How to pass your statistics exam?

1. Read the relevant course material before you go to a lecture

So many students go to lectures unprepared, while there is so much to gain by reading the relevant course material before attending a lecture. When you go to a lecture without having read anything in advance, all the information taught during the lecture will be new for you. This will make it extremely difficult to stay focused the entire time and to not get lost at a certain point. However, when you go to a lecture prepared, you already know for a large part what the teacher is going to say. This means you only need to pay full attention sometimes, namely when the teacher covers extra material or material you didn't completely get during your preparation. The rest of the time you hear a (useful) rehearsal of what you already know, so it's fine to get distracted sometimes. Going to a lecture prepared will make the lecture much more easy to follow and way more useful for you.

2. Stay on track

Statistics courses always build new knowledge on top of old knowledge. This means that the further you get behind on schedule, the more mysterious any new course material will become. Staying on track is therefore an important step towards passing your statistics exam. Is your schedule telling you it is time to study, but is the pleasure seeker in your brain telling you to do something more enjoyable? It for sure is more easily said than done, but: don't give it the permission to overrule your plan to study. Be determined, walk to your desk, get your books, and start working. Think about how much you want to pass the exam (you don't want to go through this for yet another year do you?!), and realize that you won't pass unless you stick to your schedule. You are not going to pass if you only start studying three days before the exam.

3. Try to really understand the course material

Some students spend a lot of time reading the course material, but still fail their exams. This may be because they don't really understand what they're reading. Especially with a subject like statistics, assignments and exams become much easier if you truly understand why we do things a certain way and what all the different statistics mean. As a first step, try to carefully follow the reasoning explained in your text book or by your teacher. If you don't understand a specific part, ask! Next, explain the different statistical concepts to yourself or to a friend in your own words. If there is an online discussion forum for your course, try to answer questions asked by your fellow students. The more you get actively involved with the course material, the more you will start to understand it.

4. Relate the different topics to one another

Once you understand all the different topics individually, learn how they relate to one another. What are their differences? What are their similarities? In which situation should you use one method or formula and in which situation the other one? Statkat's overview tables of different statistical methods can be of great help to get an overview of the different methods and formulas. Select them via the menu or via the method selection table.

5. Practice

It is almost impossible to pass your statistics exam without practicing. Practicing allows you to actively, rather than passively, learn the course material. Practice with the exercises offered by your teacher and with Statkat's practice questions. Statkat offers exercises for a variety of methods and all exercises are accompanied with explanations on request, so you never need to feel lost.

6. Be patient, don't panic

Learning statistics takes time. Don't force yourself to learn too much new course material at once. If you don't understand a topic the first time you read about it, don't panic. It doesn't mean that you are not smart enough to learn statistics. It only means you need to invest more time in it. You will get there, step by step. Learn small pieces at a time, and eventually, pieces will fall into place one by one.


In sum, statistics is not a subject you learn three days before the exam. You need to invest time in it and use good learning strategies in order to master it. This may require some discipline, especially if you couldn't care less about the subject... However, investing time in learning statistics really pays off in the end!