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Remember that the grader is not really interested in finding out the answer to the problem. The grader is interested in seeing if you know how to solve the problem.
Do not round partial answers.
Store them in your calculator so that you can use them unrounded in further calculations.
Do not let the points at the beginning keep you from getting the points at the end.
If you can do part (c) without doing (a) and (b), do it. If you need to import an answer from part (a), make a credible attempt at part (a) so that you can import the (possibly wrong) answer and get your part (c) points.
If you use your calculator to solve an equation, write the equation first.
An answer without an equation might not get full credit, even if it is correct.
If you use your calculator to find a definite integral, write the integral first.
An answer without an integral will not get full credit, even if it is correct.
Do not waste time erasing bad solutions. If you change your mind, simply cross out the bad solution after you have written the good one. Crossed-out work will not be graded. If you have no better solution, leave the old one there. It might be worth a point or two.
Do not use your calculator for anything except: (a) graph functions, (b) compute numerical derivatives, (c) compute definite integrals, and (d) solve equations. In particular, do not use it to determine max/min points, concavity, inflection points, increasing/decreasing, domain, and range. (You can explore all these with your calculator, but your solution must stand alone.)
Be sure you have answered the problem.
For example, if it asks for the maximum value of a function, do not stop after finding the x at which the maximum value occurs. Be sure to express your answer in correct units if units are given.
If they ask you to justify your answer, think about what needs justification.
They are asking you to say more. If you can figure out why, your chances are better of telling them what they want to hear. For example, if they ask you to justify a point of inflection, they are looking to see if you realize that a sign change of the second derivative must occur.
Top Ten Student Errors
- is a point of inflection.
is a maximum (minimum)
- Average rate of change of f on [a, b] is
- Volume by washers is .
- Separable differential equations can be solved without separating the variables.
- Omitting the constant of integration, especially in initial value problems.
- Graders will assume the correct antecedents for all pronouns used in justifications.
- If the correct answer came from your calculator, the grader will assume your setup was correct.
- Universal logarithmic antidifferentiation: .
- and other Chain Rule errors.
Follow these strategies on exam day:
- Before beginning work on the free-response section, read all 6 questions to determine which ones you feel most prepared to answer. Do them first.
- The 6th free-response question (called the “investigative task”) is worth 25% of that section and usually takes 25-30 minutes to complete. Do not save this question until the end, as you will be too tired and rushed to think creatively. A good strategy is to complete question 1, then question 6, then the remaining 4 questions.
- Show all your work; partial credit is given for partial solutions. If your answer is incorrect, you can still receive credit for correct thinking if the person scoring the exam sees evidence of it on paper.
- If you make a mistake, just cross it out – don’t waste time erasing it.
- Organize your work as clearly and neatly as possible, showing the steps you took to reach your solution. If the person scoring the exam cannot easily follow your reasoning, you are less likely to receive credit for it.
- Don’t write a bunch of equations hoping that the correct one will be among them so that you can get partial credit. You can lose points for the extraneous or incorrect information.
- Explain your reasoning. When asked to choose between several options, give reasons for your choice AND why you did not choose the others.
- Do not use statistical vocabulary unless you are sure you are using it correctly. Define all symbols, draw pictures, etc. Never just give a numerical answer without showing how you found it and why.
- Do not rely on calculator syntax. If you write down calculator syntax, clearly label each number.
- When you are asked to compare two distributions, use explicit comparison phrases such as “higher than” or “approximately the same as.” Lists of characteristics do not count as a comparison.
- Do not give 2 different solutions to a problem. The worst one will be graded.
- Answer all questions in the context of the problem.
- If the question asks you to use results from previous parts of the question, be sure to explicitly refer to them in your answer.
- If you cannot get an answer for an early part of a question but need it for a later part, make up a value or carefully explain what you would do if you knew the answer.
- Space on the exam is not suggestive of the desired length of an answer. The best answers are usually quite succinct. There is no need for “extra fluff” on an AP Statistics exam.
- Use words like “approximately” liberally, especially with the word “Normal.”