What You Need to Know About the AP Statistics Exam - Set Up Your Study Program - 5 Steps to a 5 AP Statistics 2017 (2016)

5 Steps to a 5 AP Statistics 2017 (2016)


Set Up Your Study Program

CHAPTER 1 What You Need to Know About the AP Statistics Exam

CHAPTER 2 How to Plan Your Time


What You Need to Know About the AP Statistics Exam


Summary: Learn what topics are tested, how the test is scored, and basic test-taking information.

Key Ideas

Most colleges will award credit for a score of 4 or 5. Some will award credit for a 3.

Multiple-choice questions account for one-half of your final score.

One point is earned for each correct answer on the multiple-choice section.

Free-response questions account for one-half of your final score.

Your composite score out of a possible 100 on the two test sections is converted to a score on the 1-to-5 scale.

Background Information

The AP Statistics exam that you are taking was first offered by the College Board in 1997. In that year, 7,667 students took the Stats exam (the largest first year exam ever). Since then, the number of students taking the test has grown rapidly. In 2015, about 196,000 students took the AP Statistics exam. Statistics is now one of the 10 largest AP exams.

Some Frequently Asked Questions About the AP Statistics Exam

Why Take the AP Statistics Exam?

Most of you take the AP Statistics exam because you are seeking college credit. The majority of colleges and universities will accept a 4 or 5 as acceptable credit for their noncalculus-based statistics courses. A small number of schools will sometimes accept a 3 on the exam. This means you are one course closer to graduation before you even begin. Even if you do not score high enough to earn college credit, the fact that you elected to enroll in AP courses tells admission committees that you are a high achiever and serious about your education. In recent years, close to 60% of students have scored 3 or higher on the AP Statistics exam.

What Is the Format of the Exam?

AP Statistics

Approved graphing calculators are allowed during all parts of the test. The two sections of the test are completely separate and are administered in separate 90-minute blocks. Please note that you are not expected to be able answer all the questions in order to receive a grade of 5. Specific instructions for each part of the test are given in the Diagnostic Exam and the Practice Exams at the end of this book.

You will be provided with a set of common statistical formulas and necessary tables. Copies of these materials are in the Appendices to this book.

Who Writes the AP Statistics Exam?

Development of each AP exam is a multiyear effort that involves many education and testing professionals and students. At the heart of the effort is the AP Statistics Test Development Committee, a group of college and high school statistics teachers who are typically asked to serve for three years. The committee and other college professors create a large pool of multiple-choice questions. With the help of the testing experts at Educational Testing Service (ETS), these questions are then pretested with college students enrolled in Statistics courses for accuracy, appropriateness, clarity, and assurance that there is only one possible answer. The results of this pretesting allow each question to be categorized by degree of difficulty.

The free-response essay questions that make up Section II go through a similar process of creation, modification, pretesting, and final refinement so that the questions cover the necessary areas of material and are at an appropriate level of difficulty and clarity. The committee also makes a great deal of effort to construct a free-response exam that will allow for clear and equitable grading by the AP readers.

At the conclusion of each AP reading and scoring of exams, the exam itself and the results are thoroughly evaluated by the committee and by ETS. In this way, the College Board can use the results to make suggestions for course development in high schools and to plan future exams.

What Topics Appear on the Exam?

The College Board, after consulting with teachers of statistics, develops a curriculum that covers material that college professors expect to cover in their first-year classes. Based upon this outline of topics, the exams are written such that those topics are covered in proportion to their importance to the expected statistics understanding of the student. There are four major content themes in AP Statistics: exploratory data analysis (20%–30% of the exam); planning and conducting a study (10%–15% of the exam); probability and random variables (20%–30% of the exam); and statistical inference (30%–40% of the exam). Below is an outline of the curriculum topic areas:

Who Grades My AP Statistics Exam?

Every June a group of statistics teachers (roughly half college professors and half high school teachers of statistics) gather for a week to assign grades to your hard work. Each of these Faculty Consultants spends several hours getting trained on the scoring rubric for each question they grade (an individual reader may read two to three questions during the week). Because each reader becomes an expert on that question, and because each exam book is anonymous, this process provides a very consistent and unbiased scoring of that question. During a typical day of grading, a random sample of each reader”s scores is selected and cross-checked by other experienced Table Leaders to ensure that the consistency is maintained throughout the day and the week. Each reader”s scores on a given question are also statistically analyzed to make sure that he or she is not giving scores that are significantly higher or lower than the mean scores given by other readers of that question. All measures are taken to maintain consistency and fairness for your benefit.

Will My Exam Remain Anonymous?

Absolutely. Even if your high school teacher happens to randomly read your booklet, there is virtually no way he or she will know it is you. To the reader, each student is a number, and to the computer, each student is a bar code.

What About That Permission Box on the Back?

The College Board uses some exams to help train high school teachers so that they can help the next generation of statistics students avoid common mistakes. If you check this box, you simply give permission to use your exam in this way. Even if you give permission, your anonymity is still maintained.

