statistical graphs

If you're a nursing student, you might be surprised to learn that you'll have to study other subjects in nursing that might seem almost irrelevant to your field.

However, as a nurse, you'll have to brush up on your communication skills, science skills, and of course…math.

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How Hard is Statistics?

Statistics is mandatory for many college programs. Learning it can be more difficult than other college math courses. This is due to the different concepts introduced in statistics, including descriptive and inferential statistics that are not typically used in other math courses.

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What is Statistics?

To put it simply, statistics is the study of collecting, interpreting, and analyzing data. It can be used in a variety of fields, including:

  • Marketing
  • Medicine
  • Economics
  • Engineering
  • Research

Statistics can be broken down into two categories, descriptive and inferential statistics. These are core concepts that all beginning statistics students will have to understand and utilize later in their respective fields.

What is Descriptive Statistics?

In descriptive statistics, data is collected and analyzed based on what is presented, i.e., it describes the data at hand. A simple concept of this would be to take a survey, then put the results in an excel sheet or other data retrieval tool and finally turn that information into a digestible, easy-to-read chart.

For nurses, not only will you have to understand basic concepts, such as median, mode, and average, when learning descriptive statistics, but you will also use descriptive statics heavily in your career as a nurse.

Descriptive statistics can be used to interpret:

  • Patient surveys
  • Patient feedback
  • Investigative reports
  • Effectiveness of new healthcare initiatives 
  • Quality-improvement projects

What is Inferential Statistics?

As the name suggests, inferential statistics attempts to predict (or infer) outcomes based on the data presented. For instance, if you had a large batch of marbles in a swimming pool, you wouldn't count all of them to attempt to know how many colors of each were in the pool.

Instead, using inferential statistics, you'd grab a sample and using the sample data, make predictions about the rest of the colors in the pool!

This is a simple way to understand statistics. In practice, inferential statistics can help nurses:

  • Understand patient trends
  • Predict outcomes of healthcare practices
  • Analyze and predict effectiveness of new care strategies
  • Prepare for emerging health trends

Is Statistics Harder than Algebra?

a math equation

Depending on how your mind works, you may find statistics more challenging than algebra. Statistics involves more critical thinking and the ability to interpret data than algebra does.

On the other hand, algebra solves for missing variables (4x-x=2), which, although can seem intimidating at first glance, some may find it easier to learn after understanding how variables work.

Side-Note:
Figuring out which is harder between statistics and algebra is not that easy. The answer may change depending on what level of statistics you're referring to.

For instance, you may find basic algebra easier than a stats course in high school.

On the other hand, you may change your mind once you take college stats classes and start doing higher-level data analysis. At that point, you may find college-level algebra to be easier than college-level stats classes.

Is Statistics Harder than Calculus?

The answer to this question is debatable. Both calculus and statistics use widely different math concepts, with calculus focusing on limits, functions, derivatives, integrals, and infinite series.

Calculus is essentially the study of how things change in small intervals over time.

Calculus is a core mathematical tool used in various fields of research. However, statistics is more focused on interpreting data and can have various real-world applications that you'll find more useful in occupations such as nursing.

In short, just because calculus was difficult for you in high school does not mean statistics will be.

Calculus is usually taught over two years, beginning with pre-calculus and moving on to calculus. In contrast, statistics can be taught in a year. This is for low-level calculus and statistic classes. Once you get into college, there are many more calculus and statistic classes.

Hire a Tutor for School

If you need a tutor for school, you can find one using this online platform. The tutors are vetted, and you pick the time that works for your schedule. Whether it's for nursing school, nursing school prereqs, or any school-related subject, this is a platform you should check out.

Is College Statistics Hard?

Many people think statistics in college is more difficult. On the contrary, the same concept taught in college statistics is taught in high-school level statistics, including:

  • Interpreting Categorical
  • Quantitative Data
  • Making Inferences
  • Justifying Conclusions
  • Conditional Probability
  • The Rules of Probability
  • Using Probability to Make Decisions

These concepts can be learned relatively quickly with the right help. However, it does take some getting used to, especially if your high school didn't require statistics before graduating.

Most high schools don't require statistics to graduate and rely on calculus and algebra to satisfy academic requirements.

