Act 1, Scene 1 – In the Classroom

A chemistry teacher hands students slips of paper revealing their grades on their most recent––and very difficult––exam. Students wait anxiously to learn their scores. The teacher finally hands Thomas his number.

Thomas: A 62?!

Teacher: Yes, unfortunately. You seem to have had a rough time!

Thomas: I knew it was tough, but this is awful. What happened?

Teacher: Well, you had some issues with stoichiometry and understanding reactions in solution. It looks like you ran out of time as well.

Thomas: Yeah. Well, can I see the problems? Like, what exactly I got wrong?

Teacher: I'm sorry Thomas. I can't tell you that. This test won't be released. You'll just have to study harder for the next one.

Thomas's face contorts into a look of horrified disappointment. The lights dim and the curtain falls.

As you can tell, I wouldn't make it five minutes as a playwright. This little show in one act, however, is really just a way to shed light on a situation that, absurd as it is, happens all the time when students receive their SAT and ACT scores. Throughout the year, a total of 7 SATs and 6 (soon to be 7) ACTs are administered, but for most, students can't actually see the test after they get their scores. This gives rise to a situation not all that different from the one above. But there are two saving graces for students who want to take advantage of all they can to improve their scores: the QAS and TIR.

  1. The QAS (Question and Answer Service) is the SAT's test release program. If you register for and take an SAT in MarchMay, or October, you can order the QAS, through which you will receive a copy of the test in the mail, along with the answers you provided and the correct answers. (**Note: the College Board provides something called the Answer Service for the other administrations of the SAT. This is not the same thing as the QAS, and is basically a waste of money; most of the information the Answer Service provides can be obtained via the free score report posted to each student's account after scores post.)

  2. The TIR (Test Information Release) is the ACT's test release program. If you register for and take an ACT in AprilJune, or December, you can order the TIR, through which you will receive a copy of the test in the mail, along with a copy of the answers you provided and the correct answers. 

Bottom line: if you are registering for an SAT/ACT on a QAS/TIR date, order the exam back by selecting the QAS or TIR option during registration (these are easy to miss, so pay attention. While there is a small cost associated with these services, certain students may qualify for fee waivers.) You can also order these services several months after you take a given QAS/TIR exam, though there are deadlines past which you will no longer be able to do so. One more thing: the exams will come back 6-8 weeks after the scores post, so you can't necessarily count on receiving the test before the next administration. Still, nothing is more helpful to students trying to increase their scores than to see what happened on the real thing. By carefully working through an exam that was taken under real conditions, students can gain insight into timing and pace issues and areas of weakness. This can only help students score higher on subsequent exams.

Want to know more about the SAT & ACT?
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