How to compare SAT-ACT score?

Exam: Test Prep SAT Test - Scholastic Assessment Test: Reading, Writing and Language, Mathematics

The SAT and ACT measure the similar but specific constructs.  The SAT measures general verbal and quantitative reasoning while the ACT measures achievements concerning the high school curricula. The ACT measures four areas while the SAT measures three areas. Making a comparison between the two tests is difficult; it is like comparing cows and sheep or oranges to apples. The College Board and the ACT established concordance tables that are convenient for comparing ACT and SAT test scores.

What is Concordance?

Comparing SAT and ACT is a daunting task.  The two tests measure different educational constructs and hence the difficulty in comparing the tests' scores.  The ACT leans more on the curriculum and measures educational development.  The main purpose of the test is to measure knowledge and intent thinking skills that teachers teach in programs that prepare students to join college.  Thus, ACT thus measures academic achievements in English, Mathematics, Science and reading.  Conversely, the SAT assesses reading, writing and mathematical reasoning and it does not refer to high school and college curricula like the ACT.  The ACT and the SAT are not similar; different students possess different potentials, hence, a score that equates both tests is difficult to develop.

It would be better to interpret scores of either test independently. Nonetheless, it is difficult for most colleges and universities to keep two separate records; one that records students that sat for the ACT and the other students who sat for the SAT. It would also proove to be difficult to determine whether students who sat for the two different tests have equally qualified for a particular course. Colleges and other institutions of higher learning must use a system that compares the two tests and hence the need for concordance tables—tables that facilitate a comparison of the ACT and SAT single scores, as well as multiple scores.

What are Concordant Scores?

Concordant scores are scores that have the same percentile position about the group of students who took the test. The concordance tables establish the cutoff score on the test results that correspond to about the same number of students selected by the other test. The concordance tables show, for example, an ACT composite score has a concordant SAT CR+M score of 950; these scores would lead to a selection of about the same number of students.  However, if you use the concordant tables to compare the results of a single student, the results will be more inaccurate than if you use other statistical methods. If colleges and other institutions use the concordance tables to make placement decisions, they must carefully evaluate the contents of both tests relative to the content of the course that students want to pursue. If the contents of the course that a student wants to pursue are different from the scores of the tests, colleges are likely to make wrong placement decisions.

It is also prudent to consider that ACT and SAT scores may differ by a great degree across colleges and students. Students who are part of a particular study may not be a representative sample of students in a specific institution. For this reason, an institution may want to compare the ACT and SAT scores of its students. In institutions where it is not feasible, the concordance tables should have meaningful proportions as long as the important characteristics of the applicant do not differ with a high degree from the sample used in the development of the concordance tables.

Concordance Tables between ACT Compliance Score and Sum of SAT Critical Reading and Mathematics Scores

SAT CR +M (Score Range)

ACT Composite Score

SAT CR+M (Single Score)

1600

36

1600

1540-1590

35

1560

1490-1530

34

1510

1440-1480

33

1460

1400-1430

32

1420

1360-1390

31

1380

1330-1350

30

1340

1290-1320

29

1300

1250-1280

28

1260

1210-1240

27

1220

1170-1200

26

1190

1130-1160

25

1150

1090-1120

24

1110

1050-1080

23

1070

1020-1040

22

1030

980-1010

21

990

940-970

20

950

900-930

19

910

860-890

18

870

820-850

17

830

770-810

16

790

720-760

15

740

670-710

14

690

620-660

13

640

560-610

12

590

510-550

11

540

What should a student use in applying for a course in College?

Some students sit for both tests. However, you might find out that a student has scored well in one test than he has in the other. If a college requires you to submit your ACT results and you have scored high marks in ACT, it is prudent to submit your ACT score. If the school requires submission of the SAT results, which you have scored poorly, it will be prudent to submit the composite score for the ACT for the college staff to compare it with the SAT. You will stand a better chance of getting placement in your desired college by submitting results for the test that you have performed well. It is, therefore, evident that taking both tests may turn out to be an advantage over your competitors who have sat for one of the two tests.  You will be able to submit the test that places you higher on the ranking among all the students who sat for either of the test.

Both ACT and SAT are meaningful tools in admission and orientation, student placement and course sectioning.  They are also important tools in awarding of scholarship and financial assistance, placement in advanced courses and credit examination, retention and tracking of students, and other personnel services relating to students.

However, comparison of the two tests may be an easy task for colleges and other institutions despite the use of concordance tables. For this reason, it is much easier to use the actual ACT and SAT scores when it is possible to do so.

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