ACT-to-SAT Conversion: How Do Your Scores Translate?
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- Many U.S. colleges use SAT and ACT scores to help make admission decisions.
- Official SAT-to-ACT conversion charts can help you see how scores compare across exams.
- Conversion charts can't predict with 100% accuracy what score you'll get on the other test.
Every year, millions of high school students take the SAT and ACT — the two most widely used college entrance exams in the U.S. Many colleges review applicants' SAT and ACT scores during the admissions process.
While the two exams share some similarities in form and content, the ACT and SAT aren't identical. One key difference is how they're scored. The SAT uses a score range of 400-1600, whereas the ACT uses a score range of 1-36. So how do you compare scores from the exams?
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Fortunately, ACT Inc. and the College Board created an official ACT-to-SAT conversion chart that students, schools, educators, and parents can use to compare ACT vs. SAT scores.
Official SAT-to-ACT Conversion Chart
The following ACT-to-SAT conversion chart is the official concordance table made by ACT Inc., which administers the ACT, and the College Board, which administers the SAT.
Released in 2018, this chart allows test-takers, parents/guardians, teachers, counselors, and college admissions officers to compare scores between the ACT and SAT.
Note that these conversions are estimates and cannot predict with 100% accuracy how someone may perform if they took the other test.
|ACT Composite||SAT Total||ACT Composite||SAT Total|
ACT vs. SAT Scores: Conversion Charts by Section
In addition to the general SAT-to-ACT conversion chart above, the College Board and ACT Inc. released two subject-specific concordance tables: one for math and one for reading and writing.
The math table below compares ACT Math scores with SAT Math scores. Because the SAT does not have a separate Science section like the ACT does, there is no concordance chart for science-related scores.
|ACT Math||SAT Math||ACT Math||SAT Math|
The following reading and writing concordance table converts SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) scores — which is a combination of your Reading and Writing and Language scores — into ACT English + Reading scores (and vice versa).
Note that ACT scores go up to 72 to account for the fact that ACT Reading and ACT English scores, which each use a scale of 1-36, have been added together.
|ACT English + Reading||SAT EBRW||ACT English + Reading||SAT EBRW|
How to Use SAT-to-ACT Conversion Charts
Students can use the above ACT-to-SAT conversion charts to see how their SAT or ACT scores compare, to inform the college search process, and to assess their readiness for college.
Though not 100% accurate, these charts can also help you see where you're likely to score on the other exam, which is useful for students debating whether to take the SAT or ACT.
Other people who may need to use SAT-to-ACT conversion charts include the following:
- Guidance Counselors: Can use ACT-to-SAT conversion charts to counsel and guide high school students in their college exploration and assess students' preparedness for college-level coursework.
- Teachers: Can use conversion charts to aggregate scores across tests and assess students' readiness for college.
- Policymakers: Can use conversions to aggregate scores across the two tests and assess students' preparedness for college, adjusting curricula and resources for areas that may need improvement.
- Researchers: Can use concordance tables to aggregate scores across the two exams to measure college readiness for specific student populations.
- Colleges and Universities: Can use SAT-to-ACT conversion charts to determine eligibility for admission, assess overall college readiness, and award scholarships. Schools can also use these tables for predictive modeling and to compare test scores across particular groups of students.
Frequently Asked Questions About ACT-to-SAT Conversion
What are the limitations with using SAT-to-ACT conversion charts?
Students can use official SAT-to-ACT conversion charts to see how scores on one test could translate into scores on the other test. However, there are some limitations to these charts.
One major limitation is that the concordance tables are sample-dependent and have been statistically weighted to reflect the students who took one or both exams.
Additionally, the score conversions are not precise and have standard errors. As a result, you cannot use SAT-to-ACT conversion charts to predict with 100% accuracy how you might perform on the other exam.
Can colleges superscore across SAT and ACT tests?
Both ACT Inc. and the College Board discourage colleges from superscoring across the ACT and SAT. Superscoring is when a school takes the best results from individual test sections, even if they were earned on different test dates.
So even if you scored higher in ACT Math than you did on SAT Math, the school should not combine your ACT Math score with your SAT EBRW score to create one combined SAT/ACT superscore.
According to ACT Inc. and the College Board, superscoring across the two tests "is an imprecise way of understanding whether a student meets a certain academic threshold."
Is the SAT or ACT harder?
Due to their similarities in structure and content, the SAT and ACT are generally considered comparable in difficulty. Whether the SAT or ACT is harder for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your subject skills, content knowledge, and test-taking preferences.
One easy way you can figure out which test may work better for you is to take an official SAT practice test and an official ACT practice test, and then compare your scores on both. Whichever one you scored higher on will likely be the easier exam for you.