Writing multiple choice quiz questions

Quizzes with multiple choice questions can be really fun. Good multiple choice questions can either make or break a quiz. And good multiple choice questions can be difficult to write… Below you’ll find a few guidelines, tips and tricks to create correct, fun and interesting multiple choice questions. Note that these tips are meant for fun quizzes and not for multiple choice exams.

1. Keep your question and answers as short as possible.

Of course you’re trying to be scientifically 100% nuanced and correct in your question, but reading a lot in quiz when time is a factor isn’t fun. As a guideline we recommend you to keep your questions as short as a tweet, so a maximum of 128 characters. Your answers should be short as well; we recommend a maximum of 75 characters per answer.

2. Be creative with your questions and answers

It’s an online quiz that should be fun to play. It’s not an exam where the question should be really clear. It’s ok to trick the player a little bit  For example, If you have trouble with generating more questions, try to make an extra variation to a question once in a while. For example it doesn’t hurt to have these two questions in the same quiz: “What’s the boiling point for water?” And “What it isn’t the boiling point for water?” Just don’t do this to much, we recommend a maximum of one in every 7 questions.

3. Avoid mismatching grammar

Yes there are some smart people out there, so good players commonly use this clue. An example:

A word used to describe a noun is called an:
a. Adjective
b. Conjunction
c. Pronoun
d. Verb

A better solution is: 

Which word describes a nuon:
a. Adjective
b. Conjunction
c. Pronoun
d. Verb

4. Avoid mismatching length in answers, or use it.

A lot of players gamble on the longest answer when they don’t know the answer to a question. You can either avoid mismatching lengths or use it to set some players off on the wrong foot.

5. Use the wrong answers

Funny wrong answers can make a boring question fun. They can make an absurd statement, confuse or create a connection that’s funny. Two examples:

Who took over when Lenin died?
A. Starr
B. Stalin
C. Harrison
D. McCartney

The Canterbury Tales was written in:
a. Old English
b. Middle English
c. Early Modern English
d. Middle Earthish

Don’t overdo this, we recommend a maximum of one in every 5 questions

6. Use the same answers

Trouble generating enough questions for your quiz? Ask two different questions with the same answers. This will keep people focused. But it also gives you the chance to cover multiple aspects of the same topic. It sounds complicated, but it’s actually quite simple:

Question 1: Who laid the foundations for most of the classical mechanics?
A. Isaac Newton
B. Albert Einstein
C. James Clerk Maxwell

Question 2: Who developed the general theory of relativity?
A. Albert Einstein
B. Isaac Newton
C. James Clerk Maxwell

Question 3: Who developed the theory of classical electromagnetism?
A. James Clerk Maxwell
B. Isaac Newton
C. Albert Einstein

7. Don’t write the whole day

Most people burn their creativity away in one to one and a half hour. Write for that amount of time, stop do something else and then start fresh again. It’ll be more fun and you’re questions will be a lot better.

8. Peer-review your questions

Just have someone else read them once, don’t change everything they recommend, but listen anyway.

 

You can download this manual in PDF herer: Writing multiple choice quiz question

Useful resources

Brigham Young University
Vanderbily University

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