SAT to ACT Conversion Chart – 2023
In the past, prospective college applicants had just two choices regarding standardized testing—taking the SAT or sitting for the ACT. In 2023, test-optional has become a stronger-than-ever third consideration as such policies have spread rapidly, particularly since the disruption caused by COVID-19. When comparing the SAT and ACT, colleges do not favor one test over another. Rather, highly-selective colleges are looking for superior scores on either the SAT or ACT. Given these two choices before you, it can be a useful exercise to compare the equivalent scores by viewing an SAT to ACT conversion chart. Doing so can give you a deeper understanding of the value of your score and inform future retake decisions. We will explore this topic in the following blog and also look at some major differences between the SAT and ACT.
SAT vs ACT
When considering how the SAT ACT conversion is calculated, one needs to understand that these tests are quite different from one another. Major differences between the SAT and ACT include:
The ACT has a Science section
Don’t let the Science label scare you away. The ACT Science section assesses graph/chart/research study interpretation and reading comprehension, rather than any specific content knowledge of biology, chemistry or physics. That being said, students who like science are usually less distracted by mentions of metamorphic rocks or RNA than science-avoidant students. Again, you don’t need to be a scientific scholar to excel on this test, but it’s worth taking multiple practice tests in order to get accustomed to wading through the jargon so you can focus on what the question is really assessing.
SAT vs. ACT time per question
The ACT offers longer sections and shorter time intervals, so speed and time management are important to scoring high. Test-takers must complete 215 questions or one math question every minute, one English question every 36 seconds, and one Reading/Science question every 52 seconds. The SAT is just 154 questions in length, translating to 1 minute and 10 seconds per question. However, the test’s questions are quite reading-intensive, even in the math section, meaning that the extra time is less a case of charity and more one of necessity.
Writing is still an option on the ACT
A couple years back, the SAT ended their experiment with an optional writing portion of the SAT. The ACT continues to have an optional 40-minute essay section.
SAT to ACT Conversion Chart
These numbers are in line with the latest concordance tables released by ACT
|SAT Score||ACT Score|
If you are scoring under a 730 on the SAT or 13 on the ACT, you will want to strongly consider applying test-optional.
How was this table developed?
The technical terms for the above chart is a “concordance” table, which translate to an attempt to spell out the relationship between scores on two very different assessments. It is not an exact calculation of what you would score on one test versus another. Rather, the concordance tables give an approximate equivalent based on scores that share a strong statistical relationship. These calculations are made based on hundreds of thousands of sample test-takers, giving them a solid level of reliability.
SAT to ACT Score Conversion – Final Thoughts
Not happy with your current SAT or ACT score? No reason to panic yet. You have many options at this juncture. For one, you can study for the test you already took. Having more baseline data can be essential in formulating a plan for targeted study. Repeat SAT-takers see an average gain of roughly 40 points. Those who study utilizing free resources see even greater gains. For example, one study found that students who utilized the Khan Academy for 20 hours saw an average SAT gain of 115 points.
The other option is to try the alternative test. While it is hard to predict on paper whether a student will perform better on the SAT or ACT, there is no harm in trying both exams.
SAT to ACT Score Conversion – Additional Resources
You may also wish to visit our Dataverse pages/blogs for:
- SAT and ACT policies at hundreds of top U.S. colleges
- SAT Test Dates 2022-23 and advice on when to take the SAT for the first time
- ACT Test Dates 2022-23 and advice on when to take the SAT for the first time
- PSAT to SAT Score Conversion Chart
Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).