Rising A.P. test prices punish students taking multiple tests

Margaret Carl, Contributing Writer

When May rolls around, an estimated 2.7 million students will gather in test centers across the country to take their Advanced Placement exams.  AP exams are designed to assess every sliver of a student’s knowledge in a given subject.

These tests span across subjects such as history, government, language, math,  and science.  Students have to wait until July to find out how they did on the tests, which are scored on a scale of 1 to 5. 

 For students new to the AP curriculum, the most important fact to remember is that AP courses differ greatly from honors courses: an AP class will specifically adhere to a curriculum provided by the College Board which is designed to yield a high performance on the final exam, but an honors course does not and will consequently vary from school to school.  AP courses are taught very similarly all around the country, and could very well be described as standardized. 

As most students currently enrolled in high school would attest, taking these AP classes, which are geared solely towards a final exam, are a sure way to make oneself more appealing to a college admissions officer.  Regardless of location or prestige, any college is especially interested in a student who is willing to challenge themselves with multiple demanding courses. 

What’s more, students who do exceptionally well on their AP exams put themselves in a position where they may receive college credit at some universities.  According to College Board, more than 87% of four-year colleges accept a range of helpful options for those who performed well on their AP Exams. 

Moreover, students have the potential of bypassing introductory and preliminary college courses in their entirety upon entering college.  Although they can completely waive out of the course, students will still earn credentials which might allow for an early graduation.  In fact, it is shown that students who take AP courses are 62% more likely to graduate from college in four years while saving money from avoiding extra semesters. 

While the costs of AP tests pay off in the long run, the tests themselves certainly aren’t free. This year, the tests cost $94 each, which can definitely add up if you’re taking multiple AP classes in a single year. To the dismay of students nationwide, the cost of AP tests have actually risen in recent years.  At Schreiber, (through no fault of the school), prices for AP tests have increased by a large margin during the past three years. 

While students in low income families can receive financial aid after appealing to the school administration, prices are not altered for students electing to take multiple AP classes.  With these courses, a students are required to take a test for each in order to earn the AP credit.  

“I’m taking so many AP classes this year to really give myself a challenge, but the prices of the tests alone have made me daunted to do the same next year,” said junior Emily Gao.

The fact that students can be deterred from reaching their full potential simply due to registration costs is a crying shame. Cost should never hinder a student’s education. Some may argue that if a student wants to take an AP class for its rigor but does not want to pay for testing at the end of the year, the student should just take the course and opt out of receiving AP credit.  However, this too is unfair, as it puts the student at a disadvantage in the college admissions process. When you think about it, APs are just one of many costs involved in the college application process, as students also have to pay for standardized tests and Common Application fees. 

“I’m a junior; I’m trying to pay for my however many SATs to get into colleges that are already expensive,” said junior Jennifer Kim.  “Why should I get more financial pressure to pay for more tests?” 

These exorbitant costs can ultimately cause a great deal of misfortune if a college should decide to choose student over another due to economic reasons.  If the College Board would reduce the price of these exams, the opposite effect would occur. Because students would save money on testing expenses, they would be more inclined to challenge themselves and take more AP tests. This would bolster the need for more AP classes and teachers as well as making students more qualified for the college admissions process.

Something must be done for students who want to challenge themselves in school but are not willing to pay hundreds of dollars to do so.  $94 per test seems unreasonably high, and if the current trend continues, the price will not cease to rise.