Anyone who has taken an AP® Exam knows that it’s a big undertaking. Not only did the class require an entire school year (sometimes two!) of classwork, (probably much harder stuff than what you get in non-AP® classes), but now your teachers or your parents want you to take an external exam? (Sometimes in addition to the end-of-the-year assessment for the class itself)! And as if all of this weren’t enough, the AP® Exam you are thinking about taking is the AP® Statistics Exam.

So what is the AP® Statistics Exam all about? Here at Albert.io, we’ve got everything you need to feel completely confident. In this review, you’ll read about what the AP® Statistics Exam is like, what to include on your AP® Statistics study guide, the best AP® Statistics study plan, and all the AP® Statistics tips you need to ace the exam.

## What is the AP® Statistics Exam Like?

The AP® Statistics Exam is a three-hour, paper-and-pencil exam that consists of two sections. Students are allowed and encouraged to use a graphing calculator during the test. The first section is a 90-minute multiple-choice section, consisting of 40 questions, and the second section is a 90-minute free-response section, consisting of five questions and one investigative task.

The two sections are weighted equally and standardized to give exam-takers a score from 1-5, with college credit usually offered for scores of 3, 4, or 5. For students who take the exam during the standard time (generally the second week of May), scores become available during the first or second week of July.

So now that you have a general idea of what the AP® Statistics Exam is like let’s take a closer look at each of the topics we just mentioned. First, we’ll start with a comprehensive overview for what to include on your AP® Statistics study guide. Then, we’ll discuss the best AP® Statistics study plan. Finally, we’ll talk AP® Statistics tips and provide more study resources.

## What Should You Include in Your AP® Statistics Study Guide?

There are four major themes included in AP® Statistics courses form part of the assessment on the AP® Statistics Exam. These are:

- Exploring Data – (20-30% of exam) – describing patterns and outliers in datasets
- Sampling & Experimentation – (10-15% of exam) – planning and conducting statistical analyses
- Anticipating Patterns – (20-30% of exam) – using probability and simulation to explore random events
- Statistical Inference – (30-40% of exam) – hypothesis testing and estimation population parameters

Each of these themes should be fully covered in your AP® Statistics study guide. Now let’s take a look at each of these themes in depth, and define what exactly the AP® Statistics Exam will cover.

## Exploring Data

Exploring Data is not just about finding patterns in the data. It’s also about describing when data points don’t fit the patterns. Students must be able to report important characteristics of datasets, like the shape, location, and variability of a given distribution of data, but they also must be able to report outliers in the data and to describe how outliers change the characteristics of distributions.

Specifically, topics to put on your AP® Statistics study guide for Exploring Data include:

-Dot plots | -Stemplots | -Histograms | -Cumulative frequency plots |

-Median | -Mean | -Interquartile range | -Standard deviation |

-Z-scores | -Boxplots | -Scatterplots | -Correlation |

-Least | -Squares regression | -Transformations (logarithmic and power) | |

-Frequency tables | -Bar charts | -Marginal frequency | |

-Residual plots | -Data comparison |

You can find the entire list of what content is included in the Exploring Data theme in the CollegeBoard AP® Statistics course description (pg. 11). Let’s take a look at a sample question for the Exploring Data theme so that you know what type of content to include on your AP® Statistics study guide.

In the scatterplot of y versus x shown above, you’ll find the least squares regression line superimposed on the plot. Which of the following points has the largest residual?
(a) A (b) B (c) C (d) D (e) E |

In this sample question (adapted from CollegeBoard), determining the correct answer hinges on remembering your statistics vocabulary. A residual is a difference between the observed value of a data point and the value that was predicted by the mathematical model. So in this case, that means the distance between the regression line (which predicts where each data point would be if it exactly fit the model), and the actual points. We see that point A lies the greatest distance above or below the regression line, so the correct answer is (a).

Now let’s continue to the second major theme to include in your AP® Statistics study guide.

