ACT to SAT Conversion
So you’ve finished prepping for the ACT test and have taken the exam. You have your score in hand, and now you’re curious as to what you would have gotten if you had taken the SAT test. Keep reading to explore the ACT to SAT conversion table and see what top schools think about these tests and how to compare them.
What is ACT to SAT Conversion
Many students make the decision to take either the SAT or the ACT on many different factors. This can depend on the state a student is from, their financial situation, what high school they attend, or the testing requirements of the colleges they wish to attend. It is common for students to take both exams for their college application, but not all are able to do so.
Therefore, it is extremely valuable for students to be able to convert the score they received on one test to a score on the other test. For example, if a student was only able to take the SAT but wanted to know what they would have gotten on the ACT, they can find their estimated composite score through an SAT-ACT conversion chart.
Why Convert ACT Score to SAT and Vice Versa
Alright, so we have this great tool to convert scores! But why? Why would a student care to know what they could have gotten on the opposite test?
There are a few reasons that this is valuable information. ACT-SAT conversion can help students figure out which test they’re better at so they know where to focus their studying efforts. By converting the exam score, students can better understand their performance and determine which test would better help their admission into numerous schools.
Also, by comparing their SAT score to an ACT score, and vice versa, students can determine their placement among their other test takers using the exams’ score percentiles. This can be useful while looking at the criteria that certain schools have for students regarding their SAT and/or ACT scores.
Who Uses These Conversion Tables?
According to the makers of the ACT exam, many individuals use ACT-SAT conversion tables to compare scores to determine various things such as best-fit colleges, college-readiness, and eligibility for scholarships and programs.
These individuals include:
- College counselors
- Students and their families
- K–12 educators
- Colleges/Universities/Higher education institutions
- Undergraduate admissions
- Scholarship organizations
- Athletic conferences
ACT To SAT Score Conversion Tables
Students often wish for a simple way to convert their scores from the ACT to the SAT or vice versa. Fortunately, there exist tables that do just that; these tables contain ACT/SAT concordance data.
But what is this “concordance data”? Well, concordance alludes to the relationship between exam scores, such as the SAT scores and ACT scores, which both test students on a similar, but not identical, academic basis. Thus, calculators and tables are not perfect predictors of test scores, but rather a means to compare the similar exams and give students a reasonable estimate of where they stand on the other exam.
New ACT-SAT Conversion Table
The makers of these two standardized tests, College Board and ACT Inc., worked together to create an accurate SAT-ACT concordance table to move between the two tests’ scores. This allows students to convert their ACT score to a score on the SAT and vice versa.
It is important to note again that these are not exact conversions but rather estimates to give students a good idea of where they stand in comparison to the other exams as well as where they stand relative to schools’ typical admitted students range of scores for each test.
The table below is the official SAT-ACT conversion table that countless students reference to compare their total scores:
Old ACT-SAT Conversion Chart
In 2016, the SAT revised its exam to better line up with the Common Core State Standards, which better aligned the SAT with the ACT. The time it took to take the exam was reduced and the subjects being tested were converted from Critical Reading, Writing, Mathematics, and Essay to Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (containing both the Reading and Writing sections of the exam), Mathematics, and optional Essay.
Also, the new SAT changed its scoring range from a score out of 2400 to a score out of 1600. This, therefore, changed the conversion tables drastically. Below is the old SAT to ACT conversion table:
How To Interpret The ACT-SAT Conversion Chart
Let’s say you scored a 26 on the ACT. Now you want to know what you would have scored on the SAT, both the old and the new tests. Using the tables above, a score of 26 translates to 1730 on the old SAT and a score range of 1230-1250 on the new SAT.
It is important to keep in mind that these conversions are not perfect- this is not an exact score that you would have received. Rather, these concordance tables provide an estimated score for a test based upon one test you did take.
Some schools such as Bradley University have calculators to convert the section scores between the exams. For example, a student can convert their math score from ACT to SAT to see where they rank in relation to math specifically among current students at these schools.
The Test Score Requirements For Certain Schools
Countless colleges and universities utilize ACT to SAT conversion tables to further quantify a student’s potential admission to their school. However, ACT-SAT conversions performed by schools don’t always match the official ACT-SAT conversions provided by College Board and ACT Inc. It is important to understand this and look into the conversions done by your desired schools to maximize your chances of admission!
When schools report their range of accepted ACT and SAT scores, they typically report their middle 50 percent ranges. This helps to discredit any startling outliers (e.g., admitted students with a perfect score or admitted students with a very low score) and correlates to the 25th through 75th percentile scores.
