How to write: A good question

  • Ask yourself the question

    One way to decide on what type of question you should use is to ask yourself the question...out loud. If you are looking for specific facts, how would you ask this question out loud? If you are looking for an explanation, you would probably word this differently. Instead of asking “What are the reasons” (multiple choice) or “Are these the reasons” (yes/no or true/false) you may use “Explain these reason” (essay). How you would ask a question out loud will give a good indication of the question type you should use.

  • Award points accordingly

    Set different point values based on the types of answers you expect. For a True/False question, it's ok to set a lower point value. I mean, it's a 50/50 chance the answer will be correct. However, if giving essay questions for example; set a higher point value. Why? These questions require more thought and time spent by the user. You also have more room to work with those points. Good example; A user writes a 1000 word essay answer - it's perfect. They should not receive the same value of 1 point as the person who gave a mediocre 3 word answer, that consists of “What's up teach?” With setting a higher point value, you can give the max points to those who should receive these and points somewhere in the middle for those who almost got it and then lower point values for those who, well made the effort to show up and enter “hey” in the text box.

  • Make your questions pop

    It's great to use different colors or bolded text but stay away from using light fonts on light backgrounds and dark on dark backgrounds. Users should not be straining to see the text on their pages.

    Example; This is very hard to read!

  • Different locations - Different Spellings

    Consider where your users are located when adding a question type that requires the user to enter their own answer. Especially, if their spelling will be graded! Example; favorite / favourite, color /colour, etc. Types of questions users would enter their own answers into can include Free Text, Essay and Grammar question types. If not taken into consideration, users could have their answer graded incorrectly for it actually being correct. This is especially important when you have Test takers taking Tests around the world.

  • Display Points Per Question

    Displaying the points for what each question is worth can be very beneficial to users taking the Test. You may choose to display these, if for example; you have a timer on the Test and users know they will not be able to answer all questions. They can view the questions with the higher point values to focus more on these.

  • Avoid “all of the above” or “none of the above”

    If you have a question that requires more than one answer, try using a multiple choice question with multiple responses or an essay style question. Users will then need to think through what the possible answers could be instead of just choosing “all of the above”/”none of the above”. Think about it - when asked a question where this has been spoken to you, have you ever answered somebody with “all of the above” or “none of the above”. Other than, when you feel like being a bit cheeky!


Tips for creating great questions

  • Focus on one item in each question
  • Keep it natural - phrase questions in your own words
  • Only ask relevant questions
  • Add positive feedback for correct and incorrect answers
  • Try to keep question text as short as possible
  • Create questions that require thought
  • Educate users on different question types prior to them answering these
  • Randomize answer options
  • Create questions that reference realistic situations
  • Personalize Tests by adding user's names into Test questions

Do's and Don'ts

The Do's and Don'ts when writing great questions


  • Add a third option to 'yes' and 'no' questions, as a possibility to cover those responses that may be in between with a “I might” or “Maybe” type answer.
  • Create questions with clear question text but keep answers within the answer options only.
  • Keep all font type/size/color the same for all answer options for a specific question.
  • Create questions that are fair and free of judgement.
  • Create questions with answer options that only pertain to that one question.

Do not

  • Restrict 'yes' and 'no' questions to just these two answer options.
  • Create suggestive questions that give away the answers, in the question text.
  • Give away answers by having correct answer in different font or bolded/colored text.
  • Create questions that are bias, in favor of or against specific people/groups.
  • Add questions that will provide answers to the next question.