How to measure and interpret implied volatility

implied volatility
implied volatility

Implied volatility measures the market’s expectation of how volatile security will be between now and its future expiration. This is a crucial concept for options traders, as they are interested in how volatile the underlying security will be between now and when their option expires. As per the tastytrade’s experts, “Implied volatility is presented on a percentage basis and can be altered based on the timeframe you’re actually looking at trading”. Here is a guide on how to measure and interpret IV.

How to measure IV

There are a few ways to measure IV. The most common is the Black-Scholes model, which uses historical data on security to calculate an estimate of future volatility. Other models can be used, but the Black-Scholes model is the most commonly used today.

Understanding IV

While IV is essential in options trading, it is not so easily interpreted. Generally speaking, implied volatilities tend to be higher for stocks with a larger market cap and lower beta than the overall market. When using this ratio as part of your analysis, you should look at large-cap stocks with low betas.

Math behind IV

IV is derived from the Black-Scholes formula, which uses inputs such as option price, the strike price of the underlying security, time to expiration, and interest rate. This infers an estimate for future stock movement over a given period. It considers the standard deviation in returns based on historical data of the stock.

Calculating IV using python

The simplest way to calculate IV is through a python script. Begin by finding the option price for an option with a given expiration month and strike price. Then, input this information into your Python code and variables such as current stock price, interest rate, and projected dividend yield. Finally, the code will calculate the IV for you.

Factors affecting Implied Volatility in the market

Many factors can affect IV in the market. These include political events, macroeconomic data releases, news flow around earnings reports, and other regulatory announcements. Key factors include:

Supply and Demand

The supply and demand for options can also lead to changes in IV. When there is more demand for a particular option, the IV will typically be higher. Conversely, the IV will usually be lower when there is less demand for an option.


The closer you get to the expiration of an option, the more volatile the security becomes. This can lead to increases in IV and vice versa for options with less time until expiration.


IV tends to be higher when an option is deep in or out of the money instead of being at the money. In general, this makes sense because it would take a significant price movement for an option that is deep in the money to move into or out of the money, while an at-the-money option has a more limited range.

Interpreting IV for options trading

When looking at IV, you want to compare the current level of IV to the average implied volatility for that security. You can then make a judgment as to whether or not the current IV is high or low.

If the current IV is high relative to the average, this could signify that the security is in for a significant price move and maybe a good time to buy options contracts. Conversely, if the current IV is low relative to the average, this could signify that the security may not move much and maybe a good time to sell options contracts.

Remember that IV is not a perfect predictor of future price movements. However, it can be a valuable tool when used with other analyses.

IV is an essential concept in options trading. It is challenging to measure and interpret without background knowledge of its math. However, you can use IV with a bit of effort to help inform your investment decisions.

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