The Normal Distribution in Engineering

Statistics and mechanics are taught as separate maths topics in A level maths but actually there is a big overlap.

The normal distribution models many things in real life and as a result it is of vital importance to engineers.    

The normal distribution is a difficult topic in the statistics part of the A level maths exam, but it is a lot easier if you use a sketch, learn the key features and practice past exam papers.

Many random variables observed in real experiments have normal or approximately normal distribution. The normal distribution is therefore the most important and widely used distribution in the entire field of statistics and probability.

Most normal distribution problems in A level maths can be solved using your calculator, but if the mean or standard deviation of the distribution is not known then you need to ‘standardise’ the problem using the formula:




As well as being able to solve normal distribution problems, you need to know the main features of a normal distribution:

  • Bell shaped
  • Symmetric about the mean
  • Mean = median (no skew)
  • Asymptotic to the x axis
  • The area under the curve is 1
  • 68% within 1 standard deviation of the mean

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KEY POINTS: A level Maths + Normal Distribution