Better Late Than Never: College Board’s new registration date for AP tests restricts students’ flexibility for decisions

Riya Chinni

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College Board recently announced the registration deadline for AP exams, which take place in May, will now be on Nov. 15.

In previous years, College Board set the AP Test Registration deadline in the early spring, granting students significantly more time to decide whether they wish to take the test. By keeping a deadline that is much closer to the actual exam itself, students have the opportunity to experience the course for a little more than a semester before committing to hours of test preparation, paying the hefty exam fee—which can cost up to $94—and taking the approximate three-to four-hour exam in May, which can cause students to miss coursework in other ongoing classes during the time of the exam for scores they may or may not want.

When it comes to committing to an AP exam, my experience has been the more experience with the class, the better. Throughout my time here at CHS, I have taken a fair amount of AP classes and subsequent tests, and while I did not change my mind about registering for an additional exam in the spring, I definitely did appreciate having more time during the second semester that allowed for better understanding of the material that would be covered in the exam. With a better idea of what I could expect when test day rolled around in May, I felt pretty comfortable signing up for my exams.

However, in courses such as AP Chemistry or AP Calculus AB, for example, you do not learn about titrations or integration until second semester, and these are integral components of each subject’s exams. In the past, if students struggled with these topics to the point of not wanting to take the exam anymore, they would have had the opportunity to not commit to the exam and simply complete the course in school without the stress of taking the AP test.

This year, however, students will have to commit to taking the exam without knowing many of the concepts on the AP test. They will not even have a whole semester under their belt by the time the November deadline rolls around.  For second semester classes like AP Microeconomics, students will register for the exam before they start the class.

Furthermore, if a student does not plan to not take an exam and then later changes their mind, they would not be able to do so after November. For example, I made the choice to self-study for the AP Psychology exam during winter break, and, fortunately, because AP exam registration was just a few months after I made that decision, I was able to sign up to take that exam.

The new AP exam registration deadline in November removes the flexibility of a later date from students. By forcing students to complete only a small portion of a class, often only the fundamentals of a subject, before signing up or permitting them to change their mind about taking or not taking an exam in the spring, the College Board’s decision will have negative ramifications on  AP test-takers this year.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Riya Chinni at rchinni@hilite.org

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