FAQ Exam Which calculator do you recommend?

Suzanne Evans

Well-Known Member
The following is the updated list on the GARP website for approved calculators: https://www.garp.org/frm/exam-policies#calculator-policy


A valid list is:
I (David) still prefer, and I suspect the most common, is the TI BA II+. The advantage of the TI is that it's intuitive and quick to ramp-up on its use (e.g., no RPN notation, although you can turn off RPN in the HP). You don't need the TI BA II+ professional, although it has extra functions (that you don't need for the exam) but it has a better metal front and, why i really prefer it, the keys are firmer so I find that my data entry is a little more confident.

The HP 12C is powerful, in a nutshell, IMO it has a steeper learning curve but then you have a bit more power and flexibility (however, in terms of the exam, this is not really a benefit: the exam only requires usage of basic set of functions including TVM; as per the question above, the powerful bond functions generally should be avoided in the exam unless you are expert, for they will get you into trouble. For exam purposes, bond questions will only require your familiarity with basics)

The HP 20b , it has been noted in these forums, is unique among these calculators because it offers built-in CDF and inverse CDF for the four sampling distributions (e.g., inverse normal CDF). However, strictly speaking, you don't need these functions for the exam.

My bottom line on calculators: the FRM exam only requires your facility with a basic subset of functions; e.g., LN(), EXP(), powers/roots for compounding/discounting; TVM including for bonds. Therefore, any of them are quite sufficient. More important than selection is that, having selected one, you practice and get comfortable with yours.
 
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SamuelMartin

New Member
I've seen that there is a specific type of financial calculators allow for the exam. I recently bought one of them, Texas Instruments BA II Plus , and don't know how to use it yet.

As you all know, there are many, many formulas for the FRM exam. So I was wondering how can I know which of those formulas I have actually to use in the financial calculator and if there is anywhere or anyone has a list of Formulas that can be calculated in the Calculator for the FRM.

For instance, how can I know if the financial calculator calculates the NPV, treynor rario, sharpe ratio, capital market Lin, Jensen Alpha, etc?

Thank you very much
 

David Harper CFA FRM

David Harper CFA FRM
Staff member
Subscriber
Hi SamuelMartin,

The TI BA II+ is a good choice. You will use it for all calculations, and it will perform all necessary calculations (the one "exception" is the standard normal critical Z ["lookup"] value--e.g., one tailed 95% Z = 1.645, however GARP will provide this table/value). I would encourage you to look at this differently (although we will be publishing an updated formula sheet before the Nov exam), which is to say that I think the elements here are:
  • Achieve basic proficiency with your calculator (by practice)
  • Achieve familiarity with the core formulas (by practice, mostly)
  • As the exam near, increase proficiency (i.e., of applying calculator to questions) with by working practice questions
Once you see the Sharpe ratio (for example) in action, you'll realize that it requires only the basics of the calculator: parenthesis, subtraction, and division. This is the nature of the FRM, thankfully; it is not a test of the advanced functionality of any calculator. (But this is also a reflection of much of finance.) Even the most difficult interest rate swap calculation, in the FRM, is difficult only because it combines subtraction and division.

For your TI BA II+, you will need to know:
  • The arithmetic; e.g., multiplication
  • The powers and roots
  • Factorial: x!
  • The inverse functions of LN() and e^x
  • The third row of time value of money (TVM) functions, which correspond to bond pricing
  • (optional) NPV and IRR
  • Administrative functions like FORMAT
I hope that helps,
 

kik92

Member
A valid list is:
  • Hewlett Packard 12C (including the HP 12C Platinum and the Anniversary Edition)
  • Hewlett Packard 10B II
  • Hewlett Packard 10B II+
  • Hewlett Packard 20B
  • Texas Instruments BA II Plus (including the BA II Plus Professional)
I (David) still prefer, and I suspect the most common, is the TI BA II+. The advantage of the TI is that it's intuitive and quick to ramp-up on its use (e.g., no RPN notation, although you can turn off RPN in the HP). You don't need the TI BA II+ professional, although it has extra functions (that you don't need for the exam) but it has a better metal front and, why i really prefer it, the keys are firmer so I find that my data entry is a little more confident.

The HP 12C is powerful, in a nutshell, IMO it has a steeper learning curve but then you have a bit more power and flexibility (however, in terms of the exam, this is not really a benefit: the exam only requires usage of basic set of functions including TVM; as per the question above, the powerful bond functions generally should be avoided in the exam unless you are expert, for they will get you into trouble. For exam purposes, bond questions will only require your familiarity with basics)

The HP 20b , it has been noted in these forums, is unique among these calculators because it offers built-in CDF and inverse CDF for the four sampling distributions (e.g., inverse normal CDF). However, strictly speaking, you don't need these functions for the exam.

My bottom line on calculators: the FRM exam only requires your facility with a basic subset of functions; e.g., LN(), EXP(), powers/roots for compounding/discounting; TVM including for bonds. Therefore, any of them are quite sufficient. More important than selection is that, having selected one, you practice and get comfortable with yours.

Hi David,

Does what you said above still apply for the FRM 2016 P1 exam? I will most probably be getting the Texas Instruments BA II Plus and just wanted to confirm that it would not be missing any functions required for the exam. Thanks!
 

Mkaim

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Hi David,

Does what you said above still apply for the FRM 2016 P1 exam? I will most probably be getting the Texas Instruments BA II Plus and just wanted to confirm that it would not be missing any functions required for the exam. Thanks!

