College Board announces earlier AP exam registration deadline for 2019-2020


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Advanced Placement (AP) exam registration for the 2019-2020 school year will occur a full semester early, per new College Board policies. The national deadline will be Nov. 15, meaning that VHHS students will register for exams as early as September of next school year.

VHHS students will now be required to make their registration decisions before seniors have been notified of their college decisions and before all students have reached the nine-week deadline to drop a class. They can register at a later date, but there is a $40 late fee that will be applied to each test registered for late.

For seniors, this means registering and later possibly finding out that their colleges will not accept the test credits. All students will register ahead of the deadline to drop a class, so for some, they may not be positive that they will remain in a course.

Assistant Principal Mr. O’Brien who coordinates VHHS AP exam registration is unsure if late registration will increase among students due to this change. However, he does anticipate increased uncertainty in regards to registration. Administration is considering how to properly balance the issue of rushed decision making and associated late fees.

“If we were going to counsel our students according to best practices, we would say, ‘Take your time. Make a decision that’s best for you,’” O’Brien said. “But, [the College Board’s] timeline doesn’t line up with that, and we’re asking you to do that to the tune of $40.”

Anna Huang (12) said that the earlier deadline puts students in a tough spot. For those taking semester-long courses that begin in January, such as AP Macroeconomics, students may not know by November if they will enjoy the course and feel prepared for the exam.

Huang explained that some seniors taking AP Macroeconomics thought that they would not take the AP exam earlier this year. However, since beginning the course in January, some students are doing well in the course and will take the exam. If registration was in November, she believes those students might not have enrolled and might have regretted that decision once faced with the late fee.

Philip Back (9) explained that he believes students will be more indecisive about registering at the earlier deadline. As a current freshman enrolled in an AP course, he believes that freshmen, in particular, may be overwhelmed by the policy since they will still be adjusting to their course load.

“You don’t have a lot of experience in that class before the [November] deadline to know if you would do well on the AP exam or not,” Back said. “It’s just going to be more stressful.”

The price of tests at the normal registration deadlines will remain $94, the same as the 2018-2019 school year. The late fee associated with registering after Nov. 15 will be $40 per test. Additionally, if a student registers for a test and chooses not to take it later, they will be subject to a $40 cancellation fee after their refund.

D128 Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Rita Fischer explained that there will still be exemptions to the late and cancellation fees for students facing extenuating circumstances, per the College Board’s discretion. She is unsure what the appeals process will entail but anticipates examples of these circumstances could include medical complications, seniors’ colleges not accepting the exam credit, and more.

The College Board implemented early registration in more than 100 pilot schools in the 2017-2018 school year and in more than 800 in the 2018-2019 school year. In these schools, it was found that the percentage of underrepresented minority and low-income students scoring a three or above increased. The College Board termed the trial a success due to the increased rates of students passing their exams.

In addition to anticipated student success, the College Board is using earlier registration to roll out online prep materials for students and educators. All those registered for the exams will gain access to these resources upon registration, providing them with study guides for the whole year.

Due to these results in pilot schools and the new prep materials, Fischer believes that the College Board has noble objectives in moving up the deadline.

VHHS and D128 administrators are still unsure how this policy will be rolled out to students and parents in a clear fashion. O’Brien shared that since the earlier deadline was just presented to administrators, there is not a formal communication plan in place yet.

“It’s a significant shift, and my initial reactions are how do we make that shift so that it’s understood, super well communicated, [and] clear so that when we get to this point next school year, it isn’t a matter of everyone being surprised by this,” O’Brien said. “We can’t build the culture of November registration overnight.”

For now, O’Brien and Fischer are focused on finalizing and executing this year’s AP exam testing. Once testing has completed at the end of May, they can dedicate time and resources to implementing student supports and methods to communicate this shift to parents.

Fischer added that it would be ineffective to roll out the new deadline to parents and students in-depth this school year due to the graduating and the incoming classes; the policy does not apply to current seniors but does impact incoming freshman. Therefore, it would be difficult to inform all affected of the policy before the 2019-2020 school year begins.