## Sampling & Experimentation

It’s easy for students who have just learned a laundry list of statistical procedures in their AP® Statistics class to take a “plug and chug” approach to running statistical tests. What this approach requires is simply to plug in the data points into your graphing calculator, and then run each of your favorite statistical tests until you get a data output that looks familiar.

However, while this approach is certainly useful if you have completely run out of ideas, it’s important to note that the Sampling & Experimentation portion of the AP® Statistics Exam does not simply assess your ability to run statistical tests and correctly report the results. It’s equally important that you demonstrate to the AP® scorers (especially on the free-response section) that you are collecting data according to a carefully thought out, well-developed plan.

To be more specific, topics to add to your AP® Statistics study guide that you’ll need to know for Sampling & Experimentation questions include:

-Census | -Surveys | -Experiments | -Observational studies |

-Populations | -Samples | -Sampling methods | -Bias |

-Random selection | -Simple random sampling | ||

-Stratified random sampling | -Cluster sampling | -Control groups | |

-Random assignment | -Replication | ||

-Confounding variables | -Placebo effect | -Blinding | |

-Matched pairs design | -Generalizability |

You can check out the full list of what content is included in the Exploring Data theme in the CollegeBoard AP® Statistics course description (pg. 12). Let’s look at a sample multiple-choice question for the Sampling & Experimentation theme, to give you a better idea of what to include on your AP® Statistics study guide.

Each person in a simple random sample of 2,000 received a survey, and 317 people returned their survey. How could non response cause the results of the survey to be biased?
(a) Those who did not respond reduced the sample size, and small samples have more bias than large samples. (b) Those who did not respond caused a violation of the assumption of independence. (c) Those who did not respond were indistinguishable from those who did not receive the survey. (d) Those who did not respond represent a stratum, changing the simple random sample into a stratified random sample. (e) Those who did respond may differ in some important way from those who did not respond. |

In this sample question (adapted from CollegeBoard), arriving at the correct answer hinges on your general understanding of random sampling. This question requires you to use logic to reason the problem out rather than remembering some factoid. If the goal is to create a random sample, then you know what’s important is not the number of individuals in the sample, so option (a) is out. A person not responding would not influence whether another person responds, so option (b) is out. Finally, the key to differentiating between the last three options is understanding that in a random sample, the goal is for the sample to represent all of the different groups present in the population. Option (e) expresses the greatest threat to this idea of having a truly random sample.

As we saw in this example, to find the correct answer required almost no knowledge of what a simple random sample is. Much more important was a general understanding of statistical concepts. Keep this in mind as you create your AP® Statistics study guide! Now let’s move on to the third major theme, Anticipating Patterns.

## Anticipating Patterns

When the AP® people say “anticipating patterns,” what they mean is “describing variation”. This theme involves your ability to look at a distribution of data and describe what is going on, whether it be a probabilistic distribution, a normal distribution, a sampling distribution, or anything in between. For example, this theme covers your ability to look at a scatterplot and tell the difference between a logarithmic model or a linear model being the best fit.

Here are more examples of topics you’ll want to include in your AP® Statistics study guide for the Anticipating Patterns” theme:

-Probability | -Law of Large Numbers | -Addition rule |

-Multiplication rule | -Independence | -Probability distributions |

-Randomness | -Dependence | -Normal distribution |

–Normal distribution table | -Sampling distributions | |

-Central Limit Theorem | –t-distribution | -Chi-square distribution |

The full list for what content is included in the Anticipating Patterns theme is available in the CollegeBoard AP® Statistics course description (pg. 13). Now we’ll look at a practice question, to help you decide what to include on your AP® Statistics study guide.