Hi @kik92 , I have a BA II Plus Professional and also a BA II Plus... I like the Professional series due to it's look mainly in addition to the battery life, going 7 years without changing the battery; as for functionality, it has more than enough for the FRM as I've used it for both part 1 and 2.
 

Dr. Jayanthi Sankaran

Well-Known Member
Hi @kik92,

I have a Texas Instruments BA II Plus professional. As far as I know, Texas Instruments BA II Plus is one of the GARP approved calculators.

You can double check by going to the GARP website.

Hope that helps!
 

brian.field

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Hi @kik92 , I have a BA II Plus Professional and also a BA II Plus... I like the Professional series due to it's look mainly in addition to the battery life, going 7 years without changing the battery; as for functionality, it has more than enough for the FRM as I've used it for both part 1 and 2.
Incidentally, I was studying for the SOA's MFE exam last year and they allow the TI -30XS (or something like that). On my way to the FRM II exam last week, I double checked the calculator list and realized that it was NOT an approved calculator! Stopped at staples in the way! (Thankfully, I was already familiar with the BAII Plus). Crisis averted! I am such an idiot.
 

David Harper CFA FRM

David Harper CFA FRM
Staff member
Subscriber
Hi @kik92 Yes, according to the latest at http://www.garp.org/#!/frm/frequently-asked-questions the same list applies (see below)
  • Texas Instruments BA II Plus (both versions), including the BA II Plus Professional
  • Hewlett Packard 10B II,10B II+,20B
  • Hewlett Packard 12C (including the HP 12C Platinum and the Anniversary Edition)
0531-calculators.png


I have three (TA II+, TA II+ Pro and HP 12C) but I'm with @Mkaim : my favorite is the TA II+ Pro, i like its solid feeling and geez the battery just will not quit ...
 

Delo

Active Member
Subscriber
My bottom line on calculators: the FRM exam only requires your facility with a basic subset of functions; e.g., LN(), EXP(), powers/roots for compounding/discounting; TVM including for bonds. Therefore, any of them are quite sufficient. More important than selection is that, having selected one, you practice and get comfortable with yours.
I used HP12C later switched to BA II plus. I found HP12C too unfriendly. Keep it simple.
BUT Golden words:- 'More important than selection is that, having selected one, you practice and get comfortable with yours.'
Esp. for Part 1 candidates, please know how to hammer your calculator - STORE RECALL from memory, Date Difference, TVM are absolutely must !
In part 1, I actually created a folder for Calc related stuff.
upload_2016-6-1_12-38-32.png
 
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kik92

Member
Thank you for all your useful feedback :) I have decided on the TI BA II +

Could someone kindly confirm that both calculators in the link below will be approved for the FRM Exam?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Texas-Inst...&sr=8-1&keywords=texas+instruments+ba+ii+plus

https://www.amazon.co.uk/BAIIPlus-F...&sr=8-2&keywords=texas+instruments+ba+ii+plus

(I am a little paranoid since I know how strict they are about having the correct calculator) I would assume that the "BAIIPlus Financial Calculator, 10-Digit LCD" is the standard BAII plus calculator used in the US too?
 

Mkaim

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Thank you for all your useful feedback :) I have decided on the TI BA II +

Could someone kindly confirm that both calculators in the link below will be approved for the FRM Exam?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Texas-Inst...&sr=8-1&keywords=texas+instruments+ba+ii+plus

https://www.amazon.co.uk/BAIIPlus-F...&sr=8-2&keywords=texas+instruments+ba+ii+plus

(I am a little paranoid since I know how strict they are about having the correct calculator) I would assume that the "BAIIPlus Financial Calculator, 10-Digit LCD" is the standard BAII plus calculator used in the US too?

@David Harper CFA FRM also provided pictures above, you can cross reference.
 

surojitpalb

Member
Dear All,

Between which of the two (Texas BA II Plus or Professional) should I consider solely for FRM exams and not for any other exams?
 

seidu

Member
No calculator is built solely for FRM. They are built for Business Analyst related programs (FRM, CFA etc.....)
You can't get a calculator for solely for FRM @surojitpalb !!!
 

kevolution

Member
I used BAII+ and it was good enough. Although, I had an older version and the proctor almost didn't let me use it since it wasn't one of the ones pictured on GARPs allowed calculators. I might have to invest in a newer version.
 

avavida

New Member
I'm a finance major and the HP 10bII has been very highly recommended by all of my professors so far. In fact, I once asked if I should think
 

lavi5h

Member
I used HP12C later switched to BA II plus. I found HP12C too unfriendly. Keep it simple.
BUT Golden words:- 'More important than selection is that, having selected one, you practice and get comfortable with yours.'
Esp. for Part 1 candidates, please know how to hammer your calculator - STORE RECALL from memory, Date Difference, TVM are absolutely must !
In part 1, I actually created a folder for Calc related stuff.
View attachment 654

Hi Delo,

I could not open the files that you shared. Can you help me with my inquiries?
 

Nicole Seaman

Director of FRM Operations
Staff member
Hi Delo,

I could not open the files that you shared. Can you help me with my inquiries?
Hello @lavi5h

I believe that Delo was only sharing that he had created "created a folder for Calc related stuff" in his comment. He was not actually sharing his personal files, but showing an image of the files that he had saved in his folder. If you could share your questions here, we would be happy to help answer them.

Thank you,

Nicole
 

lporfiris

New Member
So far I have noticed that some end of chapter problems make it difficult to get to the correct answer with my HP12c. For example, 20! Divided by 18!. I am pretty committed to the HP12c, and since this is an approved calculator, is it safe to assume that GARP won't ask questions that have digits that exceed the calculator screen capacity?
 
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