Paying for pressure


The regular AP exam registration has officially closed. There is now a $40 late fee in place. Infographic by: Greta Pankratz

Greta Pankratz

VHS students share their opinions on the cost of AP exams

AP exams: needed, yet dreaded by many high school students. Upon preparing to heft over the payment necessary to participate in the exams, the high price is hard to miss. Here at Ventura High School, the baseline price per exam is $95 for 2021, and now $135 due to the $40 late fee set in place after Nov 6. However, it varies by state, district, school and could be higher or lower for other students around the country. Some often argue about whether or not this pricing is fair. In a poll conducted on The Cougar Press Instagram on Nov. 2, 97% of the 119 students who responded voted “yes” to “Do you think AP exams are overpriced?” Students, such as seniors Charlie Lively and Daniel Hrabak, commented that they felt the pricing was unfair. Lively added, “I think they should be lowered a little at least,” along with Hrabak who said, “They probably want the money.” In fact, in 2019 the registration deadline was moved to November rather than March, giving students far less time to make a reasonable decision, to get money prepared or even to change their minds. 

Senior Angelo Mosqueda remarked, “The reason why the exams are so expensive is because the College Board likes scamming people for their money. The only thing they care about at the end of the day is money.” Another senior, Connor Loughman, did the math to come to his conclusion. Loughman explained, “I can’t see any reason for the tests being so expensive. I don’t think the tests should be so expensive because if you are someone who is taking 3-5 tests, you’re looking at around $300-$500 just to take the tests.” Without any sort of financial help, this leaves high schoolers with a decent sum of money to hand over.

The majority (96.5%) of students who voted feel as though AP exams are overpriced, yet many students still pay to take the exams. Infographic by: Greta Pankratz

While based on the poll, anger towards the pricing appears to hold the majority, but some students are looking at it from a different angle. Junior Vincent Cook shared his view, “I think that they are so expensive because the tests pay for the people who grade the tests, for their long work, and for all of the work that is put in place to make it so students can take the tests. When I think about what the tests do for the students who do a good job, I think it is fair. We have to remember that this could be for college credit if that student were to major in that subject or area. As college is important, I feel that they are giving students a fair chance to get college credit while they work hard to put these tests in place. To those that don’t pass, I feel sorry but unfortunately, it is a system and they have to run by one. It is the best they can do.” 

Similar to Cook, junior Quinn Ferguson pointed out the perk of college credit. Ferguson, who is preparing for multiple tests this coming spring said, “Last year I took AP Euro, and this year I’m taking 3 AP exams. I think the price for AP exams is fair if we’re paying for the college course to get out of a college class it’s gonna end up costing thousands of dollars if we actually have to do it in college. There are also affordable options for people who can’t afford to take the exam, like through ASSETS, so I think it’s pretty reasonable. You’re paying for college credits.”

Although she is new to the AP world, sophomore Ava Elliot also gave her thoughts on the seemingly high price. “I plan on taking the AP exam this year for AP Euro, but I have never taken one because I am only a sophomore. I think they are expensive because in order for your class to count for college credit, you have to take the exam. And because college is so expensive, the AP exam is expensive because it is college credit,” Elliot expressed. 

Although the price may be high, freeing up their future college schedules, and in the long run saving money, appears to be justifiable for some students. The task then is to find a way to pay, and if not possible, go through the step of staying connected with VHS resources, such as the ASSETS program. It may, however, be unsettling for some students, teachers and parents to wonder if those extra dollars are truly going to the testing and grading process or even the college system. Now that tests are currently online, can it be blamed on the grading process? During this unique time for all high schoolers, the race to stand out to colleges and stay involved has become even harder to reach. Although the price may upset kids, with the recent SAT/ACT test-blind admissions within some colleges, AP tests have become even more of a key component to show academic success outside of just grades. With the school year slipping by, and the price rising, students now are faced with a decision; surrender to the price tag or allow the opportunity to pass by.