Pretty much all excerpted from the ap-stat mailing list digests.

Summer Pre-reading

Last year I had my students read "A Lady Tasting Tea." We refer to it often during the course of the year. I then gave them bonus points over Winter Break for reading "The Tipping Point." This book also elicited lots of discussion.

I assigned How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff. Others on this list have recommended this book as well. It is very old so you might want to warn your students that current Yale graduates probably make more than $20,000.

I am going to assign "Freakonomics" this year to my kids. Selected readings are going to be required, with the rest of the book optional.

200% OF NOTHING, by A. K. Dewdney (John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0-471-57776-6. For the most part it deals with math abuse.... most of the examples deal with misuse and
misrepresentation of statistical data.

I also recently read "Graphic Discoveries: A Trout in the Milk and Other Mysteries" by Howard Wainer, regarding graphical interpretation of data. It's a relatively quick read, and it has some nice case studies in it. I personally know Howard as a psychometrician, and was surprised to see a book by him devoted to statistical graphics.

For examples of such written in nothing more than plain English Robert

The only summer homework I give is to have students make a homemade pair of dice. This idea has circulated on the list for years and I'm afraid I lost track of the originator. The only requirements for the dice are:

  • smaller than a tennis ball

  • durable enough to withstand 1000 rolls

  • the cube must be constructed by the student, they may not purchase a cube and decorate it (this increases the possibility of unfair dice)

We roll on and off all year and keep track of our totals. Then we discuss:

  • law of large numbers

  • run a 1-prop z test to see if a given # is fair

  • one-mean t test to see if the die is averaging 3.5

  • and, of course, the grand finale: goodness of fit.


Second semeseter review, ie Weekly

In addition, for review, starting in semester 2, I give them problems of the week...I give them 2 old FR problems that are similar and they have a few days to look at it and then on Thursdays I pick one of the problems for them to do with only 13 minutes (the approximate time they should take on the actual exam for FR (non-investigative tasks))

Final Review

Like you, I give my students many different types of review activities during the weeks prior to the exam. Here is a summary:

- Last year, I made out a spreadsheet that helped me plan what I wanted to cover and when. This helped me see what copies I needed for each day, what the overall order of topics was (or SHOULD be), what each day's homework would be, etc. Maybe I'm overly obsessive with organization, but it really helped me see what was really doable, what was really important to review, how much time I really had, etc. I have a plethora of review materials, so this helped me prioritize activities and focus on the important things.

- We talk about how the test is scored, test-taking strategies, and different scoring scenarios to earn 5's and 4's (that's our goal).

- We study tips from downloadable publications at the AP Central web site:
("Teaching Students How to Write..." , "Exam Tips..." , etc.)

- We discuss "Common Mistakes" made on previous Exams (also available at the AP Central web site)

- Great "quick hits" review over the different inference tests: (review guides by Betsy VandenBerg) at

- We practice a plethora of previous AP Free Response questions, including student samples—I try to take time to have students "grade" some student samples to give them a feel for what good (and not so good) work looks like...

- We take a complete FR test during one 90-minute block period (I think I use the 2002 released exam)

_ They have daily homework assignments (2002 MC test, other practice tests, etc.)

- LOTS of multiple choice review questions—three or four questions each day as a warm-up

- Saturday Morning Review: we bring juice and donuts and take 2-3 hours on a Saturday morning to review. I set up several "stations" in different math classrooms, and students spend time in one or two stations of their choice. Some of the stations include: Multiple Choice practice, probability review,
another full free response test (2002 Form B), Problem #6 Practice, and "ask the teacher." They can also suggest any other "problem areas" over which they need review, and I can find review materials for them. Students work in small groups or pairs—I have found this to be a great use of a Saturday
morning—it's relaxing, informal AND helpful!

- Following Dave Bock's advice, we relax during class on the day before the test—juice and snacks are brought in, and we bask in the fact that WE ARE READY!


Even though most freshmen enter college thinking they know what they'll major in and they are doing so at the perfect institution for them, most will change majors at least once and many will transfer to another college. (If memory serves, the average college student has 2.3 majors and nearly 30% transfer, but I have no references for these statistics and they could be quite wrong...) Though they may think right now that they won't need or couldn't get credit for the Stats course, two years hence, headed down a different path and perhaps at a college with different rules they may wish they had taken the exam.

Fact 1: Intro Stats is taught on most campuses in many places. Here at Cornell, I've counted 15 courses that cover essentially the same ground. One is in the math dept. One (mine) is in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Others are in the Agriculture School (two courses, actually), the Hotel School, the Psychology department, the Economics department, the Sociology department, ... In short, there may be many opportunities for AP credit, and which one will do you the most good may depend on your major.

Fact 2: The AP course is better than any of these courses. I have 13 weeks of two classes per week to cover the material, and I teach a required course to all comers. I simply can't do what a high school class meeting daily for a year and teaching a (self-)selected group of students can do.

Fact 3: No teacher wants to teach a course to a student who already knows the material. It is a waste of time and effort, not fair to the other students in the class, and no fun for the student.

So: Once you have scored a 4 or 5 on the exam (or maybe even a 3), take your materials to the teacher of the course for which you want credit. By "materials" I mean a full syllabus, the name and authors of your textbook (not just the color of the cover) (Most of the standard AP books have College-level sibling texts by many of the same authors, so be sure you know the authors' names.), any projects you may have done, your notes, etc. Anything to show the depth and breadth of your course. And by all means take the Part II questions from your AP exam—I guarantee that the students finishing a college intro stat course wont generally be able to do them, and the professor will see that.

You can probably get credit. You may need to sit for the exam in the course (which you'll find easy by comparison if you review a bit before taking it). You may need to learn a stat package (which is pretty easy.) Maybe all you'll get is permission to go on to the next level, but that's worth something too; why waste tuition dollars on a course you don't need (but is probably required for your major) when you can take one that will do you some good?

Don't go after a course that is clearly not a match. An Engineering school course is likely to use calculus and isn't equivalent. A math course in probability won't match either. Read the course syllabi to find good matches.

It is great when schools formulate a policy. But Statistics is a
strange subject taught in many places, so it may be hard to have a coherent policy that covers all departments and instances of the course. I don't trust reports that a school won't recognize the AP exam. At some level, that's up to individual professors.

Post-AP Test Activities

I have collected several activities over the years. On a Block schedule these take about 1 class period to complete. They include:

  1. Water comparison: tap, filtered tap, bottled?

  2. Capture/Recapture (adapted from Activity Based Statistics)=20

  3. NON-Cents (from some workshop)

  4. Random Rectangles

  5. Age of a Penny=20

  6. Decoding

    I plan to try the activity from NUMB3RS this year

  7. "Rolling down the River" (I'll have to look up the website) simple random samples, stratified random samples)

  8. "More than your Heart Desires an exploration of Blocking" created by NCSSM Statistics Leadership Institute July 2000

  9. Paper Airplanes (from YMM)- this one is out of my comfort zone!



Deviation is considered normal. We feel complete and sufficient. We are "mean" lovers. Statisticians do it discretely and continuously. We are right 95% of the time. We can legally comment on someone's posterior distribution. We may not be normal but we are transformable. We never have to say we are certain. We are honestly significantly different. No one wants our jobs.

A special thanks to Dr. William Miller for his humor, generosity, and

Philip D. Loud
Department of Mathematics & Statistics
Dover High School & Regional Career Technical Center