School Committee member Patty Nolan. She expressed surprise Tuesday at the low percent of students in Advanced Placement courses who take the related tests at the end. (Photo: Liv Rachelle Gold)

The low number of high school students taking Advanced Placement tests after a semester or year of associated classes surprised School Committee member Patty Nolan during a presentation Tuesday, and she suggested a way to boost the figure: Have Cambridge help pay for them.

“It seemed like a very, very low percentage was taking the exams,” she told Cambridge Rindge & Latin School Principal Chris Saheed during his presentation to the committee. “Do we know if that 39 percent [of AP students] taking the exam seems low? Maybe it’s high.”

Saheed confirmed it was low, in part because there was a “financial factor” — especially for students taking more than one AP course. Some may take up to five a year, since the courses offer college credit and can exempt students with higher scores from an even more expensive course later.

The tests have a base fee of $86, according to The College Board, but can cost as much as $120 with add-on charges in some districts.

“Each one costs a significant amount of money,” Saheed said, although there are need-based reductions from the board that can bring the cost of an exam to $56.

“Do we not supply or pay the fee for anyone who can’t afford it? I bet this committee would vote to do that,” Nolan said. “I’d hope we could come up with some way” to encourage more students to take the tests.