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Predicting the Future with AP Statistics

Do you ever wish you could predict the future? Sometimes I do.

Taking an AP Statistics course will introduce you to the major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing, predicting, and drawing conclusions from data. Statistics are sets of mathematical equations that are used to analyze what is happening in the world around us. Much of what we understand about our world is determined mathematically. Forecasters analyze weather statistics to predict when a storm will hit land, doctors use statistics to inform the public that 85 to 95 percent of lung cancers are smoking related, and Walmart uses statistics to calculate when to ship which products to each store. When used correctly, statistics tell us about past trends and can be useful in predicting what may happen next.

According to the College Board AP Statistics should prepare you to:

  • Explore Data: Describe patterns and departures from patterns
  • Sample and Experiment: Plan and conduct a study
  • Anticipate Patterns: Explore random phenomena using probability and simulation
  • Make Statistical Inferences: Estimate population parameters and test hypotheses

What about the exam?

The AP Statistics Exam is 3 hours long and seeks to determine how well you have mastered the concepts and techniques of the subject matter. In essence, the test will assess how prepared you are to do the four bulleted topics mentioned above. You will be expected to use a pencil and paper to complete the test, sorry no computers. But don’t worry, you’re allowed to use a graphing calculator with statistical capabilities!

The exam consists of a 90-minute multiple-choice section testing proficiency in a wide variety of topics, and a 90-minute free-response section requiring the student to answer open-ended questions and to complete an investigative task involving more extended reasoning.

In determining the score for the exam, the two sections will be given equal weight. Students, who successfully complete the course and examination, receive credit and/or advanced placement for a one-semester introductory college statistics course. For more information on the AP Statistics course and exam visit http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/sub_stats.html

But how do I decide when to take the course? How do I know if taking AP Statistics is even the best choice?

For one, knowing how to use and understand statistics are very valuable skills, but deciding when to take AP Statistics also depends on your high school plans. AP Statistics is usually taken in either the junior or senior year. If you are planning to take a science course in your senior year, you will benefit from taking AP Statistics in your junior year. If you are not going to take any other math classes during your senior year, AP Statistics will allow you to continue to develop your quantitative skills and will keep your brain sharp for your first year of college. If you are a student who wishes to leave the option of taking calculus in college open, then you should include pre-calculus in your high school program and perhaps take AP Statistics at the same time as pre-calculus. Set up an appointment with your Academic Counselor to go over your options before making a decision.

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