College Board Profits from Earlier AP Exam Registration

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College Board Profits from Earlier AP Exam Registration

Amanda Young, Editor-in-Chief

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Changes in the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) test policies mandate that students register for the high-stakes exams from October 1 to 31, approximately 5 months earlier than prior years, sparking concern from students and teachers alike.

According to Administrative Assistant Mary Kenny-Broda, who manages the test registrations, the fee for each exam is $110. Students who register but then opt out of taking it will receive a refund of $70 but won’t get the other $40 back due to what the College Board’s website calls a new “unused/canceled exam fee.” To be eligible for the $70 refund, students must notify Kenny-Broda at least 24 hours before the exam.

The other new fee, according to the College Board’s website, is a “late-order fee.” This additional $40 fee will be incurred if a student orders an exam after the October 31 deadline.

A concern for some is that students won’t know if they are prepared to pass the exam so early on in the school year.

“Right now, I’m taking AP Chemistry, and I’m not sure if I want to spend the money on the actual AP test because I know that a lot of colleges don’t take it unless you get a 4 or a 5,” said junior Isabella Bartos. “I don’t know if the stress of taking it is worth it because I don’t know if the content is too hard for me. We’ve only had 2 tests.” 

Senior Catherine Zhang agreed that more time to decide would be helpful. “I am planning on taking all of my AP tests,” said Zhang, but “I would have liked more time to know how well I would do in the class before deciding to take the AP.”

According to the College Board’s website, these policies were introduced because students feel more “engaged” and “less likely to give up” if they register for the exam in the fall, leading to higher passing rates.

However, College and Career Center advisor Joan Batcheller is doubtful.

That’s not a thing at our school in general. Some kids get senioritis but for AP students, it’s not a thing,” said Batcheller. 

Seniors will also not be able to register for the exams that coincide with the policies of the colleges they ultimately attend because most won’t know where they are going in October.

While the College Board website suggests that the change is in the best interests of the students, Batcheller admits that making a bigger profit from students and their families may also be a factor.

“I think that the College Board is smart in knowing that if they lock kids in when they don’t know where they’re going to college yet, then [the students are] keeping their options open,” Batcheller said. “Kids [are thinking], ‘Well why should I sit for a test that’s not going to count, when I can’t take the credit with me?’ So they don’t want to take the test, and the College Board is losing out on money from all those students who otherwise would’ve been taking them.”

According to Zhang, the policies are “unfair” to seniors because “they do not allow people time to find out if the college they are going to accepts AP credit, which could lead to people taking AP tests they do not need to take.” 

“I think that for seniors it’s unfair because oftentimes where they get into school in the spring, either they’re not going to get credit or it’s not important to them,” agreed AP Art History teacher Molly Kerr. “I know that they can get a refund but I think that they still have to pay something, and I think that that’s unfair.”

The registration process itself has also become more complicated, as students are now required to register for each of their class sections on the AP Classroom page of the College Board’s website before paying for them on the Campolindo Webstore.

However, Kenny-Broda said that she doesn’t anticipate many problems. “It’s pretty easy to register,” she said. “We’ll send out reminders if it comes to the end of the ordering registration deadline, which is the end of October, and you haven’t registered, we’ll alert your teachers to that.”

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