In a certain game, a fair die is rolled and a player gains 20 points if the die shows a “6”. If the die does not show a “6,” the player loses 3 points. If the die were to be rolled 100 times, what would be the expected total gain or loss for the player?
(a) A gain of about 1,700 points (b) A gain of about 583 points (c) A gain of about 83 points (d) A loss of about 250 points |

In this sample question (adapted from CollegeBoard), you can find the correct answer by doing some simple arithmetic. The central probability idea at play in this problem is what happens when you roll a fair die 100 times. The Law of Large Numbers tells us that with 100 rolls, each of the six outcomes – on average – will occur with equal probability. So 83.33% of the rolls will be a number between 1 and 5 (earning –3 points), and the remaining 16.66% of rolls will be a 6 (earning 20 points). Multiplying 83.33 by –3 and adding the result to 16.66 x 20 gives us a total of 83.21 points. Therefore, the answer is (c).

Let’s continue now with the last theme you should have included on your AP® Statistics study guide.

## Statistical Inference

Statistical Inference is truly the meat of the AP® Statistics Exam. With 30-40% of the questions on the exam designed to test this theme, Statistical Inference is the most important thing for you to understand on the AP® Statistics Exam. The skills you need for this theme include being able to select a statistical test to run in a given situation, running that test, and most importantly being able to describe your conclusions using appropriate statistical language.

In other words, this is where you showcase your understanding of statistical confidence (read: confidence intervals, confidence, intervals, confidence intervals). Other topics that fall under this theme include the following topics. You should make sure to include these in your AP® Statistics study guide:

-Confidence intervals | -Margins of error | -Unbiasedness |

-Variability | -Significance tests | -Null hypothesis |

-Alternative hypothesis | –p-values | -One- and two-sided tests |

-Type I error | -Type II error | -Goodness of fit |

-Homogeneity of Proportions | -Least-squares regression line |

You can check out the CollegeBoard AP® Statistics course description (pg. 13) for a full description of what concepts are included. Now let’s check out a practice problem, to give you a better idea of what should go on your AP® Statistics study guide.

In a test of H0: μ = 8 versus Ha: μ ≠ 8, a sample of size 220 leads to a p-value of 0.034. Which of the following must be true?
(a) A 95% confidence interval for μ calculated from these data will not include μ = 8. (b) At the 5% level if H0 is rejected, the probability of a Type II error is 0.034. (c) The 95% confidence interval for μ calculated from these data will be centered at μ = 8. (d) The null hypothesis should not be rejected at |

The most important thing to keep in mind with this seemingly complicated practice question (adapted from CollegeBoard) is what you don’t know. With only the null hypothesis, the alternative hypothesis, the sample size, and the p-value, we don’t know what test was run, what the results of the test were, and what conclusions to draw. The process here should be to carefully scan the possible answers and select one that we can state with confidence. We start with option (a). Knowing that a p-value is simply the 5% that lies outside the 95% confidence interval, we know that a p-value less than p = 0.05 would indicate that a 95% confidence interval would not include the sample mean. Therefore, option (a) must be true.

Now that we have reviewed the four themes that comprise the AP® Statistics Exam and mentioned all of the topics that you need to have on included on your AP® Statistics study guide let’s move on to some specific strategies for how you can study all of the material covered on the AP® Statistics Exam.

We’ll start by talking about the difference between the two sections of the exam, and then we’ll help you find the best AP® Statistics study plan that works for you.

## How Should You Study for the AP® Statistics Exam?

To study properly for the AP® Statistics Exam, the first thing you have to understand is what resources you will have available to you on test day. This means two critically important things:

- You will be able to use your graphing calculator on test day. So you should use it while you are studying. It’s crucial that you are familiar with the exact calculator you will have available for the exam; you don’t want to waste any time on test day figuring out how to use a new or unfamiliar calculator. Take the time now looking through the approved list of calculators and talk to your AP® Statistics teacher about what calculator you will want to use on test day.
- You will have an equation sheet available to you on test day. So you should not waste any time memorizing any formulas that are on the sheet. The equation sheet (available here as the first five pages of a CollegeBoard sample free-response packet) contains a list of equations as well as graphs of different distributions. Make sure that you utilize the formula sheet enough while studying that you are familiar with what is contained on the sheet and where to find what you are looking for.

