Q:

My child is taking the AP test in history in May. I really don't know much about it except that she may get college credit. What should parents know about AP exams? -- Lacking Information

A:

Mandy Ginsberg, CEO of Tutor.com, an online tutoring company, has answers to the questions that most parents want answered about AP exams. Here is the information you need:

Who takes AP exams?

Over 30 percent of high-school graduates take at least one AP exam. Any student who is taking an AP class should take the corresponding exam while the material is fresh.

What is the test like?

The exam takes about two to three hours. The first part of the exam is typically multiple choice, and the score is based on how many questions are answered correctly -- so there are no points given or lost for unanswered questions or wrong answers. The second part is typically free-response, which might be an essay or a solution to a problem. For example, on the AP chemistry exam, students will have to provide appropriate scientific evidence and reasoning to support their responses. These answers are scored by college professors and experienced AP teachers at the annual AP Reading, which is held during the first two weeks in June.

When are the tests given?

AP exams take place the weeks of May 4-8 and May 11-15. Your school's AP coordinator will have all the information on registering for these exams.

What does it cost?

All AP exams cost $89 each. Students living outside of the U.S. must pay $119. The College Board does offer $26 to $28 fee reductions for eligible students. The fee reduction varies by state.

Why should my child take them?

The AP exam is one more way that your child can show off his or her affinity for a certain subject, much like with the SAT subject tests. In addition, there is a huge benefit to doing well: The score will be used by colleges and universities to help them place your student in courses or even grant course credit. While policies vary, scores of a four or five on the AP exam are usually given credit at colleges.

How are they scored?

The exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5, using a weighted combination of scores from the multiple-choice and free-response sections. Scores will be sent to the schools your child designates on the answer sheet, and when scores are available online in July, you can send them to additional schools for a fee.

How can your child prepare?

Need help? Now's the time! September seems like a looooong time ago, doesn't it? That's why a complete course review is so vital. With the exams coming up fast, now is the time to seek help for concepts that your child struggled with the first time or just for a general overview and to refresh. As your child starts prepping for the AP exams, help him or her with that boost of confidence that comes from knowing the material inside and out.