ACT to New SAT Score Conversion

ACT to New SAT Score Conversion

November 26, 2018

It used to be that the traditional undergraduate exam students would study and sit for was the SAT. Since it was really one of the first undergraduate tests ever administered with a long and rich history, the SAT was pretty much the gold standard for many years. Then along came the ACT, which gained popularity in the '70s and '80s among high school students seeking a viable alternative. Nowadays, the ACT is taken by more students annually than the SAT, surpassing its rival. Since many prospective test-takers sit for mock exams of both, it may leave many wondering: How does my score compare?

Before we look at ACT to the 2016 SAT score conversion specifics, let's first examine the primary differences between both tests. If you're still on the fence about which one to take, hopefully this will shed some light and help you make your decision!

SAT 5 reading passages No science section Tests arithmetic, algebra I & II, geometry, trigonometry No calculator Optional essay
ACT 4 reading passages Science section Tests arithmetic, algebra I & II, geometry, trigonometry Calculator permitted Optional essay

While there are a handful of other important differences, this is the ACT and SAT at a glance. Now let's take a look what makes the 2016 revised SAT so new and exciting.

The 2016 SAT: Specifics

As of March 2016, the SAT got a new look. This is good news, right? It's always imperative for standardized tests to stay relevant and pertinent to the needs of schools and students. Many test-takers actually welcomed these changes, as the 2016 SAT is much more predictable. Let's take a look at the below chart to see for ourselves what the test looks like today. Afterwards, we'll go into more specifics as to these changes and why they are important to note. 

OrderSectionTime (in minutes)# of QuestionsTime per question
1Reading655275 seconds
2Writing & Language354448 seconds
3Math Without Calculator252075 seconds
4Math With Calculator553877 seconds
5Essay (optional)501
TOTAL:3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)151 total plus one optional essay prompt

In general, this looks very different than the older version of the test, which had ten sections of various lengths lasting 20 to 25 minutes each. Usually, the order of subjects was totally random, leaving room for barely any predictability, as well as an unidentified experimental portion that was not scored.

Breaks are given in five-minute durations after every hour of testing. This translates to a break after the Reading section as well as one after the Math Without Calculator section. If you choose to sit for the Essay, you will get a break before that section begins.

In terms of scoring, the SAT is scored on a range from 400 to 600, which differs from its older range. Basically, students receive two section scores—for Math and Evidence-Based Reading/Writing, which is the Reading and Writing scores combined. The scales for both sections are between 200 and 600.

Typically speaking, these changes are welcome, as it allows students to have a better idea of what is ahead when they sit for the exam. This way, there is more predictability and less risk in terms of what you will encounter. Also, too, having fewer sections may help concentration on the current sections, despite requiring greater focus.

ACT to Revised SAT Conversion Chart

When looking at comparing scores, it's important that you do so with the new SAT scoring rubric in mind, which is on a scale of 400-1600, not 600-2400. Since many students sit for both exams, it's useful to know where you stand with each of them. Take a look at the following conversion chart in an attempt to shed some light on your score! Please note that this chart also includes scores for the old SAT.

ACT Composite ScoreNew SAT Score (March 2016 and beyond)Old SAT Score (Prior to 2016)

Further conversion charts are available online for more scores. As you can see, knowing your "old" SAT score can come in handy when determining your new SAT score based off your ACT.

New SAT Scores vs. Old SAT Scores

If you sat for the older SAT and you are aiming to determine your new score, below is a chart that gives you an idea of that process. Again, keep in mind the new SAT is graded on a scale of 400-1600, whereas the older version is on a scale of 600-2400. 

New SAT Score (400-1600)Old SAT Score (600-2400)

In the end, determining which test is best for you is your priority as you approach your final two years of high school. Clearly, these tests are important and selecting the one that caters to your preferences and strengths is of paramount importance. Thankfully, these conversion charts will prove to be useful time and time again for students fluctuating between the ACT, as well as newer and older versions of the SAT.

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