You are Here: Home >< Physics

# Percentage error, percentage uncertainty, percentage difference. Watch

1. Can someone clarify, for once and for all, the difference between the three? I'm still a little hazy.

I'd be ever so grateful.

PS - any other equations it'd be handy to know for an A2 Physics practical, do tell.
2. This is what my revision notes look like:

% uncertainty
For a single measurement: (smallest division/your measurement) x 100
For a range of measurments: (range/average) x 100

% difference
For a single measurment: [(real value - your measurment)/real value] x 100
For a range of measurments: (range/median) x 100

Conclusions

- If % uncertainty is less than 5%, your value can be accepted as reliable

- If % difference is less than the sum of your % uncertaintities, the values can be accepted (e.g. for proving T(a) = T(b))
3. Just thought of an exception for smallest division; when using a timer always use 0.1

Even if your timer displays to 0.01s, still use 0.1 as this is human reaction. (My teacher says this is something you're expected to know and use).

For everything else, just use the smallest division (e.g. 0.001m for a ruler, 0.01mm for micrometer, etc. On digital readings its decimal places as shown on the display)

(Some people 1/2 the smallest division, although I've never done this. Can anybody explain why?)
4. Ta very much.

How do you calculate the combined uncertainty?
5. (Original post by SpikeJx)
(Some people 1/2 the smallest division, although I've never done this. Can anybody explain why?)
I think you use half the division if the divisions are clearly quite far apart - like a newtonmeter.
6. (Original post by Epitomessence)
I think you use half the division if the divisions are clearly quite far apart - like a newtonmeter.
So bascially if you are taking readings between the lines
7. As for combined uncertainty - just add them up

Although if the question involves some equation where the quantity is raised to a power, multiply the % uncertainty by the power (this usually seems to be in those "show that questions" so it will probably be faily obvious where to use this)
8. spikeJX, if you were to calculate the percentage uncertainty for which involves a few measurements, do you use range over average x 100 or do you use half of the range(largest minus the smallest measurement)over average x 100?
9. I use the first method you mentioned, although some people use the second method.

I assume either was is correct
10. OK, thanks a lot. I read through the past year papers with the answers given by my teacher and found that in most cases, he advised us to use the second method, but he did mark the first method correct in one particular paper.(i think i wrote that accidentally at that time). Good luck with your preparation.
OK, thanks a lot. I read through the past year papers with the answers given by my teacher and found that in most cases, he advised us to use the second method, but he did mark the first method correct in one particular paper.(i think i wrote that accidentally at that time). Good luck with your preparation.
good point, the mark scheme usually say something along the lines of "correct answer from range, 1/2 range, etc. method"
12. Can smn please explain why the experimental value can be accepted when percentage difference is less than percentage uncertainty ?

Im i think u told it the other way around.. 😕
13. It is correct because the aim of experiment is to sometimes minimise error. So if uncertainty is becoming note and more small the the precision also increases

TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

This forum is supported by:
Updated: October 4, 2017
Today on TSR

Can it be done?

### Give feedback to Cambridge here

Discussions on TSR

• Latest
• ## See more of what you like on The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

• Poll
Discussions on TSR

• Latest
• ## See more of what you like on The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

• The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE