How to Compare the New SAT to the Old SAT

June 10, 2016

We have been hearing positive things from students who were studying for the new SAT—many students in this year’s junior class seemed to prefer this test to the old SAT.  The positive vibes were confirmed this spring when many students were pleasantly surprised by their results.  

At College Prep 360, we had a hunch that the curve for the new SAT was going to be generous even before the results came in.  Historically, when the College Board changes the test (once every 15 years or so), they have had a more generous curve because they do not want to alienate already anxious test-takers.  We thought this year would be no exception—especially because the College Board decided to change the test this time to compete with the ACT, which was overtaking them in popularity.  It seemed like a safe bet that they would make the new SAT a little more “student friendly,” meaning that the curve would be generous.

The good news is that we were right.  The curve IS more generous.

The bad news is that the College Board has released a conversion chart comparing new SAT scores with old SAT scores.  Colleges will likely recalculate the scores so that any score gains a student thinks he or she achieved will be erased.

For example, according to a chart you can download here, a combined score of 1200 on the new SAT is equivalent to a 1130 on the old SAT (Critical Reading and Math sections only).  A 1300 on the new SAT is equivalent to a 1230 on the old SAT.  A 1400 on the new test is equivalent to a 1340 on the old test.  A 1500 on the new test is equivalent to a 1460 on the old test.  And so on.

Students and parents must now use the conversion chart to figure out how their scores will be interpreted by colleges based on the old SAT scale, not the new scale, since all students taking this new test will experience a score gain that is due to the new curve rather than getting more answers right.

This is definitely disappointing for some students who celebrated their high scores on the new test this spring!  But it is important to be prepared to interpret these scores so that you can make the best decisions about where your new scores fit into colleges’ averages, which are based on the old test.