At $94 a pop, AP exam fees already add up in the costly college admissions game. Historically, AP registration occurs in the spring, when students have a more developed idea of their prospective schools. So what if you pass up the November registration deadline on the guise that your school of choice doesn’t accept AP credit... only to change your aspirations? Hello, $134 price tag.
The College Board, otherwise known as the company behind the SAT exam and Advanced Placement (AP) courses, has rolled out a series of changes to the AP exam registration process.
The changes, which will be implemented in the 2019-2020 school year, involve bumping up the registration deadline for AP exams a month earlier, to November 15, as well as charging a $40 late fee to students who miss the deadline.
For the most part, fees remain unchanged. The College Board will continue to charge $94 per exam and $124 per exam administered outside of the United States, only now, students who enroll between November 16 and the cutoff of March 13 will be subject to a late fee.
The College Board contends that the changes have been put in place to increase students’ chances of earning college credit and gaining admission to their schools of choice.
According to a study conducted by The College Board, a piloted fall AP exam registration program tracking 40,000 students of diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds throughout the 2017-2018 school year revealed a 12% increase in registration by minority students, as well as 5% registration increase by white and Asian students. The pilot program resulted in a 20% increase in registration by low-income students and a 4% registration by moderate to high-income students.
The College Board also argues that the new registration guidelines are designed to expose students to a variety of new resources that will be offered in the 2019-2020 school year. Once they register, students and teachers will gain access to test-prep tools like a bank of previous exam questions and “personal progress checks” via an online portal, designed to pinpoint students’ individual areas for improvement.
Additionally, The College Board states that early registration will streamline the tedious paperwork process formerly associated with taking AP exams, saving “two million hours of pre-exam bubbling” by filling out their personal information online ahead of time.
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Despite promises of increased participants and a streamlined registration process, new policies have garnered criticism from students and educators alike.
One root of the backlash is the fact that not all schools accept AP credits.
Historically, AP registration occurs in the spring, when students have a more developed idea of their prospective schools, and whether or not they accept AP credit. At $94 per exam, those fees add up in the costly admissions game — especially if you aren’t sure whether it’s worth the investment.
That’s also where the issue of the late fee comes in — students may pass up the November registration deadline on the guise that their school of choice doesn’t accept AP credit, only to change their college aspirations and meet a $40 fee, amounting to a $134 price tag per exam.
Jennifer Wander a guidance counselor in New Richmond, Wisconsin, created a Change.org petition in protest, noting that the fee changes “will make things even more expensive and stressful for students, especially low-income students,” contrary to the argument of The College Board.
“The cost of applications and exams, not to mention the prep courses and other expenses regularly paid by privileged students, are widening the gap between what is possible for those in difficult economic situations,” Wander wrote.
Also fighting the changes is a nonprofit organization called Total Registration, whose analysis of The College Board’s own data concluded that there was a 33% increase in the number of low-income students taking the exam but only a 20% increase in the number of low-income students receiving a score of 3+, the minimum score most colleges accept in exchange for college credit.
Total Registration argues that the number of minority students gaining college credit as a result of the registration changes isn’t significant enough to warrant the introduction, which hinders low-income students’ abilities to participate.
Whether you view the changes as a positively or negatively impactful on students’ abilities to successfully register and complete AP exams, as of now, they’re happening.
Take some time to research your preferred schools before November, know if any of them will accept credit from your AP courses, and prepare for an earlier exam registration deadlines accordingly.
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