Fairfax Senior High School

Opinion: The College Board debunked

Most people have at least one friend out there who says things along the lines of “I’m taking 5 AP classes next year” or “I recently scored a 2400 on my SAT.” The common denominator between these two statements is the private, nonprofit corporation College Board.

Although this company claims to “connect students to college success and opportunity,” is it really fair for it to administer and monopolize standardized testing that plays such a crucial role in college acceptances?

The AP program and the SAT, which are run by College Board, actually restrict access to top tier universities by testing students on arbitrary standards. It is completely unjustified for one private organization to have such a large influence on the educational future of students in the United States. There is a need for colleges to evaluate applicants on some type of standardized criteria, but it is clear that College Board and its programs are not the answer.

In 2012, the number of students who took the ACT surpassed that of the SAT. 1,666,017 students took the ACT while 1,664,479 students took the SAT, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing. It is not surprising as the SAT is notorious for containing obscure vocabulary and having poorly worded questions.

According to research conducted by College Board, while good scores on an AP exam may be indicators for success in college courses, the exam format is so predictable that teachers can coach their students to learn the tricks of each test. Therefore, it is unfair for colleges to judge a student’s abilities based on the amount of AP classes he or she takes as success in these courses can be achieved without much creativity.

There are reasons why tutors and prep books are available for these tests: College Board spawns more private companies that can make money off of students.

“It’s a business. They are capitalizing on the need to have higher test scores,” college counselor William Garcia said. “It’s a result of the college admission process.”

Since colleges place a high value on taking AP classes and a good SAT score, students are pressured to perform extremely well on these tests. Companies like The Princeton Review and Barron’s know that students need some type of resource to study for these tests, so they create books to help them learn the nuances of each test. While it seems harmless on the outside, these companies are taking the money from the families of hard-working students.

“College Board limits people because they feel compelled to buy books to help them succeed on these exams,” junior Timothy Islam said. “Why should companies make profit off of selling books to students that come from a low income family?”

College Board programs corrupt the college admission process by creating a competition in which parents must spend as much money as possible trying to buy resources for their children to succeed on these standardized exams. There is also an obscene amount of money that goes into SAT tutoring programs. Elite of Los Angeles, a very popular SAT tutoring school, charges $2,500 for a summer vacation SAT boot camp. Allowing these types of organizations to spawn from the predictable nature of tests offered by College Board clearly limits the accessibility of colleges to potentially successful students who may not perform well on standardized tests.

With this reasoning in mind, College Board is truly performing the opposite of its intended goal. Unless there is a reform in the criteria for college acceptance at universities, students will remain victims of this monopoly.