How to calculate standard deviation

Updated February 21, 2017

The standard deviation is the average of all the averages of several sets of data. Statisticians use the standard deviation to calculate how close the various sets of data are to the mean of all the data sets. Standard deviation is often associated with the mean of test scores in schools.

Compute the mean of the data set. Do this by adding all the numbers in the data set together and dividing by the amount of pieces of data. For example, if you have added 27 numbers together, divide that total by 27. This is the mean of the data set.

Calculate the deviance of each piece of data from the mean of the data set. This is done by subtracting the total mean from each individual number.

Square each of the individual deviations.

Add these squared differences.

Divide the number you got from adding the squared differences together by one less than the data set. If there are 27 numbers, divide by 26.

Calculate the square root of the result of the previous step. The result of this calculation is the standard deviation.

Turn on your graphing calculator, go to the stats/editor screen and enter your data set into list1. Once this is done, return to your home page by hitting the home button.

Push the catalog button and scroll through the applications until you find "stdDev(". Place the arrow next to it and press enter.

Type the word "list1" into the open parenthesis. After you have put that in, close the parenthesis so you calculator doesn't show an error message.

Press the enter button. The calculator has done the calculations and you now have the standard deviation of your data set.


Using 1-var stats in the stats/editor screen will also give you the standard deviation. Using that function will also give you other information associated with your data set.

Things You'll Need

  • Graphing calculator
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