Now that you know to include your graphing calculator and equation sheet in your studying, let’s take a look at the two sections of the exam one at a time and discuss the best ways to prepare for each.

## Multiple Choice Section

As you may have guessed, the best way to study for the multiple-choice section of the AP® Statistics Exam is to do a whole lot of practice multiple choice questions. This allows you to not only test yourself on your learning but also to practice the testing strategies like process of elimination that will serve you well on the multiple choice section. You can find plenty of practice AP® Statistics multiple-choice questions right here at Albert.io. (Check out this link to start practicing).

With 40 questions in 90 minutes, on the Exam, you will have an average of two minutes and fifteen seconds to complete each question, so try to take only this long in your studying. Remember that there are no points deducted for incorrect answers on the AP® Statistics Exam, so make sure you mark an answer for every question. If you don’t know the answer, or you run out of time, just write in a guess.

Now let’s take a look at the free response section.

## Free-Response Section

The free-response section of the AP® Statistics Exam consists of five questions and an investigative task. With 90 minutes for these six problems, you are advised to spend around 12 minutes on each of the five questions, and save 30 minutes for the investigative question.

Like with the multiple choice section, there’s no substitute for doing practice problems. Nothing will help you improve more. CollegeBoard publishes the free-response sections from past AP® Statistics Exams, so you can browse online and look through what the free-response section has looked like in past years (for example, here’s the 2016 AP® Statistics Exam free-response section). You can also find practice free-response questions here at Albert.io (check out this link to start studying).

In addition, however, one of our pro AP® Statistics tips is that to practice the free response section, you don’t always have to do the entire practice problem. Let’s think about why.

One of the most important steps for the free response questions and especially for the investigative task is that you create a plan for how you will respond to the question. The AP® scorers will grade you on how well you demonstrated that you had a plan, as well as how successfully you executed that plan. So while you should make sure to do some practice problems all the way through, another effective way to study is simply to read the question and create a plan for how you would answer it. As they say, “well begun is half done”!

Now that you have a good idea for how to study for both the multiple-choice and free-response sections of the AP® Statistics Exam, let’s move on to finding the best AP® Statistics study plan for you. After that, we’ll offer some more of our best AP® Statistics tips.

## What’s the Best AP® Statistics Study Plan for You?

The AP® Statistics Exam is not a test that you want to cram for. In fact, one of the AP® Statistics tips that we’ll talk about later is that you shouldn’t do any studying the day of the exam, or even the day before. With this much content, it’s important to space out your studying. All it takes is finding the right AP® Statistics study plan that fits your situation.

Below we have a 6-month AP® Statistics study plan, a 3-month AP® Statistics study plan, and a 1-month AP® Statistics study plan that provide specific tips for what you should be doing at each stage before the exam. Depending on how much time you have left, pick up your test prep at one of these three options.

## 6 Month AP® Statistics Study Plan

With six months left before the AP® Statistics Exam, it is probably November (the test is in May), and you are likely starting the third month of your AP® Statistics class. You’ve learned enough content that you are aware of some AP® Statistics concepts, and you have taken a few tests and quizzes.

Taking a practice AP® Statistics Exam or doing practice questions could potentially be counter-productive at this stage, as you might not have enough of a learning base for the practice to be effective. Instead, the most important thing for you to do right now is to be thorough in your learning and make sure that nothing falls through the cracks.

What we mean is that the AP® Statistics curriculum is cumulative, so concepts you learn now will reappear throughout the course. This is the time for you to ensure that you fully understand the foundational principles of statistical reasoning, so that you can build up into more and more specific applications as the course progresses.

Practically speaking, this boils down to two things: organization and communication. To stay organized, make sure that you are diligently taking notes in class and categorizing them by section. Read your AP® Statistics book and note down page numbers you might return to when the time comes to prepare for the AP® Statistics Exam. Keep all of your tests and quizzes in safe place; don’t just throw them away or forget about them.

