In the kingdom of test preparation, no currency carries more value than recent full-length, official exams. College Board and ACT, Inc. mint these treasures but rarely share them, except for those few pivotal hours on test day. However, both test makers do release a few tests a year to the general public, but only to those students who took a particular test and request either the Test Information Release for the ACT or the Question-and-Answer Service for the SAT.
SAT QAS is offered for only three test dates a year: March (excellent), May (decent), and October (excellent). Teens who sit for any of those tests and pay a small extra fee will receive a booklet copy of the SAT questions, a report including their answers for the specific testing administration, the correct answers and information about the type and difficulty of test questions. But just because you can order a copy of the SAT you took, should you order it?
The answer is a definite PROBABLY.
Why order SAT Question-and-Answer Service?
The College Board manages, at least as far as we know, to score millions of tests a year without error. They do, however, make mistakes every once in a while and could conceivably err in scoring your exam. By reconciling your answers with the correct answers, you can double check the test maker’s work.
The more important benefit of QAS lies not in the answers, but, rather, in the questions. The College Board sends a clean copy of the official test administered that day. You won’t receive your own marked-up copy, which means you can’t check your work. However, you can easily work through questions you answered incorrectly the first time to learn from your mistakes.
The benefits of reviewing your official SAT increase exponentially if you work with a tutor. We love reviewing QAS tests with our students for the same reasons we value proctored practice tests so highly: nothing beats analyzing performance on an official exam administered under actual test conditions.
Why not order SAT Question-and-Answer Service?
Since the odds of catching a scoring error are so small, the true value of QAS is in the test booklet. But QAS is hardly the only way to access full-length, official SATs. The Official SAT Study Guide contains eight official exams, all of which are currently available for free online. Even better, these exams come with full solutions.
Thus, QAS is neither your best or only source of practice material. Plus, unlike those other tests available from the College Board, you can only avail yourself of QAS after you’ve taken the official exam. You’ll only find possession of that particular SAT useful if you plan to take the test again and are willing to review the test. This means that anyone who is certain to be done with the SAT–more likely after the October test than the March one–need not bother ordering QAS.
Long story short, SAT Question-and-Answer Service makes a lot of sense for any student taking the March, May, or October SAT who wants the opportunity to review that test in pursuit of an even better score on the next one. If all you want to do is check that your test was scored correctly, you’ll be better off with Student Answer Service.