The SAT and the ACT Battle Over Score Comparisons

ACT on the new SAT: “We’re not having it. And neither should you.”

Tensions between the organizations that make the ACT and the SAT are flaring after the CEO of the ACT denounced the concordance tables recently released by The College Board.

You can read the full statement here.

These tables supposedly allow students to compare their performances on the new SAT and the ACT. By using these tables, for example, a student who got a 35 on the ACT and a 1500 on the new SAT would know to submit the 35 on the ACT, which equates to a 1570 on the new SAT, to colleges rather than the 1500 on the new SAT.

For students who find the tables hard to use, The College Board even developed a SAT Score Converter App, which will translate New SAT scores to old SAT scores as well as ACT scores.

Sounds good so far, right?

Apparently, The College Board cut the ACT out of the creation of the concordance tables. Furthermore, The College Board did not wait until they had a full year’s worth of data before trying to compare student scores on the New SAT with those of the ACT, potentially misleading students by making error-prone comparisons based on insufficient data.

In response, the ACT has called the tables “a bridge too far,” saying that “the College Board has taken it upon itself not only to describe what its scores mean, but what ACT’s scores mean.”

“ACT remains eager to engage the higher education community in conducting a rigorous concordance between scores on the ACT and the new SAT—when the data are available. That will be in about a year.

Until then, we urge you not to use the SAT Score Converter. And not to listen to messages suggesting the old SAT and the new SAT, or even the ACT, are comparable.”

This isn’t the first time the ACT and The College Board have butted heads. The College Board has been waging a war with the ACT over contracts for state-level testing. The aggression simply hasn’t stopped since the ACT overtook the SAT as the most widely-taken test in the country last year.

As a teacher and author, I just have to say I find this intensifying fight between rivals quite amusing. Though some are strongly advising everyone to take the ACT while The College Board figures out its mess, my perspective is one that’s more opportunistic: Take the test that you like more and that you’ll do better on. After all, the whole point is to give yourself the best chance in college admissions.

And if you’re considering both the SAT and the ACT, you might as well use those concordance tables to give you a rough idea of how your scores might compare. Even if they’re dubious, there’s no alternative and I suspect many colleges will be using the very same tables to compare you with other students.


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