New SAT/ACT Concordance Tables

Toss out your old concordance tables! The College Board and ACT released a new set of concordance tables today. With the mediation help of the NCAA, the two organizations finally put aside their differences and created a joint concordance table that allows everyone to compare ACT scores and new SAT scores.

You can find the new tables at the SAT’s site here and ACT’s here.


What is a concordance table and how did they make it?

A concordance table lets you compare a score from the ACT (out of 36 points) with a score from the SAT (out of 1600 points). It’s not an exact conversion, but it’s the closest anyone can get.

The new concordance tables let you compare three scores:

ACT Composite to SAT Total

ACT Math to SAT Math

ACT English+Reading to SAT Verbal

To create the tables, the ACT and the College Board compared the results and percentiles of 589,753 students who took both the ACT and the new SAT from February 2016 though June 2017.

Note: The College Board did not release new conversion tables for comparing old SAT scores (pre March 2016) with new SAT scores (since March 2016). Those conversions have stayed the same.


Why the revision?

When the SAT changed in 2016, the College Board (which writes and administers the SAT) released its own concordance table. There were two problems with this table.

First, it was based on a very small data set of pilot test-takers. This meant that the concordance numbers were most reliable for students in the middle score ranges (where the largest number of pilot test-takers scored) but less reliable for higher and lower scorers. The new concordance tables take into consideration more than half a million student who have taken both the ACT and the new SAT. With a bigger sample size we get greater accuracy.

Second, the ACT wasn’t involved in creating the 2016 tables. When the SAT changed the first time—back in 2005—the College Board and ACT created a concordance by showing each other their data and agreeing to an official concordance. This table became the trusted resource for everyone in college admissions. When the SAT changed in 2016 and created its own table, ACT was livid and rightfully questioned the table’s accuracy. The new tables correct this issue. Once again, the College Board and ACT opened their data sets together, compared the numbers, and came up with a table that both organizations agree on and that all of us can now trust.


What changed?

The new tables do show some change in how SAT and ACT scores concord with each other. Here’s quick overview of how things changed from the first College Board-released tables in 2016:

High-Level Scores (ACT 25–36 / SAT 1230–1600): New concordance moved in favor of ACT. For the majority of scores in this range, the ACT score that concords to a given SAT score rose by a point.

Middle-Level Scores (ACT 22–24 / SAT 1030–1220): Concordance did NOT change

Lower-Level Scores (ACT 11–21 / SAT 590–1020): New concordance moved in favor of SAT. For the majority of scores in this range, the ACT score that concords to a given SAT score dropped a point or two.


How does this affect which test I should take?

For students and their families, concordance tables are most important when deciding which test to focus on. We still recommend that everyone take a diagnostic of both exams to see which exam they “like” the feel of better and which exam they score higher on in terms of the ACT composite and SAT total scores. The concordance tables help you compare your scores on each test and pick the one you do best on.

From now on, only use the new concordance tables to compare scores. The old SAT/ACT concordance tables from 2016 should go in the garbage.

Keep in mind that comparing your scores with concordance tables is just the first step. There is a gray area where the score difference is small, and it might help to have an expert weigh in. For example, if your ACT and SAT concordance is equal or only of by a point, there may be other factors that come into play (section scores, dates tests are offered, computer-based vs. paper-based) that may help you decide. Contact an ArborBridge Director of Tutoring if you need help wading through all of the factors.


What if I already picked a test based on the old concordance tables?

Don’t panic. For most students the adjustments in the new tables won’t make a substantial difference. For those who do see fluctuations in their concordance with the new tables, it’s best to speak with an ArborBridge Director of Tutoring. He/She can look at all of the pieces—how big the fluctuation is, how much time you have already spent prepping, how much progress you’ve already made, etc.—and suggest a best course of action.

Megan Stubbendeck

About Megan Stubbendeck

Dr. Megan Stubbendeck is an eight-year veteran of the test prep industry with ten years of teaching experience. She earned her PhD in History from the University of Virginia, where she taught for three years in the History Department. She has been part of the test prep industry since 2007 and has earned perfect scores on the SAT, ACT, GRE, and multiple AP exams. As the CEO of ArborBridge, Megan oversees all aspects of ArborBridge operations and helped to create our innovative curriculum.

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