AP Statistics Overview
AP Statistics covers techniques for collecting, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from data at the introductory college course level. It’s typically taught as a year long high school course, and is equivalent to a 1 semester college stats course. AP Statistics requires completion of second year high school algebra.
We’ll cover the course, exams, and our picks for the best AP Statistics books, Flashcards, and Review Guides for test year 2023 below, but if you just can’t wait, here’s the short list:
In the world of ‘big data’, ‘machine learning’, and the rise of data science, it’s important to build a solid foundation of education early on. AP Statistics is a bedrock course in this domain, and will help students interested in any of the hard sciences excell.
A full Course Description for AP Statistics is available from collegeboard.org.
There are 4 major themes covered by AP Statistics:
- Exploratory Analysis
- Planning and conducting a study
- Statistical Inference
Exploratory Analysis consists of describing patterns in data and departures from patterns. It uses graphical and numerical techniques to interpret information, and accounts for 20-30% of the exam. Topics and key objectives include:
- Creating and interpreting graphical interpretations of data (e.g. clusters, outliers, shape).
- Summarizing data distribution (e.g. median, mean, percentile, standard deviation).
- Comparing distribution of data between groups.
- Exploring bivariate and categorical data.
Planning and conducting a study
To obtain valid data, it must be collected according to a plan. The method of data collection and analysis should be part of the well developed plan. Topics and key objectives include:
- Overview of data collection methods (census, sample survey, experiment, observational study)
- Planning and conducting collection using each of the above methods.
Probability consists of using probability and simulation to anticipate patterns in natural phenomena. Topics and key objectives include:
- Understanding and interpreting probability.
- Combining independent random variables.
- Normal and sampling distributions.
Statistical Inference can be used to estimate population parameters and test hypotheses. Topics for this theme include:
- Estimation (point estimators and confidence intervals)
- Tests of Significance (large sample tests, tests for a mean, etc)
Students taking the AP Statistics Exam are responsible for demonstrating knowledge of the above mentioned concepts and themes. The student’s knowledge is assessed through a 3 hour exam containing questions in both multiple choice and free response format. The exam is broken up into 2 parts, each having equal weight in determining a final score between 1 and 5.
The AP Statistics exam requires extensive use of a graphing calculator, and students are required to provide their own (see the collegeboard calculator policy).
Section 1: Multiple Choice
- 90 minutes long and covers multiple themes and topics
- Accounts for 50% of the final score
Points are awarded for each correct answer, and no points are subtracted for incorrect or unanswered questions.
Section 2: Free Response
- 90 minutes long, contains open ended questions, and requires students to complete an investigative task
- Accounts for 50% of the final score.
Students must answer 5 questions (each designed to be answered in 12 minutes) and complete an investigative task (designed to be answered in 30 minutes). The free response section helps to assess a students communicative skills in addition to their knowledge and understanding of the techniques and themes.
The major course themes are represented on the exam in roughly the following breakdown:
- Exploratory Analysis (20-30%)
- Planning and conducting a study (10-15%)
- Probability (20-30%)
- Statistical Inference (30-40%)
For exam dates, refer to The College Board AP Calendar.
Best AP Statistics Books
AP Statistics has several strong contenders for the best textbooks and review guides which we’ve ranked for you above. Continue on for detailed information on each one!
Barron’s AP Statistics
Pros: Comprehensive material with numerous full length tests.
Cons: Wording is not very concise in some areas.
Best For: Supplemental study aid for the duration of the course and leading up to the exam.
Our Rating: 5 / 5
Barron’s AP Statistics is our #1 recommendation for best AP Statistics review guide for 2020. It includes 5 full length tests, as well as access to an additional test and other resources online. The full list of features include:
- Diagnostic test, 5 full length practice exams, and 1 online test.
- 14 chapter subject review covering all test topics.
- Guide to graphing calculators.
- Dedicated chapter on the interactive question.
Between the comprehensive review and tons of self-assessment material, the Barron’s AP Statistics guide is hands down our top pick. It’s a great resource for either complimenting your other course textbooks, or as a last minute study aid leading up to the test.
Cracking The AP Statistics Exam
Pros: Strong and well organized contents.
