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Studying Is studying a little bit of statistics worth it?

  1. Jul 22, 2011 #1
    I'm going to be a senior in high school next year, and I'm thinking about self-studying AP Statistics. I want to be some sort of mathematician or physicist, and I am thinking that having the equivalent of a first-year course in college statistics will significantly broaden my career choices and math skills. There also seems to be a lot of math "language" that is unique to statistics and not often found in other parts of math, so I will have to learn a lot of that too.

    Would studying this be worth it? I'm starting out with no stats knowledge, and I'm just going to study from Khan Academy's videos.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 22, 2011 #2
    Yes, definitely. Statistics is one of the most widely applicable tools for any science.
  4. Jul 22, 2011 #3
    I would definitely try it. I've never heard of anyone liking AP stats though. I never took it, but I know that it isn't calculus based and therefore might be a little dry. As for it opening career options? No single class you take in high school will do that. But if you like it you might choose to do more in college, which will broaden your science education for sure. It's particularly helpful for actuarial science, which you might choose to do if you like math.
  5. Jul 22, 2011 #4
    For what it's worth. This semester I needed to fill a 3 credit elective, and so I took Statistical Methods (3CR course), which I believe is essentially the same as a highschool non-calculus stats course. (I just wanted to get introduced to some terminology, plus, it beats taking tennis or something).

    Anyway, it was amazingly boring. There was very little math involved. We only briefly touched on probability and other remotely interesting topics. The rest of the course was spent on normal distributions, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing and all that.

    This was non-calculus stats, the only pre-req was college algebra or equiv. May or may not be like the course you are talking about.
  6. Jul 22, 2011 #5
    Thanks guys. I think I will just start the course and take it really slowly. If it gets really boring, I might stop and spend my time studying linear algebra or something instead.
  7. Jul 22, 2011 #6
    AP Stats is easy, easy, easy. But, it is also useful. Knowing basic stats will change the way you think about things.
  8. Jul 22, 2011 #7
    How about if it gets really boring, you stick with it anyways. Don't get me wrong, linear algebra is great (and you'll end up needing it if you go far enough in stats), but if I had to pick just one, I'd strongly suggest stats.
  9. Jul 22, 2011 #8
    Alright, I guess I better start studying this summer before school starts, then just go over everything during the school year bi-weekly or so to keep it fresh, along with learning new material.

    I wish collegeboard offered AP exams in the fall. So stupid that they only offer them once a year.
  10. Jul 22, 2011 #9
    Coming from an actuary (correct me if I'm wrong though, I thought I read about you being one somewhere 'round here)!

    Quoted for emphasis, especially the last bit. It's very very important if you're thinking of doing anything with physics or applied math. Even if you're not going to go into science, it's probably a really good idea because it shows you how actual [experimental] science is done (which is extremely useful knowledge to have).
  11. Jul 24, 2011 #10
    It won't really. However having the equivalent of a third-year course in statistics and probability will help you a lot, and it will be easier to teach yourself/take a course in advanced statistics if you have learned basic statistics.

  12. Jul 24, 2011 #11
    In my opinion, I thought AP Stats was rather difficult. Then again, I am not a mathematically minded person. I felt as if the rules of stats are not consistent at all (I didn't know when to do one test vs. another). I ended up passing the AP exam with a three though, my lowest score ever:frown:
  13. Jul 24, 2011 #12
    Ok, one other questions. Next summer I plan on either taking Calculus III or Linear Algebra at a local college. I will have hopefully gotten at least a 4 or a 5 on the BC Calc exam (equivalent to Calculus II), and I plan to study physics (or something like it) in college.

    Which one should I take, Calc III or Linear Algebra? On one hand it would be pretty cool to basically be done with calculus, but on the other it would be nice to get a start in linear algebra. Right now I'm leaning towards Calc III because then I would be 100% prepared for differential equations and linear algebra, and I will have just completed BC Calc so stuff will be fresh in my head.
  14. Jul 26, 2011 #13
    Or maybe you are too mathematically minded.

    One reason that advanced statistics and probability courses are cool is that you end up learning the basic principles behind basic statistics courses. A lot of basic statistics are just "plug and chug". In this situation, take these numbers, do this, and put them into this formula. The reason for this is that most statistics jobs involve "take these numbers, do this, and plug them into this formula." DO NOT MESS WITH THE FORMULA.

    It's not until you get into higher level classes where they go into why the formulas are what they are.
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