Understanding SAT and ACT Score Comparisons

Students often ask us what their SAT scores mean compared to their ACT scores. The chart below is the standard approximation to how SAT scores compare to ACT scores. It’s important to remember that the SAT has three components: Math, Critical Reading, and Writing while the ACT has four components: English Language, Mathematics, Critical Reading, and Science. The written essay is required on the SAT but it’s optional on the ACT. With these things in mind, it’s important to remember that although we can calculate a score comparison we are in fact comparing two different tests.

SAT and ACT score comparison

Nowadays most colleges will accept either SAT or ACT scores so it’s in a student’s best interest to explore both tests. Logging in to our site with the free two weeks is a great way for students to get a sense of what concepts are tested on the SAT compared to the ACT. Another option is for students to take both a full-length SAT and ACT.

Notice that in the comparison chart  a SAT score of 1500 is roughly a score of a 21 on the ACT. This is appropriate because the national average score for the SAT is right around a 1500 and the national average score for the ACT is around a 21.

So what score should you submit to colleges if you take both tests? That’s a good question; a simple solution is to check out the comparison chart and send whichever score is higher, but it’s a good idea to talk to your guidance counselor before making that decision. Although most colleges and universities accept either SAT of ACT scores some still prefer one over the other.

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