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ANCOVA vs. ANOVA: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 17, 2023
ANCOVA (Analysis of Covariance) adjusts for covariates, while ANOVA (Analysis of Variance) tests differences among group means. Both are statistical methods.

Key Differences

ANCOVA and ANOVA are both advanced statistical techniques used to analyze differences among group means. While they share some similarities, they serve distinct purposes in the field of research. ANCOVA, or Analysis of Covariance, integrates ANOVA and regression. ANOVA, or Analysis of Variance, solely assesses the differences among group means.
The primary distinction between ANCOVA and ANOVA lies in the presence of a covariate. ANCOVA adjusts for one or more covariates that may be influencing the dependent variable, aiming to remove the effect of these covariates to see the effect of the independent variable more clearly. In contrast, ANOVA does not account for these covariates.
Another essential difference between ANCOVA and ANOVA is in their applications. Researchers use ANCOVA when they suspect an external variable could distort the results, providing a clearer picture of the variables' relationships. On the other hand, ANOVA is employed when there's no need to adjust for other external variables, focusing solely on the differences in means.
In terms of output, both ANCOVA and ANOVA provide the researcher with F-values, p-values, and other related statistics. However, ANCOVA offers adjusted group means after considering the covariate's influence, whereas ANOVA provides straightforward group means without any adjustment.
In summary, while both ANCOVA and ANOVA are powerful tools for examining the differences among groups, the choice between them depends on the research question and the presence of potential confounding variables. ANCOVA adjusts for these variables, whereas ANOVA does not.

Comparison Chart


Analysis of Covariance
Analysis of Variance

Incorporates Covariate


Main Purpose

Examine group differences while adjusting for covariates
Examine group differences


Provides adjusted group means
Provides direct group means


Used when an external variable might influence the result
Used when group mean differences are the sole focus

ANCOVA and ANOVA Definitions


Provides adjusted group means.
With ANCOVA, we obtained means that accounted for income differences.


Produces F-values and p-values for group comparisons.
The ANOVA results showed significant differences between the three conditions.


Merges characteristics of ANOVA and regression.
For a comprehensive analysis, he chose ANCOVA over simple ANOVA.


A statistical method for testing group mean differences.
He applied ANOVA to see if different diets led to distinct weight loss results.


Assesses the effect of categorical variables with adjustments.
Using ANCOVA, they isolated the treatment effect from the age factor.


Examines if group averages significantly differ.
Through ANOVA, it was clear that the interventions had different outcomes.


Adjusts for covariates when comparing group means.
ANCOVA helped eliminate the influence of prior experience in the analysis.


Assesses the impact of one or more factors on a dependent variable.
ANOVA was perfect for studying the influence of various teaching methods on scores.


A statistical method combining regression and ANOVA.
She used ANCOVA to adjust for participants' age in her study.


Commonly used in experimental research.
Her experimental design called for the application of ANOVA.


A statistical method for making simultaneous comparisons between two or more means; a statistical method that yields values that can be tested to determine whether a significant relation exists between variables


What does ANCOVA stand for?

ANCOVA stands for Analysis of Covariance.

Is ANCOVA a combination of other statistical methods?

Yes, ANCOVA merges features of ANOVA and regression.

When should I use ANOVA?

Use ANOVA when comparing group means without adjusting for covariates.

Which is more complex: ANCOVA or ANOVA?

ANCOVA is generally more complex due to the inclusion of covariates.

What is the main function of ANOVA?

ANOVA tests for differences among group means.

How does ANCOVA differ from ANOVA?

ANCOVA adjusts for covariates while ANOVA does not.

Is the output of ANOVA and ANCOVA similar?

Both provide F-values and p-values, but ANCOVA offers adjusted means.

Can ANOVA handle non-continuous variables?

ANOVA deals with continuous dependent variables but categorical independent ones.

How many groups can ANOVA compare?

ANOVA can compare two or more groups.

Can ANCOVA adjust for multiple covariates?

Yes, ANCOVA can account for more than one covariate.

Can I use ANCOVA for categorical covariates?

Typically, ANCOVA uses continuous covariates, but dummy coding allows categorical ones.

Why adjust for covariates using ANCOVA?

Adjusting with ANCOVA provides a clearer understanding of variable relationships.

Is sample size crucial for ANCOVA and ANOVA?

Yes, adequate sample size is vital for power and reliable results in both tests.

Are there different types of ANOVA?

Yes, there's One-way ANOVA, Two-way ANOVA, etc., based on the number of factors.

Is ANCOVA used in experimental research?

Yes, especially when controlling for confounding variables.

How are ANCOVA and ANOVA related to regression?

ANCOVA merges features of regression and ANOVA; ANOVA is related through linear models.

Can I use ANCOVA for non-linear relationships?

ANCOVA assumes a linear relationship between the covariate and dependent variable.

What software can conduct ANOVA and ANCOVA?

Both can be conducted using software like SPSS, R, and SAS.

Do ANOVA and ANCOVA require normality assumptions?

Yes, both assume that the residuals are normally distributed.

What's the key output metric in ANOVA?

The F-value is the primary output in ANOVA to test group differences.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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