ACT vs. SAT Score Conversion & Comparison

Converting an ACT score to an SAT score isn’t like converting miles to kilometers. There’s no “right answer”, no exact value of what an ACT score is worth in SAT points. They are different tests, testing different skills, taken by different students. There are a lot of factors at work here, and several different ways to look at the data.

The makers of the ACT and The College Board, which administers the SAT, conducted a joint study of con­cordance between the two tests, available on the website for either program. This study examined the performance of students from the class of 2006 who took the newest versions of both tests, including the new Writing sections. The results were separated into two tables: one compared ACT Composite scores to SAT Critical Reading and Math scores (see Column B in the table); the other compared ACT English/Writing combined scores to SAT Writing scores (not shown).

Because they’re separated into two studies, the results can be difficult to use. Many students want to compare their final SAT score (the sum of Critical Reading, Math, and Writing scores) to their ACT Composite score. The ACT developed a formula to estimate a student’s final SAT score based on a given Critical Reading and Math score (see Column A). For your reference, we’ve also included the average single-section SAT score based on that Estimated combined score (see Column C).

This table is not a predictor of performance. It does not mean that a student who gets a 26 on the ACT willdefinitely get a 1770 on the SAT. That student may not even get close to 1770. It just means that those two scores represent, in general, a roughly similar skill level.

However, you can use this chart to see whether you’re doing better on one test than on another. Colleges often use charts like this to compare students who have taken different tests. So if you got a 26 on the ACT but a 1530 on the SAT, colleges will know your 26 is a better score and will likely value it more highly. If you’re not sure which test you should take, take a practice test of each type before doing any preparation work. If you score significantly higher on one of them, that’s the test you should focus your prep work on.

It’s also important to remember that these tables areapproximations. SAT scores in particular should be thought of as a range, not an absolute number. If you got a 26 on the ACT and a 1740 on the SAT, that doesnot mean you are doing better on the ACT. The concordance considers any score within 20 or 30 points of the SAT scores shown in columns A and B to be equivalent.

Of course, the best source of information is from colleges themselves. Look up the schools you’re interested in and find out the SAT and ACT ranges of incoming students. That’s the best way you can see how well you stack up against your competition.

Sources:

ACT Comp.

Col. A

Est. CR + M + W

Col. B

SAT 
CR + M

Col. C

Avg. section

36

2390

1600

800

35

2330

1560

780

34

2250

1510

750

33

2180

1460

730

32

2120

1420

710

31

2060

1380

690

30

2000

1340

670

29

1940

1300

650

28

1880

1260

630

27

1820

1220

610

26

1770

1190

590

25

1710

1150

570

24

1650

1110

550

23

1590

1070

530

22

1530

1030

510

21

1470

990

490

20

1410

950

470

19

1350

910

450

18

1290

870

430

17

1230

830

410

16

1170

790

390

15

1100

740

370

14

1020

690

340

13

950

640

320

12

870

590

290

11

780

530

260

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