How to Calculate the Total Error of Something

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Total error is used to find the measurement of error between a set of estimates and the actual results. Total error is used in many ways -- sports statistic calculations, scientific estimation and even engineering. It is not 100% accurate but uses simple arithmetic that shouldn't be hard for most people to learn. You must first find the percentage error of each of the values you are testing before you can find the total error value.

    Find the difference between the estimated result and the actual result. For example, if you estimated a result of 200 and ended up with a result of 214 you would subtract 200 from 214 to get 14. Always subtract the lower number from the higher number, as you are trying only to find the percentage difference between the two numbers.

    Divide the difference found in Step 1 by the actual result. For example, you would divide 14 by 214 to get approximately 0.06. Multiple this number by 100 to get your percentage. Write your percentage as 6%.

    Repeat these steps with all of your variables to find all of the percentage differences. For this example, let’s say our results were 6%, 10%, 34% and 12%.

    Find the average of these percentages by adding them and dividing the result by the number of variables. For example, adding all of these variables comes up with 62%. Divide 62 by 4 to get 15.5%. This average represents the total error of your estimations, including any accurate estimations you may have made.

    Things You'll Need

    • Paper
    • Pencil
    • Calculator


About the Author

Eric Benac began writing professionally in 2001. After working as an editor at Alpena Community College in Michigan and receiving his Associate of Journalism, he received a Bachelor of Science in English and a Master of Arts in writing from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

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