If you’re an upperclassman in high school preparing to go to college, you may have heard a teacher or parent reference the “College Board.” But what is the College Board anyway? And why on earth does it matter? 

Well, the College Board is one of the premier hubs for college preparation, providing resources for everything from standardized test prep to college selection (plus, they have their own scholarship fund!).

A Brief Overview of the College Board

According to their website, “The College Board is a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity.”

It was founded in 1900 to help students gain greater access to higher education and it’s now made up of 600+ academic institutions. 

The College Board attempts to level the academic playing field, making excellent education accessible to all students. Every year, it helps over 7 million students seamlessly make the transition from high school to college through testing and academic resources. 

So without further ado, let’s take a look at what the College Board has to offer, and how it can help you increase your college opportunities and success. 

SAT Resources

The College Board is perhaps most well known for the SAT, which stands for the Scholastic Aptitude Test. The SAT is a standardized test commonly used by college admissions boards to assess your academic skills in several areas. Not all colleges require it, but many do. So, if you’re college-bound, there’s a good chance you’ll be taking it. 

Because the College Board develops and administers the SAT, it’s also the best go-to for SAT-related resources. Here’s what you can find on the College Board to help you with all of your SAT needs:

SAT Prep

The College Board’s “Inside the Test” page provides a thorough overview of each section on the SAT, breaking down the different question types and providing valuable strategies.

Specifically, check out their helpful videos on the SAT Reading Test, SAT Writing and Language Test, and  SAT Math Test. Additionally, these SAT study guides for each section of the exam will help you familiarize yourself with the skills tested and the pacing necessary to slay the test.

Another good resource from the College Board is their SAT practice tests. There are plenty of SAT prep courses and materials out there, but we advise going right to the source since the College Board writes the test. If you don’t have the time or energy for full practice tests, check out these SAT sample questions.

And finally, for those of you on the go, here’s our favorite of the College Board’s SAT resources: a daily SAT practice app. It’s free and helps you prep for the SAT quickly and efficiently by providing you one practice question a day. Who doesn’t have time for that?

SAT Fee Waivers

It’s no secret that the SAT can be a bit pricey. The current cost of the SAT is $49.50 without the essay and $64.50. And this isn’t including any fees for additional subject area tests, late fees, change fees, and so on. 

These costs can rack up, especially if you plan to take the SAT more than once to achieve the highest score possible. Fortunately, the College Board offers SAT fee waivers to juniors and seniors who qualify.

If you’re struggling to pay the SAT fees, you may be eligible to receive an SAT fee waiver, and the first thing you should do is talk to your school guidance counselor, who can provide you the necessary paperwork. 

Then, once you have a 12-digit waiver number, you can register to take the SAT free of cost.

Resources for Earning College Credit

One way to save money on college courses is to earn some college credit before you actually attend college. There are a couple of ways the College Board can help you do so.

The AP Program

AP, or “Advanced Placement” courses are college-level courses developed by the College Board that are offered at high schools. Successful completion of an AP course and exam can earn you college credit in that subject area. For example, many colleges allow students to forego taking Composition 101 (a common core, college Freshman course) if you complete AP Literature and Language and pass the test with a 4/5 or higher. 

AP course offerings vary from school to school. But, currently, the College Board offers a wide range of AP courses in art, design, art history, English, music theory, economics, psychology, calculus, statistics, the sciences, and modern languages. 

If you’re on the fence about taking an AP course, it’s always a good idea to do some research on the colleges you’re interested in attending to see if they accept AP credit. And if you’re a freshman or sophomore in high school who is interested in taking AP courses as an upperclassman, then you should plan on taking honors courses now.

Remember that AP courses are challenging, but they can save you a lot of time and money down the line. They can also help you get on the right career path. Check out this super cool AP Connection Tool that allows you to see what majors and careers a specific AP course will prepare you for!

If you want to take an AP exam but are in need of financial assistance, click here to learn more about AP exam fee reductions, or talk to your school guidance counselor.

The CLEP Program

CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program. Like the AP program, CLEP allows you to take and pass exams on certain academic subjects in order to prove your proficiency and earn college credit.

Unlike the AP Program, CLEP doesn’t require you to actually take a course! So if you think you’re pretty strong in a particular subject matter, it can’t hurt to take a CLEP exam and submit it to participating colleges—you may just earn some college credit! 

