Like many add-ons that the ACT and SAT offer, ACT’s Test Information Release (TIR) and SAT’s Question and Answer Service (QAS) both cost a little extra in exchange for providing a little extra information. While the information in these verification services aren’t necessarily life-changing, they can be a helpful supplement to your study routine if you are retaking either the SAT or ACT.
Okay, but what is the SAT Question and Answer Service?
If you’re still feeling a bit lost, let me back up and explain: test makers are required by law to provide students with copies of their exams whenever possible. (But, that doesn’t mean test makers can’t charge a fee for those old exams!) To comply with these “Truth in Testing” laws, the ACT offers a Test Information Release service, and the SAT offers a Question and Answer Service and a Student Answer Service. The ACT’s Test Information Release service is explained in depth here, but read on to learn about the SAT’s answer verification service.
Question and Answer Service
The Question and Answer Service provides more information than the Student Answer Service. When you order the QAS, the College Board sends you a full booklet copy of the SAT questions you answered. Unfortunately, this is a fresh copy, not a photocopy of your own test, so you won’t be able to see your work on math questions or any notes you took on a reading passage. However, seeing the questions you answered is still a pretty useful tool! Along with the clean test booklet, you’ll also get an explanation of the type and difficulty levels of the questions you answered, and a report that includes your answers and the correct answers.
Student Answer Service
The Student Answer Service, by contrast, doesn’t include the test booklet or the actual questions you took on the SAT. In fact, the SAS doesn’t even provide the answers to test questions–it only tells you whether you were right or wrong. College Board only allows test takers to order the QAS when they are ready to release those questions. That’s why the SAS is offered for more test dates than the QAS. With SAS, you receive a list of the types of questions you had, each question’s difficulty level, and you’ll find out whether your answer to each question was correct, incorrect, or skipped.
So, what can I do with this information?
The QAS definitely has the advantage over the SAS, because you have access to the exact questions you answered. Similar to a practice SAT, you can study both the questions and the corresponding correct answers. Additionally, since you can see your test day answers, you can see exactly which questions you got right and wrong, giving you a clear map of any problem areas. Since the SAS doesn’t include the test booklet, you can’t review each question with the correct answer, but you’ll still be able to see which types of questions you do better or worse on. Whichever verification service you end up using, you can still review types of questions alongside your scored responses. And that’s where both the QAS and SAS can be very helpful for you, if you’re planning to retake the SAT.
Are these verification services basically study guides?
Not technically. College Board is pretty clear that verification services are not study guides or test prep tools. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t review your answers to find out areas where you could do better next time. It’s a great idea to find out the question types that you consistently answered incorrectly and use that information to devote some extra study time to boosting your skills in those areas. If you know you’re definitely planning to retake the test, then ordering QAS or SAS is a great idea, providing you with personalized data to guide your second round of test prep.
But wait! There’s more!
Here’s the catch: for many test dates, both options are not available…meaning you can only order whichever verification service is available for your test date. Some test dates do have both QAS and SAS available, but it’s very tricky to keep track. If you think you might take advantage of either of these services, you’ll definitely want to check out this chart, copied directly from the Verification Order form.
Also critical to keep in mind is verification service delivery dates. Plan ahead: you may not receive your QAS/SAS until after the next test date!
Of course, since QAS offers more information, it also costs a few more dollars than SAS. Currently, QAS costs $18, which SAS costs $13.50. (Always check SAT’s website for the most updates rates & dates!)
Just to recap, the SAT’s answer verification service is not an official test prep guide, but is defintiely a great way to review before you retake the SAT. As always, happy studying!