Is the College Board Effective for Students?

October 18, 2018

Calling out the College Board

College Board, reigning over SAT and AP test labels, has been and will remain the number one fear in the minds of high school students. Regardless of how many parents blindly place their trust in the organization, College Board is not as beneficial as it seems.

Founded in 1899 at Columbia University by a board of 15 schools, College Board is a not-for-profit organization that aims to prepare high school students for college by offering college-level Advanced Placement courses as well as the SAT.

However, like many of its exams, the infamous SAT is an unreliable measurement of students’ abilities. According to ABC News, there is a weak correlation between the SAT scores of college students and their grades, and that the SAT scores only explains 10 to 20 percent of the variation in the Grade Point Average of the first year.

College Board is also heavily biased in terms of social class. Students with higher-income backgrounds are able to purchase more preparation courses specialized for exams provided by College Board and gain exposure to similar questions, giving them an advantage over students who may not be able to afford such products.

This creates a gap in performance shaped by economic status, raising questions about College Board’s ability to provide an equitable, competitive and healthy environment for all students. College Board is, therefore, able to manipulate students into buying more of their products and services.

Yet another issue is within College Board’s fast-growing Advanced Placement (AP) program.

College Board has been increasing the number of AP courses, which a significant amount of students will undoubtedly choose, whether to make themselves more appealing to colleges or simply because they are interested. However, schools may not be able to find teachers well equipped with the knowledge to teach the newly introduced subject, resulting in the hindrance of students’ pursuit of knowledge.

College Board must change for the better by promoting more inclusive services relating to their exams as well as encouraging students to find outlets other College Board tests to demonstrate their knowledge.

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    All Aboard the College Board

    The services offered by the College Board is an effective tool for high school students to build college aptitude and a compelling application.

    Since different school districts use different methods to calculate students’ grade point averages (GPA), the number is an unreliable representation of students’ academic ability, according to the Huffington Post. Although admission officers account for these differences, a universal way of calculating academic potential must be used to minimize bias. Scores from the SAT impartially examine a student’s comprehensive ability to critically read, write and solve math problems.

    Similarly, SAT subject tests and Advanced Placement (AP) exams offered by the College Board objectively show comprehension on a specific subject. SAT subject tests evaluate the adroitness in common high school classes such as biology and world history, and taking an AP exam shows the capability of completing college-level courses. These scores strengthen your application by showing how you have consistently challenged yourself academically.

    Furthermore, AP exam scores can save time and money upon enrolling in college by becoming credit for required classes. For instance, the University of Southern California will offer four elective credits for every AP exam scored four or higher, which may even allow you to graduate earlier. Meanwhile, a 540 or higher on any language SAT subject test or a score of three or higher on any language AP exam can excuse you from having to take a required foreign language class in high school.

    Aside from standardized tests, the College Board also offers an online database for college and career planning to guide students through the complex college application process. Starting with finding a university that fits your preferences, it can also provide a list of scholarships and merits you can apply for.

    College Board may be far from a pure non-profit organization that acts in the best interest of the students. However, it does offer discounted fees for students in need of financial aid. After all, It accomplishes its most important job of helping students through their transition from high school to a life beyond.

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