On Taking Advantage of the SAT Q & A Service

SAT Prep, SAT Tutoring, SAT Testing

At Ivy Coach, our SAT prep regularly helps our students boost their scores — often rather significantly.

Every student who takes advantage of the College Board’s online PSAT score details knows how useful this service is: With a full digital version of their test linking each section and question, students can rethink and redo those questions they got wrong, then view an explanation of the correct answers. It makes for a tremendous study tool from the PSAT. Wouldn’t it be great to have something like this for the SAT, too?

The SAT Q & A Service is Available on Limited Test Dates

In fact, the College Board offers a nearly identical service (lacking only the answer explanations) for all test-takers in May, and for North American test-takers in March and October, as well. Every student should therefore aim to take the SAT on these dates. The service costs $18 and may be ordered from the College Board anytime up to five months subsequent to the test. Unlike the old Q & A Service, there’s no waiting two months for a paper copy of the test. The updated online version is issued simultaneously with test scores.

What the SAT Q & A Service is Not

Note that the SAT “Question-and-Answer Service” is not the same as the SAT Score Report that accompanies the results to every test, a virtually useless PDF file with no information about the actual test. And don’t confuse it with the nearly equally worthless “Student Answer Service,” also ordered from the College Board within five months of taking the test. That service, which costs $13.50 and is available for every test that does not offer a Question and Answer Service, is almost laughably meaningless: Students see the numbers of the questions they got wrong and the assigned difficulty levels but cannot see the test itself or the questions! How silly is that?

How to Effectively Use the SAT Q & A Service as a Prep Tool

So, you’ve ordered the SAT Q & A Service…now what? Go to your College Board account and click on “My SAT,” then “View Score Details,” and finally, “Test Questions.” At the top of the white area, you’ll find tabs for each section of the test. Scroll down to see errors, identifiable under “Your Answer” as a letter rather than a check mark. Jot down just the numbers of those questions you got wrong in each section and then go back after you’ve forgotten what you chose on test day. This way, you can rethink those questions and redo them by clicking on the question number (left side). This is key to making improvement! After rethinking each question, click on “View Answer” and see if you made the same error or got it right this time. Did you make a silly error the first time, did you misinterpret the question — or did you get it wrong again? Think hard about why your original choice was wrong and what makes the correct answer right.

In Math, that will be pretty easy to determine if you understand the question. If not, spend a little more time working through it, but if you are still stuck, ask your SAT tutor to explain it to you. For Writing errors, silly or rushed errors are common. Most students will raise their scores by slowing down. Seeing your silly errors really helps drive that point home! In Reading, look for the evidence that supports the correct answer. It’s there — you just have to find it.

Practicing this intensive analysis of your results is critical to improving your score on the SAT. The downloadable PDF file, “Scoring Guide,” at the top right of the page, is useful in figuring how your errors impacted your score. As you learn to avoid silly errors and build analytical and math skills, you’ll see your score climb.

And you know how your SAT score can climb even more? Intensive tutoring. At Ivy Coach, our SAT tutoring regularly helps students boost their scores. If you’re interested in learning more about our tutoring services for the SAT, fill out our free consultation form and we’ll be in touch.


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