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Which Test Scores to Send: SAT or ACT?

Some teenagers perform better on the SAT, while others fare better on the ACT. And frankly it doesn't matter because all colleges and universities will accept scores from either test. The ACT is more popular in the Midwest, while the SAT is the favored test on either coast.

The ACT is considered less coachable. That's because it tests for knowledge that teenagers should have already absorbed in their high school classes. In contrast, the SAT tests for problem-solving abilities and is more of an aptitude test.

Even after the scores are in, however, it can be difficult to know whether your teenager's ACT or SAT results are more impressive. A perfect SAT score is 2400. A perfect ACT score is just 36. Wonder no longer. Here's an ACT and SAT conversion chart, so you can compare scores of both tests:

36 2400
35 2340
34 2260
33 2190
32 2130
31 2040
30 1980
29 1920
28 1860
27 1820
26 1760
25 1700
24 1650
23 1590
22 1530
21 1500
20 1410
19 1350
18 1290
17 1210
16 1140
15 1060
14 1000
13 900
12 780
11 750

Send whichever score is higher on this chart. For example, if your teen got 2100 on the SAT but 34 on the ACT, send the ACT.

What if neither a teen's ACT and SAT scores look good? There's always Plan B: check out the list of ACT and SAT-optional schools at

Further Reading:

How to Survive a Bad SAT Score
Why Your Teen Needs a "B" Average
How Does Your Teen's SAT Scores Compare