DEFINITION of 'Representative Sample'
A subset of a statistical population that accurately reflects the members of the entire population. A representative sample should be an unbiased indication of what the population is like. In a classroom of 30 students in which half the students are male and half are female, a representative sample might include six students: three males and three females.
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BREAKING DOWN 'Representative Sample'
When a sample is not representative, the result is known as a sampling error. Using the classroom example again, a sample that included six students, all of whom were male, would not be a representative sample. Whatever conclusions were drawn from studying the six male students would not be likely to translate to the entire group since no female students were studied.
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