The Impatient Patient: New set of problems arise in AP Exam changes

By Renee Wang


t’s finally fall. Pumpkin spice, Halloween and … AP exam season?

Starting this year, the College Board, a not-for-profit organization who administers standardized tests like the SAT, has made several changes in its AP Exam registration process. One of these changes include the AP Classroom, where students and teachers can access AP test question banks, according to the College Board.

The most controversial modification is moving the registration deadline from March to November. According to the College Board, these changes were implemented after a pilot program where earlier registration deadlines showed score increases for underrepresented students in the AP process.

While I applaud the College Board on their efforts to equalizing access to higher education, these changes create a new set of issues for students. 

An integral part of the AP program is gaining college credit. However, colleges have different criteria about what exams they accept for credit and at what scores.

The new deadline does not account for this, and as a result, seniors are forced to sign up for exams that might not benefit them. According to the Paly Voice, under the old spring deadline, students could sign up for exams that matched their individual college requirements.

Furthermore, the College Board is also including an additional fee, according to the Washington Post: a $40 fee for any students who sign up for but do not take the exam.

Such a fee penalizes students and sends the message that regardless of the benefit, students can either pay $94 to take an exam they may not receive credit for, or they can pay $94 and a $40 late fee to not take an unnecessary exam. In either scenario, the students lose out.

An exam for students should benefit students, not cost them. 

What is ideal about the old deadline is that it gives students an adjustment period before deciding to take the exam. They can gauge their aptitude for the content — their first semester grades and teachers — before committing themselves to an expensive endeavor.

The College Board is making strides to push for equity, and I recognize that, but I believe there are better ways to go about this. For example, instead of changing the deadline, the College Board could release its new AP Classroom feature earlier. This gives students an additional resource in gauging their aptitude, all while allowing them to retain the freedom of signing up to exams applicable to them.