Protecting the wallet: AP tests not worth it

As a junior in high school, I’m all too familiar with standardized testing.

I’ve taken the MCAS, the PSAT, the SAT. All the acronyms start to make my head spin. By the end of this year I personally will have taken four tests, and forked over $148 worth of registration fees to the College Board.

Seeing as the College Board is a “not-for profit” organization, where is the justification in charging $94 for AP tests? For a student taking more than one AP course, or a family with multiple AP students, these expenses can pile up to crippling costs.

A common argument supporting expensive AP tests is that one credit hour in college costs $600 on average, so by paying $94 to get AP credit, you save lots of money in the future. That’s a fair point; saving money in college is lovely, but it’s still $94 out of your pocket in the short term.

Lowering the cost of AP tests would only make things better.

Although taking AP tests could mean money saved in college, there is no guarantee. If you do a lousy job on the test, then the $94 was for nothing.

Even if you pass the test and get credit, it is not uncommon for AP credits to not exempt you from any classes in college. Sometimes the credits just don’t carry over, or intro courses are required for a degree.

Students need to research schools of interest closely and determine if they are programs that offer credit or other incentives in exchange for strong exam scores.

There’s lots of potential outcomes; none guarantee AP credit actually being a useful investment.

I’m not the only one who has felt scammed by the College Board’s ridiculously high exam costs.

Many high profile publications, like The Washington Post have picked up on this issue and spoken out about it.

Despite the public outcry, the College Board has shown no evidence of attempting to lower AP costs.

In fact, the price has been steadily rising by about a dollar every year.

There’s no doubt that AP exams should be far less expensive than they are at the moment, but it feels a bit futile to fight against the College Board.

Being the only organization to administer AP tests, their high prices don’t discourage consumers, since there’s nowhere else to go for AP credit.

Beyond AP tests, the college board also controls SAT, PSAT and Subject Tests, making them an absolutely enormous corporation.

Convincing them to lower their price is a bit like trying to budge a mountain.

That’s not to say that we, the standardized-test taking generation, should stay quiet.

When I was faced with the decision of whether or not to take the AP Bio test, I brought up my concerns about the cost to my parents. We had a talk and they agreed that I shouldn’t fork over $94 to the undeserving College Board.

The test was just too overpriced for the shaky reward of potential AP credit.

I’m not saying that everybody should say “F-this” and skip out of their AP tests, but really consider the costs and benefits before making your choice.