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How to Survive the Investigative Task

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

One of the most important goals in AP Statistics is to produce students who can think and reason statistically. We want them to be able to encounter a new context or scenario and use their statistical sleuthing skills to arrive at a conclusion. This is exactly the intention of the Investigative Task on the AP Statistics Exam.

Check out this video that will help students Survive the Investigative Task. This video is part of the Stats Medic AP Statistics Exam Review Course.

The Quick Details

  • Always question #6 on the Free Response.

  • Worth 25% of the Free Response grade (12.5% of the overall AP score).

  • Recommended 25 minutes.

  • Often has 4 or 5 parts.

Prepare Your Students for the Investigative Task

If we want our students to be successful on the Investigative Task on the AP Exam, we need to provide them multiple experiences in class that are investigative. Our whole teaching philosophy - Experience First, Formalize Later - has a very investigative flavor. We often ask students to put together many pieces of prior knowledge to do something they have never done before (like constructing a confidence interval in the Hershey's Kiss activity.)

AP Exam Review

We also spend an entire day during our AP Exam Review preparing students for the Investigative Task. Here is what the day looks like:

  • Choose a #6 from one of the past exams. We like 2011 #6.

  • Have students try the problem individually (25 minutes)

  • Have students pair up and work together (10 minutes)

  • Show some sample student responses (FRAPPY style). Start with the student response that earns a 2 and work up to the model response that earns a 4. Have students discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each paper.

  • Talk through the rubric and have students grade their own paper.

  • Have students reflect on the experience. What did they learn? How will they approach the Investigative Task on the AP Exam?

Tips to Give Your Students

  • Generally the first one or two parts will cover content from the course and the second or third part will start the investigative portion of the question.

  • The parts are scaffolded and you often need the answer from one part for the next part. The first few parts should be very accessible (easy) and then get progressively harder. Be sure to get your credit on the first few easy parts!

  • Plan on integrating knowledge from several different parts of the AP Statistics curriculum.

  • The last part of the Investigative Task often requires you to look back holistically at all of your previous answers and summarize.

  • This question is designed to be challenging. A score of 1 or 2 out of the 4 points is a good score on #6.

  • All of you are going back to come back the day after the AP Exam and tell me this question was impossible.

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