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Measures of central tendency are statistical tools used to identify the centre of a data set.

In GCSE Geography, understanding measures of central tendency helps you analyse data effectively. The three main measures are the mean, median, and mode. Each of these provides a different way to summarise a set of numbers, making it easier to understand and compare data.

The mean is the average of a data set. You calculate it by adding all the numbers together and then dividing by the number of values. For example, if you have rainfall data for a week (10mm, 20mm, 30mm, 40mm, 50mm, 60mm, 70mm), the mean would be the total rainfall (280mm) divided by the number of days (7), which equals 40mm. The mean is useful for understanding the overall level of a data set but can be affected by extremely high or low values.

The median is the middle value when the data is arranged in ascending or descending order. If there is an odd number of values, the median is the middle one. If there is an even number, it is the average of the two middle numbers. Using the same rainfall data, when arranged (10mm, 20mm, 30mm, 40mm, 50mm, 60mm, 70mm), the median is 40mm. The median is particularly useful when the data set has outliers or is skewed, as it is not affected by extreme values.

The mode is the value that appears most frequently in a data set. If no number repeats, the data set has no mode. If multiple numbers repeat with the same frequency, the data set is multimodal. For example, in a data set of river depths (2m, 3m, 3m, 4m, 5m), the mode is 3m. The mode is helpful for identifying the most common value in a data set, which can be useful in various geographical analyses.

Understanding these measures allows you to summarise and interpret geographical data more effectively, aiding in your studies and helping you make informed conclusions.

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