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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

AP exam expenses way too high

This year, the price of taking an AP exam has risen to a whopping $91. While the price increase is won’t bankrupt anyone by itself, it is disproportionately high compared to the benefits the score provides.

Back when College Board took over the AP program in 1955, it was clear that APs were reserved for only the academically elite, so there is some reason for prices to be high since fewer people were taking them.

In 2015, it’s commonplace for an upperclassman (and ambitious underclassmen) to take several AP tests a year and pay hundreds for the privilege. College Board has essentially turned two weeks of testing in May into a cash cow, raking in millions each year.

Critics might argue that AP tests are worth the price. By scoring a 4 or 5 on an exam, students can bypass first-year courses in colleges, saving them hundreds or thousands of dollars. On the other hand, many schools, including some top-tier colleges,  do not accept these scores and make students retake the courses.

If AP tests have such a minimal effect on students’ future education, why take the test? Not taking it would save standardized testing expenses on a per-student basis, and students would still receive a college-level education for close to nothing.

If AP exam registration were cheaper, students would have a greater incentive to take them, and their scores would show that the teachers prepared students well on a college-level basis. As a result, colleges might be more likely to accept high-school level classes for genuine college credit.

Now that taking AP exams has become so common, especially in academically elite schools, College Board can do a lot to alleviate students’ financial stress.

While College Board does offer financial discounts for lower-income families on AP exam registration, all exam registrants could do with a price reduction. College Board has several ways to make money from college-going students, so losing potential profit in one method won’t hurt the organization much.

In fact, College Board may reap more profits since students wouldn’t be as scared of prices when registering for exams, and may feel more comfortable taking multiple exams.

As an incentive for multiple test registration, College Board could offer group discounts, where registrars would pay a smaller fraction of registration costs for each successive exam registered for.   

In fact, College Board could offer various reductions and benefits for different levels of median household incomes. As it currently stands, many families do not qualify for low-income discounts but struggle to pay for exam costs.

Such benefits could include various amounts of discounts per AP test and a variable number of sending test scores for free.

With a tiering benefits system, students could register for a price reasonable to what their family can afford and College Board can still make a reasonable amount of revenue every year.   

More reductions and discounts for AP exam registration can keep students taking these tests and showing the results of their growth without having to fork out so much money. 

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