How to Convert ACT® to SAT® Test Scores (and Vice Versa)

By Jacky Gilchrist

The SAT® and ACT® tests are both college entrance exams with some similarities. However, they aren’t the same test. If you’ve taken one of the tests and are preparing to take the other, you might be curious as to how your scores might convert to the other test. While ACT to SAT test conversion isn’t an exact science, you can use a score converter chart to estimate how you might perform on the other exam.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at SAT/ACT test score comparison and answer some common questions on college entrance exams.

Navigate through this article:

Comparing ACT and SAT Test Scores: Conversion Charts and Quick Tips

Conversion Table for the SAT and ACT Tests

After slogging through the math sections on the ACT and SAT tests, you might not be too eager to perform more calculations to do an SAT/ACT test score comparison. Not to worry! All you have to do is know how to read a conversion table—no math required.

With our ACT to SAT test conversion chart below, you can see at a glance how your score on one exam might translate to the other. Take a look:

act vs sat score conversion

Composite vs. Section Scores Breakdown

When you receive your score report for either the SAT or ACT test, you’ll notice there are different sections and plenty of numbers to sort through. What does it all mean? Before you can interpret your score report, it’s important to understand the differences in the types of scores.

First, let’s take a look at the ACT test. The ACT test has four sections: English, Reading, Mathematics, and Science. You’ll receive a score corresponding to each of these sections that reflects how well you did in those sections. Then, the average of your section scores is calculated to produce your composite score.

Now, let’s consider the SAT test. This exam doesn’t have a composite score, but it does have both section scores and a total score. It has two sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW) and Math. You’ll receive a section score for each that will have a maximum of 800. Then, the two section scores are combined to calculate your total score.

How to Interpret an ACT/SAT Test Score Conversion Chart

Before you can interpret the ACT/SAT test score conversion chart, you’ll need to take a look at your score report. If you took the ACT test, find your composite score. If you took the SAT test, find your total score.

You’ll see that the ACT test scores are in the left-hand column, and the SAT test scores are in the right-hand column. First, find your test score range. Then, follow that row directly into the next column, either to the right or to the left, depending on your starting point.

For example, if your ACT test score was 22, you’ll see that the corresponding SAT test score range is 1100-1150. If your SAT test score was 1380, you’ll see that your corresponding ACT test score is 30.

Limitations of Score Conversion

Although an ACT to SAT test conversion may be helpful in assessing how you might do on the other test, it’s important to note that there are limitations. Score conversion isn’t an exact science. Even if the conversion chart tells you that you’ll likely score 1090 on the SAT test, your actual score could vary in either direction.

This may be due to any number of reasons, such as preparation time or simply responding better to the format and questions of one test vs. the other. Students who are language-inclined might find they do better on the SAT test, while those who have an affinity for math and science might excel on the ACT test (or the opposite).

Not Happy With Your Scores? Try These Tips

Not everyone is happy with their test scores on the first try. In fact, we recommend taking each test at least twice because it’s quite common for students to see an improvement in their subsequent score reports. Between test retakes, there are a number of steps you can follow to improve your scores.

One of the most significant things you can do to score higher on the retake is to sign up for a test prep program. At KD College Prep, we offer both online and in-person test prep programs, including one-on-one tutoring. As a virtual student, you can choose between live sessions and self-paced learning activities.

Additional steps you can follow to improve your scores include:

  • Scrutinize your test score reports. Identify the sections in which you struggled the most. Focus on those sections in your study sessions.
  • Designate set study times each week. Write down your schedule for the week ahead and designate certain times for SAT and ACT test prep. Try to schedule more time for test prep than you did prior to taking the tests for the first time.
  • Answer at least a few practice questions on most days of the week, focusing on your weaker areas.
  • Take full-length practice exams and try to identify additional areas of concern beyond the subject matter, such as careful reading of directions or time management.

What is considered a good score on the ACT or SAT tests?

Would it surprise you to learn that there is no universally applicable “good score” for either of the tests? No two students are alike, and each student has their own dream college that they aspire to attend.

On both the ACT and SAT tests, you should aim for the score ranges that allow you to be a competitive applicant at your list of schools. Along those lines, a “good” score might also be one that makes you eligible to apply for merit-based scholarships. You can find all that information on the college’s website.

Read more about test score ranges for specific colleges:

Do colleges prefer the ACT or SAT test?

Colleges tend to accept either ACT or SAT test scores—unless they are test blind, in which case they will not look at test scores. There truly is no preference for the SAT vs. ACT test among college admissions staff, so you should send whichever score report is most competitive.

Even if you already know that you want to apply to test optional schools, you should still take both tests. Some schools that previously went test optional due to the pandemic are now once again requiring test scores.

What are the differences between the tests?

Both of these tests are designed to assess academic proficiency, and both are used to inform college admissions decisions and scholarship selections. So what’s the difference?

