The verdict is in and the critics agree: yes, students should use the “Question and Answer” service (QAS) provided by the College Board! This service is available to students when they register to take their test, or up to five months after their test date. By engaging valuable resources like this, students will add a significant tool to their ACT and SAT test taking toolkit.
During (or after) test registration students elect to pay the (small) fee (about $20) to receive the following materials after their test is scored:
- Their original test
- Their answers
- The official answer key, with level of difficulty ratings and
- Scoring information
If the QAS service is not available on a specific testing date, they can choose the Student Answer Service (SAS) report, which contains information about the type of questions, level of difficulty and whether students’ answers were correct, incorrect or omitted. This is valuable and comparable to the QAS, and costs a few dollars less.
The SAT “Question and Answer" service will also include the essay section as well, with the question/prompt and the scoring matrix. This “behind the scenes” look at the test helps students understand how they answer questions, as well as the correct answers themselves. Studying theses material helps strengthen their test taking muscles and allows students to learn from their mistakes.
Helping students (and teachers) understand test taking tendencies, capabilities and habits will help with re-testing too. Does the student trust their instincts when answering? Do they constantly doubt themselves? What throws them off? How do they answer essay questions? And how are those essays graded? All of these questions (and more) can be answered when exploring this post-testing data with students. Because the level of difficulty of each question is included, students can also begin to understand how they answer different types of questions.
We are human beings with unique characteristics, which are even reflected in our test taking capabilities. If students are doubters, they will likely ignore their instincts and choose the wrong answer. If they tend to zone out, they will likely run out of time and start making quick and hasty (and usually incorrect) answer choices. When students choose the QAS they can study the questions and review their specific answer choices. Studying their own test material will help students (teachers and tutors) identify areas that need improvement and potential test taking habits. Seeing where habitual mistakes (or successes) occur can help inform new study and test taking techniques. ACT and SAT tutors will find this information invaluable in their test prep work.
Using every tool available helps students improve ACT and SAT test scores. Registering for the “Question and Answer” service is a logical and valuable tool for students. Remember that materials can take up to 6 weeks to arrive after the test. Remind students to plan their next testing date with that in mind. Allow enough time to receive the materials and to study accordingly.
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