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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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RELATED FAQS

How can I use systematic sampling with stratified sampling?
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Researchers employ several safeguards to ensure that a simple random sample accurately represents a larger population. They ... Read Full Answer >> 
What's the difference between a representative sample and a convenience sample?
A representative sample properly represents the statistical population from which it is chosen, whereas a convenience sample ... Read Full Answer >> 
What percentage of the population do you need in a representative sample?
Technically, a representative sample requires only whatever percentage of the statistical population is necessary to replicate ... Read Full Answer >> 
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What's the difference between a representative sample and an unbiased sample?
A representative sample is a group that is chosen to depict or represent a larger population according to one or more characteristics ... Read Full Answer >> 
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