There are well over a dozen differences between these tests. Some of those notable difference include:

  • Test Format – The SAT test is digital, while the ACT test is often paper-based (although select locations may provide a digital format.
  • Test Sections – The ACT test has four distinct sections: English, Reading, Math, and Science. In contrast, the SAT test is divided into only two sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.
  • Test Scores – A quick glance at our ACT to SAT test conversion chart above reveals that the score ranges are different for these tests. On the SAT test, you could score up to 800 in each section for a total score of up to 1600. On the ACT test, the highest possible score is 36.
  • Types of Verbal Questions – The verbal sections on the two tests are quite similar, but there are some key differences. For example, verbal questions on the ACT test tend to focus more on the main ideas of a passage and the author’s purpose.
  • Types of Math Questions – The level and type of math questions vary slightly depending on which test you take.

For a more detailed analysis of how the tests compare to one another, read our post about the differences between the SAT and ACT tests.

Need help preparing for college?

Whether you’re preparing to take the tests for the first time or you need help improving your test scores, KD College Prep is here to help. You can work with our friendly instructors in person or online. Choose from a range of test prep programs, including the Complete™ Program for students in grades 9-12 and the Advanced Start™ Program for 7th and 8th graders who want to get a head start on their test prep.

Contact KD College Prep today to request a free consultation and find out how programs can help you get into the college of your dreams!

 

Jacky Gilchrist is a blog writer at KD College Prep.

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Advika R. – Class of 2022

“I shifted toward taking practice tests and going to workshops because I felt those were the best ways to apply the concepts (I was) learning in class. I started applying the tips and tricks that the teachers were showing me in class. In conjunction, those two things helped me raise my score a lot because I was not a math kid before KD or high school. The repetition and being able to practice in a non-stressful environment and simulating that testing experience is something that was very beneficial for me... “The college counseling team was super patient and honest about the work I was submitting. I know for a lot of kids, it’s hard to articulate who you are through 250-300 words. It was definitely... Read more...
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Elise P. – Class of 2022

“I want to thank KD College Prep for helping both of my kids over the last years reach successful outcomes on their SAT® and ACT® scores, which helped them get into great colleges. I found the college prep class for parents very informative and helpful during the process as well.  My son (Jacob) graduated in 2018 and got a 32 on the ACT test. got accepted into Texas A&M but chose Baylor for Health Sciences.  My daughter (Morgan) graduated in 2020 and got a 1450 on the SAT test and a 32 on the ACT test. got into an Ivy League school (Cornell) for Engineering.  Both my kids say that they apply the test taking skills they learned at KD Prep to... Read more...
“I want to thank KD College Prep for helping both of my kids over the last years reach successful outcomes on their SAT® and ACT® scores, which helped them get into great colleges. I found the college prep class for parents... Read more...

Jon D. – Parent

“Coming into this whole process, I had absolutely no idea what anything was, and your help was invaluable—your encouraging words, strategic advice, and wholesome stories and jokes really got me through a stressful time! I'm still on the waitlist at Harvard and other schools, but I've really started to immerse into the Emory culture, especially their debate team. Not having to pay for college and still attend a private institution is really a dream come true, and it wouldn't be possible if it were not for you.”
“Coming into this whole process, I had absolutely no idea what anything was, and your help was invaluable—your encouraging words, strategic advice, and wholesome stories and jokes really got me through a stressful time! I'm still on the waitlist at Harvard... Read more...

Shreyas R. – Class of 2020

“The most beneficial guidance I received during my College Counseling experience was being taught that it's completely ok to not know what I want to do with the rest of my life at 17/18 years old. Steve told me that a good school will help me find my path. Also, Steve's knowledge about what colleges were wanting to see in potential admissions candidates was a huge help... “There was not one specific beneficial moment or turning point in my time working with Steve, there were many. He encouraged me during the entire application process and brought to my attention many colleges I wouldn't have considered or heard about without his help.”
“The most beneficial guidance I received during my College Counseling experience was being taught that it's completely ok to not know what I want to do with the rest of my life at 17/18 years old. Steve told me that a... Read more...

Jake W. – Class of 2020

"I'm very happy my daughter chose KD as her learning partner to achieve her goals. All the experiences with KD and the Directors there are fabulous. My daughter has improved significantly."
"I'm very happy my daughter chose KD as her learning partner to achieve her goals. All the experiences with KD and the Directors there are fabulous. My daughter has improved significantly."

Zarni, Daughter – Class of 2021

"I took KD classes the summer before my junior year, and I was finished with my SAT® test by December...The test prep classes also helped me earn the award of National Merit® Finalist."
"I took KD classes the summer before my junior year, and I was finished with my SAT® test by December...The test prep classes also helped me earn the award of National Merit® Finalist."