Secondly, make sure you are communicating with your AP® Statistics teacher. If you don’t understand a concept, or if you get multiple questions wrong on a test or quiz that are all testing a specific idea, make sure you go in after class and get some help correcting your mistakes. The mark of a good student is that he or she doesn’t make the same mistakes over and over again!

Also, if your AP® Statistics class is the whole year long, then make sure by the end of the first semester you have communicated with your AP® Statistics teacher about the fact that you intend to take the AP® Statistics Exam in May. This will help your teacher give you the best possible preparation. He or she can also give you more individualized tips and pointers for what you need to do to prepare for the AP® Statistics Exam.

Great job on being so ahead of the game; keep up the good work. Continue on to find out how your AP® Statistics study plan should change when you have only three months left.

## 3 Month AP® Statistics Study Plan

With three months left until the AP® Statistics Exam, you are probably a few weeks into the second semester of your AP® Statistics class; it is mid-February. At this point you have probably gone through almost all of the major ideas that you will need for the AP® Statistics Exam, and your class is starting to move into more specific applications.

Whether you have been planning to take the AP® Statistics exam for the entire year, or you just decided last week that it would be a good idea, now is the time to find an AP® Statistics review book to supplement the studying you do in class. Your AP® Statistics class and AP® Statistics teacher are excellent resources for learning the main ideas, but a review book will help you take the next step into really becoming familiar with the AP® Statistics exam format and how you can achieve the score you want. We have a great review of different AP® Statistics review books here at Albert.io.

Practically speaking, the key to your AP® Statistics study plan at this stage is all about consistent effort. The AP® Statistics Exam is designed to test skills, not just knowledge. You wouldn’t expect to be good at a sport unless you practiced every day, and the same is true for AP® Statistics. Take a few moments each day (or at least several times a week) to do your AP® Statistics homework, to work through your review book, and to do practice problems. Even twenty minutes a day adds up to over two hours of studying over the course of a week.

But don’t just study a lot – study well. Make sure that you aren’t just memorizing facts, but rather utilizing your AP® Statistic logic. You can tell the difference between guessing at the correct answer and arriving at the correct answer. Cycle through both new material and old material, to keep it fresh. And challenge yourself: the problems that are easy for you are not the problems you need to study. Focus on the areas you find most difficult, and soon they will be easy too.

There will be concepts in your review book that you have not yet learned in class, and that’s okay. Skip those and focus on what you have already been exposed to. Make sure you are taking your AP® Statistics class seriously and thinking of every test and quiz as an opportunity to practice the skills you will need on the real AP® Statistics Exam.

You’re getting close, now, and the time and effort you put in now will pay huge dividends on the day of the exam. Read on to see how your AP® Statistics study plan should change once you’re only one month removed from the exam.

## 1 Month AP® Statistics Study Plan

Wow! There’s only one month left until your AP® Statistics Exam. For the seniors taking the test, graduation is only a few short weeks away, you may already be accepted to the college of your choice, and it may be difficult to concentrate on your AP® Statistics Exam. However, remember that you have already paid for the exam, and you still have the opportunity to earn college credit. Try to think about it as though you are already in college: What type of student are you going to be when you get there?

The most important thing for you to do during this last month is to figure out what it is that you need to focus on for the last few weeks of preparation. Really taking stock of what you know and what you don’t know will allow you to use your time wisely during this last month, and give you peace of mind that you aren’t missing something big. The two ways to accomplish this are to take a practice exam, and create a study outline.

The first thing to do is to take a full-length practice AP® Statistics Exam. There is no better way to understand the type of pressure you will be under on test day, and which aspects of the test you find most difficult. Take a morning or afternoon on the weekend and set aside a full four hours for taking the test and scoring it. Try to make every detail of your practice test match real test conditions as closely as possible. Take it seriously.

While you are taking the practice test, try to get a feel for how long you should take on each question, including how long you should take on multiple choice questions, free response questions, and the investigative task. Observe yourself and see which aspect of test-taking is most stress-inducing. Is it the time limits? Using the calculator? Once you know which parts are difficult, you know which parts you need to practice more.

