Is AP Statistics easy or hard? We reveal the AP Stats difficulty rating, based on a unique combination of 2023 pass rate data, and 3,160 class reviews from real AP alumnae collected by r/APStudents.

Is AP Stats Easy Or Hard?

AP Statistics is considered quite easy, with class alumnae rating it 4.9/10 for overall difficulty (the 18th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed).

The pass rate is about average vs other AP classes, with 60% graduating with a 3 or higher.

AP Statistics is quite widely-taken (245,000 entries last year), and 95% would recommend the class.

Is AP Statistics Easy or Hard - overview graphic showing data and alumnae ratings with footnotes

AP Statistics is not considered a typical math course: it’s more conceptual and may be accessible if you struggle in other math classes. You’ll need to know how to use a calculator, and many students find they need to memorise specific vocabulary for the free response questions.

You can see how AP Stats compares to other classes for difficulty in the below chart:

We’ve highlighted AP Statistics and related math classes (Calculus AB / BC) only – to see the full version of this chart, check out our article ranking ALL the AP classes from easy to hard. .

You can read more about AP Calculus AB and BC here.

How Difficult Is AP Stats – As Rated By Class Alumnae

AP Statistics is considered quite easy, with class alumnae rating it 4.9/10 for overall difficulty, making it the 18th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed.

chart showing AP Statistics difficulty as rated by alumnae

What Is the AP Stats Pass Rate 2023?

The AP Stats 2023 pass rate was about average vs the all-AP average, at 60%.

The highest percentage of students failed with a 1 (24%), followed by the passing grades 3 (23%) and 4 (22%). The percentage of students passing with a 5 (15%) was slightly under the all-AP average.

chart showing AP Stats 2023 pass rate data

AP Stats Pass Rate / Score Distribution Over Time: 2023, 2022, 2021 …

The AP Statistics score distribution has not varied significantly over the past 5 years of exams. The pass rate was 60% in 2019, 2020, 2022 and 2023, with a slight drop of 2% in 2021.

Is AP Statistics Time Consuming To Study: As Rated By Alumnae

AP Stats is rated as quite low study time required relative to other AP classes.

A survey of AP alumnae asked for a rating out of 10 for time needed to study each class, with 1 = least time needed, 10 = most time. The average rating for AP Statistics was 4.7/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.4/10).

Is AP Stats Easy or Hard To Self-Study

AP Statistics is rated as moderately difficult to self-study relative to other AP classes.

A survey of AP alumnae asked for a rating out of 10 for how easy each class is to self study, with 1 = easiest to self study, 10 = hardest to self study. The average rating for AP Statistics was 5.4/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.7/10).

chart showing AP Statistics difficulty as rated by alumnae

How Hard Is AP Statistics: 75 Real Alumnae Share Their Experiences

If you’re looking forward to taking AP Statistics, it’s important to take both the positive and negative feedback in context. There are multiple factors that could contribute to a great or poor experience of the class, such as a particularly weak teacher and your personal preferences as a learner.

An impressive 93% of AP Statistics alumnae would recommend the class.

The majority of the reviews focus on course enjoyment, whether or not the test was easy, the conceptual nature of AP Stats, and the importance of memorisation.

1.      Many students really enjoy this AP

“Stats was super fun and is super useful, especially if you’re also taking AP Psych :)” – AP Statistics Score: 3

“It was one of the best AP courses, or maybe even courses period, that I’ve taken so far! It was really, really fun. It’s not really a math course, it’s more like logic with reading. If you like puzzles and the like, you’ll like this course as well.” – AP Statistics Score: 5

“Stats is pretty easy if you can apply all the different statistical tests properly.” – AP Statistics Score: 5

“It’s easy if you have a math/science-based brain” – AP Statistics Score: 5

2.      AP Stats is not a typical math course: it’s much more conceptual

“This is not your typical math course. It involves a lot of explanation and description, but it is quite easy.” – AP Statistics Score: 5

“The course was very easy and we had finished all content by March. However, ours was a yearlong 90/day course so there was a LOT of time for us to review and learn the content. It’s different than normal math courses and you may find more writing than you expect.” – AP Statistics Score: 5

“Stat isn’t really a math class. the actual math itself is the easiest part, but the bulk of the material is the application and understanding of the math. wasn’t that difficult, I did the bare minimum and got a 5. if you know how to read and how to use a calculator you’ll be fine.” – AP Statistics Score: 5

“If you’re bad at math– take this class. It’s not much math at all, the calculator does all of that for you, you just need to logically figure out how to solve the problem. This class depends on you knowing how to use your calculator and being logical. I never did any actual math in this class. You need to memorize certain things, like categories and what to do given a problem with this and that– but its super easy once you get the hang of it.” – AP Statistics Score: 5

3.      Some find the test easier than the class…

“Class was harder than AP exam” – AP Statistics Score: 4

“I got bad grades (low 90s) in the class, but the test is easy to get a 5 on.” – AP Statistics Score: 5

4.      … But for others, the reverse was true, with the exam proving harder than expected

“I thought the exam was really easy, and I got a 97% in the class, but I still got a 4.” – AP Statistics Score: 4

