The long-term variability of a complete sample of quasars selected in the field of the SA 94 has been investigated. Using Schmidt plates covering a time baseline of seven years, about one-third of the quasars are found to be variable. It is suggested that all the quasi-stellar objects are variable with amplitudes of a few tenths of a magnitude on timescales of the order of some years in their restframes. The application of the variability technique to the selection of complete samples of quasars is discussed. The timescales estimated can be easily accounted for in the accreting black hole with thermal and viscous timescales. The variability is found to be correlated with the absolute magnitude and/or the redshift.