Secondly, using your class notes, your past tests and quizzes, your syllabus, your class textbook, your AP® Statistics review book, this review guide, and any other materials you may find useful, spend a couple of hours creating a study outline. Write down each concept that you have learned, and take special care to note how much time you need to spend reviewing each concept. You’ll know the difference between something you know well and something you’re unsure of: don’t ignore your weaker areas.

This last month before test day should be focused more on practicing the skills that you will need on test day than trying to cram in knowledge. If you have been doing your due diligence with your AP® Statistics class throughout the year, the information will be there. The most important thing now is that you don’t mess up your one opportunity to perform well on test day.

Now that you have a good idea of what is the best AP® Statistics study plan for your situation let’s talk about some AP® Statistics tips that you can implement on test day to crush the exam.

What do You Need to do to Prepare for Test Day?

When the week of the test arrives, your studying days are over, and there are other things that are more important to focus on. Here are some AP® Statistics tips to help you prepare for the day of the AP® Statistics Exam:

- Finish your studying the day before. Last-minute cramming the night before the exam (and especially the morning of)is not going to be helpful. If anything, it’ll make you nervous and distracted. Crammers never win, and winners never cram.
- Practice with your calculator. You don’t want to be caught on test day with a calculator that runs out of batteries or worse, a calculator that isn’t on the approved list of calculators. Take ten minutes to make sure that your calculator is approved and functioning properly. Double-check with your teacher if necessary.
- Understand how your physical well-being affects performance. While it may sound a bit silly, think of yourself as an athlete on game day. Eating a carbohydrate-heavy dinner, getting a good night’s sleep, staying hydrated, and eating snacks throughout the exam is vital to keep you feeling energetic and sharp.
- Practice relaxation. We’re not talking about your AP® Statistics knowledge: we’re talking about your attitude. Make sure you are thinking positively about the exam. Don’t be nervous! You’ll need all your wits about you. Remember your test-taking strategies and stay focused during the test.
- Practice timing. Once you’re on the clock, don’t panic: Make sure you skip the questions you don’t know and move on if a question is too difficult. Answer every multiple choice question, and write something for each free response question. Don’t get so stuck on one question that it keeps you from answering others.

And that’s a wrap! Now you’ve got all the best AP® Statistics tips for how to prepare yourself for test day.

## Wrapping up

Here at Albert.io our top priority is helping you succeed. We’ve got you covered here on our website with all the best AP® Statistics articles. Here are a few links to other places you can go on our website for more information:

- https://www.albert.io/blog/ap-statistics/
- https://www.albert.io/blog/standard-deviation-ap-statistics-crash-course-review/
- https://www.albert.io/blog/ways-to-approach-ap-statistics-free-response-questions/

And don’t forget to check out all of our Albert.io approved AP® Statistics practice questions:

- https://www.albert.io/ap-statistics/questions
- https://www.albert.io/ap-statistics/free-response
- https://www.albert.io/blog/german-tank-problem-explained-ap-statistics-review/

Also, here are other places to go for everything AP® Statistics, including practice questions.

- https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/apcourse/ap-statistics/exam-practice
- http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/repository/255123_1997_Statistics_RE.pdf
- http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/members/exam/exam_information/8357.html
- http://www.barronsbooks.com/ap/stats/
- http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/ap/ap-statistics-course-description.pdf
- http://stattrek.com/ap-statistics/practice-test.aspx
- https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/ap/ap16_frq_statistics.pdf
- http://apstatsmonkey.com/StatsMonkey/AP_Review_files/APStudyHints.pdf
- http://www.math.udel.edu/~crissing/practiceapstatistics2015.html
- http://www.danshuster.com/apstat/apstat_sg.htm

Good luck! We are 95% confident that you will do just fine.

### Looking for AP® Statistics practice?

Kickstart your AP® Statistics prep with Albert. Start your AP® exam prep today.