Picture this: you’ve just taken the SAT.  You felt great about it – your months of preparation made your test-taking experience a breeze.  When you confidently log into your CollegeBoard account a couple of weeks later to check the scores, positive you’ve nailed it . . . you’re shocked. 

I missed how many on the Reading section?  

I got what score on the Math? 

You have no idea what happened — your practice tests were going so well.  Your study plan was airtight.  Where did you go wrong?

While there’s not a remedy for this troubling scenario, you do have some recourse.  Enter: SAT answer verification services.  You might be aware of this service already, but if not, well . . . I guess you’ve come to the right blog post.

Great! So . . . what are answer verification services?

They’re services offered by the SAT to allow you to double check your score.  In the scenario above, you’d probably be turning yourself into Sherlock Holmes trying to figure out how you could miss so many questions after studying as well as you did.  Answer verification services help you get to the bottom of that. 

But they’re also much more than that!  Even if you don’t have an experience like the one outlined above, SAT’s answer verification services can have enormous benefit to you as a study tool.  There are two kinds: Student Answer Services (SAS) and Question and Answer Services (QAS).  The one we recommend is the QAS. 
Side note: If your score is completely unexpected, you also might be wondering whether you’d skipped a question on your bubble sheet (*shudders*).  In that case, you can submit a request for hand verification, which is a separate process.

Wait, what’s the difference between the SAS and the QAS?

Even though they both cost $16, there’s a pretty big difference between them.   The Student Answer Service is more bare-bones.  With this option, you’ll receive a list of the types of questions from the SAT you took, a breakdown of the difficulty level of those questions and whether you answered correctly, answered incorrectly or didn’t answer. 

The SAS does not include the actual questions, which means you’ll essentially just have a list of errors you made.  It would be like having only half of a treasure map, or half of a pair of scissors.  Ultimately just not very helpful. 
On the other hand, the Question and Answer Service is much more comprehensive.  You’ll receive a copy of the actual questions from the test you took, your answers and the correct answers.  Like the Student Answer Service, it also tells you the question type and difficulty of the test questions. 

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Gotcha. So would I just pick which one I want?

Not exactly.  The Question and Answer Services are only offered for the SATs in October, March and May.  The Student Answer Services are available for every other test date. 

But just to reiterate, there’s not a great reason to order the SAS because of how little it really does for you.  If you know you’re taking the SAT in June, don’t worry about tacking on the Student Answer Service — it won’t be very useful. 

How is the Question and Answer Service different from a normal score report?

Your normal score report comes with your overall score, your individual section scores (Reading, Writing and Language and Math), your subscores (i.e. Heart of Algebra or Command of Evidence) and your cross-test scores (which carry so little weight you almost don’t even need to think about them). 

You still won’t be able to see the actual questions from the test, only the types of questions you struggled with.  It can still be beneficial for studying purposes, but you’d only know you missed a Heart of Algebra problem, for instance — not that you struggled to graph an inequality. 

You’ll still get your full, normal score report when you order the Question and Answer Service, but you’ll also get a more detailed picture of why you got the score you did. 

I get that the QAS tells you what you missed . . . but doesn’t a practice test accomplish the same thing?

Not exactly.  Practice tests are excellent resources for you to identify weak areas as you prep, and for monitoring your progress throughout your study program.  But there is tremendous value in being able to see what questions you missed on test day. 

Your Question and Answer Service might reveal an issue with test-day conditions, such as mental fatigue, test anxiety or lack of focus.  It can also illuminate patterns in the kinds of questions you missed and whether you struggled more with certain parts of the test than others, like the Social Studies or History sections on the Reading test.  
Practice tests can illuminate some of these issues, but let’s face it: there’s just something different about test day . . . and you can only prepare so much.  It’s valuable to have extra data about how you fare under real-world test conditions.

I see. So what’s the best way to use the Question and Answer Service?

Well, the SAT’s stated purpose for them is to double check your scores.  However, the Question and Answer Service is also a highly beneficial study tool.  

Your practice SATs should have given you a good indication of where you stand before the test, but your Question and Answer Service packet will give you crucial insight into what happens on test day. 

Maybe your adrenaline kicks in and you speed up, causing you to miss questions you normally got right in practice.  Maybe you struggled to focus, leading you to misread questions.  Maybe you’re not exactly sure what the factor was, but you were missing “easy” questions left and right. 

Whatever happened, you can use this feedback to inform your preparation moving forward.  If your adrenaline threw you off, before your next test date you can find some breathing techniques to slow you down, clear your head and get you back on track.  If you missed a string of questions toward the end of the Writing section, you may need to work on your mental stamina by taking more full practice tests. 

