The Difference Between Precision and Accuracy

People tend to confuse precision and accuracy, and many of the definitions out there aren’t entirely clear.

Here’s the easiest way to see the difference.

  • Precision is about taking multiple attempts—such as shots, guesses, or measurements—and having all of them end up very close to each other.
  • Accuracy is about having your attempts land at the true or desired location.

A good example is a marksmanship target, as seen above, where you could have a tight cluster of shots nowhere near the bullseye, and that would be precision. Or you could have a loose group near the center that’s fairly accurate but not very precise.

In short, precision is about how close attempts are to each other, and accuracy is about how close they are to the desired goal.


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