Measurement and Error Key Words

A few key words that are useful when collecting and evaluating data. Should be apt to most exam boards. General physics terms.

  • Created by: Rebecca
  • Created on: 21-04-10 10:44


  • Reliable
    • The same value is obtainted each time the experiment is carried out (within acceptable limits)
  • Valid
    • The measurements you are making will give you the data asked for or can be used to find the required data
  • Accuracy
    • Accurately calibrated instruments have been used
    • How confident you are that your results are right
  • Precision
    • How exact is your reading, e.g. how many decimal places
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Data Analysis

  • Range
    • Difference between the highest and lowest value
  • Uncertainty
    • Also known as the probable error of the measurement
    • Half the range
    • OR half the smallest division on the measuring equipment
    • Written as +_ the uncertainty (Can't get the real symbol on the computer but the minus is under the plus)
  • Mean Value
    • Add all the measurements together and divide by how many you have
    • You might need to include the uncertainty when quoting the mean value
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  • Systematic
    • If all the values are out by a specific amount, can be caused by a zero error on the measuring equipment
    • Must be accounted for when plotting graph and taking measurements
  • Random
    • No differences, patterns, trends or bias.
    • Often fluctuate around real value so line of best fit can show the real value
  • Zero
    • When the measuring device is supposed to be at zero it shows a different number
    • As long as this is factored into the results, it shouldn't cause a problem
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Katie Hammond


whoop whoop becky! thanks for uploading these.x

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