Median Pros and Cons

When you come across a large data set, whether it’s survey results or just a homework problem, there are several ways you can try and describe the important aspects of the set. Each of these statistical values have pros and cons. This is a 3 part series highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly of mean, median, and mode.

Median Pros and ConsHere are links to the other two:

Mean Pros and Cons

Mode Pros and Cons

Median Pros and Cons

The median is another way to find the MIDDLE of a data set. This is different from the mean, due to the fact that one large outlier doesn’t adversely affect the middle. Median and mean accomplish similar goals with similar outcomes.

Median Pros

  • It finds the middle of the data set.
  • It is not affected by one outlier number.
  • Combined with mean it can be a very descriptive tool.

Median Cons

  • You MUST put the numbers in order from least to greatest.
  • The way you find median differs depending on how many numbers are in the group.

Median can be tricky. Finding it depends on whether there are an even amount of numbers in the set or an odd amount of numbers in the set. One involves calculation, the other doesn’t. Median is probably the most labor intensive value to find (out of mean, median, and mode) but it is very useful.

It is robust against wildly different numbers present in the set, unlike mean. In fact, a good way to predict where abnormal numbers lie is to compare median with mean to see which is greater and by how much. Overall median is a good value to know from a data set, and although it takes a lot of work, it is very helpful.

To find out how to find median with a step by step example video and article, click here.


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