Here’s how hard AP Statistics is for someone who is average at Math:
The topics in AP Statistics are not especially hard for your average math student.
Most of the math is based on algebra, and most states require competency in algebra in order to graduate with a high school diploma.
That said, some instructors might intentionally make the class difficult, which can be prohibitive.
So if you want to learn all about how difficult AP Statistics is for someone who’s mediocre at Math, then this article is for you.
Let’s jump right in!
What Is AP Statistics?
AP Statistics is a high school math class that teaches students the fundamentals of statistics.
It also pairs with an AP exam that students can take, and if they pass it, they will receive college credit for statistics.
The letters actually stand for “advanced placement,” and the curriculum is certified by the college board.
This means that the topics are standardized across AP classes, even though teachers have some freedom in how they actually teach the material.
The AP exams are also standardized, and the vast majority of colleges and universities in the United States will accept AP credits.
What Is Covered in AP Statistics Class? (5 Topics)
If we’re going to talk about how hard AP Statistics is for students (and especially for average math students), then we should probably center that discussion on the material covered in the class.
Knowing that it’s a statistics class already gives you a general idea.
You’ll see graphs, spreadsheets, data, and formulas throughout the course of the class, but there’s actually a bit more going on.
I’m going to walk you through the primary topics in AP Statistics so that you can get a clear idea of what is covered and expected of students.
That way, you can decide for yourself how difficult the course might be.
Let me be perfectly clear here.
Prerequisites are not covered in the AP class.
The point is that you’re supposed to already know things that are covered in prerequisite classes.
To keep all of this simple, you’re supposed to already know how algebra works before you take AP Statistics.
I’ll harp on this more later, but it’s important to say it now too.
If you haven’t already taken algebra, you should not be taking AP Statistics.
You need your algebra skills.
Many of the techniques in AP Statistics are applications of algebra.
You don’t have to be the greatest algebraist of all time to do AP Statistics, but you do need to understand the basics.
So, the prerequisite math comes up a lot.
That’s the real point here.
Prerequisites covered, one of the first things you’ll learn in an AP Statistics class is probability.
This includes things like, what are the odds of a coin flip landing heads?
The probability starts off with very simple ideas, and they are eventually expanded so that you can learn about combinations and permutations.
It’s ok if you don’t already know what those things mean—that’s what the class is for.
What you might want to know now is that statistics is really the math of probability.
Even though some of the things you do later won’t really feel like probability, it always comes back to probability in some way or another.
As you’ll see when I get into it more later, this is both the easiest and hardest thing about statistics.
#3 Data Methods
Data methods are where you learn about good and bad ways to collect data.
You’ll learn about biases, techniques for collecting data, and analyzing whether or not a data collection method is reasonable or not.
Here’s a very quick example to help you see what is covered here.
If you were trying to gauge the value and efficacy of different parenting methods, do you think you could get good results if you only survey kids?
Or, do you think you might need to consider more than just how kids feel about things to determine if a parenting method is effective?
Data collection can be challenging, but the class will give you pretty reliable ways to check for problems with data collection.
#4 Data Analytics
Statistics isn’t really about collecting data.
It’s more about analyzing data.
Sure, you want to know that the data are reliable in the first place, but you still need techniques to make sense of them.
That’s what data analytics are all about.
This is where you’ll learn how to graph the data, check them against models, and try to derive conclusions from what you see.
This is where you’ll see the bulk of mathematical formulas in the class and where a lot of the algebra you’re supposed to already know is applied.
#5 Statistical Tools
We could lump this in with data analytics, but I want to mention a few specific statistical tools.
They are covered in AP Statistics, and they are terms that come up a lot in news articles and other places.
Statistical tools are what you use to measure the value of your analytics.
You’ll learn about things like standard deviations, standard models, confidence intervals, chi-squared tests, and other techniques.
The basic idea goes like this.
You check that the data are good.
Then, you run some analytical methods on them.
From there, you draw a few conclusions.
At that point, you can apply your statistical tools to see if your conclusions are really justifiable or not.
How Hard Is AP Statistics for an Average Math Student? (2 Challenges)
Now that you have an idea of what is covered in the class, you might already be able to decide for yourself if AP Statistics will be hard or not.
Then again, you haven’t actually taken the class, so I’ll get into some of the challenges.
Personally, I think that any student can learn the fundamentals of statistics.
Whether or not that should be done in an AP class is harder to say.
So, I’ll break down some of the core challenges below and talk about where they might be problematic for an average math student.
But if you just want the bottom line (which I answered at the very beginning), I think that most students actually can succeed in an AP Statistics class.
I mentioned this before, but we can get into it a lot more here.
The prerequisites are probably the best judge as to whether or not a student is suited for AP statistics.
There’s a lot of algebra that comes up in statistics.
If a student does well in other math classes but really struggles with algebra, then they’re going to struggle with statistics too.
You simply cannot escape the algebra that comes up.
If a student passes algebra but maybe struggles with other math classes, there’s a good chance that they’ll do well in AP Statistics.
Algebra really is the bulk of what you’ll be doing in this class, as far as calculations are concerned.
If a student struggled in algebra but has since improved those skills, then they’ll probably be fine in statistics.
Your confidence in algebra really can be your guide as to how you’ll do in this AP class.
#2 Pure Logic
Even so, there are plenty of things in AP Statistics that don’t purely rely on algebra.
Some of the things that come up are purely based on logic.
For example, why do you have a 50% chance of getting either heads or tails when you flip a coin?
You actually have to be able to answer that question in AP Statistics, and it’s not really answered with a mathematical formula.
Similar logic issues come up with methodologies.
Why is a data collection method reliable or unreliable?
How do you find biases?
These aren’t purely math questions, but they’re still very important in statistics.
These applications of logic are great for some students and very hard for others.
I can’t sit here and predict how you, a complete stranger, might do with this.
Instead, I can point out that these problems require you to think about answers more than they involve calculations.
You can decide if that’s something that will appeal to you or not.
I just want to take the moment to emphasize that AP Statistics is a math class where you can’t always just follow a formula and get to the right answer.
Whether that makes it easier or harder for you really depends on you.
With all of that covered, you are a better gauge of whether or not you should take AP Statistics than anyone else ever could be.
With that said, I’m going to point out two things.
First, AP Statistics is usually treated as an advanced math class (“advanced” is in the name after all).
Because of that, it might come with more homework, harder versions of problems, or run at a faster pace.
A lot of math teachers teach AP classes differently, and that’s worth considering.
Despite all of that, the concepts that you are expected to learn in AP Statistics are not unreachable.
Average math students absolutely can learn everything covered in this class, and in fact, average math students learn all of this stuff in college on a regular basis.
A lot of different degree programs require statistics at the same level as what is covered in the AP class.
How hard is AP Statistics for an average math student?
The concepts are very learnable, and you should be fine.
It mostly comes down to how the teacher approaches the class, and in some environments, it might be hard for the average student.