Bonus Material: Step-by-step plan for choosing between the SAT and ACT

Want to know how to turn your SAT score into an ACT score? Or convert your ACT score into an SAT score?

Fortunately, this is easy to do using the 2018 ACT®/SAT® concordance tables. These tables are the only official way to compare SAT and ACT scores.

Comparing SAT and ACT scores is an essential part of test prep and college applications. You can use the concordance tables to determine which score is higher, and submit scores from only that test to college.

Download our step-by-step guide for how to try both the SAT and the ACT at home and make a test prep plan that plays to your strengths.

SAT or ACT? Follow our step-by-step guide to decide

Bonus Material: Step-by-step guide to decide whether you should take the SAT or ACT


Why SAT to ACT conversion is powerful

These concordance tables are very powerful tools that allow students to see what an equivalent score would be on the other test.

There are two big moments to use score conversion: when you’re making a test prep plan, and when you’re submitting your college application.

About half of the students in the US take the SAT, and about half of the students take the ACT. These days, colleges are accepting both tests equally for admissions.

Comparing SAT and ACT participation rates

Use SAT to ACT conversion for test prep planning

The SAT and ACT are similar tests that are both designed to measure college-readiness, but they are different enough that many students score better on one test than on the other.

For this reason, we often recommend that students try both tests. 

We know from admissions data that about 20% of students admitted to top-tier schools actually submitted great scores for both the SAT and the ACT. This is not necessary and does not improve admissions chances, but it highlights how it has now become common practice for students to try both tests.

Some students feel much more comfortable with one test than with the other.

We explore the differences between the ACT and the SAT in this post, and we can use those differences to predict which test will play to a given student’s strengths.

Play to your strengths and prep the test with the higher score

Sometimes the results are surprising, though, so we recommend that students try both the SAT and the ACT, at least with a full timed practice test at home. We also recommend that students try the other test if they reach a plateau in their score improvements. We regularly help students navigate these decisions in our one-on-one test prep tutoring.

Use SAT to ACT conversion when you’re submitting college applications

When you’re sending in your college applications, submit only the test on which you scored more highly.

If you scored exactly equally on both tests, then submit both. Otherwise, just send in the test for which your score is higher! There is nothing to be gained from sending in scores from both tests.

Submit only the test with the higher score

Over the years, we’ve worked with many students who have scored significantly better on one test or the other. 

For example, we’ve seen a student with a 1230 SAT earn a 32 ACT — which is equivalent to a 1430 SAT. That’s a 200-point difference! This student scored above average on the SAT but very highly on the ACT. She should absolutely submit only the ACT score to colleges.


How the concordance tables were made

Back in 2018, the ACT and the College Board (the organizations that make the two tests) got together and made an official way to convert between the ACT and the SAT.

The result—the 2018 ACT®/SAT® concordance tables—are the only official way to compare SAT and ACT scores.

The ACT and the College Board worked hard to make sure that the tables represent equivalent scores for the two tests. They used data from 589,753 students who were graduating seniors in 2017. These students took both the ACT and the SAT, allowing the test organizations to compare scores for individual students. 

ACT vs SAT concordance histogram

You can read the fine print about the statistics used to make the concordance tables in the official report from the ACT and College Board.

These concordance tables were made shortly after the 2016 redesign of the SAT (aka the “new SAT”). Don’t use the old concordance tables, which were for the pre-2016 SAT! The SAT will change again in 2024, and the ACT and College Board will surely publish an update soon afterwards.

Bonus Material: Step-by-step plan to decide whether you should take the SAT or ACT


How to use the concordance tables

To use the concordance tables, just look up your score in the left-hand column and see the equivalent score on the other test in the right-hand column!

The SAT has more possible score values than the ACT, so there are several SAT scores that line up with each ACT score. For this reason, converting from the ACT to the SAT will give you both a single score and a score range.

For example, Rosa scored a 27 on the ACT. Her equivalent score for the SAT is 1260–1290, and if she needs a single number, she uses 1280.

There is no conversion between the ACT and the SAT for scores lower than a 590 Total SAT or a 9 Composite ACT. These scores account for less than 1% of students in the US.

Pencil shavings

Wondering what’s a good score? We’ve done detailed explorations of the average SAT scores and the average ACT scores for the Ivy League, the most competitive research universities, the best liberal arts colleges, and the top-tier public universities in the US. We tell you what SAT score or ACT score you likely need in order to get into your dream school. 


The SAT-ACT concordance tables

Convert SAT Total to ACT Composite

conversion table, SAT to ACT

Convert ACT Composite to SAT Total

conversion table, ACT to SAT

Convert SAT Math to ACT Math

conversion table, SAT Math to ACT Math

Convert ACT Math to SAT Math

conversion table, ACT to SAT Math

Convert SAT Reading & Writing to ACT Reading + ACT English

For this conversion, compare the SAT Evidence-Based Reading & Writing (EBRW) score against the average of the two section scores for the ACT, ACT Reading and ACT English.

conversion table, SAT to ACT Reading

Convert ACT Reading + ACT English to SAT Reading & Writing

For this conversion, compare the SAT Evidence-Based Reading & Writing (EBRW) score against the average of the two section scores for the ACT, ACT Reading and ACT English.

conversion table, ACT to SAT Reading 1.2


Next steps

Wondering what SAT or ACT score you need to get into the Ivy League, a top-tier liberal arts college, or one of the best public universities in the US? We’ve got the answers (and lots more data) for the SAT and for the ACT

What’s next? Download our step-by-step guide for how to take both the SAT and the ACT at home and make a test prep plan that plays to your strengths.

We regularly help students navigate deciding between the SAT and the ACT in our one-on-one test prep tutoring, so feel free to reach out for additional support.

SAT or ACT? Follow our step-by-step guide to decide

Bonus Material: Step-by-step guide to decide whether you should take the SAT or ACT


Emily

Emily graduated summa cum laude of Princeton University and holds an MA from the University of Notre Dame. A veteran of the publishing industry, she has helped professors at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton revise their books and articles. Over the last decade, Emily has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay.