College Board

The College Board is an American not-for-profit organization that was formed in December 1899 as the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) to expand access to higher education. While the College Board is not an association of colleges, it runs a membership association of institutions, including over 6,000 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations.

College Board
FoundedDecember 22, 1899 (1899-12-22) (as College Entrance Examination Board)
David Coleman
Jeremy Singer
Revenue (2017)
US$1.07 billion[1]
Expenses (2017) US$928 million
Formerly called
College Entrance Examination Board

The College Board develops and administers standardized tests and curricula used by K–12 and post-secondary education institutions to promote college-readiness and as part of the college admissions process. The College Board is headquartered in New York City.[2] David Coleman has been the president of the College Board since October 2012. He replaced Gaston Caperton, former Governor of West Virginia, who had held this position since 1999.[3][4]

In addition to managing assessments for which it charges fees, the College Board provides resources, tools, and services to students, parents, colleges and universities in the areas of college planning, recruitment and admissions, financial aid, and retention.[5] It is partly funded by grants from various foundations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation until 2009.[6]


Education in the United States
Education portal
United States portal

The College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) was founded at Columbia University on December 22, 1899, by representatives of 12 universities and three high school preparatory academies. These were:

The organization's intent was to "adopt and publish a statement of the ground which should be covered and of the aims which should be sought by secondary school teaching in each of the following subjects (and in such others as may be desirable), and a plan of examination suitable as a test for admission to college: Botany, Chemistry, English, French, German, Greek, History, Latin, Mathematics, Physics, Zoology".[8][9]

CEEB code

The College Board maintains a numbered registry of countries, college majors, colleges, scholarship programs, test centers, and high schools. In the United States, this registry is borrowed by other institutions as a means of unambiguous identification; thus, a student might give his or her guidance department not only a college's name and address, but also its CEEB code, to ensure that his or her transcript is sent correctly. There exists a similar set of ACT codes for colleges and scholarships, centers, and high schools; however, these codes are less widely used outside ACT, Inc.

Tests and programs

SAT and SAT Subject Tests

The SAT is a fee-based standardized test for college admissions in the United States first administered in 1926.[10] The SAT is administered by the College Board in the United States and is developed, published, and scored by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The SAT covers writing, reading, and mathematics. SAT scores range from 400 to 1600, with each of the two sections—Evidence-based Reading and Writing and Mathematics—worth up to 800 points. Most students take the test during their junior or senior year of high school. In the marketplace, the SAT competes with the ACT, another standardized college admissions test.

The basic test is $49.50, and the optional essay section costs another $15. In addition, there are various fees that can accumulate. Registering later results in a $30 fee, registering by phone results in a $15 fee and changing a test date, center, or test type results in a $30 fee. The waitlist testing fee is $53 and each score report costs $12. Additionally, students sitting the test in regions outside the United States pay an additional 'Non-U.S. Regional Fee' of between $43 and $53.[11] As a result, student testing fees may run up to $200 or more for a single test. However, fee waivers and reductions are available for some low-income students.[12]

On March 5, 2014, the College Board announced that a redesigned version of the SAT would be administered for the first time in 2016. The exam reverted to the 1600-point scale, and the essay became optional. The testing process was changed to give students three hours to take the exam plus 50 additional minutes to complete the essay.[13] In the same announcement, the College Board also said they would be partnering with Khan Academy to make available, from spring 2015, free test preparation materials for the redesigned SAT. This included a preparation application to help students practice and identify areas of improvement. Practice problems and videos demonstrating step-by-step solutions were also made available.[14]

The SAT Subject Tests are intended to measure student performance in specific areas, such as mathematics, science, and history. A student may take up to three SAT Subject Tests on any given date at a flat rate. There is a per-administration registration fee of $26, plus a flat fee of $22 ($26 in the case of language tests with listening) for each test the student plans to take.[15]

On May 13, 2015, the College Board announced the release of a new credential initiative to get students more interested in careers focused in STEM with a Project Lead the Way partnership.[16]


The PSAT/NMSQT is a fee-based standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT for a cost of $17. It also functions as a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Corporation's scholarship programs.

Advanced Placement Program

The College Board's Advanced Placement Program is an extensive program that offers high school students the chance to participate in what the College Board describes as college-level classes, reportedly broadening students' intellectual horizons and preparing them for college work. It also plays a large part in the college admissions process, showing students' intellectual capacity and genuine interest in learning. The program allows many students to gain college credit for high performance on the AP exams, which cost $94 each, much in the same manner as the CLEP. Granting credit, however, is at the discretion of the college. There are 2,900 colleges that grant credit and/or advanced standing. Critics of the Advanced Placement Program charge that courses and exams emphasize breadth of content coverage instead of depth.

College Level Examination Program

The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) provides students of any age including high schoolers, college students, homeschooled students, adults, senior citizens, children, and exceptional toddlers with the opportunity to demonstrate college-level achievement through a program of exams in undergraduate college courses. There are 2,900 colleges that grant credit for passing CLEP exams.


The College Board's Accuplacer test is a computer-based placement test that assesses reading, writing, and math skills.[17] The Accuplacer test includes reading comprehension, sentence skills, arithmetic, elementary algebra, college-level mathematics and the writing test, Writeplacer. The Accuplacer test is used primarily by more than 1,000 high schools and colleges[18] to determine a student's needed placement. Often community colleges have specific guidelines for students requiring the Accuplacer test. The Accuplacer Companion paper-and-pencil tests allows for students with disabilities (Specifically students with an Individualized Education Program or 504 Plan) to take the test through its braille, large print and audio tests. The biggest benefit of the Accuplacer and Accuplacer Companion tests are their ability to be scored immediately through an online scoring system and taken in remote locations. While there are normally no fees for taking the test, some institutions may charge a fee to retake the test. Note that if a testing institution is not local, an examinee may be required to arrange a proctor for the test. If so, a local library may be willing to serve as proctor as there are not many other options for individuals in this case. Most schools will only test their own admissions candidates.


SpringBoard is a pre-Advanced Placement program created by the College Board to prepare students who intend to take AP courses or college-level courses in their scholastic career. Based on Wiggins and McTighe's "Understanding by Design" model, the SpringBoard program attempts to map knowledge into scholastic skill sets in preparation for Advanced Placement testing and college success. Units of instruction are titrated to students within and across all school grades, providing a vertically articulated curriculum framework that scaffolds learning skills and subject test knowledge. Implicit in the course curriculum, the program embeds pre-AP and AP teaching and learning strategies across grade school levels and classwork.

The curriculum is applicable to grades 6 through 12. Teachers are provided with formative assessments, professional training, and a variety of teaching tools to track student progress. The instructional framework is integrated in the curriculum content and subject materials. SpringBoard also provides other Web 2.0 resources aimed at making the program more community oriented.

CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE

The College Board also offers the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, a financial aid application service that many institutions use in determining family contribution and financial assistance packages. Ironically, students also must pay a $25 fee to apply and another $16 for each additional school to which they submit the profile.


Since at least the late 1970s, the College Board has been subject to criticism from students, educators, and consumer rights activists. The College Board owns the SAT and many students must take SAT exams for admission to competitive colleges such as Ivy League institutions. Although the ACT is usually accepted as an alternative to the SAT, some colleges require students to take the SAT Subject Tests. Some colleges also require students submit a College Board "CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE" when applying for financial aid. As there are no broadly accepted alternatives to College Board's AP, SAT Subject Test, and CSS/Financial Aid products, the company is often criticized as exploiting its monopoly on these products.

FairTest, an organization that advocates against over-dependence on standardized tests in school admissions, maintains that the SAT often underestimates the aptitude of African-American students and others. FairTest maintains a list of more than 1000 SAT-optional colleges on its website.[19]

The consumer rights organization Americans for Educational Testing Reform (AETR) has criticized the College Board for violating its non-profit status through excessive profits and exorbitant executive compensation; nineteen of its executives make more than $300,000 per year, with CEO Gaston Caperton earning $1.3 million in 2009 (including deferred compensation).[20][21] AETR also claims that College Board is acting unethically by selling test preparation materials, directly lobbying legislators and government officials, and refusing to acknowledge test-taker rights.[22]

Exam fees

The SAT Reasoning Test with essay costs $64.50[23] ($93.50 if late) as of 2019, the AP exams cost US$94 as of 2019, and taking AP exams is often a requirement for students taking AP classes.[24] The SAT Subject Tests cost a baseline of $26 with a $22 fee for each test.[25] Furthermore, there are numerous other services that can be added to the basic costs, including late registration, score verification services, and various answering services that are available. SAT score reports cost $12 per college for 1–2-week electronic delivery, or 2–4-week paper or disk delivery, depending on what method the school requires ($31 extra for two-day processing). The College Board allows high school administrators to authorize fee waivers for some services to students from low-income families, generally those meeting National School Lunch Act criteria.[26] In addition, due to the competitive nature of the test, many students find it necessary to take preparatory courses or to have SAT tutoring, which can cost hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars.

Even the College Board's College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS), a college financial aid application meant to help students pay for college, requires a fee. For the 2018–19 school year, the price is $25 for the first report sent and an additional $16 for each additional college to receive the information.

In 2017, the College Board had $1.068 billion of revenue but spent only $927.8 million, leaving a $140 million surplus.[1] Budget surpluses persist despite market-leading compensation packages for the College Board's executives – in 2009, the College Board paid out a $1.3 million/year package for CEO Caperton, more than the head of the American Red Cross or Harvard University. It paid nineteen executives more than $300,000 each per year.[27]

MIT study

In 2005, MIT Writing Director Les Perelman plotted essay length versus essay score on the new SAT from released essays and found a high correlation between them. After studying 23 graded essays he found that the longer the essay was, the higher the score it was given. Perelman found that he could accurately determine the score of an essay without even reading the essay. In his study, he discovered that several of these essays were full of factual inaccuracies. The College Board does not claim to grade for factual accuracy.

Perelman, along with the National Council of Teachers of English also criticized the 25-minute writing section of the test for damaging standards of writing taught in the classroom. They say that writing teachers training their students for the SAT will not instill revision, depth and accuracy, but will instead guide them to produce long, formulaic, and wordy pieces.[28] "You're getting teachers to train students to be bad writers", concluded Perelman.[29]

Advanced Placement (AP) classes

Some teachers have criticized AP classes as restrictive in the nature of their curriculum and yet indispensable due to the importance of AP classes in the college admissions process. College Board is effectively able to control every aspect of AP classes directly or indirectly. The $94 fee,[30] which is noted critically above, results only in a score report with the test name and grade. No details are given on how this scoring was reached nor are individuals given access to this information from College Board.[31]

Additionally, starting with a pilot program in 2018 and officially rolling out to all schools in 2019, the College Board will require students to sign up for AP tests during the fall, before early-round college decisions are out.[32] While the College Board has stated that this is to ensure students commit to learning the material at the beginning of the year, many students have complained about it, stating that because they will not know whether or not the college they end up attending will grant credit for the test, the new, early registration deadline forces students to pay for tests that they will receive no benefit from. The College Board also charges $40 if a student does not sit for a test that they signed up for,[33] meaning that many students who signed up for tests that would not grant them any credit still have to sit for those tests or pay the $40 fee.

Reporting errors

In March 2006, it was discovered that the College Board had mis-scored several thousand tests taken in October 2005. Although the Board was aware of the error as early as December, it waited months to respond, and in late March, schools still did not have correct details. Within days of the first announcement, the Board corrected upward the number of affected students.[34]

Many colleges use the SAT score to decide acceptance and scholarships. The late reporting of errors upset many high-profile colleges. The dean of admissions at Pomona College commented, "Everybody appears to be telling half-truths, and that erodes confidence in the College Board...It looks like they hired the people who used to do the books for Enron".[34]

Sale of student data

As of 2019, the College Board charges $0.47 per name for access to student information.[35] An investigation by the New York Civil Liberties Union revealed that one of the College Board's customers was JAMRS, a military recruitment program run by the United States Department of Defense.[36] The College Board and ACT have been sued over the use of this information.[37] In addition, there is criticism that students are not sufficiently made aware that their data is being sold, or that disclosure of certain data is optional. The College Board has received substantial backlash for these practices.[38]

Recycling SAT exams

On August 25, 2018, the SAT test given in America was discovered to be a recycled October 2017 international SAT test given in China. The leaked PDF file was on the internet before the August 25, 2018 exam.[39]

See also


  1. "Nonprofit Explorer". Propublica. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  2. "Contact Us." College Board. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  3. Leadership at the College Board
  4. "College Board Names David Coleman New President" (Press release). College Board. May 16, 2012. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  5. What We Do at the College Board. Retrieved August 12, 2013.
  6. "College Entrance Examination Board – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation". Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  7. "Plan of organization for the College Entrance Examination Board of the Middle States and Maryland and a statement of subjects in which examinations are proposed". [n.p.] Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  8. "Plan of organization for the College Entrance Examination Board of the Middle States and Maryland and a statement of subjects in which examinations are proposed". [n.p,]. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  9. John Gabbert Bowman (1911), "College Examination and Certification Boards", in Paul Monroe (ed.), Cyclopedia of Education, 2, New York: Macmillan, pp. 87–90 via HathiTrust
  10. History of College Board Archived September 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine at the College Board
  11. SAT International Registration Fees — College Board
  13. Lewin, Tamar (March 5, 2014). "A New SAT Aims to Realign With Schoolwork". The New York Times. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  14. "The College Board Announces Bold Plans to Expand Access to Opportunity; Redesign of the SAT". The College Board. March 5, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  15. SAT Subject Test Fees, College Board
  16. "College Board Launches STEM 'Credential' Initiative". U.S. News. May 13, 2015. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  17. Accuplacer at College Board
  18. Placement Testing Archived May 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine at Monroe Community College
  19. "FairTest – The National Center for Fair and Open Testing". FairTest. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  20. Costello, Carol. (December 29, 2009). "Educating America: The big business of the SAT", CNN. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  21. "College Board Leader Paid More Than Harvard's". Americans for Educational Testing Reform. Bloomberg. August 25, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  22. AETR Report Card: College Board Archived October 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Americans for Educational Testing Reform. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  23. "SAT Testing Fees". Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  24. Calendar, College Board. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  25. SAT Subject Test Fees, College Board
  26. "How the Fee-Waiver Service Works". College Board. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  27. Nonprofit Head of College Board Paid More Than Harvard’s Leader, Janet Lorin, BloombergBusiness, August 26, 2011.
  28. Winerip, Michael. (May 4, 2009) SAT Essay Test Rewards Length and Ignores Errors. The New York Times. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  29. Lynn, Harris. "Testing, testing". Salon. Archived from the original on September 19, 2009. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  31. "AP Test Scores". The College Board. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  32. "Launching in 2019: Additional Supports for AP | AP Central – The College Board". AP Central. July 6, 2017. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  33. "AP Exam Fees and Reductions". Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  34. Arenson, Karen W. (March 23, 2006). "SAT Problems Even Larger Than Reported". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  35. "Pricing & Payment Policies". Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  36. "Joint Advertising Market Research Studies (JAMRS)". New York Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  37. Babay, Emily (October 31, 2013). "College Board, ACT sued over sale of student information". Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  38. Strauss, Valerie (March 30, 2017). "How the SAT and PSAT collect personal data on students — and what the College Board does with it". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  39. "Taking the SAT is hard enough. Then students learned the test's answers may have been leaked online". Los Angeles Times. August 28, 2018. Retrieved October 21, 2019.

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