Converting ACT Scores to SAT Scores

The ACT and SAT are very different, but you can make a rough conversion

Close up of a multiple choice test with a pencil poised above the paper.
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With the table below, you can convert ACT reading and math scores into SAT reading and math scores. The SAT score numbers are from 2017 and represent data from the redesigned SAT that launched in 2016. The equivalencies were calculated simply by using each score's corresponding percentile. 

Realize that the definition of a good SAT score and good ACT score is going to depend on the colleges to which you are applying. At some schools, a 500 in math is perfectly adequate for admission, while at a highly selective university you'll ideally have a score of 700 or higher. 

Convert ACT to SAT

SAT ERW ACT English % SAT Math ACT Math %
800 36 99+ 800 36 99+
790 36 99+ 790 35 99
780 36 99+ 780 35 99
770 35 99 770 34 99
760 35 99 760 33 98
750 35 99 750 32 97
740 35 98 740 32 97
730 35 98 730 31 96
720 34 97 720 30 95
710 34 96 710 30 94
700 33 95 700 29 94
690 32 94 690 29 92
680 31 92 680 28 91
670 30 91 670 28 89
660 30 89 660 27 88
650 29 87 650 27 86
640 28 85 640 27 84
630 27 82 630 26 82
620 26 79 620 26 81
610 25 77 610 25 78
600 25 73 600 25 76
590 24 70 590 24 73
580 24 67 580 24 70
570 22 64 570 23 67
560 22 60 560 23 65
550 21 57 550 22 61
540 20 53 540 21 58
530 20 49 530 20 54
520 19 46 520 19 49
510 18 42 510 18 45
500 17 39 500 18 40
490 16 35 490 17 37
480 16 32 480 17 34
470 15 28 470 17 32
460 15 25 460 16 29
450 14 22 450 16 25
440 14 19 440 16 22
430 13 16 430 16 20
420 13 14 420 15 17
410 12 12 410 15 14
400 11 10 400 15 12
390 11 8 390 15 10
380 10 6 380 14 8
370 10 5 370 14 7
360 10 4 360 14 5
350 9 3 350 13 4
340 8 2 340 13 3
330 8 1 330 13 2
320 7 1 320 12 1
310 7 1 310 11 1
300 6 1 300 10 1
290 5 1- 290 9 1-
280 4 1- 280 8 1-
270 4 1- 270 6 1-
260 3 1- 260 4 1-
250 2 1- 250 2 1-
240 1 1- 240 1 1-

To get some more granular data for the ACT, check out the national norms on the ACT website. For the SAT, visit the "Understanding Your Scores" page on the SAT website and click through to the latest percentile rankings for the exam.

Discussion of SAT and ACT Score Conversions

Students often want to know what their ACT scores mean when compared to the scores of the SAT (and vice versa). Realize that any conversion is just a crude approximation. The SAT has two components: Math and Evidence-Based Reading (plus an optional Writing section). The ACT has four components: English Language, Mathematics, Critical Reading, and Science (also with an optional Writing section).

Beginning in March of 2016, the content of the exams became a bit more similar as both exams now work to test what students have learned in school (the SAT used to try to measure the students' aptitude, the students' ability to learn rather than what the student had learned). Nevertheless, when we compare ACT scores to SAT scores, we are comparing two different things with different types of questions and a different amount of time allowed per question. Even a 36 on the ACT does not equal an 800 on the SAT. The tests are measuring different things, so a perfect score on one exam does not mean the same thing as a perfect score on the other.

If, however, we look at the percentage of students who score below a certain score, we can make an attempt at comparison. For example, on the SAT Math section, 49 percent of students scored a 520 or lower.

On the ACT Math section, the 49 percent line falls at a score of 19. Thus, a 19 on the ACT math section is roughly comparable to a 520 on the SAT math section. Again, these numbers don't measure the same thing, but they do allow us to compare the performance of one group of students to the other.

In short, the data in the table above should be taken for what it is worth. It is just a quick and crude way to see which SAT and ACT scores fall into similar percentiles.

A Final Word on Score Conversions

The table can give you a sense of the type of scores you're likely to need for top college. The country's most selective colleges tend to admit students who are ranked in the top 10 percent of their class. Ideally, those applicants also have test scores that are in the top 10 percent of all test-takers (if not higher). To be in the top 10 percent of test-takers, you'd want to have a 670 SAT Evidence-Based Reading or 30 ACT English, and you'd want a 680 SAT Math score or 28 ACT Math. In general, SAT scores in the 700s and ACT scores in the 30s are going to be the most competitive at the country's top colleges and universities.