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The Real Price of College Credit

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The Real Price of College Credit

For the 2018-19 school year, all AP exams cost $94.

For the 2018-19 school year, all AP exams cost $94.

For the 2018-19 school year, all AP exams cost $94.

For the 2018-19 school year, all AP exams cost $94.

Genesis Sandoval, Editor

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College Board is known for a lot of things: SAT testing, the PSAT, Accuplacer, and especially their Advanced Placement Program. Recently, though, the non-profit is becoming notorious for its often expensive testing fees. As the deadline to pay for AP tests nears at Buena, students can’t help but ask, “Why is this so expensive?” Sitting at $94 a test, the amount students are paying can add up fast. Many colleges expect applicants to take AP classes along with standardized tests like the SAT. With college application fees, AP tests, and standardized tests getting into college is expensive. So what even is the appeal of taking an AP test?

The answer is simple: college credit.

The AP test uses a grading scale from 1 to 5. Many colleges and universities provide college credit for certain scores on the test, usually a 3 or 4. This allows students to recieve dual credit depending on what AP test they take. For example, a 4 or above on the AP Literature and Composition test allows students at the University of Arizona to skip English 101 entirely. It’s easy to say that AP classes look better on a college application as well. Many students feel pressured to take AP classes in order to be admitted to their dream school and are forced to pay the hefty $94 fee to get college credit for their hard work during the school year. So, is this large fee even worth it? And where does the money even go?

While it is true that certain scores on the AP test allow students to avoid expensive college classes, it is also true that the number of universities who do this is becoming smaller and smaller. For taking the AP English Language and Composition exam, College Board’s most popular one, ASU offers the opportunity to take Advanced English 101 and a general elective credit. However, both NAU and GCU offers absolutely nothing. UA is the only large university in Arizona to offer the ability to skip a class entirely. This goes for many other states as well. So, your $94 isn’t even guaranteed to save you money by avoiding a class in university.

A quick Google search for “Why are AP tests so expensive?” brings up numerous forum posts and articles outright calling College Board and the AP program a scam. College Board has been criticized for its test making skills, or lack thereof, in the past. It’s unclear what the fees are used for, but many assume it’s for the preparation of the test. AP test graders work for free, but the tests must be created, shipped, etc. But if College Board has a reputation for reusing SAT tests and creating poor, original tests, where is our $94 going? Many guess it has something to do with David Coleman’s, the CEO of College Board, initial $700,000 salary. In 2015, College Board claimed to have earned a billion dollars through its assets. However, the company claims to make no profit off of test fees, but that seems very unlikely to many due to the millions of students paying the hefty fee every year.

Many argue that AP courses are nothing compared to their university counterpart. John Tierney, a professor and AP course teacher, explains, “The high-school AP course didn’t begin to hold a candle to any of my college courses. My colleagues said the same was true in their subjects.” So in the slight chance you do get college credit for your test score, you may not be getting the optimal learning experience through the program. After finding out all of this, you may want to throw your AP payment form in the trash, but there’s still a light at the end of the tunnel.

Your best friend in deciding whether or not to take an AP test is your own best interest. Research what your college of choice offers for AP test scores. If they offer college credit, do you feel confident enough to skip that class? If paying the $94 is in your best interest, do it! Despite doing all the research for this article, I am still taking an AP test because it is in my best interest. Sometimes the test is worth it, and that shouldn’t be overshadowed by the negative experience others may face. Just do your research and do what’s best for you. What’s best for you is what matters. And if you do decide to take one AP exam (or more), good luck!

About the Writer
Genesis Sandoval, Editor

Hi, my name is Genesis. This is my third year writing for The Pegasus. I’m a senior, and can’t wait to graduate. I listen to music often, and sleep...

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