How Is My Multiple-Choice Exam Scored?

The multiple-choice section contains 40 questions and is worth one-half of your final score. Your answer sheet is run through the computer, which adds up your correct responses. Then this score is multiplied by 1.25 to scale it to a maximum of 50 points.

How Is My Free-Response Exam Scored?

Your performance on the free-response section is worth one-half of your final score. There are six questions, and each question is given a score from 0–4 (4 = complete response, 3 = substantial response, 2 = developing response, 1 = minimal response, and 0 = insufficient response). Unlike, say, calculus, your response does not have to be perfect to earn the top score. These questions are scored using a carefully prepared rubric to ensure better responses get better scores and that different readers will score the same response the same way.

The raw score on each of questions 1–5 is then multiplied by 1.875 (this forces questions 1–5 to be worth 75% of your free-response score, based on a total of 50) and the raw score on question 6 is multiplied by 3.125 (making question 6 worth 25% of your free-response score). The result is a score based on 50 points for the free-response part of the exam.

How Is My Final Grade Determined and What Does It Mean?

The scores on the multiple-choice and free-response sections of the test are then combined to give a single composite score based on a 100-point scale. As can be seen from the descriptions above, this is not really a percentage score, and it”s best not to think of it as one.

In the end, when all of the numbers have been crunched, the Chief Faculty Consultant converts the range of composite scores to the 5-point scale of the AP grades.

The table below gives a typical conversion and, as you complete the practice exams, you may use this to give yourself a hypothetical grade. Keep in mind that the conversion changes every year to adjust for the difficulty of the questions. You should receive your grade in early July.

There is no official passing grade on the AP Exam. However, most people think in terms of 3 or better as passing.

How Do I Register and How Much Does It Cost?

If you are enrolled in AP Statistics in your high school, your teacher is going to provide all of these details, but a quick summary wouldn”t hurt. After all, you do not have to enroll in the AP course to register for and complete the AP exam. When in doubt, the best source of information is the College Board”s website: www.collegeboard.com .

The fee for taking the exam is currently $92 but tends to go up a little each year. A $30 fee reduction may be available for eligible students with financial need, depending on the student”s state. Finally, most states offer exam subsidies to cover all or part of the cost. You can learn more about fee reductions and subsidies from the coordinator of your AP program or by checking specific information on the official website: www.collegeboard.com .

There are also several optional fees that must be paid if you want your scores rushed to you or if you wish to receive multiple grade reports.

The coordinator of the AP program at your school will inform you where and when you will take the exam. If you live in a small community, your exam may not be administered at your school, so be sure to get this information.

What Is the Graphing Calculator Policy?

The following is the policy on graphing calculators as stated on the College Board”s AP Central website:

Each student is expected to bring to the exam a graphing calculator with statistical capabilities. The computational capabilities should include standard statistical univariate and bivariate summaries, through linear regression. The graphical capabilities should include common univariate and bivariate displays such as histograms, boxplots, and scatterplots.

  • You can bring two calculators to the exam.
  • The calculator memory will not be cleared but you may only use the memory to store programs, not notes.
  • For the exam, you”re not allowed to access any information in your graphing calculators or elsewhere if it”s not directly related to upgrading the statistical functionality of older graphing calculators to make them comparable to statistical features found on newer models. The only acceptable upgrades are those that improve the computational functionalities and/or graphical functionalities for data you key into the calculator while taking the examination. Unacceptable enhancements include, but aren”t limited to, keying or scanning text or response templates into the calculator.

During the exam, you can”t use minicomputers, pocket organizers, electronic writing pads, or calculators with QWERTY (i.e., typewriter) keyboards.

You may use a calculator to do needed computations. However, remember that the person reading your exam needs to see your reasoning in order to score your exam. Your teacher can check for a list of acceptable calculators on AP Central. The TI-83/84 is certainly okay.

What Should I Bring to the Exam?

  • Several #2 pencils (and a pencil sharpener) and a good eraser that doesn”t leave smudges
  • Black or blue colored pens for the free-response section; some students like to use two colors to make their graphs stand out for the reader
  • One or two graphing calculators with fresh batteries
  • A watch so that you can monitor your time
  • Your school code
  • A simple snack if the test site permits it
  • Your photo identification and social security number
  • A light jacket if you know that the test site has strong air conditioning
  • Tissues
  • Your quiet confidence that you are prepared

What Should I NOT Bring to the Exam?

  • A calculator that is not approved for the AP Statistics Exam (for example, anything with a QWERTY keyboard)
  • A cell phone, beeper, PDA, or walkie-talkie
  • Books, a dictionary, study notes, flash cards, highlighting pens, correction fluid, any other office supplies
  • Scrap paper
  • Portable music of any kind: no iPods, MP3 players, or CD players
  • Panic or fear: it”s natural to be nervous, but you can comfort yourself that you have used this book well, and that there is no room for fear on your exam