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Articles / Applying to College / Submitting ACTs that are Lower Than SATs

Dec. 1, 2002

Submitting ACTs that are Lower Than SATs

Question: My daughter got a 730V, 760M on her last SAT I, which has been sent to the colleges she's applying to. We just got her ACT score, which is a 32. (English 30, Math 30, Reading 33, Science 36). Would it help or hurt to have the ACT score also sent to the colleges? The correspondence tables show a 32 equivalent to an SAT I combined score of 1420, which is lower than the 1490 she got earlier this fall.


You are right to observe that your daughter’s ACT composite is somewhat below her SAT combined score on the concordance charts. Ordinarily, we might suggest that there’s really no reason to send those ACT scores to colleges, but what jumps out at us is how well your daughter did on the science portion of the test. Has she taken SAT II Subject Tests in any sciences? If so, did she score above 750?

Our advice is this: if your daughter has already submitted an SAT II score in a science that is 750 or above, there isn’t any compelling reason to send her ACT scores to her target colleges. On the other hand, if she has not taken an SAT II test in any science field or if she received sub-750 scores, then we would recommend that you submit her ACT results.

A 32 may not compare with a 1490, but it’s nothing to sneeze at either. (The average ACT range at Stanford and Yale is 29 to 33; at Harvard it’s 30 to 34.) It would be a very good idea to make sure that colleges see your daughter’s strength in science standardized testing, which the SAT I doesn’t show at all.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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