# What is a critical value?

A critical value is the value of the test statistic which defines the upper and lower bounds of a confidence interval, or which defines the threshold of statistical significance in a statistical test. It describes how far from the mean of the distribution you have to go to cover a certain amount of the total variation in the data (i.e. 90%, 95%, 99%).

If you are constructing a 95% confidence interval and are using a threshold of statistical significance of *p* = 0.05, then your critical value will be identical in both cases.