SAT to GRE Conversion: Does One Predict the Other?

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SAT to GRE conversion: is it possible? Sure, the two exams aren’t identical, but there’s no denying they’ve got a few similarities. Both the GRE and SAT test you on the same major skill sets: reading, writing, and math. But does this alone mean there’s a way for us to convert SAT scores to GRE scores? Is there any SAT-GRE correlation at all?

Read on as we investigate the complex relationship between SAT and GRE scores. In addition, we’ll show you how you can convert your SAT scores to GRE scores and vice versa using percentiles!

 

SAT to GRE Conversion: Can It Be Done?

Unfortunately, there is no OFFICIAL method for converting SAT scores to GRE scores (and vice versa).

The main reason for this is that the GRE and SAT serve completely different purposes. While the SAT targets college-bound high school juniors and seniors, the GRE is specifically geared toward college seniors and college graduates applying to grad school. Because the two exams do not test the exact same content, then, there is no way for us to come up with a 100 percent accurate method for SAT to GRE conversion or GRE to SAT conversion.

Confused? Consider the GRE and SAT reading scores. The SAT’s Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) score isn’t simply an overall reading score but rather a combined score for the Reading and Writing and Language sections.

On the GRE, however, the Verbal section only focuses on vocab and reading comprehension; there are no writing- or grammar-related questions. Thus, the two major reading sections on the GRE and SAT are too different to be able to compare them or convert scores directly.

In addition, the GRE and SAT use very different scoring systems. On the GRE, the Verbal and Quantitative sections are scored separately on a scale of 130-170 in 1-point increments and are not typically combined for a total score.

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On the SAT, however, EBRW and Math are scored separately on a scale of 200-800 in 10-point increments and are often combined for a total score out of 1600 points. These two totally different scales make it difficult to properly convert an SAT or GRE score to the other.

(Quick note: prior to 2011, the GRE’s Verbal and Quantitative sections did in fact use the same 200-800 scoring scale the SAT uses for its sections currently. That said, the content and purposes of the exams are still altogether too different to be able to conduct an accurate SAT to GRE conversion.)

These are just a few examples of the many ways the GRE and SAT differ from each other. For more examples, check out our GRE vs SAT analysis.

As you can see, there’s no official way to do an SAT to GRE conversion or a GRE to SAT conversion. But surely there must be some SAT-GRE correlation, right? For example, can your SAT scores predict your GRE scores?

 

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Can SAT scores predict GRE scores? Only if you have a magical crystal ball.

 

Can SAT Scores Predict GRE Scores?

Although there might be a correlation, SAT scores don’t directly convert to GRE scores. If you got a high SAT score, you’re not guaranteed a high GRE score. Likewise, if you scored a low SAT score, you’re not automatically destined for a low GRE score.

Most people take the GRE several years after taking the SAT (usually four or more!). So even if you scored highly on the SAT, if you haven’t studied SAT exam topics consistently in the past few years or haven’t spent any time preparing for the GRE, you likely won’t perform as well on the GRE.

On that same note, scoring poorly on the SAT doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll flunk the GRE! Getting the GRE score you want is all about making a commitment to studying. So if this time around you study diligently using high-quality GRE prep books and tons of practice tests, you’ll probably fare much better on the GRE than you did on the SAT!

It’s also important to remember that the pool of GRE takers is significantly smaller than the pool of SAT takers. Those taking the GRE are typically more high achieving than those taking the SAT because fewer people apply to grad school. Essentially, the GRE is a more competitive exam. As a result, on the GRE it’ll probably be more difficult for you to achieve the same percentiles you scored in back on the SAT.

With all that said, it is possible for there to be a SAT-GRE correlation. For example, if you consistently struggle with standardized tests, you might experience the same anxieties or challenges on the GRE. Likewise, if you’re one of those people who’s always had a knack for multiple-choice tests or a fondness for strict study schedules, you’ll probably fare at least equally well on the GRE as you did on the SAT.

 

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Still wondering how to convert your scores? Fear not! We’ve got an idea for you to try.

 

SAT to GRE Conversion Using Percentiles

We’ve so far addressed the lack of an official SAT to GRE conversion system as well as why SAT scores do not necessarily predict GRE scores. But if you’re still dying to convert your SAT or GRE scores, you’re not alone! Below, we’re giving you two charts containing all of the info you need to conduct your own SAT to GRE conversion (or GRE to SAT conversion).

But how is this possible? Although there isn’t any official way to convert SAT or GRE scores, it is possible to conduct a rough score conversion using GRE and SAT percentiles. Percentiles are recorded for every possible score and indicate what percentage of test takers you scored higher than on a given section.

