AP Statistics Test-Taking Tips

General Test-Taking Tips

Much of being good at test-taking is experience. Your personal test-taking history and these tips should help you demonstrate what you know (and you know a lot) on the exam. The tips in this section are of a general nature—they apply to taking tests in general as well as to both multiple-choice and free-response questions.

1. Become familiar with the instructions for the different parts of the exam before the day of the exam. You don’t want to have to waste time figuring out how to process the exam. You’ll have your hands full using the available time figuring out how to do the questions. Look at the Practice Exams at the end of this book so you understand the nature of the test.

2. Practice working as many exam-like problems as you can in the weeks before the exam. This will help you know which statistical technique to choose on each question. It’s a great feeling to see a problem on the exam and know that you can do it quickly and easily because it’s just like a problem you’ve practiced on.

3. Make sure your calculator has new batteries or has been fully charged. There’s nothing worse than a “Replace batteries now” warning at the start of the exam. Bring a spare calculator if you have or can borrow one (you are allowed to have two calculators).

4. Bring a supply of sharpened pencils to the exam. You don’t want to have to waste time walking to the pencil sharpener during the exam. (The other students will be grateful for the quiet, as well.) Also, bring a good-quality eraser to the exam so that any erasures are neat and complete.

5. Get a good night’s sleep before the exam. You’ll do your best if you are relaxed and confident in your knowledge. If you don’t know the material by the night before the exam, you aren’t going to learn it in one evening. Relax. Maybe watch an early movie. If you know your stuff and aren’t overly tired, you should do fine.

6. Look over the entire exam first, whichever part you are working on. Find and do the easy questions first.

7. Don’t spend too much time on any one question. Remember that you have an average of slightly more than two minutes for each multiple-choice question, 12–13 minutes for Questions 1–5 of the free-response section, and 25–30 minutes for the investigative task. Some questions are very short which will give you extra time to spend on the more challenging questions. At the other time extreme, spending 10 minutes on one multiple-choice question (or 30 minutes on one free-response question) is not a good use of time—you won’t have time to finish. Answer the question and move on.

8. Be neat! On the Statistics exam, communication is very important. This means no smudges on the multiple-choice part of the exam and legible responses on the free-response. A machine may score a smudge as incorrect. Readers work hard to figure out what a response says, but you want to make it easy to see that you know what you’re doing.

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