High cost of AP exams hinders students


Courtesy of Rick Wenner

Students who take AP classes spend hours studying for their exams, which may not even end up providing them with the college credit they were hoping to recieve.

By Jenna Greenzaid, Editor-in-Chief

Taking AP classes at WCHS can mean high-intensity classes with hours of studying, but it can also mean another thing students don’t always think about until March: a high price tag.

For students who take AP classes, there is only one true endgame: pass the AP exam in May. While there’s the goal of getting good grades and succeeding in the class itself, the main reason for taking the class is to be able to place out of college courses. One can do this if they earn a certain score on each exam. Every year, the price of AP exams increases by at least a few dollars and while it appears to not be excessive, the price eventually becomes quite absurd. This year’s AP exams are $95 per exam. The high price of AP exams not only fails to accommodate for students all around the county, but the country as well—especially those who take more than five APs, which already costs a solid $500. This burden needs to be taken into further consideration before the prices go up, yet again, for the 2019-2020 exams.

According to a Nov. 2018 Prep Scholar article, the cost of AP exams for the 2014-2015 school year was $91 dollars per exam. The price then rose to $92 the next year.

While the College Board provides a $30 fee reduction per exam for those with demonstrated financial need, there are still many others who may not be able to show such a financial burden and cannot afford to pay for their exams.

According to an Oct. 2018 Washington Post article, senior vice president for Advanced Placement and instruction Trevor Packer has spent significant time gathering state funding for AP and raising College Board discounts so that many low-income students pay no fees. He has also worked to open participation in AP classes for students from disadvantaged families.

While some states and counties are only able to accommodate those who prove financial need, other counties work to ease AP payment for students by covering test costs for every student.

According to the College Board, the state of Fla. is one of the few that provides funds to school districts to cover the cost of all public school students’ exam fees.

Part of the reason why many see the price of AP exams as a bargain is that families can save thousands of dollars if students place out of college courses. College is expensive, and passing an exam can mean they won’t need to pay to take that course in college.

Even so, students risk wasting money on exam fees and review books if they fail to earn the “passing score” minimum set by certain colleges. And in some cases, certain colleges don’t accept scores for specific exams no matter the score—yet another waste of money.

While there are already steps in place to promote the taking of AP classes and tests by students from all socioeconomic levels, there is still more to be done through open dialogue and constructive conversation.