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Accuracy and Precision

Data that is close to a measured value versus data that is grouped closely together.

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Accuracy and Precision

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Accuracy and precision are words that we use so much that in day-to-day speech they are freely interchangeable. However, from a scientific perspective, accuracy and precision refer to different things.

License: CC BY-NC 3.0


Accuracy describes how close a measured experimental value comes to the accepted value.

Precision describes how close data from different trials in an experiment are in relation to each other.

Use the graphic below to help you visualize the differences between the two.

License: CC BY-NC 3.0


Study Tip!: You may find this following method helpful in remember the difference between the two:

Accuracy begins with an A, so you can remember that accuracy is a measure of how close to the accepted value a measurement is if you think of an "A" letter grade as being the highest accepted value.

Precision begins with a P, and so does the word "Pattern". You can think of measurements which are relatively precise to each other as following a pattern.


Why is it valuable to account for how accurate or precise your values are in experimentation?

For help in answering the questions in this guide, refer to this read.

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  1. [1]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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