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Principles of Statistics DSST
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Free Principles of Statistics DSST Study Guide

Name of Exam: Principles of Statistics DSST

Number of Questions: Around 100 (varies)

Time Limit: 120 Minutes

ACE Recommended Passing Score: 400

Practice Test Available?: Yes - See "Practice Exams" in Free Resources below

Cost: $80 + Sitting Fee (Usually no more than $20) at your testing site. Military can take DSSTs for free with Tuition Assistance. Check with your Educational Officer!

Difficulty 1-5 : 4
(One being the easiest, and five being the hardest)

Alternatives: StraighterLine Statistics and ALEKS Business Statistics

Exam Description:

The Principles of Statistics DSST covers what a student would learn during a single semester of a college Statistics class. A few of the specific topics you'll see see are: Probability, Inferential Statistics, Sampling Distributions, and Correlations and Regression.

Personal Thoughts:

Statistics is a subject that scares many people coming out of the gate, but isn't really all that bad. The only reason it's rated as a number 4 is because of the subject matter itself. Most people are pleasantly surprised when they finally see their scores. The exam itself is tough, but there seems to be a pretty forgiving grading curve.

I tell you all of this just to calm things down. Many folks get rattled (I know I did) when you go through the first dozen questions without a warm and fuzzy. As long as you know the material, you'll do fine.

One of the most common questions is about the calculator allowed during the Principles of Statistics DSST. The answer all depends on your testing center. The official answer is that a calculator is included in the testing software. The actual answer is that many testing centers will allow you to use your own calculator, and I suggest you do so.

Take a look at the Texas Instruments BA II Plus Professional Financial Calculator. The price is reasonable and it simplifies things greatly. Make sure you get one with the instruction booklet. You'll need to learn your way around this thing.

Exam breakdown:

Make sure you check out the Official DSST Fact Sheet for this exam.

Pay attention to the bottom of the fact sheet. It contains some sample questions that closely mimic the type of scenario-based questions you'll see on the actual exam.

The Principles of Statistics DSST is broken down as follows:

25% Inferential Statistics
20% Foundations of Statistics
20% Correlation of Regression
20% Sampling Distributions
15% Probability

Areas of Study

I'm going to list some specific topics that you'll need to study.

Though there are different versions of the Principles of Statistics DSST, you'll most likely see some of the following on your exam:

  • Sampling Methods
  • Linear Correlation
  • Scatterplots
  • Combinations and Permutations
  • Law of Averages
  • Type I and Type II Errors and Levels of Significance
  • Z and T Scores
  • Normal Approximation
  • Descriptive Statistics
  • Comparing the means of more than two samples
  • Break even analysis and sensitivity
  • Linear Regression
  • Stem and Leaf
  • Null Hypothesis

This is not a comprehensive list of topics! I highly recommend (as always) signing up for InstantCert and running through their entire flashcard series as well as seeing the Specific Feedback section for this exam. They've had years to accumulate their information, and it shows.

Recommended Free Study Resources

  • StatSoft - A great statistics site. Look on the right hand side of the screen and hit every subject found on the official fact sheet.
  • StatPrimer - A very nice site for Statistics help. Each section has exercises that you can go through to test yourself. Definitely worth a look.
  • Statistics Help Online - A conversational explanation of many statistics topics. As always, hit each topic on the official fact sheet.
  • Statistics Internet Library - There's a lot of dead links on this page, but don't get discouraged. Use what you can, and definitely look at the bottom right under "Practice Problems".
  • HyperStat Online Statistics Textbook - A very nice online Statistics site. This covers almost everything on the Principles of Statistics DSST in an easy to read and helpful way. A great site.
  • Introductory Statistics Notes - There are better resources out there (see above) but I try to include different types for different likes. This is in an online book format and may help someone feel more comfortable with the subject.
  • Statistics Practice Exams - Look at the bottom for the ones that are labeled "STATS" Enjoy ;).
  • Principles of Statistics Free Forum Links - From our own Feedback area. Find some other forum posts that we don't have? Let us know via the "Contact Us" form.

Recommended bargain-priced study resources

Always check your library first! You may be able to find some of these for free. You don't have to buy the officially recommended resources all the time. If you're the type of person that prefers to study from a textbook source however, then please see below.

Introduction to the Practice of Statistics, 4th Edition (Book & CD-ROM) - The DSST suggested study resource. Personally I'd pick the one below this first. If you do indeed get this one, then get the used versions unless you enjoy paying entirely too much for a textbook.

Statistics - One of the most straightforward explanations of statistics I've come across. It's written in plain English and not mathematical formula. This is just what I was looking for.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Statistics, 2nd Edition - If you're going the library route, then this may be an easier find than the above book.

InstantCert Academy Principles of Statistics Specific Exam Feedback - Four pages of targeted information for this exam. Take a look at the last few posts for the updated exam material, though don't ignore the preceding pages. Also if you've subscribed, make sure you go through the Flashcards for Principles of Statistics as well.

If you don't know what InstantCert is, then click here for the scoop as well as a discount code: **InstantCert Academy**

You'll find an InstantCert link for every exam here if that gives you an idea of the amount of information they have available. It's an outstanding resource.

Closing Thoughts

I'd say that I was confident on roughly half of the questions on the Principles of Statistics DSST. The others were educated guesses and not-so-educated guesses. As mentioned before, the grading curve seems to be quite generous.

If your testing center doesn't allow you to use your own calculator, don't worry. Mine did not and I had to use the included on-screen calculator. Though a pain to use, it will do the trick just as well if not as fast. All in all, this isn't a hard exam and well worth the effort. Go get those credits!

Best of luck!

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