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Sample Selection Methods

There are many methods of selecting samples. The

principal methods are as follows:
(a) Random selection (applied through random number
generators, for example,
random number tables).
(b) Systematic selection, in which the number of
sampling units in the population is
divided by the sample size to give a sampling interval,
for example 50, and having
determined a starting point within the first 50, each
50th sampling unit thereafter
is selected. Although the starting point may be
determined haphazardly, the
sample is more likely to be truly random if it is
determined by use of a
computerized random number generator or random
number tables. When using
systematic selection, the auditor would need to
determine that sampling units
within the population are not structured in such a way
that the sampling interval
corresponds with a particular pattern in the population.
(c) Monetary Unit Sampling is a type of value-weighted
selection (as described in
Appendix 1) in which sample size, selection and
evaluation results in a conclusion
in monetary amounts.
(d) Haphazard selection, in which the auditor selects
the sample without following a
structured technique. Although no structured technique
is used, the auditor would
nonetheless avoid any conscious bias or predictability
(for example, avoiding
difficult to locate items, or always choosing or avoiding
the first or last entries on
a page) and thus attempt to ensure that all items in
the population have a chance of
selection. Haphazard selection is not appropriate when
using statistical sampling.
(e) Block selection involves selection of a block(s) of
contiguous items from within
the population. Block selection cannot ordinarily be
used in audit sampling
because most populations are structured such that
items in a sequence can be
expected to have similar characteristics to each other,
but different characteristics
from items elsewhere in the population. Although in
some circumstances it may
be an appropriate audit procedure to examine a block
of items, it would rarely be
an appropriate sample selection technique when the
auditor intends to draw valid
inferences about the entire population based on the
13B-4. When sample results do not support the book
value, the auditor must use professional
judgment in deciding on an appropriate course
of action. If the auditor believes the sample is
not representative of the population, he or she
may expand the sample and reevaluate. Also, if
the auditor believes the achieved allowance is
larger than the planned allowance because the
sample size was too small (e.g., because the
population standard deviation used to

determine sample size was underestimated),

he or she may expand the sample and
reevaluate. If the auditor believes the
population book value may be reinstated by
more than tolerable misstatement, he or she
may have the client investigate, and, if
warranted, adjust the book value. The auditor
would then reevaluate the sample results
relative to the adjusted book value.
How Does Classical Variables Sampling Work?
By Maire Loughran from Auditing For Dummies
When using classical variables sampling, auditors treat
each individual item in the population as a sampling
unit. This method is most like the statistics classes you
had to take in high school and college. You use this
method to evaluate your entire population based on
your sample data. You can use three common types of
classical variables sampling estimators: mean-per-unit,
ratio, and difference.
Mean-per-unit uses the familiar statistical concept of
mean. For instance, if you add 10 + 30 + 50 to get 90,
and then divide 90 by 3 (the number of values in this
example), you get 30, which is the mean. As an
auditor, you apply this statistical concept to evaluate
characteristics of your total population. Taking the
average value (mean) of items in your sample, you can
estimate the true population value.
For example, you have a total population of 3,000
items in accounts receivable, and your sample size is
50. Adding up the individual values of the 50 items,
you get a total of $2,000; therefore, your mean is $40
(2,000/50). Your mean estimate of the true value of
accounts receivable is $120,000 ($40 x 3,000).
Considering this data with your sampling risk,
confidence level, and error rate, if your confidence
level is 95 percent and your error rate is 10 percent,
you can say that youre 95 percent confident that the
total value of accounts receivable is $120,000, plus or
minus $12,000 ($120,000 times your error rate of 10
The mean-per-unit method is a very good one to use if
you dont have the underlying documents that support
the account balance if, for instance, your clients
balance sheet shows a total for accounts receivable,
but the individual invoices supporting the balance
arent available.
Another method of classical variables sampling is ratio
estimation, which applies the sample ratio to an entire
population. If your sample for any of your clients
accounts shows errors of $1,000 in a total sample of
$10,000, your misstatement ratio is 10 percent
You would then apply this ratio to the entire population.
If the entire population totals $50,000, your projected
misstatement, which is an estimation of the
misstatement in the entire population, is $5,000
($50,000 x 10 percent).
For sampling risk, if projected misstatement doesnt
exceed expected error, you can reasonably conclude
that actual misstatement doesnt exceed your tolerable
Lastly, difference is another classical variables
sampling method. Its similar to ratio estimation,
except it incorporates the items in the population. For
example, your population consists of 5,000 items and

your sample consists of 1,000 items. Your audit

procedures find errors totaling $500. The projected

misstatement is $2,500 [($500/1000) x 5,000 items].