of the Professional might be useful (they weren’t), partly because it’s easy to tell them apart. (For example for annuity calculations, you might want one on BGN and the other on END. It could shave you a few seconds…it could backfire…)

The keys on the regular BA II+ require less pressure; whether that’s better or not is personal.

One “problem” with the regular BA II+ is that there’s no rubber non-skid pads on the bottom and it can slide around a bit. (Especially so if you work regularly on a marble kitchen table, like I do.) I glued two rubber pads onto the bottom, and during the check-in this year the proctor actually scrunitized the rubber pads.

I use the BA II plus as schwesser used it for its examples in the study text for level 1. I guess I was swayed by that as it makes studying easy for me, especially learning the tricks of the calculator. I have the regular one. I did not go to the exam with a back up calculator or battery. I took the plunge hoping that my ever reliable calculator will hold up. Luckily, it did; and I hope I won’t need it for a big test again.

Strangely, I went with 3 pens, but no back up calculator or battery.

BA 2+ professional.

The fact you don’t have to crack the professional version open to replace the battery (as you do for the non-professional version) was the winning feature for me. I bought 2 professionals when I started L1. I ended up with a third (non-professional) when my gf was going through her old uni stuff and found her finance calculator from first year business school. I ended up taking all three to the exams. I don’t care if people thought I was paranoid. I am paranoid. Better to be safe than sorry.

I was also the guy with 5 mechanical pencils, 5 leads in each, and 10 blue pens for level 3.

Sure enough, only one calculator, one mechanical pencil and one pen was ever used during any of the 4 exams I took.

+1 to this.

I told myself that after 600+ hours of study for Level 3, if I failed, it wasn’t going to be because my calculator quit working or my pen ran out of ink. I had two calculators, 4 pens, and 5 pencils.

And I too only used one calculator, one pen, and one pencil.

I took only 1 calculator to levels 1 / 2.

funny enought, at L3, I got paranoid and figured that since I’m so close to the end, why risk even the 0.1% chance of calc failure. So I brought two.

Realistically though, just change battery a week before exam. Use it for a week in your last week of practice to make sure it’s not a bad battery and you’ll be just fine.

I agree, who cares what others think - I am not harming anyone and getting peace of mind :)… I even took a pen for my PM exam to be told by the proctor I dont need it :slight_smile:

12C for me, although if they allowed it, I think Level III could have been done on a basic Casio. I don’t recall any TVM calculations that necessiated anything more complex.

I always brought 2 calculators – had too many problems with sticky keys on one of them to take chances on exam day.

Bump. Any of the L3 candidates in this year’s pool care to comment?


Wish I had not started with this calculator. I literally can NOT use a regular calculator anymore. There’s somethng about hitting ‘enter’ after each number that I can not undo from my DNA.

HP-12C for life.