Nevertheless, although concepts might be the same, having a college course might make it difficult due to a professor's teaching style and just because college itself is stressful!

Do I Need to Take Statistics in College?

Statistics is not a requirement for most four-year degrees. For instance, you won't need to take statistics if you're a journalism major. However, most nursing programs will require you to complete a math course, including algebra and statistics, to obtain your degree.

You should check with the school or program you want to attend and ask them what courses they require.

Even if you plan to only attend a two-year program and get your associate degree in nursing, statistics might still be in your course catalog.

On the other hand, obtaining a four-year degree and getting your bachelor of science in nursing might be beneficial, as many states now require a BSN to work as a registered nurse.

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How Can I Learn Statistics?

If you're having a difficult time learning statistics and finding certain concepts difficult, there are various strategies you can utilize to make your time in statistics class easier.

1. Hire a Tutor.

Math tutors are some of the most respected types of tutors out there, and chances are they're more keen on helping you and have more availability than your professor does.

Math tutors can also be students that have taken the class the year prior, and they can give you pointers on exams and what the professor prefers to test you on.

Another route is to hire a private tutor (from this site) who will do just as good a job helping you learn statistics. The downside is that hiring a private tutor is going to cost money.

Pro-Tip
While hiring a private tutor does cost money, it may not be as expensive as you think.

Go to this site and look at some of the tutors that are on that platform. You may be surprised at just how affordable some of them are.

2. Attend Your Professor's Office Hours.

a student with professor

Many professors offer learning hours before or after class. It's best to learn statistics directly from your professor if possible.

Your college professor was hired because they have proven themselves as an expert and highly-qualified teaching in the field of statistics.

Although your professor might not be available as much as a tutor is, feel free to e-mail them or prepare a list of questions before you attend their learning hours.

You can also ask them to sit in on other statistics classes, if possible, to help refine some difficult concepts. 

3. Watch Youtube Videos

Here's one of the videos about statistics you can find on YouTube.

Did you know that online videos are some of the most powerful tools for learning mathematics? Videos are a great learning tool and are now standard in education.

Videos can be used to help you grasp concepts more efficiently (especially ENGAGING videos). They can also help if your style of learning is visual.

Many statistics videos are available on Youtube for free and can help you learn the basics of data interpretation and real-life uses for statistics.

4. Don't Cram and Do Last-Minute Studying

If your statistics course relies on tests for you to pass, it's important to not leave studying until the last minute.

Not only does cramming not work before a test, but it's also essentially useless in helping you digest and truly understand information, especially something as complicated as statistics. 

Why Take Statistics as a Nurse?

If you're planning on becoming a nurse, you're probably going to be required to take statistics, so you won't really have much of a choice.

With that said, if you eventually advance your nursing career into a nursing administrator, educator, or researcher job, you'll quickly realize how beneficial stats class will be.

Those fields require knowledge of statistics to interpret research and data in your hospital. The goal, of course, is to help you improve the quality of patient care and the lives of your patients.

More and more hospitals now are looking for a nurse that can take the initiative and lead improvement projects, use evidence-based practices for patient care, and strive to improve their hospital inside and out.

Side-Note
This need for improvement projects holds true for hospitals that want to achieve Magnet certification from the American Nurses' Credentialing Center. 

Key Takeaways

Statistics can seem daunting. However, it's just as easy to learn in high school as in college.

It's different from other math courses like algebra and calculus, but you can learn statistics with the help of YouTube videos, tutoring, and simple learning tools.

Look at our website for more information on other nursing schools and their requirements!

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Have You Read These?

Frequently Asked Questions

One of the hardest parts of statistics is the concept of inference. Inference is using information from a sample to draw conclusions about the population as a whole.

Mathematical statistics is important because it teaches you how to collect and analyze data properly.

The statistics class high school students take is not that hard. It does require logical thinking, but a lot of it is looking at and analyzing graphs and tables.

The fastest way I've found to learn mathematical concepts fast is by doing a lot of practice problems. The next best thing is to hire a math tutor.

Depending on your college major, you may not have an option in the math classes you have to take. Check with your academic advisor to see if you have to take statistics.

Statistics class is typically under the mathematics department at colleges and universities.