The College Board: Not so Non-Profit

The underlying problem with College Board’s 2020 AP Exams.


Shreshta Ranganathan, Opinion Editor

376. I spent a total of 376 dollars this year alone in order to register for 4 AP tests. When I paid my $376, I was told that I would be taking a two to three hour-long exam at Monta Vista High School. Currently, I am paying that exact sum of money to take an abridged version of the AP test that only lasts 45 minutes, and is online.


Due to the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, I understand and applaud The College Board for attempting to make adjustments to their format and still give students credit for their work throughout the year. I just wish that the process would be a lot smoother, as there is a lot of confusion regarding the test process. 


Here, some transparency would have been ideal and they should have been more proactive about implementing the online testing system. Students across the country are struggling due to the lack of information on how to prepare and approach these new exams. Although The College Board provided materials, there is still no way for the students to know what exactly to expect for the upcoming exams. 


However, the real issue behind the 2020 AP Exams has to be the lack of justification for the absurd prices. The 45-minute exam that I’m supposed to take via my laptop is simply not worth $94 per exam. If anything, I believe that the students should have been offered a partial refund. 


The College Board prides itself in being considered a “non profit organization”, yet the persistent underlying intention is to grab money from students, whether it be for these AP exams or other standardized tests. The fact that the deadline to register for AP Tests was moved up by several months in 2019 shows their true business-minded intentions. This ensures that those who change their mind later in the year and don’t want to take the test will not be given this option.   


Now, my overarching problem doesn’t necessarily lie with the 2020 AP Tests but is rather rooted in the idea of The College Board and its powerful influence over college admissions. 


As a junior, The College Board is a looming power over every one of my academic decisions, and due to their monopoly over standardized testing, it’s nearly impossible for students to apply to higher education without taking several of these tests.

By adding a cost to these standardized tests, we as a society put a price tag on knowledge, and create a tollbooth to higher education.”

I’m fortunate enough to spend $376 on standardized tests in order to create a successful college application, but I acknowledge that it’s a privilege. It is simply ignorant of The College Board to assume the same of everyone and put somebody’s future on the line over money. 

But the cost of the test alone is not where it stops. A compromise needs to be made. 

The value of a standardized test taken over the span of a few hours should not have the ability to determine a student’s academic future. By adding a cost to these standardized tests, we as a society put a price tag on knowledge, and create a tollbooth to higher education. This, in turn, discourages and often prevents students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds from pursuing a brighter future. We need to remove the focus from the money. 


If The College Board truly cared about the students, they would abide by their non-profit title, and make payments optional or donation. However, AP tests are just the microcosm that the College Board does. And in light of COVID-19, it is our time, as students, to step up and fight for what’s right.