Median and quartiles


We know that the median is the middle number in a set of ordered data. It divides the set of ordered data into two halves.

We also know that for a set of n ordered numbers, the median is the \frac{(n+1)^{th}}{2} number.


If there are 13 numbers,the median is \frac{13+1}{2}=\,7^{th}\,number


Similarly, the lower quartile divides the bottom half of the ordered data into two halves

The upper quartile divides the upper half of the ordered data into two halves.

The lower quartile is the \frac{(n+1)^{th}}{4} value and the upper quartile is the \frac{3(n+1)^{th}}{4} value.

Diagram showing the lower quartile, median and upper quartiles


Find the median, lower quartile and upper quartile for the following data:


Ordering the data, we get 3,4,4,6,8,8,10,10,11,12,31

There are 11 numbers.

The median is the \frac{11+1}{2}=\,6^{th}\,value.

The lower quartile ( Q_1) is the \frac{11+1}{4}=\,3^{rd}\,value

The upper quartile ( Q_3) is the \frac{3(11+1)}{4}=\,9^{th}\,value

3,4, 4,6,8, 8,10,10, 11,12,31

Therefore the median is 8, the lower quartile is 4 and the upper quartile is 11.

The quartiles are often denoted by Q_1 and Q3 (the median is technically Q_2).

So we could write for the above example:

Median  = 8,\; Q_1 = 4,\; Q_3 = 11