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ACT to SAT Conversion

Maybe you’ve already taken the SAT or the ACT, and are wondering what you’d have to get on the other one for it to be an improvement. Maybe you’re just curious. Maybe your friend got a 32 and you had an argument about whether your 2150 is better or not. What ACT score matches up with what SAT score?

The straight answer is that there’s no way of equating an ACT with an SAT score. Still, it’s a good question, and one that admissions offices have to deal with all of the time: how to compare two students if they’ve taken different tests? ‘Conversion’ is the wrong word; instead the word is concordance.

ACT, Inc. and the College Board have jointly released tables of concordance, which “do not equate scores, but rather provide a tool for finding comparable scores.” The tables are based on hundreds of thousands of students who took the tests between 2004 and 2006. The ACT website further explains that scores cannot be equated because the ACT and the SAT fundamentally test different things. Concordance, which shows you what scores are “comparable,” is based on percentile ranks. Concordant scores (such as a 30 on the ACT and a 2000 on the SAT) are scores received by the same proportion of students on each test.

Concordance is limited in its application and accuracy, because the students who took the ACT are not the same students who took the SAT. It’s important to note that concordance is less relevant in individual cases; just because you received a certain score on the SAT/ACT, does not mean you will receive the concordant score on the other test. Anecdotally, you’ll probably get something pretty close, but the concordance tables are not meant to be applied in this way.

Concordance is, however, helpful for admissions offices. These tables can tell an admissions officer how impressive an ACT score is compared to an SAT score, in terms of the percentile rank of each score. Percentile ranks are what admissions officers care about, anyway. Admissions officers use this method for comparing scores because of its relative ease, but it cannot predict how well you’ll do on one test or the other. The two exams are different and you may receive a higher score on one or the other.

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