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Multiple Choice Questions: A Guide


Market research 04 12
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Multiple choice questions as the name suggests are a type of survey question that provides the respondents with multiple options for answer.

Multiple choice questions make it easy for the respondents to finish the survey because of the fixed set of answer options. It gives a structure to the survey questions. Also, it is easy to analyze the response.

There are two answer types in multiple-choice questions: single select or multi-select answer option. With these two types, you can decide whether you want your respondents to select one or multiple questions.


Two Answer- types of Multiple Choice Questions

Single Select Multiple Choice Questions

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This is the most used type of question where the respondent is asked to pick one answer only from a list of options. You can use single select questions to ask the respondent to pick their primary preference from the list. It is most effective when you want to know the least or best preference of your audience.

Examples of single-select multiple-choice questions would be rating or nominal scale questions. Asking to agree or disagree with your questions, the respondent can select only one statement. They cannot select both statements, for that there is an option of neutral; they can only select one option.

Or, you can use a rating scale like NPS® where the respondent has to select one rating number. They cannot select a 4 as well as a 7. The answer needs to be either one of the answers.

Multiple Select Multiple choice Questions

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You can also give your respondent the option to select multiple answers from the list. These questions can have more than one correct answer. You can create as many choices as you want for the question. This makes it easier for the respondent to just select the options they think are correct or relate to the most. They don’t have to contemplate over selecting only one answer, giving them more freedom.


What are the benefits of Multiple Choice Questions?

Simple: The respondents don’t have to write their answer which takes time and may frustrate them. You can ask a direct question with the most suitable answer options. The respondent can select their preferred options. It will save their time from trying to come up with an answer.

Easy to Analyze: Multiple choice questions provide a structure to the survey and also makes it easy to analyze the survey data. Respondents won’t have to type in their answer which makes it error-free. By giving specific options to choose from you ensure that the answers will be from the predetermined list. This way the options can be easily recorded in the system and analyzed.

Sorting through the data collected from close-ended questions is much easier than it is when using open-ended questions. You don’t have to read spelling or grammar error-filled answers to analyze the data.

Also with close-ended questions, you get the exact answer you were hoping for instead of some answer that does not solve your survey purpose.

Easy Survey on Mobile Device: Multiple choice questions are the best options for making your survey mobile-friendly. Most people prefer to complete the survey on a mobile phone.

Typing out an answer on a mobile device is rather a difficult task. By providing multiple-choice questions you can make it easy for the respondent to answer the survey. Also, the ease to answer and navigate through the survey will increase the response rate of the survey.

Guide the responder: By providing answer options you guide the respondent to how you expect them to respond.

The predetermined list of options you provide determines how specific or general you want the responses to be. In the question of location, you can direct whether you want the respondent to give you their state (general) or their full home address (specific).

You control the responses in multiple-choice questions.

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What are the disadvantages of Multiple Choice Questions?

Limiting respondents’ choice of answer: While you make it easy, for a respondent to answer, providing a set of options may also limit the respondents’ answer.

With a predetermined list of answers, you may end up forcing respondents to select an answer that does not reflect their perception. The respondent may have a different answer in their mind for the question. So, the respondent may have to select an option that is not honest for them or skip the question.

To prevent this issue you can provide the option of “other” and ask the respondent to fill in their desired answer if they can’t find it in the list.

You can’t dig deep: With multiple-choice questions, you get the upper surface of customer experience. Multiple-choice questions give quantitative data. So, you cannot gain insight into the reason behind the responses. It will only provide you an overview of the customer’s response without telling you “why” they think like that.

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Types of Multiple Choice Questions

Matrix Table Question

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A matrix Table multiple-choice question lets you ask a number of individual questions in a single question. You can ask several questions together that have similar answer options. For example, you can ask to agree/disagree, satisfied/dissatisfied questions or rating questions.

However, don’t put more than 3 or 5 questions in the matrix table. Too many questions in a matrix may overwhelm the responder, especially when responding on a mobile device.

Matrix questions save time as well as save. You can put a similar type of question in one table instead of asking them individually.

Dropdown Multiple Choice Questions

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Dropdown offers the respondent a list that they can scroll through to select their answer. The list of answers is not displayed in the traditional way. This type is effective in mobile-device. It saves space making the length of the survey short.

Dropdown is the best option when you have a long list of options such as for demographic questions, like birth year, country or state questions.

Ranking Multiple Choice Question

In a ranking question, you provide the respondent the option to rank or give order to the options in the list. A respondent can choose whatever rank they think fits the options. You can find your respondent’s opinion about how certain brands or products rank based on certain characteristics.

For example, asking to rank their holiday destination, beach, desert, or mountains. The respondent can rank the options according to their preferred choice of holiday destination.

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Tips on designing your Multiple Choice Questions

Add open-ended questions: Multiple choice questions can give you in-depth knowledge about your respondents. You should add an open-ended question to encourage the respondents to share their personal thoughts on certain topics.

Open-ended questions will give you qualitative data and help you understand the perception of the responder. You can use such questions to ask for suggestions or opinions from your responders. You may even gain unique insights that you never thought of before.

Don’t complicate the survey: You should avoid adding all the different variations of multiple-choice questions in the survey. You should stick to a simple kind of multiple-choice question to maintain consistency.

Also, avoid using too many options. Use the most suitable options and an “others” option. You can also use an open-ended question in case you cannot find suitable options.

Try to keep the survey simple in order to not frustrate the responder with too many choices and formats.

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