SAT to ACT Conversion Chart – 2024

March 6, 2023

sat to act score conversion

In the past, prospective college applicants had just two choices regarding standardized testing—taking the SAT or sitting for the ACT. In 2024, 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
1600 36
1590 36
1580 36
1570 36
1560 35
1550 35
1540 35
1530 35
1520 34
1510 34
1500 34
1490 34
1480 33
1470 33
1460 33
1450 33
1440 32
1430 32
1420 32
1410 31
1400 31
1390 31
1380 30
1370 30
1360 30
1350 29
1340 29
1330 29
1320 28
1310 28
1300 28
1290 27
1280 27
1270 27
1260 27
1250 26
1240 26
1230 26
1220 25
1210 25
1200 25
1190 24
1180 24
1170 24
1160 24
1150 23
1140 23
1130 23
1120 22
1110 22
1100 22
1090 21
1080 21
1070 21
1060 21
1050 20
1040 20
1030 20
1020 19
1010 19
1000 19
990 19
980 18
970 18
960 18
950 17
940 17
930 17
920 17
910 16
900 16
890 16
880 16
870 15
860 15
850 15
840 15
830 15
820 14
810 14
800 14
790 14
780 14
770 13
760 13
750 13
740 13
730 13

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

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