Editorial: Early AP registration deadline places burden on students

Students in the district now have to register for AP exams by Nov. 1. Along with new changes regarding fees, Wingspan shares its stance on the implication of the registration changes on students.

Juleanna Culilap

Students in the district now have to register for AP exams by Nov. 1. Along with new changes regarding fees, Wingspan shares its stance on the implication of the registration changes on students.

The College Board has laid out a new system for AP test registration in the 2019-2020 year. Students in Frisco ISD must now register for their exams by Nov. 1 for full year and fall semester courses. That’s more than four months earlier than last year’s deadline. College Board must revert to last year’s March deadline as the current policy places a financial burden on Frisco families and forces students to make premature decisions about their future.

The November deadline makes students determine whether or not they want to pursue AP credit only three months into the school year. Having covered less than half the curriculum that is on exams, it is unfair to ask students to commit to an AP exam. Students who are unsure and do not sign up will miss out entirely on college credit despite their hard work throughout the year. The only alternative is to register late by Feb. 21 for an additional $50 fee, which is unreasonably expensive at over half of the normal $94 test. 

On the contrary, students who sign up for the test and then decide later on in the school year that they are not prepared will lose out on $94 per test. Overloaded with AP classes, students will be overwhelmed with stress, threatening their mental health as they try to prepare for multiple tests they had to sign up for months earlier. A March deadline provides students much more time to make the best decision based on their performance in the class.

The new registration policy is also financially unreasonable for families, and puts money before education. Students have to sign up for tests that they are unsure about taking because it is their only chance to register. 

For students in multiple AP classes, this could result in hundreds of dollars lost in each family if students end up feeling unprepared closer to test day. Many seniors rely on hearing back from colleges about acceptance before they sign up for AP exams. If their future university does not take certain AP credits, then there is no point in taking the exam. Now students could have signed up for tests that their schools won’t even accept. There should not be a price tag on a student’s education and these major financial decisions should not get in the way of students getting credit for their hard work. 

Even without the fees and deadlines, AP tests are extremely stressful for students as is. With some students taking up to seven exams a year, there is immense pressure to perform well in multiple subjects on exams that take place in a two week period. The November deadline is over half a year before exams begin, only intensifying this stress, extending the pressure on students. 

College Board argues that students who register in November are more likely to earn college credit (receiving a 3 or higher) based on a pilot program of fall registration for 40,000 students in the 2017-2018 school year. Data shows that select minority groups performed slightly better on exams when they registered in the fall. 

However, it is unclear if teachers at schools in the study worked especially hard to prepare students because of the study or what other factors at the chosen schools could have led to the small improvement. Beyond the study, there is the fact that AP exams are graded on a curve, with roughly the same percentage of students receiving the same score every year for each test. 

Now that all students will register in the fall, there is nothing to suggest a larger proportion of students will receive credit because of this change. While students might perform better having committed to an AP exam early, College Board could simply give students the option to register now and leave the March deadline in place, instead of forcing this expensive decision on AP students so early in the school year.

Now with an added financial difficulty, signing up for AP tests is even more inconvenient. It is imperative that College Board postpone the registration deadline so that students can make the best decision regarding exams without having to worry about added stress and payments.