The College Board offers two different post-SAT services that have confusingly similar names but are very different in value. Everyone should order QAS, but most students should NOT order SAS.
For students in the US and Canada, Question and Answer Service (QAS) is offered in October, March and May. It costs $18 and may be ordered from the College Board website at the time of test registration or within five months after your test date. Internationally, it is only offered in May. Student Answer Service (SAS) is offered worldwide for every administration of the SAT that does not offer QAS.
Until recently, both of these services were on paper and took up to eight weeks after the exam to be sent to students, often too late to be used as a study tool for the next SAT. Now, most students access these digitally through their College Board accounts and they may appear as soon as SAT scores are available, just three weeks after the test.
What’s the big difference between QAS and SAS? Question and Answer Service (QAS) is a tremendous resource, giving students access through their College Board account to a computer-based version of the entire test they took, showing a hyperlinked answer key with their answer choices noted, the correct answers and difficulty levels, types of question for each – just like the online PSAT review (minus the answer explanations). Students can – and should!– go back into the test pages to rethink and redo those questions they got wrong. Then click on “View Answer” to see if they got it this time and analyze their errors. This is a fantastic tool to learn from your actual tests, instead of just being handed a number. The QAS is so useful, that I recommend students plan their test schedule to include QAS dates whenever possible.
The Student Answer Service (SAS), on the other hand, is almost laughably useless. It gives you everything that the QAS supplies – except the test questions! That’s right: just answer letters marked correct or incorrect. The only reason to order this is if you have located a pirated copy of the test, in which case you could cobble together your own makeshift QAS from knowing which questions you got wrong based on the SAS. It would only make sense to order this if you have found a copy of that test after the exam.
I’ll be posting follow-up articles on how to leverage your QAS to best advantage and use QAS dates to guide your testing schedule. Be sure you subscribe in order to be notified when those articles are posted.