You can read more about CLEP exams here, but here are some CLEP highlights:

  • CLEP offers 34 exams on different academic subjects
  • Anyone can take CLEP (high school students, college students, returning adult students, those in the armed forces, veterans, etc.)
  • CLEP exams are offered year-round at 2,000+ testing facilities 
  • CLEP exams are administered on a computer and give you your results instantly upon completion 
  • Over 2,900 colleges and universities in the United States accept CLEP exams for college credit 

So if a certain subject (or subjects!) is your strong suit, consider taking a CLEP exam to earn college credit for the knowledge and skills you already possess. Way to save time, money, and energy by putting your best foot forward!

College Planning Resources

Preparing for college can feel overwhelming. How do you know which major to choose? Should you really know which career is the right one for you now? These questions can be hard to answer at the start of your journey.

Never fear: The College Board offers a wealth of resources to help you prepare and plan for your college journey and beyond. And just an FYI: you’ll need to create an account to get the most out of these tools. But it’s totally free!

The BigFuture™ College Search Database

This super sweet college database helps you search and find the right college just for you! You can search for the perfect fit based on the following criteria:

  • Test Scores and Selectivity 
  • Type of School
  • Location 
  • Campus & Housing
  • Majors & Learning Environment
  • Sports & Activities 
  • Academic Credit
  • Paying (Financial Aid, Tuition Costs, etc.)
  • Additional Support Programs
  • Diversity 

Within each of these categories, you can set even tighter parameters. For example, you can search for colleges based on your SAT score, your desire to have a car (or not on campus), your extracurricular activities, and so on.

With 3,690 colleges in their database, you’re bound to discover plenty of college options—including ones you’ve probably never even heard of before!

The BigFuture™ Majors Search

Similar to the College Search Database, the Majors Search allows you to search for keywords related to your personal strengths and interests, providing you various college majors that may be a good fit for you.

Career Finder Database

In coordination with Roadtrip Nation, the College Board has created an awesome Career Finder Database that allows you to search and find a TON of viable careers and career paths based on your skills and interests.

What we love about this database is that you’ll likely discover careers you weren’t even aware of yet! And, Career Finder also provides useful information about the national job growth of each profession, so you can get a sense of which jobs will be most competitive, most potentially lucrative, and so on.

Financial Resources

College Application Fee Waivers

If you’re applying for multiple colleges, the application fees can really add up. However, if you take the SAT (and use a fee waiver for it, as discussed earlier), then you’re in luck.

There are currently over 2,000 colleges that offer application fee waivers and this list is updated daily by the College Board.

You can learn more about college application fee waivers through this college directory and through these college application fee waiver FAQs.

Scholarships

The College Board recently founded the Opportunity Scholarships program. And we couldn’t be more excited about it!

Starting with the class of 2020, the College Board has been giving away merit scholarships to students who demonstrate academic promise and improvement through using College Board tools.

You can read more about eligibility and how to apply for a College Board Opportunity Scholarship but the gist is that if you take certain steps through the College Board that reflect your academic dedication, you’ll be entered into monthly drawings to win money for your efforts!

You can win scholarships for the following:

  • Building your college list ($500)
  • Completing SAT practice ($500)
  • Exploring scholarships ($500)
  • Strengthening your college list ($500)
  • Completing your FAFSA ($500)
  • Applying to colleges ($500)

AND, if you do all of the above, you’ll be entered to win a $40,000 scholarship! You can read more on all of your Opportunity Scholarship FAQs here.

The CSS Financial Aid Profile

You can now apply for non-federal financial aid using a CSS Profile, which stands for the College Scholarship Search Profile. This application will help you search and apply in one place for financial aid opportunities such as scholarships and grants. You can read more about the CSS process here.

There is a $25 fee to use the CSS profile. But the College Board also issues some CSS fee waivers to eligible students.

For most colleges, completing the CSS Profile is optional. But, for others, it’s a mandatory component of your financial aid application. So, make sure to check with your college’s financial aid department.

Keep in mind, however, that you will still need to file a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which is how you’ll apply for and receive financial aid from the government. Check out our ultimate guide to completing your FAFSA!

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