How to Calculate Success Rate

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You might want to measure your success rate in many cases: Maybe you're submitting job applications, fine-tuning your sales pitches, or want to know what percentage of your class passed their end-of-year exams. Either way, finding the success rate takes only a few basic calculations, as long as you know how many total attempts were made and how many of them were dubbed a success.

Define Success

Before you begin your calculations, take the time to clearly defined what it means if a trial, or attempt, was a "success." If you're dealing with a pass/fail situation – for example, passing a test – the definition is obvious. But in other situations, it might not be so obvious. If you're looking for work you might consider getting a first interview to be a success, or maybe you'd define success as getting a callback for a second interview.

For the sake of an example, imagine that you're a salesperson that sends out email pitches. Define "success" as getting a response that expresses interest in learning more about what you're selling.

Collect Data First

You need two pieces of data to find your success rate: The number of total attempts made (in this case, the number of email pitches sent out), along with the number of successes.

To continue the example, imagine that you sent out 100 email pitches last week, and of those you met the definition of success – getting a response expressing an interest in learning more – 17 times. Once you know the number of successes and the number of trials, you're ready to start calculating your success rate.

  1. Divide Successes by Trials

  2. Divide the number of successes by the number of attempts or trials made. In this case, you have:

    17 ÷ 100 = 0.17

  3. Convert to Percentage

  4. Multiply the result from Step 1 by 100 to convert it into a percentage:

    0.17 × 100 = 17 percent

    So your success rate in the last week is 17 percent.

Another Example

Imagine that you just took – and passed – a difficult final exam. If only 65 of the 90 students in your class passed the exam, what was the success rate?

  1. Divide Successes by Trials

  2. Divide the number of students who succeeded – in this case, 65 – by the number of attempts made. In this case, the number of attempts made is the number of students in the class, or 90:

    65 ÷ 90 = 0.72

  3. Convert to Percentage

  4. Multiply your result from Step 1 by 100 to convert it into a percentage:

    0.72 × 100 = 72 percent

    So the success rate for that final exam was 72 percent.


About the Author

Lisa studied mathematics at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and spent several years tutoring high school and university students through scary -- but fun! -- math subjects like algebra and calculus.

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