The mean in arithmetic is much different than the word when it’s used as an adjective. Instead of being a negative insult to a person’s character, it’s an average of a set of numbers.


The mean of a group of numbers is their average. Anyone can find the average of a set of numbers simply by adding them together and dividing by the number of numbers you have.


Test scores: 88, 76, 100, 66

All a student has to do is add the 4 numbers together. 88+76+100+66=330

Then, take 330 ÷ 4 (the number of test grades) -82.5…So, the mean or average of test grades is 82.5, still a B regardless of the 66.


There are numerous examples, industries and situations throughout a person’s life when it will be necessary to find the mean of a set of numbers, therefore, it’s important to master this skill early on. Whether you’re doing it by hand or using a calculator, it’s a simple process.


In the real estate market, finding the average cost of houses sold in a neighborhood is very common. This lets buyers know what to expect in terms of purchasing a house, and it makes sellers aware if their own price is in the range with others. Again, all the experts have to do is add up the list of sold houses, for example, over the last six months. IE. 125,000, 251,000, 166,000 195,000. When added together, the sum is 737,000. Take that number and divide it by 4, 737,000 ÷ 4 = $184,250. Those two lower sales of 125k and 166k, really dropped the comps for that area.


The first example revolves around bowling. In American 10-pin bowling, typically 3 games are bowled per outing. A bowler then takes those three scores and finds the mean of them. Let’s say he bowled a 188, 140 and 236. So, the problem looks like 188+140+236=564 Then, 564 ÷ 3 (game scores) = 188. This number is used to rank the bowler against other bowlers to figure out the standings. It’s also used to determine a handicap.

Basketball is another sport reliant upon means or averages. Here, they figure the number of points per game, keeping an ongoing average as the season plays on. They also figure the average number of rebounds per game.

Football is stocked full of averages, with experts figuring out the average rushing yards run per play by a team, the average touchdowns per game, even to the point of the average yards after a catch for a receiver. If there’s a play, there’s a statistic (usually an average or mean) to go with it.


In baseball, perhaps the most well known statistic is a player’s batting average. However, truth be told, this isn’t even an average, but rather a percentage. This is roughly figured by the hits ÷ the number of at bats. This comes up with a percentage, rather than a mean. But, for some reason, the name has taken on average instead.