Fact checked

What Is the Mean in Math?

The mean in math is the average of a data set and a measure of central tendency. Understanding how to calculate the mean is crucial for data analysis.
7 minutes
What Is the Mean in Math?
Written by:

There is plenty of complex terminology in the math world, and there’s no denying that "what is the mean in math?" is a common question. However, while you may be confused right now, once you understand what the symbols in math mean and how to use them, you’ll find it a very simple and useful process. 

How (and Why) to Find the Mean in Math 

Finding the mean in math is fairly simple, and it can be done with any number set and with any amount of numbers. 

All you need to do is add all of the numbers in any particular number set together, and then divide them by the amount of numbers in the set. 

For example, if you wanted to find the mean of 5,12,18,26 and 50, you would calculate it as follows:

= (5 + 12 + 18 + 26 + 50) / 5

= 111 / 5 

= 22.2

As you can see in this example, the mean in math is not necessarily a whole number. More often than not, it will include some decimals. 

Who can help define this concept?

Things like calculating the mean in math are very simple, foundational concepts on which all the other aspects of math are built. However, if you don’t master these basic building blocks, it can be difficult or even impossible to conquer more complex ideas, including geometry, algebra, calculus and trigonometry. 

Very often, people who believe they can’t do math simply need help with the basics so that they can unlock other, more complex mathematical ideas and theories. 

A math tutor will usually assess each client, regardless of the grade they are in, to determine what their actual level of understanding is. If they still need help with things like how to calculate the mean in math, the tutor will start there first before moving on to grade-appropriate concepts. 

While traditional teachers are an important part of learning math, they can’t hold up the progress of the whole class because one or two students have fallen behind. Often, those students stay behind because they’ve missed crucial elements of mathematical learning, like calculating the mean in math. A tutor works with students 1-on-1, addressing all their issues, regardless of how far back they have to go to build the fundamentals needed for success in math

The Skills and Experience to Look for in a Basic Math Tutor

You might not think that understanding the mean in math is that important or that you need a tutor to help you understand what the mean in math is. However, if you are struggling with basic math, you’re almost certain to struggle with more complex calculations and mathematical ideas. 

There are a few things that make a good basic math tutor that can help you to learn things like how to calculate the mean in math. Let’s look at what those are. 

Soft Skills for a Basic Math Tutor

Of course, basic math tutors who can help you to understand what is the mean in math need to understand math, but they also need to have some soft skills, such as:

  • Patience - Many people need to go over the same ideas several times before they “stick”, and a good math tutor will be willing to do it as many times as necessary
  • The ability to assess your level of understanding: Even if the question you are asking now is what the mean in math is, you might need to go back further to address other missing areas of mathematical knowledge
  • Punctuality and reliability - The last thing you want is a basic math tutor who does not arrive on time or at all! 

Math tutors – or any tutors for that matter – should also be polite and friendly. They don’t need to be the most outgoing person you’ve ever met, but they should have people skills and be able to connect and relate to their students. 

Hard Skills Basic Math Tutors Need

Aside from soft skills, basic math tutors who teach things like how to find the mean in math and what the mean in math is also need to have some hard skills, which should include:

  • A solid understanding of arithmetic, and the current math curriculum and teaching methods
  • The tools and equipment needed to perform calculations – you can’t teach someone to use a calculator or protractor properly if you don’t have one
  • In depth understanding of geometry
  • Detailed knowledge of algebra and other more advanced mathematical concepts – everything you learn in math is building towards trigonometry and calculus, so understanding those things is important in any math tutor
  • Training in how to teach – just being good at math is not enough to be a good tutor – your tutor needs to understand how to teach others

Ideally, math tutors are also people who genuinely enjoy math. This is not a subject where you can fake it until you make it. So the person you trust to teach you what is the mean in math (or anything else) should really enjoy talking about and explaining math. 

Red Flags to Look Out for in When Considering a Basic Math Tutor

Of course, just like there are skills and experience that make a good basic math tutor, there are also things that should be considered red flags. 

Their Rates Are Far Too Low

Good tutors are in high demand, which usually means that they charge a little more. If you are offered math tutoring at a much lower price than the average going rate, they might not be very good. 

They’re Not Available At Reasonable Times

If you speak to a math tutor and they can only see you at off-times that don’t work for your schedule, they’re probably not the right tutor for you. 

They Don’t Speak the Same Language

There are many people out there who are very good at math, but they don’t speak the same language as their students. This can make explaining complex mathematical concepts tricky, and it’s a good idea to think twice – at least until you’ve spoken to them to assess how their command of the language helps facilitate learning 

They Tell You Math Is Easy

Once you get the hang of math, it can be easy or even enjoyable. But if you’re having trouble understanding it, that’s not what you want to hear. If your tutor sounds over confident about your ability to master math – and their ability to teach you – you should proceed with caution. 

They Want to Meet In Strange Places

Unfortunately, the world is not a very safe place all the time. If your math tutor wants to meet in strange or isolated places, think twice about their services. You should feel (and be) safe when you’re meeting your tutor, and you should never be forced to meet somewhere you’re not comfortable with. 

Questions to Ask in a Potential Basic Math Tutor

Even once you’ve worked through the list of must haves and red flags, there are still things you should ask your tutor. These questions are a good start:

  • Why did you start tutoring math?
  • How long have you been a math tutor?
  • What level of math education have you reached?
  • Do you use math in your daily life, studies or job?
  • What is  your favorite mathematical topic to teach?
  • What kind of results have your past students had?

Ideally, your basic math tutor should not only be doing this for money. You want to find someone who genuinely loves math, and who loves to help other people understand mathematical concepts.

What to Expect When Working With an Online Math Tutor at Learner

When you choose Learner for your math tutoring needs, it all starts when you inquire. 

Not only will you be asked what grade you’re currently in, but also how you’re doing, and what you believe you’re struggling with. 

Once you’re matched with a math tutor who understands the math you need help with, they’ll ask you more questions, and might ask you to complete some example problems. This will allow them to determine what level of math you’re comfortable with, and what you need help with. 

Next, your tutor will create a custom learning plan that will help you to understand the things you’re struggling with, and then do some practice problems until you’re comfortable with the topic – which might very well be what is the mean in math to start with! 

As you master one concept, you will move onto the next, with frequent stops for revisions and to revisit concepts as needed. 

Learning math is rarely a linear process. Some people breeze through parts of the process but struggle on others. Learner’s tutors understand that everyone is an individual, and they help you to learn math the way that works best for you.

Get started with a custom-matched tutor for your child.

Find your tutor

About the author:

Mike developed his passion for education as a math instructor at Penn State University. He expanded his educational experience launching and running an Executive Education business - training over 100,000 students per year. As the CEO of Learner, Mike focuses on accelerating learning and unleashing the potential of students. 

Related Articles

All Articles

Are Your District's Math Scores Keeping Pace? Comparing PSSA Results Across Pennsylvania

We analyzed PSSA math data from across Pennsylvania in order to understand how the current state of math education compares to previous years, and what can be expected moving forward. 

What Can You Do with a Math Degree?

Learn about the career paths that a math degree can lead to, from finance to data analysis. This guide will teach you how to make the most of your education.

What is Inequality in Math?

Explore the concept of inequality in math and its real-world applications in finance, physics, and economics.