Converting Your OLD SAT Score to the NEW SAT Score

As of March 5, 2016, the new SAT is being offered. This means that those who took the old 2400-point SAT may want to know what their new 1600-point SAT score would have been, and vice versa. This information is critical for when you research and apply to scholarships and colleges that use a different version of the SAT than the one you took. Here, we give a more accurate formula and way of switching between old SAT scores and new SAT scores.

Many conversion tables available online use a single multiplier to scale between the new 1600 SAT and the old 2400 SAT. This just means you multiply by 3/2 to go from new SAT to old SAT and divide to go in the other direction. This is a fine method for a rough estimate, but the new SAT and old SAT weight math-type skills and verbal-type skills differently. Therefore, a more accurate conversion will convert the section scores separately, which we present below. We'll explain the reasons below, and why you would want to use conversions in the first place.

Converting from Old SAT to New SAT

Do you have your old SAT score, including the scores for each section: Writing, Mathematics, and Critical Reading?

If so, you can use these three formulas to get what your score would be on the new SAT:

1. New Math Section Score = Old Math Section Score

2. New Verbal Section Score = (Old Critical Reading Section Score + Old Writing Score) / 2

3. New Total Score = New Math Section Score + New Verbal Section Score

In other words, the Math section scores are the same between the new test and old test. The new Verbal section is the average of the older Reading and Writing scores.

Example: Suppose a student has a total old SAT score of 1900. The breakdown is 510 in Writing, 730 in Mathematics, and 660 in Critical Reading. Using this formula he would calculate:

New Math Section Score = 730

New Verbal Section Score = (510 + 660) / 2 = 585

New Total Score = 730 + 585 = 1315

Converting from New SAT to Old SAT

Do you have a new SAT score, but want to convert to the old SAT, perhaps for a scholarship or college that still uses the old standard? In this case, you'll have your total new SAT score, your new Math Section score, and your new Verbal Section score (officially called "Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.")

Use these three formulas:

1. Old Math Section Score = New Math Section Score

2. Old Critical Reading Section Score = Old Writing Section Score = New Verbal Section Score

3. Old Total Score = New Math Section Score + 2 * New Verbal Section Score

In other words, the Math Section scores are the same between the old test and new test. The old Critical Reading score and old Writing score are estimated to be the same, equal to the new Verbal score.

Example: Suppose another student has a total new SAT score of 1400. Her breakdown is 610 in Verbal and 790 in Math.

Old Math Section Score = 790

Old Critical Reading Section Score = 610

Old Writing Section Score = 610

Old Total Score = 790 + 610 + 610 = 2010

More Information About the Formula

If you want to know why this formula is more accurate, when to use this formula, and what some mathematical properties of this formula are, read on!

Why This Formula Is More Accurate

You might have seen some conversion tables online that take the total score and multiply it by a fixed number. These conversion tables are fine as a rough estimate, but they don't account for the fact that the new SAT and the old SAT weight verbal-type skills and math-type skills differently.

The new SAT weights math skills as 50% of the total score, while the old SAT only weighted the math skills about 33%. Our formula accounts for this difference in weighting. It does this by converting each section score separately instead of the total score all at once. This makes the most difference for students who have substantially different math and verbal skills.

When You'll Want to Convert Between Scores

On one hand, the new SAT and the old SAT are different tests. No single test captures all the information from other tests. Comparing your score on the two tests is, in some ways, like comparing your marathon speed with your 100-meter-sprint speed. While the two speeds are probably correlated, the tests are different, and no one test fully summarizes the other.

On the other hand, scores from the two tests are indisputably related. They both aim to test similar concepts, they have similar functions as college admissions tests, and they both keep some of the same multiple-choice features. If you do well on one test, you'll tend to do well on the other. Therefore, it absolutely makes sense to talk about converting between one score and another.

The concept we use in the conversion above is called theoretical equivalence. That is, if you were to perform as well on one test as the other, what would your total score and section scores be? This gives us a formula where the math section remains the same, and the verbal sections map onto each other.

You can use this conversion if you're administering scholarships or admissions and want the same standards across the board. If you're intuitively used to thinking in terms of Old SAT scores, this conversion lets you understand New SAT scores better.

However, you should be aware of one caveat if you are using conversion tables to predict test scores. The caveat is that you'll experience regression to the mean. If you did better than average on the old sat (above 1500), you'll do just a tad lower than on the new SAT than your conversion chart score. Likewise, if you did worse than average (less than 1500) on the old SAT, you'll do just a tad better on the new SAT. The reason for this is that new test doesn't test exactly the same things as the old test, and for the new subjects being tested, you are statistically more likely to do more average. Thus, you should expect your score to shrink towards the average.



Michael W.

UCLA Instructor / SAT ACT Expert

400+ hours
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