“Don’t underestimate the exam. I really thought I got a 5 but then got a 4.” – AP Statistics Score: 4

5.      On the downside, a small minority of students dislike the course because of its focus on memorisation over understanding

93% of alumnae would recommend the class. The following review came from one of the small minority (7%) of students who would not recommend the class:

“Students are expected to know an unnecessarily large number of confidence intervals and significance tests. As a result, teachers are forced to sacrifice understanding in favor of brute memorization. None of the underlying mathematics of these procedures is ever explained beyond some pretty pictures, funny symbols, and hand waving. Additionally, probability is introduced as a pile of formulas. It too remains unexplained and mysterious. In fact, this general theme of pushing understanding and intuition to the curb is present throughout the entire course. A well-trained monkey with a good memory could get a 5 in this class.” – AP Score: 5

What Does It Take To Succeed: How To Study For The AP Stats Exam

What is AP Statistics? Course Outline & Requirements

According to College Board:

“The AP Statistics course introduces students to the major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from data.”

Prerequisites for AP Stats are a second-year course in algebra, so it is usually taken in junior or senior year.

You will develop skills in:

  • Selecting statistical methods
  • Describing patterns and trends
  • Using probability and simulation
  • Making arguments with statistics

The exam consists of one 3-hour exam, with 50% (90 minutes) of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and 50% (90 minutes) of free-response questions.

For more details, see: College Board’s AP Statistics course page.

Examiners’ Reviews: Takeaways From Test Assessors

College Board released the following official comments about the 2021 exam results:

  • “AP Statistics students generally scored very well on questions about Units 1, 2, and 3, with ~18% of students answering all such questions correctly.”
  • “The most challenging units were 4 (Probability, Random Variables, and Probability Distributions) and 5 (Sampling Distributions). 5% of students answered every question about these units correctly, and 5% of students answered no questions about these units correctly.”
  • “The most challenging questions for students required Skill Category 3, Using Probability and Simulation. Scores would have been significantly higher if students performed this skill as well as they performed Skill Categories 1 and 2.”

For best results, you may therefore want to consider investing a little extra study time in the “Using Probability and Simulation” skill area, and Units 4 and 5, which are, respectively, on “Probability, Random Variables, and Probability Distributions”, and “Sampling Distributions”.

For more details, see: College Board’s AP Statistics 2021 exam results page.

How To (Self) Study AP Statistics: Advice From Class Alumnae

Reviews of AP Stats reveal some top advice for succeeding in the course, whether you’re studying in class or self-studying.

Knowing how to use a calculator is vital for success

“Most important part of this course is knowing how to use your calculator, and when to use what function for the problem given. The most math you have to do is probability, which takes up a relatively small portion of the content. I recommend a TI-84 plus silver edition for this course, where you don’t have to memorize the formatting of the statistical functions on the calculator.” – AP Statistics Score: 5

“The hard part about studying is knowing how to use a calculator and knowing the conclusion sections of free response questions, which a teacher can teach you very well.” – AP Statistics Score: 4

“As long as you know how to utilize the calculator to your advantage, this will be an easy AP.” – AP Statistics Score: 5

“Just know how to use your calculator for all types of problems! There are built in functions so you don’t necessarily have to memorize the formula as they’re given on the AP anyway.” – AP Statistics Score: 5

“Get a good graphing Calculator and know the statistical test procedures” – AP Statistics Score: 5

Other students commented on the importance of knowing specific wordings for free-response questions

“Also try to memorize the format of the problems; the FRQs don’t change that much every year (except for #6) so you can memorize almost word-by-word the format of the answers.” – AP Statistics Score: 5

“Be sure to understand the meticulous wording/phrasing of your responses, because graders evaluate your answers by looking at whether or not you included key phrases/ideas.” – AP Statistics Score: 5

“[AP Statistics is] not super difficult, but the FRQ’s are super nit-picky- one or two words may make you go from an E to a P, and those can hurt your score” – AP Statistics Score: 4

Success often comes down to dedication!

“Do Barron’s cover to cover and understand every problem, and you’re guaranteed a 5.” – AP Statistics Score: 5

“Do not self-study in 3 days like me. If you take about a month or two, you should get a 5. You need to be very dedicated and allocate some time every DAY to this test. It is easy to self study if you do this. That being said, the class is relatively free. The teachers drill the info into your brain. There is a lot of information, and you need to be able to MASTER every aspect of it.” – AP Statistics Score: 4

“I just did the textbook problems and the practice questions that my teacher gave me. First semester might be hard for AP Statistics, but second semester was a piece of cake. Just keep practicing the textbook problems and read the theory of the lesson.” – AP Statistics Score: 4

Best books and test prep resources for AP Stats

If you’re looking for the best books to study to help you ace AP Statistics, we’ve crunched the numbers on the available textbooks. Check out the winners, according to reviews from successful AP students, in our overview of the best AP study guides for every subject.

Where next?

Find out how AP Statistics compares to other classes: click here for an overview of all AP Classes ranked by difficulty, from easiest to hardest.

Or check out how other math courses are rated with our analysis of Is AP Calculus AB / BC Hard?

Wishing you every success in the class!

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