Definition of mean median & mode

Updated November 21, 2016

Whether you are a math student, survey taker, statistician or researcher, you are going to need to calculate the average of multiple numbers from time to time. But finding the average is not always straightforward. Averages can be found in three ways--mean, median and mode.


When you think of averaging, you are most likely to think of finding the mean. You add all of the numbers in the set and divide by how many numbers are in the list.


To determine the median, the list of numbers should be arranged in order from lowest to highest. The number in the middle or the average of the two middle numbers is the median.


Mode refers to the number in a list that occurs most often.

Using Mean: An Example

If you have the numbers 125, 65, 40, 210 and 65, the average would be 101, or the total of all five numbers (505) divided by the number in the list (five).

Comparing to Median and Mode

Median and mode methods would produce different answers than mean. For both, the average would be 65.

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Amy Jorgensen has ghostwritten more than 100 articles and books on raising and training animals. She is also an amateur dog trainer. She has also written more than 200 blog posts, articles, and ebooks on wedding and party planning on behalf of professionals in the field.