SAT to GMAT Conversion: Is the GMAT Like the SAT?

This post was updated in 2024 for the new GMAT.

Are you a student preparing to take the GMAT? If so, then you’re probably wondering how exactly your SAT score may factor into the equation. While there is no definitive answer as to whether or not your SAT score can accurately predict your performance on the GMAT, it may provide an interesting indicator of what to expect!

A student wondering about the GMAT with a hand under his chin with the text "Can you predict your GMAT score?"

Converting SAT to GMAT Scores

The GMAT and SAT are very different from one another, but there are some similarities that can be used to estimate your performance on the GMAT. For example, both the SAT and the GMAT require strong analytical skills. As such, having a firm grasp of reading comprehension is key for either test. In addition, both exams heavily emphasize mathematics – though the focus may differ slightly for each. Still, making a direct score conversion would be challenging as the two tests differ in content, complexity and scoring scales.

Although some attempts have been made to develop conversion tools or equations that estimate a potential GMAT score based on an SAT score, these tools should be approached with caution. They often lack precision and validity compared to official score conversion methods. With that in mind, examining the similarities and differences between the SAT and GMAT may help you predict which areas might be your strengths and weaknesses.

Similarities Between SAT and GMAT

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely thinking about taking the GMAT soon, and you remember your SAT well enough that you’d like to compare the two. To that end, let’s break down what the two have in common.

Math Multiple Choice

The math on the GMAT can be extremely tough, but the basic concepts underlying the questions are the same as those used to write SAT questions. Both tests have an affinity for word problems, number properties, coordinate geometry (GMAT no longer has plane geometry), and algebra, and the format is pretty much the same, too. While GMAT math concepts are almost identical to those that you’d see on the SAT, the difficulty level of individual questions is a good deal higher, especially if you’re answering many questions correctly (since the GMAT is computer adaptive). It’s not that you need to know more formulas or rules for the GMAT—it’s that you need better number sense and more creative problem solving.

Reading Comprehension

The relationship between GMAT reading comp and SAT reading comp is much the same as that of their math counterparts. The core skills are in common, but the GMAT has a higher ceiling; the hardest questions are well beyond the scope of SAT questions. The most notable difference is in the content of the passages. SAT passages are fairly digestible, general-interest affairs. They favor fiction, memoir, and opinion pieces. The GMAT contains far more science- or history-based texts with a less obvious authorial voice—and hard questions often hinge on that ever-so-subtle tone the writer injects into his prose.

What’s tested on GMAT but not SAT?

There are a handful of GMAT questions that are unlike anything you saw on the SAT, included in each section of the test.

  • Data Insights: In 2023, the GMAT swapped out Integrated Reasoning for Data Insights. This new section features tables, charts, and graphs galore and asks test-takers to draw conclusions based on the information presented. There’s nothing like it on the current SAT.
  • Data Sufficiency (under Data Insights): These questions are unique to the GMAT, and they take a while to get used to. They have their own inherent logic, rules, and strategies.
  • Critical Reasoning (Verbal): Unlike normal reading comp questions, critical reasoning questions follow a pretty strict format. You read a short paragraph about a certain line of reasoning, and then you answer a single question about the logic of that paragraph: how it could be improved, what it’s based on, etc.



Though it can prove difficult to predict your exact GMAT score based on an SAT score, understanding how certain skills developed from one test can transfer over into success on the other can help inform your study strategies and provide guidance as you move closer towards taking the GMAT. Developing strong analytical, critical thinking, and problem solving skills will be advantageous to achieving a competitive GMAT score. Dedicate time to reading and analyzing business-related articles, solving quantitative problems, and understanding data. Actively engage with relevant study materials and consistently practice to enhance these skills.

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, your SAT score is not a valuable indicator for gauging potential GMAT performance. Its important to remember that the two tests are different and should not be seen as interchangeable. Use your SAT score as a starting point for understanding the areas of focus as you begin to prepare, and use that knowledge to create an effective study plan so that you can get the score you deserve on the GMAT. Good luck!


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