AP exam registration move not beneficial to students

Kris Long, Opinions Editor

A College Board decision to move the AP course registration deadline to October has drawn controversy. It’s the opinion of The Mentor editorial board that it’s unnecessary and irresponsible to move the date, as it will have a mostly negative impact on students, teachers and administrators. 

The College Board moved the registration deadline from March to Nov. 15, meaning the school will need a decision from students next month. Students pay $94 to take an exam this year, and if they choose to back out of the exam, they will pay a $40 cancellation fee. There is also a $40 late registration fee after the October deadline. 

Requiring students to decide whether on not to take the test in October causes extra pressure on students. They will have to decide whether they have a good chance of getting college credit — most colleges require at least a three. More prestigious ones four or five — before the class has covered most of the content. Students are therefore less likely to make the right decision for them.

The quickly approaching deadline is a stressor that also applies to teachers, who are already asking students to consider whether or not they should register for the exam only a few weeks into the school year. The stress also applies to administrators, who have to help all AP students reach their decision in a significantly shorter period of time. Thus teachers have to start preparing students for what the test will be like this early in the school year.

Moving the deadline up also disproportionately negatively affects lower-income students. 

According to Total Registration, an organization that works with schools to manage AP Exams, “[There were] 3,141 additional low-income test-takers at the pilot schools but only 742 additional scores of 3+. This gives a pass rate (scores of 3+) of 23.6 percent for the ‘additional’ low-income.  Another way to look at this is that 76.4 percent of the low-income students who were coerced to take the exams because of the new deadline, late fees [and] cancellation fees did not pass (scored a 1 or 2).”

Students whose socio-economic status allows them to pay for the test for the chance of getting college credit at such a low cost were paying for the test regardless, meaning moving the registration date isn’t as likely to affect those students. The students it most effects are those paying for it out of their own pockets or those whose parents don’t have the money to take a gamble. 

The College Board claims that students will be more motivated to work hard in the class if they have already paid the fee. It is true that in test runs more students received fours and five than in schools who didn’t move the deadline up. However, even more students received ones and twos because in general as more students took the exam. It’s also up to the student as to whether or not they are motivated in class. Signing up for the tests earlier doesn’t change that.

Along with the criticism the College Board has taken, its profits have recently increased. 

If the board really wants to help students, they could have students sign up for the test early and not implement a cancellation fee, or move registration to the beginning of second semester or later.