Study Tips for the Student of Basic Statistics

Gary C. Ramseyer
Emeritus Professor of Psychology
Illinois State University

  1. Use distributive practice rather than massed practice. That is, set aside one to two hours at the same time each day for six days out of the week (Take the seventh day off) for studying statistics. Do not cram your study for four or five hours into one or two sittings each week. This is a cardinal principle.
  2. Study in triads or quads of students at least once every week. Verbal interchange and interpretation of concepts and skills with other students really cements a greater depth of understanding.
  3. Don't try to memorize formulas (A good instructor will never ask you to do this). Study CONCEPTS CONCEPTS CONCEPTS. Remember, later in life when you need to use a statistical technique you can always look the formula up in a textbook.
  4. Work as many and varied problems and exercises as you possibly can. Hopefully your textbook is accompanied by a workbook. You can not learn statistics by just reading about it. You must push the pencil and practice your skills repeatedly.
  5. Look for reoccurring themes in statistics. There are probably only a handful of important skills that keep popping up over and over again. Ask your instructor to emphasize these if need be.
  6. Be a Gestalt Psychologist! In other words, recognize that the whole of statistics is greater than the sum of its parts. It is very easy to get hung up on nit-picking details and fail to see the forest because of the trees.
  7. If you are a victim of math or stat anxiety (Probably 70 % of the general population are) do something about it! Most universities understand the debilitating nature of this problem and provide excellent counseling programs for the alleviation of this disability. Do yourself a favor and get help. This may very well be the best decision you make in undergraduate school.

Reprinted with permission from http://www.ilstu.edu/%7Egcramsey/FunArchives.html

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