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Scoring the SAT and ACT

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Both the ACT and SAT tests grade differently. For instance, an average score for the SAT is 1500 whereas that for the ACT is about 21. But what do these numbers mean and how can you determine where you stack up against the others? Here are a few guidelines:

The SAT Test

The SAT tests the student on three topics: Math, Critical Reading and Writing. Each of these sections is graded out of 800 for a total grade out of 2400. As already stated, an average score on the SAT is a sum of 1500. A low score is generally 1100 or below. Hence the student should strive to achieve an overall score of at least 1500.

While you should give the test your best effort, it is always a good idea to know what score you need for the program you are applying for and any scholarships you have in mind. This way you have a goal to work towards.

The ACT Test

The ACT tests on three topics plus an optional writing section: Math, Reading, Science and Writing (optional). A raw score is simply the number of correct answers submitted. However, these raw scores are not shown on the score sheet of the ACT. Rather, they are converted to a scale score (using a very complex algorithm that factors in the difficulty of the given test) which ranges from 1-36. Hence, the composite score is the average of all of the scale scores which also ranges from 1-36. As already stated, an average composite score for the ACT is around a 21 and a low score is considered to be 15 or below. Hence the student should strive for a 21 or higher.

Again, having an idea of what the minimum requirements are for your post-secondary school of choice is always a good idea.

What Post-Secondary Schools Consider

Post-secondary schools only take the highest scores achieved out of any number of test attempts. For example, if the student received a 550 on math, a 200 on writing and a 500 on reading on the first test, but then took it a second time and received a 500, 600, 550 respectively; most post-secondary schools will only take the result in math from the first test (550) and then the next two results from the second test (600 and 550) because this optimizes the students score to a sum of 1600. As such, it is always wise to re-take the test if your scores are not satisfactory.

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