November 11, 2020 / Source: The Bizz USA
By Isabelle Sitchon; Edited by Haarika Kalahasti and Pallavi Vemuri
From the rigor of AP classes, to the benefits of their opportunity scholarships, there’s no doubt that College Board, a non-profit educational organization, has provided students with many academic opportunities. Across the nation however, many individuals have criticized College Board’s efforts, claiming that the organization holds a monopoly over education and takes advantage of families across the globe. Two significant issues can be a reason for this belief: the SAT and AP exams.
Problem #1: The SAT
If you’re a senior in high school or a college student, you’ve most likely taken the infamous SAT for college. We’ve all been accustomed to SAT exam questions, vocabulary, and endless reading passages. The exam has been a requirement for many colleges across the United States in the past. However, the SAT has been said to be an inaccurate display of students’ academic intelligence. The exam supposedly measures your ability to take tests and is favorable towards those with a sturdy educational and financial background.
“...The test was actually replicating the class hierarchies that it was supposedly designed to disrupt,” said Paul Tough, author of The Years that Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us, “It has more or less always been true that the SAT, on balance, benefits college applicants who already enjoy lots of financial and social advantages.”
College Board’s tests, especially the SAT, include economic boundaries that pose challenges towards students. There are several privileges that financially stable individuals have access to, such as SAT tutors and classes, which comes at an even higher cost. Without SAT prep, many are unable to achieve high scores on the SAT. Those with the financial assets benefits to score high on the SAT are accepted into their top colleges, while those without the monetary benefits may have to compensate in other parts of their college applications due to their low SAT score. Several students believe that they are being treated unfairly because many colleges require an SAT score upon college admission. Not only do students undergo the monetary worries that come with taking the SAT, but they also encounter difficulties with sending their SAT scores off to colleges. In order to send their scores to their desired schools, students are required to pay a fee. Fortunately, College Board has recognized this economic barrier and has allotted fee waivers for students, along with the option to send score reports to four colleges for test-takers before the exam. However, many are upset with the fact that there is an obligatory fee that needs to be paid in order to transmit SAT scores.
Problem #2: AP Courses
At the end of each school year, AP students across the globe scramble to study for their yearly AP exams in order to earn college credit. It seems almost unavoidable; taking an AP exam is crucial in achieving a high class rank and GPA for college admissions. In order to take these exams, students have to pay about $95 for each exam. On average, a student takes about three AP exams in their high school career. That’s already a whopping total of $285 to pay during the course of a student’s high school years. In 2019, over five million exams were distributed, racking in a grand total of about 470 million dollars for Collegeboard from AP exams alone. Out of the five million exams that were distributed, only a chunk was able to attain a score of three or higher. Come college application season, seniors are prepared to send in their AP scores to promising colleges. However, there is still a fee for students to send their scores to colleges, earning College Board more revenue from score fees as well. Students and parents across the world struggle to keep up with the financial prose that College Board creates.
Not only has the price of AP exams raised major conflict for high school students, but the format of the exams has caused controversy regarding its efforts in effectively reflecting their tests at a fair college-level. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, College Board opted to facilitate AP tests online in May 2020. What was thought to be an efficient solution to the situation escalated into a fury of angered and confused students. Most AP exams, such as AP European History, consisted of a single essay for students to turn in through the College Board website. Other exams consisted of several short answer questions that students were to answer. Many students were overwhelmed with the stress of a single question dictating their entire year of studying in the AP course. College Board’s website also presented problems regarding the submission of AP exams. Several individuals’ essays and short answer questions were denied from submission due to the website’s busy servers. As a result, College Board handled the situation by having those students take a new exam at a later date in June. Some AP Students were frustrated with College Board on a whole new level, taking to the organization’s social media to express their criticizing opinions.
College Board states that it is a “mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success.” However, many feel as though this statement is directed towards individuals of financial and social prowess. The price to be able to enter college is set high by College Board. A percentage of the student population are under the impression that their favor is not in their potential as an individual, but in the scores and funds that they give towards the organization. As a student myself, I believe College Board should take consideration of the problems that they hold over the community and focus more on student achievement.