Audit Sampling: Methods, Guidance, Risks, Examples

Auditing requires auditors to collect audit evidence which they can use to reach an audit conclusion about the subject matter. Usually, this process entails checking an entity’s records and ensuring they match the figures reported in the subject matter. However, auditors cannot examine every piece of evidence due to constraints. It is where auditors use audit sampling to check a part of a given population.

What is Audit Sampling?

Audit sampling is an auditing technique where auditors select a few items from a given population. This population relates to account balances or class of transactions. Primarily, audit sampling involves checking a part of that population. As stated above, auditors cannot examine all the records due to time and resource constraints. Therefore, audit sampling can help reduce the work performed by auditors.

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Audit sampling allows auditors to pick some items within a population. Auditors assume the selected items are representative of the overall population. Consequently, they can reach an audit conclusion regarding the areas under consideration. Audit sampling is crucial when auditors encounter a large population where examining all items may not be efficient.

What are Audit Sampling methods?

Auditing standards require auditors to ensure the sampling method they use must have an equal probability of each unit in the population being picked. Therefore, choosing the right audit sampling method is crucial when performing these tasks. Auditing standards provide some common techniques auditors can use to meet that requirement. These fall into the following two categories.

Statistical sampling

Statistical sampling involves selecting a random selection of samples. Similarly, it entails using the probabilities technique to evaluate the selected items. Some of the prevalent statistical sampling methods include the following.

Random sampling

Random sampling involves selecting items randomly without a technique. It meets the requirement of auditing standards by giving all items within a population an equal selection chance. Usually, auditors use tools like random generators to achieve this type of audit sampling.

Systematic sampling

Systematic sampling involves developing a system for selecting items from a given population. Auditors achieve this by establishing a constant sampling interval. Once they determine it, auditors use the first item after that interval. For example, they can pick an item from the population after every 30 items.

Monetary unit selection

Monetary unit selection takes a different approach to audit sampling. Instead of focusing on items, it considers the values of those items. Therefore, higher-value items have a higher selection chance than those with a lower value.

Non-statistical sampling

Any audit sampling methods that do not meet the requirements for statistical sampling fall under the non-statistical category. Some of the sampling methods within this category are as follows.

Haphazard sampling

Haphazard sampling involves not using a structured technique to select a sample. However, it must avoid bias or predictability during the selection process. This method is close to the random sampling approach. However, it is more unstructured.

Block sampling

Block sampling involves selecting a sequence of items from a population. This sequence follows each other and can come as a block. Usually, auditors use this approach when testing the cut-off assertion in auditing.


Audit sampling involves selecting a few items from a population to apply audit procedures. Auditors assume the selected sample represents the whole population. However, auditors must ensure they conform to auditing standards when applying this approach. Auditors can use several methods when using audit sampling.

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