AP Statistics vs Probability Statistics

Statistics FAQ

Why Should I Take It?

Statistics is the most widely applicable branch of mathematics. It is used by more people than any other kind of math. You’ll never wonder when you’ll ever use this stuff!

Who Uses Statistics?

Everyone who needs to collect and analyze data needs to understand statistics. That’s every branch of science, of course. And it’s also important in the social sciences (like psychology, sociology, anthropology), in business and economics, in political science and government, in law, and in medicine. There is a very strong chance YOU will use statistics in college and in your career. And it has many practical applications in life (see back of brochure).

Could I Take Statistics in College?

Yes, and you probably will. Statistics is required for many majors, and strongly recommended for others. Many colleges now give students a choice of Statistics or Calculus to fulfill their math requirements.

Then Why Should I Take it in High School?

There are several advantages. Here it’s a full year course so you’ll have more opportunities to ask questions and really understand the concepts than at college where the class meets only a few times per week for one semester. You will enter college ready to apply your skills in your first semester courses. Many former students have returned after a couple of years in college to say that Statistics was the most important and helpful course they took in high school.

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AP Statistics

What is AP Statistics?

AP Stat is a college level introductory course in statistics. You’ll learn how to collect, organize, analyze, and interpret data. Because it’s an AP course, you can earn college credit for this course.

Who Should Take It?

The prerequisite course for AP Statistics is Algebra 2, but traditionally, those with more math have better success. Your commitment to do college-level work is just as important as your math background. Many people take AP Statistics as an elective, in addition to their regular math course.

Expectations in AP Stat

It’s a college course, so the expectations are high. You’ll be expected to do homework every day, and not just math problems. There is reading and writing involved. In fact, if you think math is all formulas, equations, and calculations, you’ll soon find that this isn’t really a math course. It’s a course in reading, analyzing, thinking, and writing clearly.

What does AP Statistics Cover?

  • Experimental Design - Students design appropriate experiments in order to draw conclusions that can be generalized to the population of interest. Students will also interpret studies and experiments to determine whether the conclusions from the studies warrant consideration.
  • Exploring Data - Students collect and examine data and display the patterns that emerge. Data from students in class as well as real world data sets are gathered and used to illustrate concepts.
  • Producing Models Using Probability and Simulation - Students learn to anticipate patterns and produce models for prediction. Students use simulations to model situations that are not practical to replicate using other methods.
  • Statistical Inference - Students learn what can be generalized about the population. Students also consider how to investigate research questions, design a study, and interpret the results.


What is Probability/Statistics

Probability/Statistics is a year-long project-based introduction to statistics course that emphasizes working with data and statistical ideas. It is a technology-based course that will give the student who goes on to college, as well as the student who does not, highly useable and marketable skills.

Who Should Take It?

Anyone who has completed Geometry and Algebra 2 is eligible to take Probability/Statistics. It is designed for students who want a fourth year of math, but for which math may not be their strongest subject.

Expectations in Prob/Stat

This is a computer based course so computational work and graphs are done on computers using statistical software. Assessments are based on projects (when possible) where students will demonstrate proficiency of the learned concepts by producing professional quality statistical analyses.

What does Probability/Statistics Cover?

  • Producing Data
    • How do we get “good” data?
    • Sampling and surveys.
    • Designing experiments.
  • Displaying Data
    • Graphs.
    • Numerical summaries.
    • Scatterplots, correlation, and regression.
  • Chance and Randomization
    • Simulations.
    • Probability.
  • An Introduction to Inference
    • Confidence intervals
    • Tests of significance.

Practical Applications of Statistics in the Work Place and in Everyday Life

We live in an information society; raw data, graphs, charts, rates, percentages, probabilities, averages, forecasts, and trend lines are an inescapable part of our everyday lives. It is hard to pick up a newspaper without finding an article in which a recent study makes a claim about the effect of a food product on people’s health. Studies in which people who ate oatmeal had lower cholesterol than those who did not might suggest that those with high cholesterol would be wise to eat oatmeal. In AP Statistics, we learn to examine the details of the study to see if a true experiment was conducted with subjects randomly assigned to treatments, and whether other factors were involved. Other factors include questioning whether the oatmeal really lowered cholesterol or whether the subjects ate oatmeal instead of eating four fried eggs! Would eating cornflakes have had the same effect? Is oatmeal the factor, or is it the change from a high cholesterol breakfast?

In the work place, statistics is used by many companies. Business decisions are made based on market research. Advertising executives want to know whether a new ad campaign significantly increases sales. Doctors must know reliability of medicine and treatments. Products such as pharmaceuticals require significant evidence of effectiveness and safety. (Examine the literature inserted in any new medicine you take to see the statistical evidence.) Politicians rely on data from polls and public opinion. Courts inquire about statistical significance in hearing class action discrimination cases. (Statistical Significance means that such results are unlikely to occur by mere chance alone.) Any company that expects to obtain a government contract must have strong evidence of a quality control program that implements Statistical Process Control. Statistical literacy is becoming very important in the work place and in society as we are all consumers of goods and services and need to make intelligent choices. Advanced Placement Statistics provides the opportunity for students to learn how to make good decisions with data.