A boxplot provides a graphical summary of the distribution of each sample. The boxplot makes it easy to compare the shape, the central tendency, and the variability of the samples.
Use a boxplot to examine the spread of the data and to identify any potential outliers. Boxplots are best when the sample size is greater than 20.
Examine the shape of your data to determine whether your data appear to be skewed. When data are skewed, the majority of the data are located on the high or low side of the graph. Often, skewness is easiest to detect with a histogram or boxplot.
Data that are severely skewed can affect the validity of the pvalue if your samples are small (either sample is less than 15 values). If your data are severely skewed and you have a small sample, consider increasing your sample size.
Try to identify the cause of any outliers. Correct any data–entry errors or measurement errors. Consider removing data values for abnormal, onetime events (also called special causes). Then, repeat the analysis. For more information, go to Identifying outliers.
The confidence interval provides a range of likely values for the population difference. Because samples are random, two samples from a population are unlikely to yield identical confidence intervals. But, if you repeated your sample many times, a certain percentage of the resulting confidence intervals or bounds would contain the unknown population difference. The percentage of these confidence intervals or bounds that contain the difference is the confidence level of the interval. For example, a 95% confidence level indicates that if you take 100 random samples from the population, you could expect approximately 95 of the samples to produce intervals that contain the population difference.
An upper bound defines a value that the population difference is likely to be less than. A lower bound defines a value that the population difference is likely to be greater than.
The confidence interval helps you assess the practical significance of your results. Use your specialized knowledge to determine whether the confidence interval includes values that have practical significance for your situation. If the interval is too wide to be useful, consider increasing your sample size. For more information, go to Ways to get a more precise confidence interval.
 

In these results, the estimate of the difference in population means for hospital ratings is 21. You can be 95% confident that the difference in population means is between 14.221 and 27.779.
The degrees of freedom (DF) indicate the amount of information that is available in your data to estimate the values of the unknown parameters, and to calculate the variability of these estimates. For a 2sample ttest, the degrees of freedom are determined by the number of observations in your sample and also depend on whether or not you can assume equal variances.
Minitab uses the degrees of freedom to determine the test statistic. The degrees of freedom are determined by the sample size. Increasing your sample size provides more information about the population, which increases the degrees of freedom.
The difference is the unknown difference between the population means that you want to estimate. Minitab indicates which population mean is subtracted from the other.
The difference is the difference between the means of the two samples.
Because this value is based on sample data and not on the entire population, it is unlikely that the sample difference equals the population difference. To better estimate the population difference, use the confidence interval for the difference.
An individual value plot displays the individual values in each sample. An individual value plot makes it easy to compare the samples. Each circle represents one observation. An individual value plot is especially useful when you have relatively few observations and when you also need to assess the effect of each observation.
Use an individual value plot to examine the spread of the data and to identify any potential outliers. Individual value plots are best when the sample size is less than 50.
Examine the shape of your data to determine whether your data appear to be skewed. When data are skewed, the majority of the data are located on the high or low side of the graph. Often, skewness is easiest to detect with a histogram or boxplot.
Data that are severely skewed can affect the validity of the pvalue if your samples are small (either sample is less than 15 values). If your data are severely skewed and you have a small sample, consider increasing your sample size.
Outliers, which are data values that are far away from other data values, can strongly affect the results of your analysis. Often, outliers are easiest to identify on a boxplot.
Try to identify the cause of any outliers. Correct any data–entry errors or measurement errors. Consider removing data values for abnormal, onetime events (also called special causes). Then, repeat the analysis. For more information, go to Identifying outliers.
The mean summarizes the sample values with a single value that represents the center of the data. The mean is the average of the data, which is the sum of all the observations divided by the number of observations.
The mean of each sample is an estimate of the population mean of each sample.
The sample size (N) is the total number of observations in the sample.
The sample size affects the confidence interval and the power of the test.
Usually, a larger sample size results in a narrower confidence interval. A larger sample size also gives the test more power to detect a difference. For more information, go to What is power?.
 
