Dear College Board: An Open Letter on AP Exams

Dear College Board,

As a senior this year taking multiple AP classes and tests, I would like to complain about the new registration process. This year College Board is implementing a system that requires all AP students to register for AP tests by November 1, instead of at the usual time in March. This change is causing outrage for teachers and students all across the country.

               With an extremely early registration date and a complicated four-step process which requires a student to be able to access the system, sign up with their class section, enroll in AP classroom and then finally register and pay for the exam, College Board makes signing up for AP tests very difficult. On top of that, College Board is now adding other fees besides the fee for the AP test itself. If a student registers after November 15, a late fee of 40 dollars is added, and if a student decides they no longer want to take a test they signed up for, another 40 dollars will be charged. All these fees add up and become a huge dis-incentive for many students. In a recent article in the Washington Post, a College Board spokesperson Zachary Goldberg stated that these new changes were “not about profit” but rather it would reduce paperwork and time spent in the testing sites, as well as making sure everyone has equal access to the best resources. The problem is that many students and teachers are arguing the complete opposite, that it is not efficient or “equal.”

               A junior at Franklin who wishes to remain anonymous stated that the new process for registering for tests was “super long and tricky.” In addition, she would need to get a fee waiver to reduce her fees. The process of waiting to get a fee waiver, waiting for a code to enter and then submitting the whole form is exhausting and frustrating to many. “I am someone who really wants to do well and makes sure everything is done on time, but I know that many other people in my situation would have just quit because it is so much hassle,” the Franklin student stated. College Board is making this process much more difficult than it needs to be, and the overall outcome is hurting lower income students more than helping anyone else.

               Jennifer Wander, a high school counselor in Wisconsin, created a petition against College Board’s early registration and deadlines. This petition points to the many flaws within this new system. She points out that this early registration process is creating new stresses for students, especially for seniors. She notes that many students have just begun school when November hits, and many have no clue if it’s worth their time and money to register. For seniors it’s much worse. The whole reason that people take AP courses is to try to get college credit once they graduate. However, if seniors apply to colleges that do not take AP scores, there is no good reason for that student to take a test. By moving the registration date up to November, College Board has made it impossible for seniors to know if they should take a test.

               It is not just students who are affected by these new rules. Teachers are also affected in this change. While the course material has not been changed, teachers now have to constantly remind their classes to sign up, with some even spending the majority of class time dedicated to the registration process. “Since day one I have had to remind my class to sign up, even taking time out of scheduled class time to help,” states Jordan Souza, an AP Literary teacher at Franklin. She notes that College Board says they want to make it easier for students but in reality it “just seems to be more confusing and clunky for everyone.”

               So, while College Board may claim that it is changing for the benefit of the students, it really does not seem like they care about the individual struggles each student has to face. If they really cared, they would move the registration deadline back to March. This would allow students to stop stressing about which tests they need to take and if they will be able to afford it. They also need to stop the process of penalizing those who decide not to take the test after they have registered. There are many students who are unwilling to sign up for tests as they know that they will have to pay if they decide that they no longer want to take it. Overall, this new system seems to be hurting more than helping and will only continue to create uproar until fixed.

Sincerely,

One Unhappy Test Taker 

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