portal-ACTvsSATProbably one of the most frequent questions I get from my students is what do my (SAT or ACT) scores mean as far as college acceptance is concerned?

Let’s begin for viewing the concordance tables from the College Board which provide the correlation between the two exams. (A range is usually given, but this provides a good idea of how the scores most often correlate.)

Concordance Between ACT Composite Score and SAT Critical Reading, Math & Writing Score

Composite     SAT Critical Reading,
Score                  Math & Writing
(Single Score)

36                     2400
35                     2360
34                     2280
33                     2200
32                     2140
31                     2070
30                     2010
29                     1950
28                     1890
27                     1830
26                     1780
25                     1720
24                     1660
23                     1540
22                     1480
21                     1420
20                     1360
19                     1300
18                     1250
17                     1190
16                     1120
15                     1050
14                     980
13                     340
12                     920
11                     850

• a score of 1650–1800 is adequate for many colleges
• a score of 1800–2100 is good
• a score above 2100 should ensure that you have no problems for admission (if all else is in order!)

Now that you have all the numbers, I’m going to make it very simple for you:

• an SAT score between 1650–1800 or an ACT score between 23-27 is adequate for the majority of colleges. EXAMPLES: Clemson, University of Georgia, James Madison, Penn State, Ohio State, University of Texas, University of Indiana
• an SAT score between 1800–2100 or an ACT score between 27-30 is very good and  sufficient for many highly competitive schools. EXAMPLES: University of California, Santa Barbara, University of Minnesota, University of Delaware, Binghamton
• an SAT score above 2100 or an ACT score above 32 should ensure that you have no problems for admission at the most competitive schools. EXAMPLES: Washington University, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Franklin Olin College of Engineering, Columbia – you get the idea!

Also, scores are a PIECE of the admission pie. The other important pieces are GPA, extracurriculars, recommendations and the college essay.
It’s important to note also that  students who apply to a particular school self select based on all of the above criteria. That said, you may not get into a school not because you don’t have all ‘the pieces in place’, but you’re not from from Kansas City, MO, or you’re not a left-handed oboe player, or you’re not female!

Need more information about college acceptance, the differences between the SAT and ACT,  which is the better exam for your student, when is the best time for your teen to take the exam, and how best to prepare?

Have your student the quick SAT vs ACT Assessment and find out which exam suits your teen better based on learning style and personality.
Also key to test prep is identifying what type of learner your student is.
Then, I invite you to schedule your personalized Breakthrough Test Prep Strategy session, where ALL of your questions will be answered.
I look forward to our connecting.


  • greg pierce

    understandably, I was not at my best when I took the SAT exam in 1964 – I scored 200, the lowest one could get. yet, I received a BA with a gpa of 3.01, an MA with a gpa of 3.96 and a MS with a gpa of 4.00 – now I’m retired and have saved tons of money and taught in community and university systems my entire life – So, I have little to no faith in these standardized tests – everything is about ability and has nothing to do with test scores – lets get over the egotistical crap and enjoy life!!! Democracy and capitalism has nothing to do with SAT scores!

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