College Board: Stress & Inequities

Dhruthi Mahesh

Every year, millions of students take AP exams, the PSAT, and the SAT- all administered by the College Board. Students pay money to take these exams, and the money goes towards paying AP readers to score the exams, paying qualified individuals to write the exams, and a portion of the money goes towards the organization itself. However, College Board actually profits off students’ stress, and their exams harm underrepresented and minority students’ chances to attend their dream college. 

Many students feel pressured to fill their schedule with AP classes to compare to other students taking difficult classes as well, and these classes increase students’ workload and stress levels, all while College Board profits off high school students taking more AP classes and retaking the SAT to compensate for feeling like they aren’t doing enough to add on to their college applications. Researchers in a study found that over 50% of surveyed students found the amount of homework assigned was “too much.” Many AP teachers also assign long readings or material to cover at home that teachers don’t have enough time to cover in class, but is a part of the AP curriculum, increasing students’ workload and stress levels. These standardized tests also negatively impact students with test anxiety and students who know the material but do not perform well on timed exams, as students often connect their intelligence to their score which is affected by factors often out of their control.

Also, College Board’s standardized tests harm underrepresented and minority students. In a competitive high school environment, wealthier students resort to external, and often expensive, resources like tutoring to score higher on AP exams and the SAT that low-income students cannot afford. According to an article on the differences in SAT math scores between races, the average score for Black and Latino/Hispanic students was 478 out of 800 on the math section, the average for white students was 547, and the average for Asian students was 632. The article claims that the difference in scores likely is explained by the “result of generations of exclusionary housing, education, and economic policy,” and the SAT, “rather than reducing existing race gaps” actually “reinforces them.” 

Though far-fetched, some claim the solution may be to adopt school systems of other countries that do not rely on standardized testing to determine college readiness. Another presented solution states that individual states should opt out of SAT and AP exams and withdraw from College Board’s program and instead implement College or state-written standardized tests, that are accurate in determining college readiness, to stop fueling College Board’s harmful and discriminatory monopoly on higher education. 


The College Board profits off students’ anxieties about college admissions


Click to access CS-NBC-Study-Kids-Under-Pressure-PUBLISHED.pdf 

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