Standardized testing: the costs of pursuing higher education

Emilia Charno, Opinions Editor

Educational philosophies vary widely from nation to nation. In fact, they can differ from state to state, school district to school district, and even person to person. Regardless of personal preference, the efficacy of education is not a subject to be taken lightly.

In the United States, there are numerous standardized testing requirements. WE adhere to an academic system that requires standardized tests for many educational pursuits. These include college entrance exams, like the ACT and SAT, and Advanced Placement Testing for the chance to receive college credits.

Yet, when pursuing academic excellence, there is an undeniable obstruction for many on the road to success: monetary requirements. With corporations that administer these tests, like College Board and ACT, charging obscene amounts of money for testing, students are actually dissuaded from repeating these tests.

“Standardized testing is really expensive, especially since most people have to take the SAT or ACT multiple times,” said senior Zoe Garman.

Taking the ACT or SAT tests can cost upwards of $50 for each exam, including the writing section. On top of this cost, there are late registration fees, change fees, and international fees. While it is possible for students to receive fee waivers, they are not easily obtained.

For example, the College Board’s fee waiver policy specifically says that after a guidance counselor determines a student eligible for this financial aid, which is a lengthy process in and of itself, he or she is only eligible for up to four fee waivers. This covers the cost of an SAT Test or an SAT II Subject Test. However, even if a student receives all four fee waivers, part of the College Board’s policy is that two must be used for an SAT Test and two must be used for an SAT II Subject Test. These waivers do not go as far as you might think, as many colleges additionally require at least two SAT II exams if a student sends an SAT test score. Moreover, the actual registration fee for tests like the SAT and ACT are not the only costs to consider when taking standardized tests.

“On top of paying for the actual tests, it costs money to release your scores to colleges that you’re pursuing. Most people also feel unprepared without a tutor or taking a review class, so the financial burden really adds up,” said senior Lauren Rosen.

Similar to the costly nature of the ACT and SAT tests, there are AP Tests, which are also administered by the College Board. Advanced Placement recognition is important in that, after taking these tests and achieving mastery, students can earn college credits that exempt them from retaking these classes in college. Success in AP classes is helpful in distinguishing students when applying to colleges. However, with their lofty prices, students who push themselves to take advanced classes must deal with the financial obligations.

“AP tests are $93 dollars a piece. When students are taking almost solely AP classes, it gets to be unacceptably expensive,” said senior Robert Rosso.

If a student does not meet the financial requirements to be eligible for a fee waiver, they should not limit themselves, and potentially lower their future success, based upon a monetary burden. The College Board should loosen its financial aid criteria or charge a more reasonable amount of money for its tests. Of course, as a corporation, College Board has fees of its own. However, this should never take precedent over students’ ambitions and futures.