Your Official ACT to SAT Score Conversion Chart
In this post, we’ll discuss the two primary standardized tests taken by college applicants: the SAT and the ACT. We’ll discuss how each is scored, the scoring scales, and how you can perform an SAT-to-ACT conversion, as well as an ACT-to-SAT conversion.
How Is the SAT Scored?
Up until 2016, the SAT had three sections, with each being worth up to 800 points. On that test, students received a score between 200-800 on every section and could achieve a composite score between 600-2400, calculated simply be adding up their section score totals.
Now, the SAT is back to two sections, each worth up to 800 points. There is an optional third section that is composed of an essay, but it is scored on a separate scale and not included in the composite score. On the most recent version of the SAT, students can achieve a composite score from 400-1600. This can get a little confusing when comparing scores. For example, if your older sibling scored a 1900 on their SAT, your recent score of 1480 may actually be more impressive, since it represents a higher achievement on a smaller scale.
In any case, your final SAT section scores and composite scores are calculated through an equating process in which raw score data is converted to the 800-point scale. The exact process for this involves scanning your answer sheet to count the number of correct answers. This is your raw score, but you’ll never see it. Your raw score then undergoes an equating process to account for the specific difficulty of each version of the test. Equating results in your final section scores on the 800-point scale.
Scaled scores make it possible for you to compare scores from different versions of the SAT, but it remains challenging to compare SAT vs. ACT scores, where the scoring scale differs significantly.
How Is the ACT Scored?
The scoring scale for the ACT is 1-36, and this is true regardless of whether you’re talking about a specific section or your composite score. Each section is graded individually from 1-36, and your scores on each section are then averaged to find your composite score. Fractions more than or equal to one half are rounded up to the nearest whole number, while fractions under one half are rounded down to the nearest whole number.
The process for scoring an ACT is both careful and complex. It is similar to that of scoring the SAT in that neither is scored on a student-based curve, but both account for the slightly varying difficulty of different versions of the tests. The ACT does actually refer to this process as a curve, but it is not the kind of student-based curve most people are accustomed to hearing about. Instead of being based on the performance of your peers, this curve is test-specific and designed to correct for slight variations in the difficulty of each test.
This is an important process because multiple tests and test versions are administered each year, and despite all efforts to make the tests exactly the same level of difficulty, this is nearly impossible to accomplish. Instead, each question on the ACT is weighted according to its individual difficulty, and these weights are accounted for through the ACT curving process.
How Can I Convert My SAT Score to an ACT Score, or Convert My ACT Score to an SAT Score?
Converting your raw SAT or ACT score to a section score and composite score is only part of the process when it comes to comparing standardized test scores. These make it simple to compare your SAT score to other SAT scores, or to compare your ACT score to other ACT scores. It still does not allow you to compare SAT scores to ACT scores. To compare your SAT to ACT scores (and vice versa), you must either perform an SAT-to-ACT conversion or an ACT-to-SAT conversion.
To convert your SAT score to the ACT scale, or the other way around, you’ll need to refer to the official concordance charts produced by the CollegeBoard. These tables provide a handy and up-to-date reference for converting your scores. For the sake of simplicity, we’ve copied the charts below. If you’d like to see them in their entirety, be sure to visit the Guide to the 2018 ACT®/SAT® Concordance.
SAT to ACT Conversion:
*An asterisk indicates that you should use this SAT score when a single score point comparison is needed
|SAT Score||ACT Score||SAT Percentile||ACT Percentile|
ACT to SAT Conversion
|ACT||SAT||SAT Range||ACT Percentile|
Note: Concordance tables for the ACT Composite were derived from concordances of the ACT sum score.
Why Knowing Your Converted SAT/ACT Score is Important
You’ll notice numerous similarities comparing the SAT vs. ACT; however, there are also a handful of subtle differences between the two tests. Because of these differences, students generally perform better on one than the other. It’s recommended before committing to taking either the SAT or the ACT that students take practice versions of both tests to see which format favors them—knowing how SAT compared with ACT scores translate offers valuable insight into determining which test is best for you.
Another valuable piece of information obtained from knowing how SAT scores compare to ACT scores is an improved understanding of your overall performance, and how it compares to the applicants you’ll compete against for admission.
If you’re preparing for your SAT or ACT, don’t miss these important preparation tools:
SAT Prep Resources
Your Guide to Free SAT Prep Classes
How to Pace Yourself on Every Section of the SAT
What is a Good SAT Essay Score?
ACT Prep Resources
Top 10 ACT Tips for Acing the Exam
What’s the Highest ACT Score Possible?
Additional SAT & ACT Resources
How Many SAT or ACT Practice Tests Should You Take?
Preparing for the SAT? Download our free guide with our top 8 tips for mastering the SAT.
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