And yes, you can, and should, also use it the same way as you would a practice test.  You should go over any questions you missed and look at the underlying concepts to make sure you understand them, then practice similar questions until you could do them in your sleep.  Or, you know, on the SAT. 

When is it offered, again?

The QAS is only offered for the October, March and May SAT dates in the U.S. and Canada.  However, international students and students with accommodations are only offered this service for the May test date. 

And I should definitely take the SAT when the QAS is offered, right?

In general, yes, if you can. 

The ideal time to take the SAT, for most students, will likely be in May of the year you take Algebra 2.  This is true in general, but especially because the QAS is available for every student on this test date.

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The SAT does not test on math concepts beyond Algebra 2.  By May, you’ll have finished all (or almost all) of the material from Algebra 2, and those concepts will still be fresh.  As you make your study plan, though, make sure to account for the fact that you’ll have finals and end-of-year assignments in May as well. 

But everyone’s situation is different, and there are other scenarios for first-timers worth mentioning.

If you’re a junior currently taking Algebra 2, you might want to take the March test to give yourself plenty of opportunities to get the score you need.  This is especially true for students who will be busy over the summer or want to be finished taking the SAT by August.  Taking it for the first time in March would allow you to take it again in May, June, August or any combination of those dates. 

If you’ve just finished Algebra 2 but were unable to take the May test, it might not make sense to wait until October just to have access to the Question and Answer Service.  You could run the risk of forgetting some of the math you’ve just learned, in which case you might be better off taking a summer SAT — even though the QAS isn’t offered then.  

However, if you had resolved to take the October test in this case, just be realistic with yourself about your study plan.  Do what you can to keep those Algebra 2 concepts fresh over the summer and into the fall so that you get the highest possible score the first time around. 

If your school year is slammed from August to May with advanced classes, volunteer work, extra-curricular activities and other commitments, a summer date might be better for you. Many students prefer the June or August SAT dates because they find that they have fewer obligations over the summer and more time to dedicate to their study plans.  They also often experience less stress from trying to juggle everything.  

If a summer test date is ideal for you, you could plan to make your second attempt (if needed) in October, and get the QAS then. That way, if it becomes clear you need to take it a third or final time, you’ll have the QAS as a resource. 

For students who have already finished Algebra 2 and taken the SAT at least once, the date doesn’t matter as much.  As long as you’ve accounted for application deadlines or factors that might affect your study timeline, take it when it makes the most sense for you.

If you’re still having trouble deciding the best time to take the SAT, we created a guide just for you. 

So, bottom line: is it worth it?

For most students, probably. 

It’s $16, and if it reveals an issue you wouldn’t be able to figure out through practice tests alone, then absolutely.  If the QAS helped you get to the bottom of such an issue, it might mean you only have to take the SAT twice instead of three times.  In this case, since the SAT is $55 a pop, spending $16 extra would save you $39. 

It wouldn’t be worth it, however, if you didn’t have another opportunity to take the test.  For instance, if you were a senior taking it in October and were only planning to do early decision applications, it wouldn’t matter if you knew the questions you’d missed.

It also wouldn’t be worth it if it made you take the SAT under less-than-ideal circumstances.  If you delayed taking the SAT until October just to have the Question and Answer Service, and then you forgot everything you learned in Algebra 2, it wouldn’t be worth it.  The same goes for if you delayed taking the SAT until a time of year that you were incredibly busy and unable to study. 

But if you can work out those logistics in advance, and it isn’t going to otherwise hamper your study process, then yes, the fee is worth it. 

It is important to note that for students with a fee waiver, a free SAS or QAS is included with each of your two free SATs.  If it makes sense with your schedule, go ahead and try for one of the dates where the QAS is offered.  Again, the SAS will not be very useful. 

And how long does it take to get the QAS materials?

It will be available online three weeks after your test day.

I’m sold.  How do I order it?

The easiest way is to order it at the time of your registration.  However, you can also order it afterwards by phone (how vintage) or by signing into your CollegeBoard account, going to “My Score Reports” and clicking “Order Now.”  You can even order it up to five months after your test day, in case you decide later that you want those results after all. 


We hope that whether you choose to order the Question and Answer Service or not, you find study materials that work for you (especially if those materials are free).  Remember: resources like the QAS are excellent tools, but they work best in conjunction with a comprehensive study plan.  If you’re prepared to put in the work, you’ll see results. 

Still not sure if the QAS makes sense for you? 

Give us a call at (866) 210-4335 and we can help you find out.

Katherine Webster
Katherine was a Program Advisor at Test Geek. She loves acting and singing and making your dreams come true.

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