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Open Letter - Response to College Board "Third Party" Email

Greetings TR Users and Future Users

Thank you to everyone that forwarded Total Registration (TR) the recent College Board (CB) email regarding 3rd Parties. We are very thankful that our clients continue to keep us in the loop.

The CB email saddens us, as it appears to be intentionally cultivating fear regarding our process of printing the student data on the AP* answer sheet. One might even surmise that it is intended to discourage schools from using TR’s services. Sadness aside, we must factually address several concerns we have regarding the communication you received. Here’s the short response: Be assured, TR will accurately print student data on answer sheets in a timely manner and will in no way interfere with CB ability to process scores because CB can scan “prefilled” sheets. If you need more details to feel comfortable with this response, read on.

Who Are the “Third Parties”?

Surprise!, it's only Total Registration. TR is the only 3rd party company (or any party for that matter) that has worked tirelessly to remove the error-prone, time-intensive hand-bubbling of the student data. The email implies that the CB recently learned of our efforts. This is false. In 2010, more than 6 years ago, TR submitted our first formal proposal to CB to partner in removing the student bubbling. TR has been communicating with the CB every year since and recently submitted another formal proposal to the CB that was once again rejected. So you can understand our surprise and frustration that they declined a proposal to resolve for CB the very concerns they present in their recent email. We are left with questions for which we really have no good answers. Why would they deny us the opportunity to demonstrate our ability to perform our service? And moreover, why would they wait to send this message now, when we informed CB that TR committed to our clients to print the student data last March, over six months ago?

TR is, and always has been, completely independent of CB. CB has never been involved in the creation, delivery or support of any aspect of our service. All service features have been implemented solely by us, mostly at the request of our clients. Some feature examples: online exam registration, payment solutions, conflict reports, teacher logins, communication tools, room assignments, seating charts, management of waivers and variable exam fees, attendance reports, financial reporting, etc. The newest feature is the printing of the student data - a feature schools have been requesting since 2007.

Answer Sheet Printing Works Within the Current CB Process

We are very excited about the process we have developed, because by design, it works completely within the confines of the current CB Process. CB will send answer sheets to schools, schools will send the CB back bubbled sheets and the CB will scan the sheets. TR will print the data onto the CB’s own form to ensure that we do not violate “Any work to modify operational processes will be done deliberately and carefully so we do not disrupt existing procedures” - thus, their process/procedures remain completely intact.

The CB Currently Reads Machine ‘Prefilled’ Data

The CB email states “Since we haven't tested these services, we don't know if prefilled exam materials can be processed for scoring”. This statement has upset many of our clients as they infer that CB is unsure if they accurately scan machine printed data on the answer sheet. This would be a false inference. CB ABSOLUTELY CAN scan machine printed data on answer sheets, in fact, they have been doing it for years. Please take a look at the image below displaying a ‘prefilled’ serial number from one of the 2016 AP answer sheets:

Image of "Prefilled" AP Answer Sheet Serial Number

The serial number is printed on both sides of the inside of the answer sheet. When CB receives answer sheets from schools, they cut them in half and scan each 8.5” X 11” sheet separately. These two halves are linked by this serial number. Thus, prefilled data is already part of the current CB answer sheet scanning process.

By the way, one of the items of TR’s proposal presented to CB was for me, as a TR representative, to hand carry samples of our printed answer sheets to their facility for them to test scan. This would easily put their “concerns” to rest, but, again, for reasons unknown, they elected to pass. Rest assured, they will be able to read the data and we are not concerned about this and neither should you be.

The Current Hand Bubbling Process is Broken

Has your school ever received scores for students for whom you did not administer exams? Have scores been missing for your students? Have your students not received scores? Have students’ colleges not received scores? Most schools report they have had some of these issues in the past. These consequences are usually caused by mistakes made when students hand bubble their data. The fact is TR’s printed answer sheets will unquestionably be more accurate than students shading little circles with a pencil, an archaic, error-prone process. So, if there is anything about which you should be concerned with 'potential risks’ to on time and accurate exam scores, it is the current process. Not printed data.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

As a father of 3, I often remind my kids, “actions speak louder than words”. The CB email states “We've heard your feedback and are currently working to modernize and streamline the AP Exam administration process”. We are excited that CB is now listening to the needs of AP Coordinators and other school staff and is working at doing something to “streamline” the administration process sometime in the future. TR has simplified the process for nearly a thousand schools for almost a decade. We have faithfully listened to your feedback in the past and continuously improve our services to better serve you in the future. From everything we heard at the 2016 AP Annual Conference, a CB solution is still several years out at best. Until that time, TR is here working on your behalf.

As we stated earlier in our pdf,, we will be printing the student data on the answer sheets for the 2017 exams. We are very confident in our ability to deliver on this process. This feature is one of many features included in our service. Schools, however, will not be required to use the feature of TR printing the students’ data, as they are welcome to continue hand bubbling all the data as in the past.

The fact is, printing or not, TR’s exam registration service will continue to save time and money, reduce stress, and ensure data accuracy for AP Coordinators like you.


Mike Elings
General Manager
Total Registration, LLC

Former HS Science Teacher
Former AP Coordinator

P.S. The College Board said they would be happy to discuss any of the issues in their communication to you and even provided two phone numbers. We would be happy to join in by conference call with you if you wish to discuss these issues with us and the College Board at the same time.