Comparing SAT & ACT Scores: SAT/ACT Conversion Table

ACT Table A:College Board Study Table C:Admissions Data Table B:Percentile Match[1]
36 1600 1600 1600
35 1580 1580 1570
34 1520 1550 1540
33 1470 1510 1510
32 1420 1470 1480
31 1380 1420 1460
30 1340 1380 1430
29 1300 1340 1375
28 1260 1300 1330
27 1220 1250 1290
26 1180 1210 1250
25 1140 1170 1210
24 1110 1130 1170
23 1070 1090 1125
22 1030 1040 1090
21 990 1000 1050
20 950 960 1005
19 910 920 960
18 870 880 925
17 830 830 880
16 780 790 835
15 740 750 785
14 680 710 730
13 620 660 685
12 560 620 605
11 500 580 580
Table A taken from collegeboard.comAll data compares ACT Composite Score with SAT Reading and Math only.

A-List Education, the education experts who brought you Vocab Videos, put together this SAT/ACT conversion chart to help you figure out how the two test scores correlate. 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. There are a lot of factors at work here, and several different ways to look at the data.

As any simple web search will show you, there are many SAT-ACT conversion tables out there. Many of these tables are taken from score comparison data available on the College Board website (see Table A). This chart is based on a study of test scores from 1994 to 1996. It’s a comparison based on skill: if you get score X on the SAT, you’ll get score Y on the ACT. It’s probably the most reliable chart out there in that it’s the product of a rigorous scientific study commissioned by people who know about this sort of thing. However, it uses data from the old SAT. The College Board will tell you that the scores should be comparable, but let’s see if there’s any fresher data available.

Fresher data is readily available in the form of percentiles. Both the SAT and ACT publish tables of the percentiles of test-takers who achieved a particular score. So A-List took data from 2005 to 2007 and matched up the scores on the two tests that correspond to the same percentile (see Table B). This chart shows significantly higher SAT scores for corresponding ACT scores than the College Board table does. The problem is that this is an unscientific study, so there could be other factors contributing to the score distribution.

Both these charts seek to equate scores based on the ability of students: a student who gets score X on one test is likely to get score Y on the other. But this overlooks why these scores matter at all: college admissions. These charts don’t tell us the value of the scores with respect to actual admissions decisions. Perhaps colleges treat the tests differently. Perhaps a college will accept a student in the 80th percentile of the SAT but require the 85th percentile of the ACT, or vice versa.

So A-List took a look at the college admissions data in the 2008 U.S. News and World Report guide and matched the SAT and ACT scores of incoming students at each college. They found those numbers were somewhat in between the previous two charts. This chart has the same concern about scientific validity as Table B, but it’s the best way to directly gauge how much a score is actually worth to colleges. Read More…

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