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Study Tips with the Raj: 11/14/23

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

A WEEKLY COLUMN OF THE MEDIEVAL TIMES: MATH WEEK


Introduction

Hello and welcome to my column! For those who are new to the column (everyone in this case), allow me to explain how Study Tips with The Raj works. Every week, I feature 3 different classes (e.g. English 10, AP Bio, Sports Medicine) and an upcoming assignment that is due in each class, and give tips as to how to complete the assignment, as well as general tips on how to succeed in the class. This time, I’m going to feature 2 math classes, AP Precalc and AP Stats. Due to the multiple teachers that teach AP Precalc, I won’t use a specific assignment to give study tips on, but rather more tips that can help you with the classes in general.


AP Precalculus


AP Precalculus is one of the College Board’s newest AP classes, with this school year being the first year that the exam will be offered nationwide. In AP Precalc, you’ll learn the ideas surrounding polynomials, trigonometry, and other concepts you need to know before going into AP Calc or further college math. At our school, AP Precalc is replacing Math 4 Honors, so if you’ve taken Math 4, then the concepts you’ve learned in that class apply to AP Precalc as well.



  • Try to visualize the questions you’re given: Even with questions where you’re not allowed to use a graphing calculator or a graph is not provided to you, you’re often given a table with the values of x, y, or any other variable you’re given. With this information, although you may not be able to create a crystal-clear picture of a graph in your head, you can often gain a good idea of how it may look like.


(There are significant portions of the AP Precalc exam in which you cannot use a calculator and thus you have to use the conceptual skills you’ve gained) Obtained from the AP Precalculus Course and Exam Description


  • Tests aren’t filled with trick questions: The tests and quizzes you’ll find in AP Precalc are not designed to trick you or purposely sell you short when it comes to finding the answer. The questions are made for you to use critical thinking, as well the knowledge of the topics that you hopefully have to reach your answer. If you think that they’re giving too little information, that may be because what they give you is all you need to answer the question correctly.


(This is a trick question designed to not make sense to the average person, very rarely will you find a question in AP Precalc that is truly made to stump you like this one) Credit: https://www.mentalup.co



  • Ask your teachers for guidance: Although this may be the first year that your AP Precalc teacher is teaching the AP class, it is definitely not the first time they’ve come across precalculus as a subject. If you need any help with understanding any of the complex topics presented to you, such as trigonometric identities and the like, feel free to go to your teacher for help.


General Tips for AP Precalc:

Don’t let the AP label scare you, although AP Precalc is obviously now an advanced placement or “college-level” class, it still serves as an equivalent for Math 4 Honors which is taught to high school seniors. In addition, given that this is the first year the exam will be offered, the College Board is using this school year as a large-scale test to gauge how well students can do in precalc overall. Knowing this, try your best, and don’t feel discouraged by the AP label.



AP Statistics


AP Statistics is a math class that is usually taken as a senior and is taught by Mr. Gutierrez. In AP Stats, you’ll learn how to take data from real-world scenarios and analyze trends in the data to come to conclusions. AP Stats is equivalent to an introductory statistics class that you’d take in your first or second year of college.



  • Learn how to use the calculator: In AP Stats, your TI-84 (or any calculator you’re using) will become your best friend. Certain statistical calculations are nearly impossible to do by hand in the time you’re given on the exam, so you’ll need to learn how to properly utilize your calculator to get the numbers you need. In addition, the TI-84 is also a place where you can quickly find the average of a list of numbers to save time.


(This is the TI-84 calculator, the primary calculator used in AP Stats. In addition to graphing, the TI-84 is capable of storing lists and data sets and making calculations with them) Credit: Texas Instruments



  • Gain a good understanding of the underlying statistical concepts: While you may learn quickly how to get the numbers you need with your calculator, you also need to take time to learn what these numbers mean in the context of the questions that are being asked on the exam. There are only a few questions where you’re being asked to simply calculate the mean of a data set without putting any further thought into your answer. On both the multiple-choice, as well as the free-response sections of the exam, the goal is to take the numbers to get and show the exam readers what they mean.


(This is an example of the normal distribution; it is one of the many stats concepts that you have to gain an understanding of to be successful in the course and exam)



  • Learn to articulate what you’re saying: Surprisingly, they’re a lot of writing that goes into AP Stats, and you might actually find yourself writing a solid paragraph to explain the significance behind a number you get. With time, you should build your ability to explain your answers in a way that an average person can gain a better understanding of the conclusion you’ve reached.


General Tips for AP Stats:

Even after spending just a couple of months in AP Stats, you may find that the ideas and topics brought up are like almost none you’ve seen before. Although they might be unfamiliar, the math in AP Stats has lots of applications in the real world, as you might to able to tell from near endless amount of word problems throughout the course. One big learning lesson that you can take from AP Stats is that it’s one thing to be able to get the correct calculations, but it’s another thing to be able to explain its significance in the real world.


Closing:

That wraps up this math-centered edition of Study Tips with the Raj. If you’re in AP Precalc or Stats, I hope that you do well in your classes and ask your teachers for help if you aren’t entirely sure about a concept. If you’re not currently taking either of these classes, I hope that these tips can help you plan which math classes to take in the future. Next week I’ll be back with a few more featured classes where I’ll explain how to get their assignments done. If you have any comments or want to suggest a class to be featured, you can message me on my Instagram “the_raj_man”. But with that, thank you for reading, and this is the Raj signing off.

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