EduReviewerBest CFA Calculator: Approved Options Only

Best CFA Calculator: Approved Options Only

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If you are interested in pursuing a career as a CFA or chartered financial analyst, you will have to undergo various tests and exams. The CFA tests certify and measure your integrity and competence before you officially become a financial analyst.

While dealing with these exams, you will become an expert in quantitative methods, economics, investment analysis, portfolio management, financial reporting, etc. In addition, you will gain analytical skills.

The main purpose of these exams is to help you enhance your career or find a new role in the sector of finance.

Most of the time the tests given by the CFA institute are multiple-choice, and the candidates are offered an opportunity to choose how to prepare.

A chartered financial analyst exam consists of a series of tests in three levels. Level I, Level II, and Level III.

On the first level, the questions you are going to receive are mainly about the basic knowledge of chartered financial analysts and comprehension of investment tools.

In the second test or Level II, there is a more complex analysis of valuing assets.

And in the third test or Level III, you will come across challenges that will make you think more analytically about wealth planning and portfolio management.

The CFA exams have strict rules, and one of the main ones is that only two models of calculators are authorized for use during such exams.

And even though there are just two allowed, still the question “which financial Calculator is best for CFA”? Is frequently asked among the candidates.

The two calculators allowed are:

Texas Instruments BA II Plus

BA II Plus calculator

Hewlett Packard 12C CFA

Although they are not available at the test center, you will have to bring one of the approved calculators with you on the day of the Exam.

You are not allowed to share a calculator or borrow one from another candidate during the time of the Exam.

Before the Exam, all calculators are inspected. After the inspection is done, you will also have to clear the memory from your Calculator.

You are not allowed to use an unauthorized calculator during your Exam, and if you do that, your Exam will be voided. If the proctors fail to detect an unauthorized calculator before the start of the Exam.

Or, if you use such a calculator during the Exam, you are not complying with the calculator policy.

Although you are allowed to have keystroke cards, covers for your Calculator, and extra batteries with you in the test room.

But instruction manuals are not, so you may want to carry a small screwdriver with you just in case you have to change batteries.

With that said, let’s dive a bit deeper and explain each financial Calculator for the CFA exam individually.

Because besides the fact that they are used for the same purpose, the two of those best CFA calculators are different in their way. Each course provide solide packages. Wiley vs Schweser, which is the best CFA review course? Compare and find out.

Hewlett Packard 12 C vs. Texas Instruments BA II Plus


The TI BA II plus models have an algebraic operating system, which Is easy to use and understandable to anyone.

On the other hand, the HP 12C models have an RPN or Reverse Polish Notation, which can be more complicated.

For example, in the TI BA II PLUS, you can input 115+89201, and in the HP 12 C, you should input 115 89201 +.

Also, both of these calculators have their pros and cons, so let’s see them.

Pros: Cons: Pros: Cons:
Easy-to-read LCD The battery needs to be changed every few months. Easy to read clear character display.
Buttons can be faulty.
Can calculate up to 24 uneven cash flows with frequencies of up to 4 digits. No solar feature. Keystroke programming with storage of up to 400 steps.
It is designed using RPN, so you will need to learn different settings to use the HP 12 C.
Able to calculate time-value-of-money calculations. No Rubber Feet. Comes with a padded carrying case that protects the calculator from any damage.
It is more expensive than the competition.
Determine cash flow analysis using IRR and NPV.
Great Build Quality.
Works with both standard and worksheet modes.
Feature Rich.
Carries a second key feature.
Easy-press buttons.

Choosing the best calculator for the CFA exam is important, but so is the review cmyse you choose. For more insights, you can check my comparison of AnalystPrep vs BionicTurtle.

Texas Instruments BA II Plus

BA II Plus calculator

Only two models from this Calculator are approved and allowed for CFA. Those are the Texas Instruments BA II Plus and the Texas Instruments BA II Plus Professional.

So, you may wonder what makes them different from each other and which is the CFA exam calculator’s best choice.

Let’s start with the TI BA II PLUS basic version. It is relatively inexpensive but still among the best financial Calculators for CFA.

It performs similarly to popular calculators such as the NPV and IRR, and it will do the job for every type of financial course or Exam. This calculator is often recommended as the best Calculator for CFA level 1.

Texas Instruments BA II Plus Professional Financial Calculator


When choosing the best financial Calculator for CFA from the Texas Instruments BA II Plus and the Texas Instruments BA II Plus Professional, the professional model is better.

Still, some complain that the keys are difficult to press and that it registers slowly, but the keypad feels more solid, and the design is superior to the one on the TI BA II Plus.

So, if you don’t mind paying a bit more, get the professional version.

Hewlett Packard 12 C


The HP 12 C is known as the best Calculator for the CFA exam, and it is a calculator that has existed for more than 30 years. It is used and adored by many people in the banking and finance community.

And when it comes to CFA exams, some of its models are allowed to use: HP 12C Platinum, 12C 30th-anniversary edition, 12C Platinum 25th anniversary edition.

HP 12 C Platinum Edition


The HP 12 C platinum is way better than the HP 12 C. it is an enhanced version that performs faster.

It offers up to six times faster speeds when calculating loan payments, TVM, interest rates, or standard divisions.

Which One is Better?

Texas Instruments models are newer models compared to the HP 12c. But, if you already own an HP 12c and are familiar with it, don’t bother buying a new one.

Because besides the fact that it is an older model, is it still faster and sturdier than the Texas Instruments BA II?

best calculator for CFA

However, if you don’t own one, buying the TI BA II, especially the platinum model, would be the right choice. It is more affordable, offers similar quality, and is easy to use for beginners.

You can also use it in another financial certification such as ERP or FRM.

o, make sure that you think twice before choosing to purchase the best financial calculator for the CFA exam.

Calculator BA II Plus

When searching for the best calculator for the CFA exam, you might also want to look at other resources that can help you succeed in your CFA journey. Take a look at my TestHQ review for more information.


Which financial Calculator is best for CFA?

Both the Hewlett Packard 12C and the Texas Instruments BA II Plus are known as the best. So, it all depends on you.

If you are a beginner, then the TI BA II is the right for you, and if you are more experienced and don’t mind paying a bit more then the right choice would be the HP12C

Do we need calculators for CFA Level 1?

The simple answer would be yes! You have to answer those complicated calculations in around 90 seconds, so it would be impossible for you to pass the Exam without one.

By Alina Burakova
Updated on January 6, 2024
Verified by Max Zabairatskii
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