Cons: Limited number of full length practice tests compared to other books on this list.
Best For: Complimenting required course textbooks for study throughout the course.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
Cracking The AP Statistics Exam is another solid entry in the list of best AP Statistics books for 2020, even though it didn’t quite crack the top spot. It’s main drawback compared to the Barron’s book is it has fewer practice tests, but it’s still an overall great review. Full list of features include:
- 2 full length practice tests with detailed answer keys.
- In-depth content review for all exam topics.
- Strategies for each exam question type.
- Access to additional online resources.
This book presents a strong and well structured review of the AP Statistics course material. The test strategies are useful overall, and the online material is well done. All in all, this is a great choice if you’re looking for a review guide.
5 Steps To A 5: AP Statistics
Pros: Solid digital resources compliment printed materials.
Cons: Less detail and depth than some guides on this list.
Best For: Year long study aid to compliment course textbook.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
The digital resources in 5 Steps to a 5 are among the best of any book on this list. Couple that with an overall good review of the course material, and this becomes an excellent choice for any AP Statistics student. Features include:
- 6 Full length practice tests (3 in the book + 3 cross platform)
- Proven strategies for both multiple choice and free response sections.
- Hundreds of practice questions with detailed answers.
5 Steps To A 5: AP Statistics does a good job supplementing course textbooks or other guides on this list. It doesn’t quite take the top spot, but you won’t be disappointed if you choose to go with this book.
The Ultimate AP Statistics Practice Book
Pros: Innovative format uses youtube to thoroughly explain sample problems.
Cons: No full length practice tests.
Best For: Review of specific test question examples leading up to the exam.
Our Rating: 4.0 / 5
The Ultimate AP Statistics Practice Book is a unique and innovative entry on this list. It consists of 100 sample problems with full length youtube walkthroughs of each question. Features include:
- 100+ sample problems with detailed video walkthroughs for each on youtube.
- All major course and exam themes covered in depth.
While it’s maybe not the best choice as your only review book, if it’s in your budget, we highly recommend adding this as a secondary study resource. It does a great job of walking students through realistic examples, and the video format really helps it all click for some people.
Best AP Statistics Flashcards
In addition to the excellent books mentioned above, AP Statistics students will see significant benefits in prepping for the exam using flashcards. Our top picks for Best AP Statistics Flashcards are outlined below.
Barron’s AP Statistics Flash Cards
Pros: Comprehensive list of terms covering major exam topics.
Cons: Some cards contain relatively elementary terms.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
Barron’s AP Statistics Flash Cards serves as a fantastic way to memorize key facts and information tested in the exam in a way that’s fun and entertaining. It’s a great compliment to Barron’s AP Statistics guide, or any of the other books outlined above. Key features include:
- Over 450 flashcards.
- Covers all 4 themes from AP Statistics course.
- Exclusive full length online exam included.
We fully recommend flashcards as a supplement to any full length textbook or guidebook. Barron’s are our #1 recommendation for AP Statistics flashcards.
The field of statistics is becoming more and more important as days go by. It’s a critical component in the fields of data science, computer science, and many others. Students looking to accelerate their studies in statistics are strongly encouraged to take the AP course.
We’ve rounded up the top AP Statistics books and flashcards and presented them above. When it comes down to it, the correct choice for you depends heavily on your personal circumstances. To recap our recommendations:
|Top Overall Recommendation||Barron’s AP Statistics|
|Top Pick For Course Supplement||Barron’s AP Statistics|
|Top Pick For Last Minute Prep||The Ultimate AP Statistics Practice Book|
|Top Pick For Flashcards||Barron’s AP Statistics Flash Cards|
Our top pick overall and the number one recommendation for students who are interested in supplementing other course materials is Barron’s AP Statistics. It does a great job of comprehensive material coverage. It has a fantastic structure, and tons of valuable bonus resources, practice questions, etc.
For students with less time to spare before the exam, The Ultimate AP Statistics Practice Book is a great choice for drilling on exam topics.
Whatever your circumstance, supplemental study and review materials are a key part of ensuring success on the exam. We’ve listed some of the best AP Statistics resources available. Good luck, and study hard!