This study evaluates to what extent symptoms are present before, during, and after a positive SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, and to evaluate how the symptom burden and quality of Life (QoL) compares to those with a negative PCR test. Participants from the Dutch Lifelines COVID-19 Cohort Study filled-out as of March 2020 weekly, later bi-weekly and monthly, questions about demographics, COVID-19 diagnosis and severity, QoL, and symptoms. The study population included those with one positive or negative PCR test who filled out two questionnaires before and after the test, resulting in 996 SARS-CoV-2 PCR positive and 3978 negative participants. Nearly all symptoms were more often reported after a positive test versus the period before the test (p < 0.05), except fever. A higher symptom prevalence after versus before a test was also found for nearly all symptoms in negatives (p < 0.05). Before the test, symptoms were already partly present and reporting of nearly all symptoms before did not differ between positives and negatives (p > 0.05). QoL decreased around the test for positives and negatives, with a larger deterioration for positives. Not all symptoms after a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test might be attributable to the infection and symptoms were also common in negatives.