Primary Mathematics/Average, median, and mode

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Primary Mathematics
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Average, median, and mode[edit]

There are three primary measures of central tendency, and a couple less often used measures, which each, in their own way, tell us what a typical value is for a set of data. Generally, when finding the measures of central tendency, one would order the values of the data set from least to greatest.


The mode is simply the number which occurs most often in a set of numbers. For example, if there are seven 12-year olds in a class, ten 13-year olds, and four 14-year olds, the mode is 13, since there are more 13 year olds than any other age. In elections, the mode is often called the plurality, and the candidate who gets the most votes wins, even if they don't get the majority (over half) of the votes.


The median is the middle value of a set of values. For example, if students scored 81, 84, and 93 on a test; we select the middle value of 84 as the median.

If you have an even number of values, the average of the two middle values is used as the median. For example, the median of 81, 84, 86, and 93 is 85, since that's midway between 84 and 86, the two middle values.


The straight average, or arithmetic mean,(sometimes referred to simply as "average" or "mean"), is the sum of all values divided by the number of values. For example, if students scored 81, 84, and 93 on a test, the average is 85 .