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How to Compare your ACT and SAT Scores


Where to Start

One of the most common questions students and parents have when entering the standardized testing process is how to compare ACT and SAT scores. Standardized testing is an essential component to college applications, so selecting the correct test to maximize your score can seem like a daunting task. However, with a little information and a helpful SAT to ACT conversion chart, comparing SAT and ACT scores is no problem at all.

For a little background, an SAT score is comprised of two scores out of 800. One for Reading and Writing and another for Math, for a total of score out of 1600 points. The ACT is little different: it has four sections (English, Math, Reading, and Science) which are each scored out of 36. Those four scores are averaged together to give a composite score also out of 36. All schools have different score requirements, but the national average is 1050 for the SAT and 21 for the ACT.

Taking Practice Tests to Define Your Strengths

Before selecting which test to take, you must first take a practice ACT and a practice SAT. The best way to do this is to take a timed and proctored practice test (so the conditions are similar to those of the real tests) at a Mindfish test prep office. For a list of Mindfish’s practice test dates and for sign-up information, visit our Mindfish Practice Test page.

Once you’ve taken both a practice ACT and a practice SAT, Mindfish offers a consultation service to help you make the right decision before starting your personalized test preparation.

If you’re unable to attend a Mindfish practice test, you can find official released SAT tests at https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/practice/full-length-practice-tests and official released ACT tests at https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/Preparing-for-the-ACT.pdf.

Comparing Your ACT and SAT Scores

In order to directly compare a student’s SAT and ACT scores, the best tool to use is an ACT to SAT score conversion chart. Refer to the chart below in order to compare an ACT score to an SAT score. Since the ACT is scored on a much lower range than the SAT, there is always a bit of estimation involved in converting standardized test scores, but the chart remains a highly effective tool for revealing which test is right for you. If your ACT and SAT scores are roughly equivalent, then you should consider either studying for both or selecting the test you felt more confident completing. Additionally, though both scores are generally accepted everywhere, some schools prioritize one over the other, so a little research into your dream college’s admission statistics is always a great idea.

Differences Between the SAT and ACT

As far as the differences between the ACT and the SAT are concerned, the ACT contains a Science section in addition to a Math section, whereas the SAT has no science test at all. Because of this Science section, many consider the ACT to be the better test for STEM-focused students. Also, the ACT is considerably faster-paced than the SAT, which instead emphasizes deep comprehension. So, if you can quickly understand straightforward concepts, the ACT is likely the better test for you. Alternately, if you prefer tackling more complex topics at a slightly slower pace, then the SAT may be your test.

Generally, the two most dreaded sections are the ACT Science and the SAT Non-Calculator Math section, so if your scores are similar across the two tests, you might consider which of those two sections you hate the least!

ACT to SAT Score Conversion Chart

(Source: https://compassprep.com/)