The scam that flusters us all: AP tests


It’s that time of year again Titans, the lovely College Board’s Advanced Placement exam registration. The College Board offers these tests to give high school students college credit or for placement purposes. Some colleges also use AP exam scores for placement purposes. But this is only if you pass with a 3 or higher for most colleges.

When I went to register for my AP exams this year, I was absolutely dumbfounded at the final cost: $220 for only two exams – $110 per exam, not including the cost of private tutors and exam prep books. The College Board sets the price for $97 per exam (which is still ridiculous) but notes that “Your school may require you to pay a higher fee than listed in the table to cover proctoring and administration costs” according to the College Board website.

Can you imagine the students taking more than one AP class? Can the College Board seriously call themselves a non-profit? AP classes already widen the gap between “gifted” and “average” students. Why are registration fees contributing to the gap between wealthy and poor?

Well, for that much money it has to be worth something, right? Wrong. Passing AP tests are only beneficial to students attending a college that accepts AP credit for placement purposes. Many colleges including UCSD, NYU, and Brown University have stepped away from using AP scores for placement purposes, and some colleges don’t even accept AP scores for college credit altogether. 

Colleges having different AP credit policies creates a whole other issue. Since most seniors commit to a college late in the spring, knowing their schools AP credit policy plays a big factor in deciding whether they should even bother taking the test. However, the deadline to register without paying an extra $50 late fee is Nov. 4. Students are barely applying in November. And unsurprisingly, there is a $40 cancellation fee. The College Board has successfully found a way to force families to pay for these exams without even knowing if it will benefit the student.

One might be thinking, well, if students are such haters of the College Board, why do they take multiple AP classes and standardized tests? Because it seems like with these shrinking acceptance rates, high grades in AP classes are the only way to boost up my academic record and have any chance at getting into a four-year university. 

The problem is that the College Board has no competition. The College Board controls the PSAT, SAT, and AP tests, most factors that contribute to college admissions decisions. Students can choose to take the ACT, but college bound students who take the ACT are also likely to take AP classes. The College Board is inescapable.