Claire I. – Class of 2020

"It's been super helpful, and I've noticed my scores go up both on my SAT®/ACT® scores as well as test scores in school... Overall, I believe this to be the best college prep that money can buy."
"It's been super helpful, and I've noticed my scores go up both on my SAT®/ACT® scores as well as test scores in school... Overall, I believe this to be the best college prep that money can buy."

Gopi C. – Class of 2021

"KD helped me come up with a game plan for the colleges I wanted to attend, as well as any backups, and how to manage my time during this stressful period. They helped to ease the stress and made sure that I would be successful in whichever college I picked, and I am eternally grateful for all their help and hard work!"
"KD helped me come up with a game plan for the colleges I wanted to attend, as well as any backups, and how to manage my time during this stressful period. They helped to ease the stress and made... Read more...

Omar S. – Class of 2020

"My initial goals when I first started working with the KD Counseling crew was to compile a list of colleges that I would be somewhat interested in attending and fit my career goals. I think that this step I was by far the most concerned about. I didn’t know how exactly I should go about choosing which places to apply to and if I were to be accepted, if they would fit me. The team did a wonderful job considering my likes and dislikes and helped me compile a list of colleges that suited my tastes and would further my academic career. "After this integral first step, my focus turned towards time management and writing quality essays that would stand out to colleges. I got... Read more...
"My initial goals when I first started working with the KD Counseling crew was to compile a list of colleges that I would be somewhat interested in attending and fit my career goals. I think that this step I was by... Read more...

Nina H. – Class of 2020

"I was thankful for all the help I received from KD in preparing for my SAT® and ACT® exams. The workshops they offered, as well as the practice exams, gave me the tools I needed to do my very best."
"I was thankful for all the help I received from KD in preparing for my SAT® and ACT® exams. The workshops they offered, as well as the practice exams, gave me the tools I needed to do my very best."

Morgan D. – Class of 2020

"KDCP is a must for students wanting to stay a step ahead of the game for getting into college. My son has gained huge insight from the ACT®/SAT® practice workshops, practice tests, and essay class."
"KDCP is a must for students wanting to stay a step ahead of the game for getting into college. My son has gained huge insight from the ACT®/SAT® practice workshops, practice tests, and essay class."

Tiffany – Son, Class of 2021

"KD helped to increase the efficiencies of how I took the national exams. I was also able to implement these efficiencies in my daily school studies within the IB program at PESH. I would (and have) recommend KD to those students wanting an edge on their national test scores!"
"KD helped to increase the efficiencies of how I took the national exams. I was also able to implement these efficiencies in my daily school studies within the IB program at PESH. I would (and have) recommend KD to those students... Read more...

Daniel J. – Class of 2020

"Not only have I been able to significantly improve my test scores, I have learned a tremendous amount of information about the college application process due to complimentary events that KD offers."
"Not only have I been able to significantly improve my test scores, I have learned a tremendous amount of information about the college application process due to complimentary events that KD offers."

Sam H. – Class of 2020

"I came to KD the summer before my senior year with only my determination and big goals! KD provided me with the resources necessary to improve my test score to increase my chances at my dream school, Notre Dame, with the help from amazing teachers and staff. I am so grateful for KD!"
"I came to KD the summer before my senior year with only my determination and big goals! KD provided me with the resources necessary to improve my test score to increase my chances at my dream school, Notre Dame, with the... Read more...

Matt K. – Class of 2020

"I started classes at KD the summer before 9th grade. I...made a perfect score on the PSAT (earning the National Merit® scholarship) and, after taking the SAT® test only once (a relief!), scored a 1590/1600."
"I started classes at KD the summer before 9th grade. I...made a perfect score on the PSAT (earning the National Merit® scholarship) and, after taking the SAT® test only once (a relief!), scored a 1590/1600."

Thomas D. – Class of 2019

"In just one year, I was able to raise my score by 300 points and get into my dream school."
"In just one year, I was able to raise my score by 300 points and get into my dream school."

Piper F. – Class of 2020

"Having our recent GHS graduate attend KD was life changing. It provided our son with choices and opportunities that he might not have had otherwise."
"Having our recent GHS graduate attend KD was life changing. It provided our son with choices and opportunities that he might not have had otherwise."

Kathy – Son attends Mizzou

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“I came to KD College Prep after already using another tutoring service which we were not seeing results with. Due to time constraints, the traditional classes were not going to be feasible for my daughter. They took the time to figure out a personal plan that would work for her and were always available for our questions and helping her reach her goals. Every employee from the managers to the students working at their locations are top notch.”
“I came to KD College Prep after already using another tutoring service which we were not seeing results with. Due to time constraints, the traditional classes were not going to be feasible for my daughter. They took the time to figure... Read more...

Tracy – Daughter, Class of 2020

"The KD College Prep course not only provided test practice but also motivated her to work hard for her college applications. It gave her the confidence to dream big!"

"The KD College Prep course not only provided test practice but also motivated her to work hard for her college applications. It gave her the confidence to dream big!"

Prema – Daughter attends Rice