Taking an advanced placement (AP) exam for me is a financial risk. AP Exams are expensive. Students pay nearly 100 dollars per exam, and that’s an exam you have to pay for even if you fail. This is thanks to the college board company which runs a monopoly over the business of advanced placement exams.
Coming from a low income household, I have to pick and choose what exams I take. I don’t get to attempt as many as I want because of the steep price, yet exam scores are one of the deciding factors in college admissions. And if I do pay for more exams but fail, it’s money down the drain. When I was waiting for my first AP scores, the thought of failing and essentially wasting the money that went into the exam haunted me. While this pushed me to study hard for my exams, it became unhealthy. I would cancel plans to review content or stay in to take notes instead of enjoying my weekends.
It feels like a vicious cycle where low income students can’t afford the exams, thus aren’t competitive for good colleges, thus remain low income. I know it’s not that simple but sometimes it feels like it is.
Exams are a struggle, but there are some ways for low income students to reduce the cost. Look into your school’s policy to see how many exams they can cover for you. Some schools offer to pay for AP exams if students take specific classes. Students with financial needs are also eligible for a $34 dollar price reduction on each exam after filling out a fee reduction waiver. These resources could significantly lower the price of your exams. Sometimes it may seem like the financial barrier makes getting to college impossible but there are resources out there. It is possible.