Do you want to convert your GPA to SAT scores, or vice versa? Perhaps you're wondering what SAT score you might get based on your high school grades. In this article, we've pored through the statistics to let you do just that! Before we jump into the data, though, we do have some caveats to be aware of.
Is Converting Between GPA and SAT Scores Possible?
First, you should know that the SAT measures completely different things than a GPA does. The SAT is a single test that occurs over just a few hours, whereas a GPA takes years of work to build and is based on classwork and overall class performance.
Therefore, you cannot compare the two in a predictive sense. You can't say that just because you have a perfect GPA that you'll get a perfect SAT score, or vice versa. Suppose the fastest 100-meter dash time was 9.7 seconds and the fastest marathon time was two hours and 10 minutes. Getting 9.7 seconds in the dash doesn't mean you'd for sure get 2:10 in the marathon!
In spite of this, you can roughly convert between GPA and SAT score by looking at how "good" each one is. In other words, you can say that the fastest sprinter runs 100 meters in 9.7 seconds, which converts to the fastest marathon runner at 2:10. This scale matches SAT to GPA based on how good each one is—more precisely, the percentiles of people earning each.
Conversion Between SAT Scores and GPA
Below, we've created a table that contains conversions between composite SAT scores and GPA (on an unweighted 4.0 scale).
|SAT Score||GPA (4.0 Scale)|
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How Did We Calculate These SAT-GPA Conversions?
Now that you've seen the conversion table, you're likely wondering how we actually calculated these SAT-GPA conversions.
First, we used real official data released by the College Board to get precise percentiles down to the exact person. We then used grade percentile data from this study to calculate common class grade percentiles.
Next, we presumed that, to get the GPA, a student with a median class grade of K (out of 100) could score uniformly 6 points higher or lower. This let us map percentiles to course grades to GPA. Note that our methodology for mapping student class grades to GPA is proprietary.
At least converting SAT scores to a GPA isn't as confusing as converting different types of money is.
What Can You Use These SAT-GPA Conversions For?
You've seen the table and understand how we calculated these conversions—but what now? What can you actually use SAT-GPA conversions for? In other words, how can they help you?
Below, we give you two reasons for why you might want to use these conversions, and explain how they can potentially aid you during the college application process.
#1: You Want to Estimate Your SAT Score Before Taking the Test
As I mentioned at the beginning, one big reason you might want to use these SAT-GPA conversions is to estimate what your potential SAT scores could be based on your current GPA. Doing this can be helpful for students who have yet to take their first SAT and want to get a rough idea of the general range they should be scoring in based on their performance in school.
For example, if you're a 4.0 student, you'd probably want to be scoring pretty highly on the SAT—ideally in at least the 1400s. On the other hand, if you've got a 3.1 GPA, you might expect to score around average (though you could certainly score higher depending on how hard you prep!).
Again, note that your GPA is not an accurate predictor of your SAT score (in reality, your PSAT score is a much better predictor). Even if you have a lower GPA, this doesn't necessarily mean that you'll for sure get a below-average SAT score. However, you can use your GPA to give yourself a rough baseline of where you should be scoring on the SAT.
#2: You Want to Estimate the Average GPA of Admitted Applicants to Colleges
The other way you might want to use these SAT-GPA conversions is to estimate the average GPA of admitted applicants to certain colleges based on their average SAT scores. This is helpful if a college website offers data on admitted applicants' SAT scores but not on their GPA.
For example, say you're applying to the University of Texas. You currently have a GPA of 3.4 and want to know what the average GPA of admitted students is, so you go to the UT Austin website. Unfortunately, all you can find is the middle 50% ranges of applicants' SAT/ACT scores.
But the good news is that you can use this information to estimate what the average GPA (or GPA range) of admitted applicants is.
According to UT Austin's website, the middle 50% of SAT scores is 1160-1390. Using the conversion table above, we can look for these scores and then come up with a (rough) GPA range of admitted students to UT Austin.
The chart shows that 1160 converts to a GPA of 3.85, while an SAT score of 1390 converts to a GPA of 3.99. We can therefore say that admitted applicants to UT Austin typically have a GPA in the range of 3.85-3.99. This means you'll likely need a fairly high GPA to get admitted to UT Austin.
Wondering what SAT score you should be aiming for? Learn what your target SAT score should be based on the colleges you're interested in.
Not sure how to begin studying for the SAT? Check out this guide which goes over the pros and cons of each prep method. It'll help you figure out exactly how you should be studying!
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Fred is co-founder of PrepScholar. He scored a perfect score on the SAT and is passionate about sharing information with aspiring students. Fred graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor's in Mathematics and a PhD in Economics.