Best Practices for Statistics Studying
When customers ask me what to do to do better in their Statistics class, I always to the same. I ask them "please tell me how do you organize your studying", and I always get surprised. I mean, I don't get surprised anymore but the answers are surprising.
Indeed, it is a fact that majority of students lack of a proper strategy and methodology at the time of organizing their statistics studying. Their methods are inconsistent and based on gut-feeling. In my experience, it is the use of a sound methodology what separates students who succeed and students who fail at Stats.
In this tutorial I will indicate what I have experienced firsthand to be successful study strategies that you can apply successfully to your Stats. Actually, they are very universal and you can apply them to any course you want really.
What is the purpose of studying statistics?
That is a super valid question. Many students feel that in order to give their 110% (using sports nomenclature) they need to have a reason. In a competitive setting, getting a good grade in Stats to not to ruin their GPA is a strong enough reason for many.
But then, if we step back a bit we can ask ourselves, why even take that Stats class. Many student s are simply stuck with it, because it is mandatory for them. Other people see Stats as a way of entering into some fields that could turn out to be lucrative career paths, like Finance and Actuarial Sciences.
No matter what is it, make sure you have a reason to take stats. Really, do not take just for the sake of taking it, because then it may be hard to find the motivation to succeed if you are struggling with it. Either because you like it, because it is mandatory or as a career enhancement. But don't go for Stats if you don't have a reason.
What do you learn in statistics class?
Stats courses in college are very similar to the AP Stats class you may have taken in high school. It covers essentially descriptive statistics, graphical representation, sampling and hypothesis testing. And the emphasis is on APPLYING the tools rather than UNDERSTANDING the tools.
That is why many people find that basic stats are usually easy classes. I tend to agree, but the fact that you mainly need to apply the right tool to get a good grade, you still need to have a solid understanding of what you are doing and why.
So, it is not really a walk at the park, but also, it is not too hard. That is why it could be an opportunity to take this class, only you have to make sure you have a reason to take it. What you want to avoid is the situation in which you really dislike stats, you are really not doing well in the class and your GPA is getting destroyed, and you are not even needing to take that class. That is completely avoidable.
Is Statistics Studying mostly based on numbers?
Lots of customers ask me whether Statistics is the study of qualitative or quantitative, because they really do not know. Let's be clear: Stats is essentially a quantitative discipline, and it is intended for those with a relatively strong mathematical background.
Some students with social sciences orientation believe that taking Stats can open their career path, which is accurate. But they need to be aware that statistics is a QUANTITATIVE discipline, and you are expected to be proficient at using quantitative methodologies.
So, if you don't have a math background or you are not really oriented towards quantitative thinking, it is best to steer clear of Stats. Or, you can take some statistics related courses that are a tighter fit for your specific field (Statistics for Nurses, etc).
- Make sure you have a reason to take that Stats class. Statistics studying is not terribly hard, but it is truly best to have a reason to take it. If you don't like math and you don't have to take it, then don't it.
- Try to find the best match for your career path. Sometimes plain statistics may not me for you, but perhaps there could be a more specific class such as "Statistics for Social Sciences", just to give an example.
- Once you are taking Stats, be mindful of your study strategies. Be mindful of how you study and learn, and practice a lot.
- Stick to proven strategies: Give yourself plenty of time to study, do not allow to fall behind too much before you catch up. Hire a stats tutor if you need to. Work mostly on solving practice problems, that way you will be completely habituated to solving questions like the ones you will get in the real tests.
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