After signing up for Advanced Placement (AP) tests for their respective AP classes, it is common to hear many students bemoan its high price. AP exams administered in the U.S. cost $93, and those given in most other U.S. territories and commonwealths and in Canada are $123.
Federal funding for financial assistance is no longer available starting with the 2017 AP exams, according to College Board. However, the price tag does not go solely to the bottom line of the College Board. Instead, it is split with the college faculty members and expert AP teachers who develop the tests, the proctors for the tests and the people who grade them.
With the vast numbers of of people who help make such testing periods happen, College Board must generate enough revenue to pay all of its expenses.
The revenue the College Board makes should not affect the validity of the the organization’s “not-for-profit” title in any way. The definition of a not-for-profit organization is one that primarily stands to use its revenue to further achieve its purpose (in College Board’s case, measuring academic proficiency), rather than to make profit for shareholders. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, College Board’s purpose is to evaluate prospective college applicants, contributing to something in a way that for-profit companies can’t claim.
The main problem with College Board is that it is a monopoly that almost completely controls America’s standardized testing industry. Aside from the ACT, which is developed by ACT Inc., and still doesn’t match the SAT’s popularity, College Board is responsible for just about every test that those who want an undergraduate education usually take.
Clearly, College Board does make an easy target for criticism. For example, its president, David Coleman, makes a salary of $1.3 million annually, according to The New York Times. Though many people might say it is the result of the millions of students who take their tests every year, the main reason is the result of its monopoly over these tests. This is the real problem: a lack of competition in the testing industry.
As annual testing periods come and go, the public must take into account the goals of this organization before coming to any definite conclusions about any of the company’s pricing structure. Even though many people might see the College Board as a money-sucking monster that is not deserving of non-profit status, the actual truth is that more competition needs to be introduced into the testing marketplace. When that happens, prices will become more reasonable.