Science Talk: Difference Between Accuracy and Precision

slice of an orange with a dartBack in high school, the concept of accuracy and precision was taught in your science classes. Back then, understanding these two concepts is quite difficult. Fast forward, you have used these two concepts interchangeably. But it’s okay; you are not alone in this.

However, you should note that accuracy and precision are not the same. You may find it hard to reconcile yourself with this now, knowing that you’ve been using these two concepts as one thing. It is essential that you correct your perception now, especially if you are working with measurements and similar mathematical or scientific constructs.

Let this article help you understand them.

What is accuracy?

Accuracy refers to a measurement that is close to the true value (true value may refer to the set value or a bull’s eye). If a measurement is close to the real value, then it is accurate. Otherwise, it is not or is just less accurate. Accuracy is important in many things, which is why it is important to use yardsticks or benchmarks that are universally or globally accepted. You can find such in instruments calibrated by in Chicago.

What is precision?

Precision, on the other hand, refers to the act or instance where you or a measuring device hits the particular measurement or figure more than once. It may mean that when you measure a specific object or phenomenon, the values you yielded are close to each other or the same.

A prime example will be the usage of darts and the dartboard. If you hit the bull’s eye, then you are accurate, since the set value or true value in this situation is the dartboard. When you hit a specific spot, say one edge of the board, multiple times, then you are precise. If you hit the bull’s eye multiple times, then you are accurate and precise.

READ  Ideas to Make the Most Out of a Gap Year

In summary, accuracy and precision are two different things. Not all precise is accurate, and not all accurate is precise.