You’ve just taken your SAT or ACT test. From the moment you close your test booklet and hand in your answer sheet, you are anticipating what your score might be. Will it match your highest goal? Will it meet your ideal school’s requirements? Will you need to sign up for another tutoring session or another test?
Those two and four digit numbers are, of course, what we all focus on. But did you know that they are not the only valuable information distributed by testing agencies? Both The College Board and ACT.org offer (under certain circumstances) copies of a tester’s questions and answers and answer keys to help the tester evaluate his or her performance.
The cost is not prohibitive: in all cases, the fee is $20.00 or under.
The College Board offers two different services: QAS (Question-And-Answer Service $18) and SAS (Student Answer Service $13.50). They are not ordered together but function as alternatives. The College Board advises, “Order Student Answer Service if Question-And-Answer Service is unavailable.”
Of the two, the QAS is far more detailed. It is available to students who test in March, May, or October and includes:
- The specific questions you encountered that test day
- Your answers to them
- An answer key showing all correct answers
- Categorization of questions by type and level of difficulty
The SAS offers only a report of which questions you answered correctly or incorrectly and a categorization of questions by type and level of difficulty. Actual questions and answers are not provided. This option is slightly cheaper (and available for more test dates.
If you are planning to take the ACT, only one service is available: the TIR (Test Information Release Service $20). This (like the QAS) provides you with “a copy of the multiple-choice test questions used to determine your score, a list of your answers, and the answer key.” The TIR service is available for the April, June, and December ACT exam dates.
The College Board and ACT.org both provide clear, detailed instruction on their websites to help those who want to order any of these reports.
So much for the what and the how…what about the why? To echo the titles of several educational articles, “Should you order a copy of your test booklet?”
Samantha Lindsay lists three possible reasons for requesting a score report.
- To figure out why you got the score you did
- To use as review material for the next time you take the SAT
- To see if a mistake was made with your score
One caveat to keep in mind if you are ordering for (understandably popular) Reason Number 2: Neither testing organization can guarantee your report will arrive before the next testing date.
Summit Educational Group concedes there is some benefit but suggests that as much or more can be gained from a free proctored practice test. The advantage of the practice test becomes even greater when there is an educational professional to review your answers with you—an individual that neither The College Board nor ACT can provide.
Ultimately, we can see no harm in ordering your test results, especially in cases where you suspect a mistake might have been made. And of course, it can be helpful if you have enough time to make use of the information prior to your next sitting of the test. As tools for studying, however, detailed score reports have their limitations.
At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our focus is always on you. If you are interested in taking a free proctored practice SAT or ACT test, please contact A+ Client Service Directors Anne Stanley and Susan Ware at 215-886-9188. They can also answer questions about executive functioning coaching or sessions in any other school subject.