As an example, a school with an SAT middle 50 percent range of 1350-1480 has 25% of admitted students with a score of 1350 or lower, 50% between 1350-1480, and 25% of admitted students with a score of 1480 or higher.
These middle 50 percent ranges sometimes line up with the concordance tables, and sometimes they do not. The times when they don’t typically mean that a student has to perform better on one exam over the other to appear as a competitive applicant. So for some schools, it is better to take either the ACT or the SAT based on how they perform their conversions.
Below are some example schools to take a look at how they perform ACT-SAT conversions. It can be helpful to understand this process to make better-informed decisions about your own test prep when you know what schools you are applying to.
NYU SAT-ACT Score Requirement
NYU’s middle 50 percent range:
- SAT: 1310-1510
- ACT: 29-34
According to the new SAT to ACT conversion table, a score range of 1310-1510 correlates to a range of 28-34, meaning that students need to do better on the ACT to be competitive applicants within the 50 percent range.
Princeton SAT-ACT Score Requirement
Princeton’s middle 50 percent range:
- SAT: 1440-1570
- ACT: 32-35
A score range of 1440-1570 correlates to a range of 32-36. This is almost exactly the reported range, meaning that there is not a need to do better on one test over the other for Princeton.
Penn State SAT-ACT Score Requirement
Penn State’s middle 50 percent range:
- SAT: 1160-1360
- ACT: 25-30
A score range of 1160-1360 on the SAT converts to a range of 24-30 on the ACT, meaning that students need to do slightly better on the SAT than the ACT to be within the 50 percent range.
University Of Washington SAT-ACT Score Requirement
The University of Washington’s middle 50 percent range:
- SAT: 1200-1460
- ACT: 27-32
Looking at the new SAT conversion table above, we can see that an SAT score range of 1200-1460 correlates to an ACT range of 25-33, meaning that if a student scored 1200 on the SAT, they would be within range. However, if they converted their 1200 to an ACT score of 25, they would no longer be in range. So students must perform better on the ACT to be considered competitive.
MIT SAT-ACT Score Requirement
MIT’s middle 50 percent range:
- SAT: 1510-1600
- ACT: 34-36
A score range of 1510-1600 converts exactly to a range of 34-36, meaning that there is not a need to do better on one test over the other for MIT.
Yale SAT-ACT Score Requirement
Yale’s middle 50 percent range:
- SAT: 1460-1580
- ACT: 33-35
A score range of 1460-1580 correlates to a range of 33-36 meaning that students need to do slightly better on the SAT than the ACT to be within the 50 percent range.
Dartmouth SAT-ACT Score Requirement
Dartmouth’s middle 50 percent range:
- SAT: 1450-1550
- ACT: 32-35
An SAT score range of 1450-1550 converts to an ACT range of 33-35, meaning that students need to do slightly better on the SAT than the ACT to be within the 50 percent range at Dartmouth.
Harvard SAT-ACT Score Requirement
Harvard’s middle 50 percent range:
- SAT: 1460-1580
- ACT: 33-35
A score range of 1460-1580 converts exactly to a range of 33-36, meaning that students need to do slightly better on the SAT than the ACT to be within the 50 percent range.
How To Maximize Your Converted ACT/SAT Score
Okay, now comes the question: what do I need to remember about all of this? Remember that it is useful to know how schools convert ACT scores to SAT scores and vice versa, but this should not be the determining factor in which test you prepare for and take. Instead, you should focus on what test you could perform the best on to prove your academic abilities to colleges and universities.
As we just showed, although some schools’ conversions may differ from the official ACT-SAT conversion table, it is never by more than 1-2 ACT score points or 10-40 SAT score points. These minor fluctuations can be easily overcome with thoughtful and rigorous test prep, preparing for the test that works best for you.
So don’t use your desired schools’ middle 50 percent ranges as your goal, but rather use them to help shape your goal, while keeping your abilities and strengths in mind as well. The college admission process is all about maximizing your strengths, so it is your best bet to excel at the test you feel most comfortable with.
Be Prepared For Any Exam With SoFlo
Here at SoFlo tutoring, students from top colleges are prepared to help you reach your desired score on the SAT, the ACT, or both! Our tutors drill students in the best test-taking practices, provide official practice tests, and can encourage you along your test-prep journey so you can see the score you need. Schedule a free consultation to get started.
About the Author
Keli Pegula is a sophomore at Dartmouth on the Pre–Med track. She’s a SoFlo tutor who scored 1480 on her SATs and 34 on her ACTs. When she’s not at school in Hanover, she might be in her hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania — the town where the iconic TV show The Office is set!