New AP System

Sydney Liao

The College Board mandated AP system is constantly changing. Every year, the curriculum is modified and new rules are added. This year, one of the major changes being implemented is a November registration near the beginning of the school year, as opposed to the previous March deadline near the end of the year. 


Said AP Lit teacher Nikki Merrick, “In the four years I’ve taught AP Lit, this is the most change that has been made in terms of everything—the registration and the curriculum.” 


The College Board claims that a “fall exam registration improves students’ chances of success”. According to an experiment the College Board conducted in the 2017-18 school year with 100 schools, fall registration increased participation of female STEM students, low income students, and underrepresented minority students. Their website displays convincing interviews and statistics, all supporting the idea that fall registration forces students to maintain motivation and work harder throughout the school year towards an exam that they must take (unless they back out, of course, which would have harsh financial consequences). 


Under this new system, the students must register for their AP exams by Nov. 15 for a fee of $94 per exam. In addition, the College Board added a late fee and cancellation fee, each $40. Even though financial assistance is still offered, students and their families are still put under significantly more financial pressure. It seems that the new system favors the wealthy, who can afford to pay those exorbitant fees and therefore make sounder decisions. Furthermore, with the rise in the number of colleges and programs that do not accept AP credit, there is the question of whether the 


“I think it’s hard because the high schools are trying to do one thing, the College Board is doing something else, and the colleges are doing another, and so it’s unfortunate because students end up getting caught in the bureaucracy of a variety of institutions that are not collaborating to do what’s best for students. For a non profit, the college board does seem to be making a lot of money,” Merrick said. 


The earlier registration deadline and additional fees have met immense backlash. Critics point out that while a fall deadline led to more registration from low-income students, that did not necessarily translate more 3s, the passing test score. To many, the College Board’s move is geared towards making more money (the new system will earn them about $40 million increase in profit). 


“Now the College Board has added an extra stress for all students, particularly low-income students,” says an online petition launched by a high school counselor, which has garnered more than 120,000 signatures. “School is just getting started in November and there is no way anybody knows at this time whether or not they will be prepared for this high-stakes test.” 


Despite its flaws, the AP system remains the primary way for students to showcase their academic achievement on a standardized level and is a major component of the college application process. 


“As with all educational change, students are guinea pigs until the kinks are worked out. It happened with Common Core, the Star Test changing to CAASP testing, and the changes to the SAT/ACT format,” Merrick said. “I’d like to believe that the intention behind [the new AP system] is one that is going to make the exam more equitable and useful for the most number of students.”