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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The College Board: A trust that shouldn’t be busted

With testing season in full swing, upperclassmen are plagued by the stress and multitude of costs accompanying the AP and SAT tests. A single AP test? $87. An SAT test? $47. This is not to mention the numerous SAT II subject tests that add up to an outrageous total cost. The College Board, the company that administers all of these tests, has been the sole distributor since 1900, and many students have been complaining that the organization is an overbearing monopoly.

It is true that College Board is the middleman between high school students and college acceptance, but the unique advantages it provides to students greatly outweighs the steep prices set by the company.

The SAT’s importance lies in its standardized nature, which presents all college-bound students with the same type of testing material in the same way. If many companies added their own versions of a college entrance exam, advantages and disadvantages would arise for every test, and students would be able to pick and choose the type of test that would be easiest for them. This would create an unfair playing field, as students would have the opportunity to find the easy way out of the testing.

Having just the College Board distribute the SAT is not only beneficial to students but to colleges as well. The SAT is the only medium that colleges have to compare students on the same scale, since many students take part in eclectic extracurricular activities and receive near perfect grades.

To offer variations of this very stable tool would mean that colleges would resort to an even more subjective method of accepting students. The introduction of other standardized tests would substantially alter the admissions process for public universities such as the UCs, where numbers (GPA and test scores) are the most important factors taken into consideration.

On the other hand, many think that the College Board’s monopoly is prone to corruption, and that, like other monopolies, the company doesn’t have an incentive to improve policies because of the lack of competition. However, the College Board is not a public company.

Its absence in the stock market prevents it from running based on the pressures of the economy, and it therefore focuses only on academics. Also, while the tests that the company administers are expensive, the money doesn’t all go into the pockets of the board members, but a large portion of the profits circles back to schools too.

As for modifying the testing system, it is true that the competition is limited, but as students everywhere know, the SAT has an unidentified experimental section that does not factor into the students’ score, but which is used by the College Board in crafting future questions that test new concepts.

Furthermore, having more companies that administer college entrance tests is simply unnecessary. The market for these companies is limited only to upperclassmen who, once they have a satisfied score, will never venture to take the test again.

While the cost of testing may be high, and the College Board monopoly giving off negative connotations, students are nevertheless blowing the problems of the College Board out of proportion. Hatred of the SAT itself is most likely the cause of this, but on the bright side, there’s always the ACT.

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