Rising AP test prices could prove costly to College Board, students

For the first time in more than a decade, the average score of Advanced Placement tests increased last year, according to a statement College Board released in February. The upward trend ended a ten-year pattern of stagnating or declining test scores. A price increase to $89 per exam- $93 for local students- accompanied the grade increase. This price increase introduces the current challenge that College Board must face, adjusting pricing in a time when certain schools are no longer offering course credit for the AP test scores.

College Board should avoid further raising of the costs for AP tests. Doing so would drastically damage their benefit to students pursuing secondary education of all financial backgrounds.

First and foremost, heightening the already steep costs of AP testing unfairly inhibits students’ opportunities to succeed on the test due to their financial circumstances. This would not only affect students at all financial levels, but would isolate an extremely large group of students who do not qualify for reduced prices, but cannot easily afford to take multiple tests.

Continuing to raise the prices of AP testing restricts many students’ abilities to offset the ever-increasing price of higher education. In a time when America’s total student debt tab exceeds one trillion dollars, students are already paying steep costs both financially and emotionally. College Board should not add to these growing burdens by continuously raising the prices of each test to the point that many students cannot afford them.

Considering Dartmouth’s new policy stating that it will no longer grant AP credit beginning in 2014, and other colleges’ potential to follow suit, College Board must provide students and their families with incentives to continue taking the exams. If College Board chooses not to address the issue of pricing, it could potentially harm the number of students who would choose to participate in AP exams.

Although some would say that the price jump is not an important factor, this is untrue. For many, AP tests could mean the difference between paying for a single test and paying for a semester course, getting ahead and potentially graduating early. With this at stake, many students are eager to take the tests, but not if the prices continue to skyrocket as they have over the past few years.

Instead of alienating much of its consumer base, College Board should lower the exam price to the constant price that it was several years ago. Meanwhile, College Board should also focus some of its efforts on continuing to reconstruct its evaluative process in order to ensure that students who receive fives are truly prepared to meet the demands that colleges will place on them. Through these methods, College Board could continue its upward trend of large-scale AP test success while maintaining its partnerships with institutions of higher learning.