An elementary statistics class is a common requirement for a variety of bachelor’s degrees. This course teaches you about analyzing quantitative data, statistical distributions, and confidence intervals – which are very useful for research. It can be a very challenging class that introduces new concepts and math skills. Getting a good grade in statistics is definitely possible, and developing skill in statistical methods can provide applicable knowledge for real world math and analysis.

An introductory statistics course is often a prerequisite to many other college math classes, computer science courses, and econ classes. High school statistics can provide a great launching point for incoming college students, but university level statistics will often take much more than just memorizing vocab to preform rigorous and helpful statistical analysis. A deep understanding of intro statistics will be key to many future classes and careers! These few tips can help to solidify all of these new skills and mathematical techniques.

## Attend the Lectures

Lecture attendance is especially important in statistics, because the professor’s examples will probably be key to understanding what various statistical methods mean – instead of just how to preform the calculation. Statistics is essentially about understanding and applying knowledge *and* formulas, so if you understand one problem you will be able to understand the basis for many other problems of the same type. Watching your professor work through each type of question is by far the best way to learn the concepts.

## Do the Homework

Not only will spending time on your homework raise your grade for the assignment, but it will also drastically increase your test scores. By working through each type of problem on your own, you will see which formulas and concepts are difficult for you, and when your work is scored you will be able to check your progress. After working through problems in the homework, you will be able to recognize which formula should be used when it’s time for the test, saving you time and raising your grade.

## Find a Tutor or Study Group

Students who struggle with statistics often just need to look at the problem in a different way, but if your class is large it can be hard to find individual attention from lecture alone. Looking to classmates or tutors can help enormously if you feel you need another perspective.

#### Tips

Many colleges offer free peer tutoring services; if you decide you need a tutor, ask your professor if there are any free services available to you.

## Get Every Point You Can

Statistics professors often require students to show their work when completing problems, which means you can easily lose points if your work is unclear, even if you have the right answer. Show every calculation you do, even if it seems obvious, because a few points here and there can really raise your final grade. Quizzes can be just as important as midterms and finals, regardless of the final grade distribution.

## Use Technology

Many professors might start with the underlying formulas and algebra behind standard deviations, linear regressions, and similar statistical calculations, but in real-life mathematics statistical analysis relies heavily on computational analysis.

Graphing calculators like Texas Instruments TI series or the online Desmos calculator provide the basic tools for hypothesis testing and data collection. Beyond that, tools like excel, Python, and R are heavily utilized by professional statisticians and mathematicians. Learning how to use these systems early on can provide a great starting point for future work and problem solving.

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About the Author

After graduating college in December, 2008, Lorraine O'Neil began working full-time as a freelance writer. Since she has been working professionally, O'Neil's articles have been published on websites such as DIY Chatroom. O'Neil holds a Bachelor of Arts in legal studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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