The College Board Monopoly

An examination of the company that dictates the lives of students

Katherine Loomis, Staff Writer

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On Aug. 25, hundreds of students gathered at the Senior High to take the SAT. As I sat in the classroom I was assigned to, waiting for the the grueling testing process to begin, I began to think about the exploits of College Board- the company masterminding the SAT and similar college assessment tests.

The SAT is an educational rite of passage for high school students looking to advance their education. In fact, nearly every university across the United States requires this test for admission. According to the College Board itself, more than 7.3 million test takers completed the SAT or a PSAT-related assessment over the course of the 2016-2017 school year. Each SAT costs $46, or $60 to take it with the essay (which a substantial amount of colleges require). Costs can add up quickly with supplemental services such as registering by phone or receiving a copy of your test and the answers. If you select all of the packages available, a single SAT can cost a whopping $196.

It costs $12 to send your SAT scores to each university you apply to, which can add up quickly if you are applying to many different schools. Depending on your colleges of choice, you may be required to take a few of the twenty SAT subject tests, which are one-hour timed tests that assist colleges on admission and course placement. The first of these tests costs $26 and each additional test that you take on the same day costs $18. This can get expensive quickly and is very problematic for students with a limited household income.

Most students aren’t happy with their score the first time they take their SAT. Due to the ruthless college application process, they feel that they need to bring up their score to compete with their classmates. College Board offers SAT testing seven times a year, and many students partake in all seven assessments in order to reach their optimal mark. Additionally, the College Board is generous enough to sell subject test prep books for $20 each and SAT prep books for $30 to increase their scores even more. If a student studies hard enough, surely they can meet the numerical quota that their preferred college of choice requires for admission.

Speaking of college admissions, AP classes give students a competitive edge in terms of GPA and class rankings in the college application process. These AP classes are weighted higher and give students a chance to gain college credits. However, students must take a test, created by College Board, to receive these college credits. As of 2016, each AP test cost $92 to take. According to College Board, 4,704,980 AP exams were administered in 2016. This adds up to over $430 million in annual proceeds from the AP exams alone.

Not only is College Board making an enormous profit off of students, but the company is dictating the curriculum of schools. The College Board writes and administers each AP test and teachers are truly required to “teach to the test” unless they want to face backlash. They do not have any freedom in designing the course curriculum themselves, as most non-AP teachers do. Instead, AP teachers are simply focused on raising their students’ scores as close as possible to the perfect mark.

Unfortunately, College Board has no competition in the realm of AP testing, and their only competitor to the SAT is the ACT. Consequently, one organization dictates what college-bound students will study throughout their duration of high school. All of the evidence points to a complete monopoly on education.

This is a very complicated issue with no clear solution. However, there are steps we can take to lessen College Board’s grip on the lives of college-bound students. As determined young students, it is important that we speak our minds about the subject matter and provoke change.