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Need help bridging the gap between Probability and Exam P/1 Probability

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  • Need help bridging the gap between Probability and Exam P/1 Probability

    I've looked at some of my friends' guides and they're really comprehensive and look like the perfect tool for passing, but for some reason whenever I do the example problems and then move onto the sample exam problems, I get stuck. I can't get over the "hump" of figuring out which model or distribution the sample question wants me to use. The calculations and further steps are not difficult for me. I want to stress that it's not the guides' fault. I'm just used to being given more information when solving problems...

    So basically I can't seem to make the jump on my own from basic probability to the kind of probability that requires you to think and reason more rigorously. Can anybody give me some tips or suggestions of guides that will help me move forward?


  • #2
    Try instead of just studying the formulas for different distributions, make a study sheet listing the conditions under which each distribution is appropriate or not appropriate. Most of the discrete distributions can really only be used under certain conditions, sometimes they can be approximated by another distribution, but if you're supposed to use an approximation the question will usually say something like "what is the approximate probability that . . .". In my experience, for most of the continuous cases, there was either a specific probability density function that was given, or they say "Such and such is an exponential random variable" or "such and such is normally distributed" or something like that, in which case it is also clear which distribution to use.


    • #3
      Hey thanks for your reply. The idea of writing down all of the possibilities is pretty good. It will probably solve the issue of figuring out distributions. But it will still require a lot of practice to get used to.

      I'm still concerned about reasoning skills. Sometimes I solve the problem on my own and get an answer, but when I look at the solution, it's usually more complex (and thus my answer wrong). For example, in one problem, you had to create a function something like (1/2)(X1+X2) but I couldn't figure that out from just the wording. No wait... I couldn't think that's what the problem wanted me to do: Make your own model on the spot. Well I guess that was a lesson in itself, LOL.

      Anyways, thanks again for your tip. That was really helpful.


      • #4
        there's often different ways to approach probability style questions. If you design something different don't let that deter you as long as your reasoning is sound... correct answers come in time.