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Is AP Statistics Hard? Is AP Statistics Worth Taking?

4 min readโ€ขnovember 18, 2020

Harrison Burnside

Aly Moosa


Overview ๐Ÿ“ˆ

AP Statistics will probably be more difficult than the other math classes you've taken (besides Calculus ๐Ÿ˜‚) since it doesn't just involve math; it involves analyzing qualitative, as well as quantitative, data! However at the same time, the class is totally doable ๐Ÿ’ช Concepts build on each other pretty quickly, so make sure to keep up with the work and ask questions ๐Ÿค” if you're confused.

Lots of people, including myself, consider Statistics to be half English and half math! There are whole units that don't have a single equation or an ounce ๐Ÿ“ of math ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

On the test, you answer multiple-choice questions (MCQs ๐Ÿง). The current format is as follows:

  • 40 MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions)

  • 90 Minutes (a.k.a 1.5 hours) โŒš to solve those MCQs โœ…

    • That math ๐Ÿ“‰ works out to about 2 minutes and 10 seconds per question โŒ›

Then, you'll answer 6 free-response questions in an hour and 30 minutes. A calculator will be by your side the entire time, so don't worry! Check out these articles to get an idea of the questions you'll see:

Data ๐Ÿ“Š

Here are the score distributions from 2019 + 2020:

2020:

  • 5: 16.0%

  • 4: 20.6%

  • 3: 22.9%

  • 2: 21.6%

  • 1: 18.9%

2019:

  • 5: 14.5%

  • 4: 18.0%

  • 3: 26.7%

  • 2: 19.7%

  • 1: 21.1%

In AP Statistics, the pass rate is generally around 60%! That's pretty good for an AP Exam ๐ŸŽŠ

A simple random sample (Unit 3 coming in clutch ๐Ÿคฉ) of AP Statistics Fiveable users rated how hard the AP Stats Exam was on a scale from 1 star โญ (easy peasy) to 5 stars โญโญโญโญโญ (super hard). Here are the results:

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-pRmHkKRccgfz.png?alt=media&token=cdd8a3a4-0539-4d9f-a3a8-a8a7e9355261

Self-Created Using Microsoft Excel Graphs. This pie chart shows that many students have mixed feelings about how hard the AP Stats exam is. A reassuring factor from this graph is that many students think that it's an average level of hard ๐Ÿ‘

The mean rating (that's on one 1๏ธโƒฃ-variable data analysis) for the AP Stats exam was 3.22/5 ๐Ÿ˜‚

Resources to Dig Deeper ๐Ÿ“š

Resources:

Other Factors to Consider ๐Ÿค”

  1. Motivation. In AP Statistics, concepts interconnect with each other, so falling behind can seriously hurt you in the long term.

  2. The workload. Although this is a math class, expect tons of repetitive problems. Expect plenty of worksheets to finish outside of class.

  3. The internet is your best friend. If you feel like you're not getting enough support in the classroom, there are a lot of online resources to help out.

Tips & Words of Wisdom ๐Ÿ’ฌ

First, don't just memorize ๐Ÿง  formulas and vocab. Try to understand the reasoning behind each concept. There's a large focus on graphing and real-world applications, so make sure to figure out the meaning behind formulas and rules.

Second, brush up on your algebra skills. A lot of times, students will understand the statistics concept part of a question, but they'll make mistakes because of small algebraic errors. Check out this stream:

๐ŸŽฅ Watch: AP Statsโ€”FRQ Reviews with Bob Amar ๐ŸŽŠ

Third, practice FRQs! Try to answer questions in the time limit. When you finish, look at the answer key and compare your work. Remember that every time you correct a mistake, you learn something new.

Lastly, let's hear ๐Ÿ‘‚ some words of wisdom from the Fiveable community:

"Break it down! Everything in Statistics is connected; once you make these connections and understand every step, the overall process is easier to understand."โ€”Jane Zhao
"AP Statistics requires determination and resilience because there will undoubtedly be certain aspects that are hard to understand but do not give up! This subject is very broad and can be found in the real world, making it all the more beneficial. So don't give up if you don't grasp a concept quickly. Keep trying!"โ€”Dishitar
"Absolutely worth it!! As someone who loves politics and polling, AP Stats has helped me understand what the heck they mean by margin of error, sample size, and causes of bias! Also, AP Stats is multidisciplinary, applicable in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM!"โ€”Brandon Wu

Resources:

Closing statement ๐Ÿ’ญ

All in all, AP Stats is definitely ๐Ÿ’ฏ worth taking. It's extremely useful for most STEM ๐Ÿงช fields, like physics, chemistry, and biology. Even if you aren't going into STEM, statistics is a new type of math that you just might like if you try ๐Ÿ™ƒ

If you start to find it difficult, don't get discouraged! You'll come out of the class knowing more than you did before, and Fiveable 5๏ธโƒฃ has plenty of free resources to help you along the way ๐Ÿ’ช

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Free Response Questions (FRQs)

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Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

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Unit 1: Exploring One-Variable Data

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Unit 2: Exploring Two-Variable Data

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Unit 3: Collecting Data

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Unit 4: Probability, Random Variables, and Probability Distributions

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Unit 5: Sampling Distributions

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Unit 6: Inference for Categorical Data: Proportions

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Unit 7: Inference for Qualitative Data: Means

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Unit 8: Inference for Categorical Data: Chi-Square

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Unit 9: Inference for Quantitative Data: Slopes