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What is Critical Value? Definition, Types, & Calculations

What is Critical Value? Definition, Types, & Calculations
What is Critical Value? Definition, Types, & Calculations

In the realm of statistics, a term that frequently surfaces is “critical value.” Critical values are very important and play a key role in statistical hypothesis testing and statistical analysis. It is essential for determining the validity of the results and drawing significant conclusions.

In the study of statistics, critical value provides information to make significant decisions on the analysis of observed data. In the vast landscape of statistics, critical values serve as guideposts that aid in decision-making through hypothesis testing. It helps in gauging the significance of results, enabling us to make informed choices based on data analysis.

A critical value is a threshold or a benchmark that separates the critical region from the non-critical region in a statistical hypothesis test. The critical region is the range of values where we reject the null hypothesis in favour of the alternative hypothesis. In contrast, the non-critical region is where we fail to reject the null hypothesis.

The critical value is determined by the desired significance level, often denoted as alpha (α). In this article, we will delve deep into the concept of critical value, its types, and its calculations.

Defining Critical Value

Critical values are specific points on a statistical distribution that help determine whether to reject the null hypothesis in hypothesis testing. They are compared to test statistics to make decisions about the significance of results.

In a statistical hypothesis test, a critical value separates the region of critical and non-critical regions. It helps to determine whether the observed insights or results are significant or not statistically.

Note: Critical values are specific to the distribution being used for the hypothesis test. Different distributions, such as normal, t-distribution, chi-square, and F-distribution, have their own critical value calculations.

Types of Critical Value:

We will elaborate here on the most important types of critical value.

  • One-Tailed: A one-tailed critical value is used when the hypothesis test is directional, focusing on whether a parameter is greater than or less than a certain value.
  • Two-Tailed: A two-tailed critical value is used in non-directional hypothesis testing, where the goal is to determine if a parameter significantly deviates from a hypothesized value.

Critical value changes and it totally depends on the type of test and the data distribution. Here we will discuss some more important types of critical value.

Z- Critical Value:

In the hypothesis involving a standard normal distribution and known population parameter, Z-Scores are used. It is represented using the notation Zα/2 where α is the significance level and Zα/2 is the Z score critical value that corresponds to the upper tail area α/2 of distribution.

The critical value corresponds to the Z-score that encompasses the desired significance level. Z scores also represent the number of standard deviations that a data point is from the mean (average). Researchers match the desired significance level with the closest value in the table to find the critical value.

T- Critical Value:

When dealing with small sample sizes and unknown population variances, the t-distribution is used. Critical values are read from the t-distribution table based on degrees of freedom and significance level.

It is represented using the notation tα/2 where α is the significance level, tα/2 is the T-critical value that corresponds to the upper tail area α/2 of distribution, and n – 1 is the degree of freedom.

F- Critical Value:

The F- F-critical value is employed for the hypothesis testing involving F-distribution. It is represented using the notation Fα, df2, df1, here α is the significance level and df2, df1 denotes the degree of freedom for the denominator and the numerator respectively. Moreover, Fα df2, df1 is the F-critical value that corresponds to the upper tail area of α.

In ANOVA and regression analyses, the F-distribution is employed. Critical values from this distribution aid in assessing whether the variances of multiple groups are significantly different.

Chi-Square Critical Value:

The Chi-square critical value is that sort of critical value in the hypothesis testing that is used to compute the Chi-square statistic. The chi-square critical value depends upon the degree of freedom as well as the significance level that is chosen for the chi-square test.

The chi-square critical value is also used for the categorical data analysis. These values of critical value assist in apprehending that either the observed frequencies deviate from the original frequencies.

Moreover, calculating chi-square critical values involves degrees of freedom and the desired significance level. Tables or statistical software can aid in this process.

Importance in Confidence Intervals: Critical values are crucial for constructing confidence intervals. These intervals provide a range of values within which the true population parameter is likely to fall. The critical value defines the margin of error for the estimate.

For an all-in-one and accurate calculation of all these critical values, consider using an online critical value calculator. This tool streamlines the process, making it simpler and more efficient for researchers and students alike.


Example 1:

Suppose you have a small sample of 14 observations for a two-tailed test. Determine the t-critical value for a 95% confidence interval.


Step 1: Given data

n = 14

Degrees of freedom (n – 1) = 14 – 1 = 13

Confidence interval = 95%

Step 2: Determine α (significance level) using the given formula for the two-tailed critical value.

Significance level (α) = [1 – (confidence level / 100)] / 2

α = [1 – (95 / 100)] / 2

α = [0.05 (95% confidence level)] / 2

α = 0.025

Step 3: Consulting a t-distribution table,

the t-critical value for a two-tailed test with 14 degrees of freedom and a 95% confidence level, Which is approximately ±2.16037.


Critical values stand as a fundamental tool for determining the significance of results. In this article, we have elaborated on the concept of critical value. We have briefed its important types. In the last section, we have solved some examples.

Hopefully, by understanding the concept discussed in this blog you will be able to extract meaningful insights from data and draw meaningful conclusions as well as accurate decisions from observed data.

Applied & Pure Mathematics MCQs
Applied & Pure Mathematics MCQs

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