Just when we thought we had enough reasons to hate the College Board, it decided to exceed expectations once again. Forcing students to take surprise extra SAT sections, conning us into leaking our emails to hundreds of painfully irrelevant universities and criminalizing our only saving grace, PSAT memes, apparently weren’t enough to satisfy the College Board’s desire to inflict mental and emotional pain upon children. So, what was its next move? The College Board overlords decided to make kids register for their AP exams by Sept. 20.
(This registration change was made in conjunction with a promise to “provide new exam prep resources to teachers and students” in a halfhearted effort to distract us from the real problem, but obviously no one is distracted. More on that later, though.)
Now, you’re probably expecting me to say that this is a bad, terrible, awful idea, but the truth is that it isn’t. In fact, it’s one of the most ingenious ideas I’ve ever heard. I mean, if I were College Board CEO David Coleman and raking in a salary of $750,000 a year, I, too, would be looking for more and more ways to swindle children and their parents out of their hard-earned cash. And with this newly imposed deadline, the College Board has accomplished that goal to a tee.
In past years, many students signed up for their exams as late as March without incurring a late fee. In this way, they were able to experience a semester and a half of an AP class before deciding whether they liked it enough/were good enough at it to blow $94 on a gruelling, inconvenient test date. But hell, on Sept. 20, some of us students are still dropping our classes. At this point in the year, how on Earth are we supposed to know whether taking the AP test for a certain class is in our best interest? Like I said—genius!
And to make sure that we don’t register for the test and then change our minds, we’re slapped with a $40 cancellation fee. Signing up late will also cost you $40. (And yes, you can be charged for both at once.)
One of our friends over at the College Board, spokesman Zachary Goldberg, said in an email that “It’s not about profit. In reality, our goal is to ensure that all AP students have equal access to the best resources to help them earn college credit. The annual cost to develop and maintain these new resources, and the cost to develop and implement the fall registration process, actually reduce, rather than expand, the AP Program’s operating income for the foreseeable future.”
The one caveat? Goldberg overlooks the impact of the deadline change. He attempts to create the impression that this “resource overhaul” will reduce the College Board’s budget, which would indicate that it is charitably giving back to students across America.
Unfortunately, he fails to mention that while providing a few new study resources may decrease the College Board’s revenue slightly, this set of changes as a whole will explode its earnings. Thanks to the new harsh deadlines and fees, the College Board will be raking in enough money to cover whatever it pays out in “benefits” many times over.
The College Board sucks, but it knows what it’s doing, and it does it well. Since it holds a monopoly over advanced placement testing and still beats out the ACT in terms of standardized testing, if you do any testing at all, you’re bound to be paying directly into its bank account at one point or another. So, what can you do about it?
Unfortunately, this year’s testing deadline has already come and gone, but you can still push back against these harmful changes in other ways. If you’re planning on taking more AP tests next year, be sure to talk to someone who’s already taken the test ahead of time. Try to get a sense of what the test will be like in terms of content, its difficulty level and whether or not the colleges where you’re applying will accept the credit. If you’re the activist type, you can take the ACT instead of the SAT to voice your dissent. And most importantly of all, you can keep memeing about PSAT content; they can’t shut all of us down. (Disclaimer: your scores may be canceled.)