If the first two acronyms in the title of this piece left you scratching your head, I have good news: we’ll be cutting right to the chase. Both of these stand for services offered by the ACT and SAT, respectively, that allow students to receive a copy of the test booklet, answer key, and the answers they provided on test day for certain tests offered throughout the year.

The TIR, or Test Information Release, is the ACT’s test materials return service, offered for the December, April, and June ACT exams only. (In the special case of non-Saturday testing, this applies to the April exam only.) For an extra $20 paid upon registration or up to three months after their test date, students can avoid the Kafkaesque scenario of wanting to improve their scores, but being unable to see exactly which questions they answered incorrectly.

The QAS, or Question Answer Service, is the comparable SAT test materials return service, offered for the October, March, and May SAT exams only. The QAS costs students an extra $18 upon registration or up to five months after their test date. Of note is that the College Board does accept fee waivers for the QAS from students who qualify.

Even if you’ve heard of these services before, there are a few significant changes to be aware of. First, both the ACT and College Board state that one should not expect to receive the TIR or QAS materials in the mail before the next scheduled test date. However, my colleagues and I have noted that in many cases, students do receive their materials with enough time to use them for review before the next scheduled exam. While it’s not a guarantee, it seems that both organizations are making efforts to get the material to students in a more timely fashion. Second, note that the QAS dates for the SAT have changed. The College Board used to offer the QAS for the January SAT, which was replaced last year by the August SAT. To make up for the lost date, the College Board has chosen to offer the QAS for the March SAT. Third––and perhaps most exciting––the College Board has quietly announced that, starting with this year’s March exam, QAS materials will become available online when students receive their score reports. This represents a remarkable shift by the College Board into the twenty-first century. For now, the ACT TIR materials will still arrive via postal mail.

What does all this mean for counselors? Try to make sure that all test-taking students at your school are aware of these services and when they’re offered. Furthermore, encourage them to take advantage of the TIR and QAS, which offer the maximum possible insight into students’ strengths, weaknesses, struggles with pace and timing, and careless errors. Reviewing a TIR or QAS exam can often boost student confidence, because doing so makes the question of where to put one’s test prep focus ahead of the next exam abundantly clear. By ensuring that your students embrace the opportunities presented by the TIR and QAS, school counselors can help make the test prep process far less stressful and far more productive.

Evan Wessler is the VP Education of Method Test Prep. He can answer any questions you have about the SAT or ACT by e-mailing him at evan@methodtestprep.com or visiting the Method Test Prep website at www.methodtestprep.com.