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Kristin Fracchia

ACT Video: Comparing ACT and SAT Scores

So you have an SAT (or PSAT) score in your left hand and an SAT score in your right hand. How do you know which one is better? The TuesdACT post you see above should answer all your questions about peaches, bananas, and test scores, but in case you feel like stretching your reading muscles, here’s the gist:

The Easy Answer to Comparing your ACT and SAT Scores

Check out our ACT to New SAT to Old SAT Score Conversion Chart, based on the SAT/ACT concordance table (a fancy word for conversion table) that was developed by the ACT with the College Board. This is the same table that most colleges use to compare SAT and ACT scores. So if that’s all you are looking for–got you covered.

(Pro Tip: If you want to see how your score on an individual section of the ACT roughly compares to your score on an individual section of the SAT, you just need to divide the estimated overall SAT score by 3.)

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Now let’s get into a bit of a messier answer.

The Messier Answer: there’s more to comparing your SAT and ACT results than just determining your higher score

You shouldn’t just jump on the test on which you received a higher score according to the conversion table. Now if there is a HUGE discrepancy, then maybe it is a no brainer. But many students find that their scores are pretty close on diagnostic tests, and you don’t want to assume that the test you scored just a few points higher on is necessarily the best option for you. You need to think about what caused you to get that score. For example, if you’ve taken the PSAT a couple times, you have some familiarity with the SAT that you may not have with the ACT and this could make the difference seem greater than it actually is. Or maybe you benefited from some lucky guesses on trig questions on your ACT practice test, but you don’t feel as comfortable with higher-level math.

Most importantly, particularly if your potential test dates are coming up soon, maybe there are one or two sections that are dragging your overall score down, and you need to consider which test would be easier for you to boost that score on. For example, some students find it is easier to prep for the predictable grammar questions on the SAT than to try to figure out the perplexing ACT science test.

The moral of the story is that in order to make a truly fair comparison between your SAT and ACT scores, you need to do some closer analysis and some deep thinking about what’s behind your practice test scores, so you know which test is really the one for you.

*This table is for the current SAT and ACT; when a new comparison chart is posted for the revised SAT and ACT, we will post it!


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About Kristin Fracchia

Dr. Kristin Fracchia makes sure Magoosh's sites are full of awesome, free resources that can be found by students prepping for standardized tests. With a PhD from UC Irvine and degrees in Education and English, she’s been working in education since 2004 and has helped students prepare for standardized tests, as well as college and graduate school admissions, since 2007. She enjoys the agony and bliss of trail running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.

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