CollegeBoard: Profiting or Providing? (OPINION)
September 10, 2020
SAT and AP are names that are all too familiar for high school students across the nation. These tests, that most students spend a majority of their high school years preparing for, are administered by CollegeBoard. In the past few months, CollegeBoard has come under fire for the prices of their tests and services, while still being labeled as a non-profit.
As quarantine set in, many students across the country were wondering about their AP exams, and if they would be cancelled or not. CollegeBoard’s decision to continue the exams online brought a lot of criticism from students, as some do not have access to technology to take them, and others are struggling with money due to the pandemic. There were still a lot of issues with how the exams were handled and the price, which sparked conversation on CollegeBoard’s status as a non-profit.
CollegeBoard’s exams and services have always been contended. For an SAT exam, it costs $50 not including the essay. $50 is how much a student pays for the bare minimum, and there’s more fees and payments made on top of that. For example, it costs $55 to have someone check over your scantron answers by hand, $55 to have someone check your essay again for any errors in scoring, and $15 per call to receive your scores over the phone.
According to the CollegeBoard’s blog about SAT fees, for the 2019-2020 school year, the SAT costs $49.50 and the SAT with Essay costs $64.50. If a student were to add anything else on, such as changing a registration, the cost builds up. To participate in the SAT exam, a student would have to pay these fees.
The COVID-19 pandemic also had a large impact on AP exams this year. Many students across the country are in tough financial and personal situations because of the pandemic. However, CollegeBoard has decided to continue the exams. Because the exams became virtual, CollegeBoard shortened the length of the exams from their usual format to two FRQ’s (Free Response Questions).
“I’d say they didn’t handle it well because there weren’t equal test-taking environments for all students. Furthermore, the grading was done differently this year, which could mess up any student who studied using rubrics from the previous year,” said Lexline Johnson (‘23).
Even though the exams were shortened, no discounts were offered and they remained full price. It was $94 for an exam, meaning each question was $47. This sheds more light on CollegeBoard’s testing situation this year, and how it was not exactly the best it could be.
“If CollegeBoard was an actual nonprofit, the CEO wouldn’t be making nearly as large of a profit as he is. CollegeBoard claims to care about their students but in all actuality, they don’t. They want a profit as evident in the fact that students had to take an exam during a pandemic,” said Camila Gonzales (‘23).
Along with CollegeBoard’s controversial decisions this exam season, the actual testing situation could have been much better. At a set time, students would pour into the website to log into the exam. With the amount of students attempting to get in, many were locked out and unable to take the exam. CollegeBoard could have made the website more stable for hosting so many students at a time, but they didn’t, and for many it was a stressful experience.
If you see this screen with the message “We Did Not Receive Your Response(s),” it means your AP Exam answers were NOT successfully submitted, and you should request a makeup at https://t.co/xiizrJahZb. pic.twitter.com/f3P3YiLK1W
— The College Board (@CollegeBoard) May 12, 2020
This exam season, CollegeBoard caused controversy with its testing policies this year. The COVID-19 pandemic this year is a main contributing factor in this, and this certainly had an affect on the students.
The SAT this year will be in-person as schools are opening across the country. AP Exams for the 2020-2021 school year will also be in-person and there is no plans to host them online. In the event the AP Exams are switched to be virtual, the exams might have the same format as this past year and will be on a section rather than a full test.
Hopefully, CollegeBoard will take the experience from operating during a pandemic and apply it to future exams if they ever have to be hosted online again, to ensure a better situation for all students.