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Multiple choice questions are the most fundamental components of a survey where the respondents are expected to select one or more than one option from the multiple answer options.
Whenever we think of conducting surveys, we think of two things: kind of questions to ask and data collected from the answers to those questions. Essentially, the most important aspect of surveys is to formulate relevant questions that will help us extract clean data.
There are various types of survey questions that a survey creator can ask to evoke necessary responses from the person undertaking the survey. Out of these variations, the closed ended questions are the most used in surveys.
Keep the following factors in mind while designing Multiple Choice Questions-
A multiple choice question comprises of a stem, the correct answer/s and the distractors.
Example:How to make sure you create effective multiple choice questions? - Stem
The primary bifurcation of these questions is based on the number of answer options the respondents can select while responding the survey. So, single choice questions and multiple choice (multiple answer) questions are the two available main question types.
The first and most frequently asked question type is the single choice question which allows the respondents to select only one option out of all the mentioned options. Usually, rating questions or questions like NPS or nominal questions where you wouldn’t want the respondents to give more than one answers, the single choice questions are implemented.
Single choice questions are the most effective when you want the survey takers to respond with their preferences of what they like or dislike the most out of the mentioned options.
While these are highly preferable, the multiple choice (multiple answer) questions are not that far behind in popularity. When you do not want to restrict the respondents to just a single answer, you offer this type of question.
Let’s take the following example of what is the favorite social networking platform for the respondents. If you want them to select just one answer, you would pose the question as: “Which is your most preferred social networking platform?” while if you would want them to give multiple options of their preferences, you’d ask: “Which of the following social networking platforms do you prefer the most?”
Deciding which type of multiple choice question to implement is just a step in the process of using these questions effectively. The next step here should be deciding whether or not to use the alternatives of MCQs.
Like, using open-ended questions along with these questions such as an “others” tab below all the mentioned options eliminates the restraint that these type of questions get with them. Multiple choice questions usually bound the respondents to reply from the mentioned answer options, without giving them enough leeway. By adding a tab for “others”, you offer them the freedom of not choosing an option that they don’t relate to and doing so will just increase the effectiveness of the provided responses.
The answers provided in the “others” tab will be reflected in the analysis dashboard but it will be a manual process. So, make sure you give this option only towards the end of every question so that not every respondent writes in the response, which will weaken the comparison perspective of the survey.
Another very effective way to use multiple choice questions is the rating type of question such as the Net Promoter Score questions, Semantic Differential Scale questions or Likert Scale questions. Respondents are asked to fill out ratings for a particular feature or product or feature on different scales like 1-10, 1-50 or 1-100 that would represent their feedback.
Net Promoter Score questions are usually used to understand the likelihood of brand shareability and recommendation. These questions are used in employee engagement or customer experience surveys.
Other than that, the other most widely used question type is the Likert Scale question type. This is not the usual Yes/No question, it’s a question where respondents are supposed to answer how much they Agree/Disagree with the question of the survey.
While Likert Scale questions grab the limelight, there’s another question type which is more or less as effective as it, the Semantic Differential Scale question. This question type is used when the respondents’ emotional take on the topic is to be understood. The answers to this question are grammatically opposite adjectives like love/hate, happy/sad, satisfied/dissatisfied with transitional answers in the between.
What happens when you have too many similar questions to ask in a survey? It’s not recommended to ask separate questions for each because it will just be sheer annoyance for the respondents.
A lot of questions like love/hate or agree/disagree questions or ranking questions similar to NPS questions can be merged into one of the Matrix questions. Matrix questions ease the burden of multiple questions but at the same time including too many matrices may bother respondents. If the respondents have to scroll continuously to finish the matrix, they may end up abandoning the survey.
To make sure the abandoning rate is reduced to a minimum while using the matrix questions, you can also implement other matrix questions like the side-by-side matrix or complex grid/flex matrix that we offer.
Every survey maker needs to understand respondent preferences. Ranking order questions are the best way to know the most/least preferred answer options.
In the example of social networking platforms, you might want to understand the ranking of each platform for each of the respondent. The mainstream multiple choice questions may give you a peak into a couple of their preferences but ranking questions will give you the entire order of their social networking platform preferences.
Imagine the pain a respondent goes through while having to type in answers when they can simply answer the questions at the click of a button. Here is where multiple choice lessens the complications.
Many-a-times the survey creator would want to ask straightforward questions to the respondent, the best practice is to provide the choices instead of them coming up with answers, this in-turn saves their valuable time.
Surveys are often developed with respondents in mind, how will they answer the questions? This is where multiple choice gives a specific structure to responses, therefore becomes the best choice.
Let’s say at your workplace you receive a survey asking about the best restaurant, to host the Christmas party. Honestly speaking giving specific options isn’t going to hurt, rather, as a surveyor you are sure that the answer will be from one of the options given to the respondents.
It will be easier for the surveyor to analyze the data as it will be free from any errors (as respondents won’t be typing in answers) and the surveyor would atleast know that not a random restaurant would be chosen.
One of the positives of multiple choice options is that they help respondents understand how they should answer. In this manner, the surveyor can chose how generalist or specific the responses need to be.
At all times, the surveyor needs to be careful on the choice of question in order to be able to receive responses that are easy to analyze.
It is estimated that 1 out of 5 people take surveys on handheld devices like mobile phones or tablets. Considering the fact that there is no mouse or keyboard to use, multiple choice questions make it easier for the respondent to choose as there is no scrolling involved.
Therefore, in a survey you might end up answering a number of multiple choice questions and for a good reason, easy for the respondents to answer and convenient for the surveyor to collect data.