Introduction to Statistics

Tips on Revision Spring 2012

  1. Re-read your lecture notes. Do this for a week's material at a time. Compare the notes which you wrote yourself with the notes which are now on the web page. If there is any material that you do not understand, read more about it in one of the textbooks recommended for the module.

  2. Make your own summary. For each week's worth of material, make a summary of the most important points on one side of a single sheet of paper. Note that what you gain from this comes almost all from the making the summary, rather than from reading it. Thus, reading a summary made by someone else will do you far less good than making your own. Compare this with going to the gym: you have to do a workout yourself to get fit; watching your friend do a workout won't do anything for your own fitness.

  3. Do not learn material by heart. What is important is to understand the concepts and the arguments. Often I remember just the beginning of a proof: once I have started to write it out the rest just follows.

  4. Avoid false simplifications. Do not try to teach yourself that Word X always leads to Method Y, or that a certain distribution always goes with a certain technique. You have not learnt a subject until you can read a problem and work out for yourself which method is appropriate. Most methods can be applied in more than one situation.

  5. Avoid long lists of recipes. Even within the topic of hypothesis testing, there are many possibilities. We might be testing a hypothesis about a mean, about a total, or about a proportion. The test might be two-sided; one-sided with the bigger alternative; or one-sided with the smaller alternative. The underlying probability distribution might be any of those that we have covered. The context for the question might be manufacturing, education, anthropology, agriculture, medicine, selling pizzas, ... . The number of possible combinations is far too big for us to cover one of each type within the module, and you will fry your brain if you try to remember a separate recipe for each combination. What you have to do instead is to gain a sufficient understanding of the general principles for you to work out which combination is needed in any particular circumstance.

  6. Re-do the assignment questions. After you have revised the lecture material for a particular week, do the relevant assignment again. Do this without looking at what you did before, and without looking at the solutions on the web page. You should be able to do it in an hour. Write each solution out completely; otherwise it is easy to fool yourself that `I know how to fill in the details'.

  7. Check your answers. Compare your answers with the solutions on the web page. If they do not agree, it may be because your answer is a perfectly valid method of solution that just happens to be different from the one that I have put on the web. It may also be because your answer is fundamentally wrong. Can you tell the difference? Be honest with yourself here.

  8. Keep in training. If you are going to run a marathon, you need to keep in training for your running. If you are going to be a concert pianist, you need to practise your scales. The same is true in mathematics: you need to practise it, and keep on practising. Starting this two days before an examination is no use at all. So how can you practise, if you have redone all the assignment questions? Look at the recommended textbooks, and do some of the exercises in them.

  9. Do not forget the Minitab. If you have access to Minitab, repeat each of the practical sessions. Keep the important parts of the output in a file. Edit the file to add comments saying what you did in the session, what the output shows, and what you learnt from the session.

  10. Re-do the mid-term test. Download a clean copy of this from the web page. Set aside 40 minutes in a place where you will not be interrupted and where you cannot look at your notes, and attempt the whole test again, without looking at what you wrote before or at the solutions. After you have finished, compare your work with the solutions on the web page.

  11. Re-do the end-of-term test. Download a clean copy of this from the web page. Redo this under the same conditions as the mid-term test.

  12. Use last year's examination paper as practice. This is available on the course web page. Give yourself two hours in a place where you will not be interrupted and where you cannot look at your notes. Write out answers to all of the questions, as fully as you can, on paper.

    I am willing to provide feedback to anyone who shows me their full written solutions in my office hours during Revision Week.

  13. Do not try to cram stuff into your brain at the last minute. Short-term memory may interfere with material that you have learnt properly at an earlier stage. Stop your revision at least 48 hours before the examination.

Page maintained by R. A. Bailey
r.a.bailey AT qmul.ac.uk

Page updated 17/04/12