The two tables below contain SAT scores, GRE scores, and percentiles for the two major sections of the SAT and GRE: math and reading. (As for the writing sections, the SAT Essay and GRE Analytical Writing measure are scored so differently and on such minute scales it’s nearly impossible to draw any comparisons between the two! Thus, we’re not addressing those here.)

Now, using the tables below, look for either your SAT or GRE score. And voila! You can convert one score to the other without hassle. (Note that some scores and percentiles are written as ranges. This is because not all GRE scores correlate directly to a single SAT score, and vice versa.)

Remember the caveat: students who take the GRE plan to attend graduate school, while students who take the SAT simply plan to go to college. Therefore, the median student taking the GRE might be academically stronger than the median student taking the SAT, after adjusting for age. This suggests that the SAT scores below need to be adjusted a bit higher — for instance, an 800 on SAT Math might correlate with a 170 on GRE Quant, rather than a 750 on SAT Math.

 

SAT and GRE Math: Scores and Percentiles

SAT Math Score GRE Quantitative Score Percentile
800 99+
770-790 99
760 98
740-750 170 97
730 169 96
700-720 168 94-95
690 167 92
680 166 91
660-670 165 88-89
650 164 86-87
640 163 84
620-630 162 81-82
610 161 78
600 160 76
590 159 73
580 158 69-70
560-570 157 65-67
550 156 61-62
540 155 58-59
530 154 54-55
520 153 49-51
510 152 45-47
500 151 40-43
490 150 37-38
480 149 34-35
470 148 30-32
460 147 27-29
440-450 146 22-25
430 145 20
420 144 17
410 143 14
400 142 12
390 141 10
380 140 8
360-370 139 5-7
350 138 4
340 137 3
330 135-136 2
300-320 133-134 1

Sources: College Board SAT Understanding Scores 2017 and ETS GRE Interpretive Data Table 1A

 

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Is it glasses on a book, or a book wearing glasses?

 

SAT and GRE Reading: Scores and Percentiles

SAT EBRW Score GRE Verbal Score Percentile
770-800 99+
750-760 169-170 99
730-740 167-168 98
720 166 97
710 165 96
690-700 164 94-95
680 163 92-93
670 162 91
660 161 88-89
640-650 160 85-87
630 159 82-83
620 158 79-80
610 157 76-77
600 156 73
580-590 155 67-70
570 154 64-65
560 153 60-61
550 152 56-57
540 151 52-53
530 150 48-49
510-520 149 42-46
500 148 39
490 147 35
480 146 31-32
470 145 27-28
450-460 144 22-25
440 143 19-20
430 142 16-17
420 141 14-15
410 140 12
400 139 9-10
390 138 8
380 137 6
360-370 136 4-5
350 135 3
340 133-134 2
300-330 131-132 1

Sources: College Board SAT Understanding Scores 2017 and ETS GRE Interpretive Data Table 1A

 

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The SAT and GRE are as distinct as the two differently colored eyes of this majestic white cat. Yeah, my similes get really specific.

 

SAT to GRE Conversion: Final Thoughts

Because the GRE and SAT are two completely different exams, each with their own distinct content, scoring system, and overall purpose, we can’t directly convert SAT scores to GRE scores (or vice versa).

What we can do, however, is use each exam’s respective percentiles to come up with a rough conversion. Converted scores are not exact conversions and are not meant to be used for any official purpose; they are simply there to give you an idea of how SAT and GRE performances compare with each other.

In reality, though, SAT scores don’t exactly predict GRE scores. While there can be a correlation between the two, the only way to ultimately get a good GRE score is to study effectively using quality prep materials.

So don’t spend too much time worrying about how your SAT scores compare with your GRE scores. In the end, all that matters is that your GRE scores are high enough to get you into the grad program of your dreams!

 

What’s Next?

Want to know how different the GRE and SAT truly are? Learn all about the 13 major differences between the two exams in our in-depth analysis.

Did you get a perfect SAT score? Want to score just as highly on the GRE? Read our expert guide on how to ace the GRE to get tons of tips on how to get a 170 on both Verbal and Quantitative.

Or maybe you’re not looking to ace the GRE. In that case, use our guides on how to set a Verbal goal score and how to set a Quantitative goal score to figure out the perfect GRE scores for you and you alone!


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Author: Hannah Muniz

Hannah graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in English and East Asian languages and cultures. After graduation, she taught English in Japan for two years via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.

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