What's Going On Between the College Board and ACT?

By now you’ve probably heard all about how SAT scores have been released and how to interpret the score report. But, have you heard about the little dust-up between the College Board and ACT Inc.? How about the chatter about the possibility that scores from the March SAT (the first administration of the new test) may be inflated?

No? Well, it’s time to catch up.

From New to Old

College Board recently released a score concordance table, which basically allows you to compare your student’s New SAT score to its equivalent old SAT score. But, they went a step further and added in a comparison to an ACT score as well.

Why would you need this? Well, every college’s average admitted SAT score is currently in the old 2400 format. To see how well your student’s score fares, you would need some way to be able to convert the New SAT score to its old equivalent. In comes the concordance table, which is meant to help bridge that gap.

But Wait, There’s More

Unfortunately, there have been some issues brought up regarding this concordance table. According to numerous reports, including this one from The Washington Post, scores on the New SAT aren’t worth as much as they did before. What does that mean? Essentially, students’ scores on the New SAT are equivalent to scores on the Old SAT that are 60 to 80 points lower.

Think about it this way: if a student scored an 1200 on the New SAT, that score would be comparable to a 1130 on the Old SAT (out of 1600, the sum of the math and reading sections).

Why does this matter? College admissions. Admissions officers will likely all be aware of this score disconnect and will need to figure out a way to handle it. From a student’s perspective, well…they might end up with a little false hope.

For example, consider a school where the average admitted score from the old test is a 2000. Using the table, you find that the equivalent score is a 1410. Let’s say your student has a score of 1420 and gets excited because their score is above the average. But, if you take a look at the table that converts the New SAT score to the Old SAT on a scale of 1600, you’ll see that a 1420 on the New SAT is equivalent to a 1370 on the Old SAT – which is lower than the average of 1410. Now this is still speculative and simply a hypothetical scenario where this disconnect in score conversions could harm students.

Why is this happening? It could be because the test has gotten a bit easier since the guessing penalty is gone. It could just be the nature of the test itself. Other theories? The Atlantic reports that some critics think that the SAT is inflating scores to help make the test more popular and attractive to students than the ACT, to which the SAT has lost market share in recent years.

It does makes sense. Here at Testive we encourage students to take a baseline practice test for both the SAT and the ACT, then to pick the test that students did better on. If the SAT score is inflated, students would be more likely to pick the SAT.


And then the ACT got involved. Longtime rivals, the ACT finally overtook the SAT as the most popular test in 2012. Why are they getting involved in this? Simple: the College Board claims that their table can convert New SAT scores into equivalent ACT scores. The ACT is upset because the concordance tables were based on converting New SAT scores to Old SAT scores, and then converting those scores to ACT scores. And not only that, but the conversion of Old SAT scores to ACT scores is based on a study done ten years ago back in 2006.

The ACT released a letter to families saying that “Speaking for ACT, we’re not having it. And neither should you.” They’re saying that the College Board needs at least a full year’s worth of data before creating these tables, and that they should collaborate with ACT on creating concordance tables. They also urge families not to use the College Board’s Score Conversion tool.

College Board responded, claiming that ACT made false allegations and that universities needed these concordance tables to make their decisions. They also claimed that they had reached out to ACT about working together to create the tables. Looks like their rivalry isn’t so friendly right now.

You can read both letters in full in this Washington Post article.

Your Takeaways

Despite all of this public bluster, your student should still be proud of his or her performance on the SAT and shouldn’t let this inflation business discourage him or her.

Not satisfied with the score? Our expert test prep advisors can offer some advice on the best prep plan for your family. Book a call today!

By | 2017-08-14T15:05:32+00:00 November 1st, 2016|Other Posts|0 Comments