Standardized tests and entrance exams promote cycle of classism


Laura Myerly - Staff Writer, Photo courtesy of Google Images

For many students, the stress of junior year is exacerbated by preparation for the ACT, SAT and various Advanced Placement tests. A student’s success on these standardized tests is vital to college admissions, and a good score can easily boost one’s chances of getting into a particular school. There are numerous tutoring programs specifically designed to assist students in preparing for these exams, but the hefty prices of the programs give an unfair advantage to those who can afford the expenses. Each AP exam costs $91, each SAT costs $52.50 and each ACT costs $101.50. Not only do tutoring programs worsen the issue of unequal opportunities for students, but the additional fees can be extremely expensive for families who already face a lifetime of debt due to college expenses.

Many tutoring programs take advantage of students’ high demand for professional help. According to Fox Business, prices for a single tutoring session often start at $150—an astronomical expense for those already in tight financial situations. Both the SAT and ACT follow specific formulas which have been “decoded” by tutoring companies. Professional tutors can be an immeasurable asset, especially for those who struggle academically, but the exclusivity of these tutors rewards only the more affluent. A guide book will simply never be as effective as learning from someone with first-hand knowledge of the tests, but those who cannot afford tutoring are left with fewer options.

Not only do the SAT and ACT require a fair amount of investment, but students interested in taking an AP test must also pay a fee. AP exams, which reward college credit for passing grades, are extremely difficult and fairly pricey. Failing the test, however, means that the student cannot receive credit for the course or a refund for the test. A high score on an AP exam can play a role in where he or she goes to college, whether he or she is eligible for scholarship and the number of opportunities available in the future. AP classes look very good on college applications, but unfortunately, paying for a test simply may not be an option for many families. This excludes a percentage of students from taking an advanced class and proving their skills to college admissions.

“I’m taking the SAT, and I hate that I have to pay so much for it when it’s something that’s required for me to get into college,” said junior Katie Romanovich.

Expensive tutoring and the costs of tests are not the only financial obstacles in the way of a student’s success. Tuition fees for private schools are often too high for families to even consider. With community college as the only option, those who can afford the best education are unfortunately given the most opportunities for success in the future.

The education system must not reward affluent students more educational opportunities at the expense of those who do not have the means to pay for tutoring, tests or tuition. Doing so only means those who are not well-off are destined to be on the losing end. The Free Community College Plan proposed by President Barack Obama in his recent State of the Union address offers struggling families an alternative option. Affordable education is necessary for an intelligent, involved and safe population, and this proposition would allow two years of free community college for those who could otherwise not afford to attend college. Affordable education is necessary for an intelligent and involved population, and it would be truely ideal if schools should offer a free course or after school class should be implemented to give a hand to those who could accomplish so much more if only they had the opportunity.