ACT to Old & New SAT Score Conversion
January 31, 2019
Without a doubt the most important exam any high schooler will take is the ACT or SAT. Yes, there are tests such as the PSAT and TOEFL (for international students) but the ACT or SAT are real markers of college readiness. In fact, much of your admissions decision, particularly to an elite school, relies on your test scores—not to mention your GPA, letters of recommendation, and admittance essay. Have you begun to think about which exam is right for you? There are differences, similarities, and even some nuances that can steer you towards the ACT or SAT.
When deciding which one for which to sit, it's important to understand how scoring for both works. Maybe you have already taken a practice ACT already and are wondering how well you'd do on the SAT. Sound familiar to any readers out there? Thankfully, there are some accurate conversion charts to help you determine your old and new SAT score with your ACT score handy.
ACT vs. SAT: The Basics
First and foremost, it's important to understand the basic differences between the ACT and SAT.
It seems that both tests have long since had a rivalry. Well, maybe not so much a rivalry, but a relationship as friendly competitors. While the SAT was the only real college preparedness exam given prior to the 1970s, the ACT has often surpassed it in terms of popularity. (Although, this recent year, the SAT emerged as the most popular after being second place for nearly a decade.)
Regardless of your preference between the two, it's important to break down the differences between both exams to give you further insight into your decision. The following table breaks down both tests, detailing their basic differences and similarities.
|Why Take It||Colleges & universities for admissions and merit-based scholarships.||Colleges & universities use SAT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships.|
Writing & Language
|Length||2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)|
3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)
|3 hours (without essay)|
3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)
|Reading||4 reading passages||5 reading passages|
|Science||1 science section testing your critical thinking skills (not your science knowledge)||None|
|Math||Arithmetic, Algebra I & II, Geometry, Trigonometry, Probability, Statistics||Arithmetic, Algebra I & II, Geometry, Trigonometry, Data Analysis|
|Calculator Policy||You can use a calculator on all math questions.||Some math questions don't allow you to use a calculator.|
|Scoring||1-36 range||400-1600 range|
ACT vs. Old SAT
What we refer to now as the "old" SAT was the exam given before 2016. If you took the test that year or before, this is the conversion chart you want to use when finding your ACT score. Note: If you're wondering the characteristics of the "new" SAT, that is outlined in the next section.
|ACT Total Score |
|Old SAT Total Score |
ACT vs. New SAT
The SAT underwent some major revisions in 2016, a primary one being its scoring range. While the "old" range used to be 600-2400, the "new" one is administered on a scale of 400-600. If you have taken the SAT in 2016 or after, you have probably sat for the revised version. Some highlights of the 2016 revision include:
- no penalty for wrong answers, just like the ACT
- only 4 answer choices instead of 5
- no more Sentence Completion questions
- fewer total sections on the test, but they are longer in time than the old test
If you're wanting to determine what your "new" SAT score would be based off your current ACT score, the following conversion chart chronicles just that:
|New SAT Score|
Finding out which test is right for you should be your number one priority before moving forward with a course of study. Thankfully, there are a handful of free ACT and SAT practice tests available online that will aid you in attaining a projected score. This way, you can find out where you line up with your desire school's score expectations and proceed with an in-person, private tutoring or online prep course.
You want to choose the test that you can do the best on, whether it's the ACT or SAT; hence, this means it's not advised to study for both tests and run the risk of burnout. Thankfully, all schools accept one or the other, just follow the data you come across as well as your own instincts. Even though the ACT is more popular as an assessment, the SAT is just as viable and has been the standard torchbearer for decades when it comes to undergraduate admission. Only you can decide which exam and course of preparedness is right for you.