 

In these results, the null hypothesis is that the population difference is equal to 0. The alternative hypothesis is that the difference is not equal to 0.
The pvalue is a probability that measures the evidence against the null hypothesis. A smaller pvalue provides stronger evidence against the null hypothesis.
Use the pvalue to determine whether the difference in population means is statistically significant.
The pooled standard deviation is an estimate of the common standard deviation for both samples. The pooled standard deviation is the standard deviation of all data points around their group mean (not around the overall mean). Larger groups have a proportionally greater influence on the overall estimate of the pooled standard deviation.
The standard deviation is used to calculate the confidence interval and the pvalue.
A higher standard deviation value indicates greater spread in the data. A higher value produces less precise (wider) confidence intervals and less powerful tests.
Group  Mean  Standard Deviation  N 

1  9.7  2.5  50 
2  17.3  6.8  200 
The first group (n=50) has a standard deviation of 2.5. The second group is much larger (n=200) and has a higher standard deviation (6.8). Because the pooled standard deviation uses a weighted average, its value is closer to the standard deviation of the larger group. If you used a simple average, then both groups would have had an equal effect.
The standard error of the mean (SE Mean) estimates the variability between sample means that you would obtain if you took repeated samples from the same population. Whereas the standard error of the mean estimates the variability between samples, the standard deviation measures the variability within a single sample.
For example, you have a mean delivery time of 3.80 days, with a standard deviation of 1.43 days, from a random sample of 312 delivery times. These numbers yield a standard error of the mean of 0.08 days (1.43 divided by the square root of 312). If you took multiple random samples of the same size, from the same population, the standard deviation of those different sample means would be around 0.08 days.
Use the standard error of the mean to determine how precisely the sample mean estimates the population mean.
A smaller value of the standard error of the mean indicates a more precise estimate of the population mean. Usually, a larger standard deviation results in a larger standard error of the mean and a less precise estimate of the population mean. A larger sample size results in a smaller standard error of the mean and a more precise estimate of the population mean.
Minitab uses the standard error of the mean to calculate the confidence interval.
The standard deviation is the most common measure of dispersion, or how spread out the data are about the mean. The symbol σ (sigma) is often used to represent the standard deviation of a population, while s is used to represent the standard deviation of a sample. Variation that is random or natural to a process is often referred to as noise.
The standard deviation uses the same units as the data.
Use the standard deviation to determine how spread out the data are from the mean. A higher standard deviation value indicates greater spread in the data. A good rule of thumb for a normal distribution is that approximately 68% of the values fall within one standard deviation of the mean, 95% of the values fall within two standard deviations, and 99.7% of the values fall within three standard deviations.
The standard deviation of each sample is an estimate of each population standard deviation. The standard deviations are used to calculate the confidence interval and the pvalue. A higher value produces less precise (wider) confidence intervals and less powerful tests.
The tvalue is the observed value of the ttest statistic that measures the difference between an observed sample statistic and its hypothesized population parameter, in units of standard error.
You can compare the tvalue to critical values of the tdistribution to determine whether to reject the null hypothesis. However, using the pvalue of the test to make the same determination is usually more practical and convenient.
To determine whether to reject the null hypothesis, compare the tvalue to the critical value. When you assume equal variances, the critical value is t_{α/2, n+m–2} for a twosided test and t_{α, n+m–2} for a onesided test. When you cannot assume equal variances, the critical value is t_{α/2, r} for a twosided test and t_{α, r} for a onesided test where r is the degrees of freedom. For a twosided test, if the absolute value of the tvalue is greater than the critical value, you reject the null hypothesis. If it is not, you fail to reject the null hypothesis. You can calculate the critical value in Minitab or find the critical value from a tdistribution table in most statistics books. For more information, go to Using the inverse cumulative distribution function (ICDF) and click "Use the ICDF to calculate critical values".