Paying for AP Exams: Dissecting the Increased Prices

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Paying for AP Exams: Dissecting the Increased Prices
AP exams will take place at University High School starting on Monday, May 4. (Diana Zhang)

Staff Writer

As we approach May, also known as Advanced Placement (AP) exam season for many high school students, the time has come to buy the ever so dreaded exams themselves. According to the University High School (UHS) website, around 867 students participate in the yearly testing with about 2054 total tests administered. UHS is known for its very high pass rate on the exams and boasted a total of 865 tests with a perfect score of 5 in 2014.

For the past couple years, the cost of AP tests at UHS has been 90 dollars paid in person at the Student Activities Center (SAC), already quite a high and stress-inducing price, especially for the many students taking more than one AP test each year. In 2015, however, the AP registration process has drastically changed. For starters, tests at UHS are to be purchased exclusively online on the UHS online store. Even though the online shopping experience for testing purposes is quite new, it is very self-explanatory and organized, which is a nice change from the frantic paper signing at the SAC in previous years. However, the largest change this year is not the venue for sales but College Board’s price rise to 91 dollars and consequently UHS’s price rise to 100 dollars.

Many students, especially with this year’s price increase, have argued that the cost of these exams is absolutely ridiculous. However, we should examine different perspectives, including where our 100 dollars are going, to evaluate if the cost is truly worth it.

First of all, College Board designed AP classes to help prepare students for college. Although most are aware that college costs copious amounts of money, seeing the daunting cost of AP tests can also remind students and their families how expensive college truly is. The high prices can even encourage students to try harder on tests and actually earn the passing score and college credit to avoid spending money later on.

Second, College Board basically forces high schools to charge their students more for AP tests than the original College Board price to cover proctoring and administration costs. Some schools will charge a flat 91 dollars for the test while others like UHS are forced to ask for extra money per students to cover costs for the actual test administration. According to the College Board website, College Board itself allocates the funds to develop, transport and score the tests.

Overall, the amount of money a student pays for an AP exam is but a small portion of what that same student will pay for the actual class in college. AP exams can help students get college credit, be immersed into subjects that they are interested in and help students get a glimpse at what real college exams are like. These are why teachers and administrators should keep encouraging students to take the AP tests that they feel confident about, despite the price increase.

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