Writing Great Questions

Here are the main keys for writing the best Questions:

1. Keep it short and sweet

The question and its answer choices present a single factoid that appears in the Learn More Item. That's all you're asking the Player to consider. So here's a way to keep it short: avoid trying to TEACH with the question. That's what the Insight and Learn More Items are for. The multiple-choice question is just a fun way to get them there. 

TIP: If your question is long, keep the answer choices short. If your answer choices are long, keep your question brief. And, remember, the BEST Questions are short all the way around. 

2. Make each Question sequence about only ONE THING

It's tempting to cram more than one thing to learn into a Question. Resist that temptation; it doesn't work under a ticking clock. If you have multiple ideas mixed into your Questions or Answers, it creates anxiety in the Player. Make sure there is only ONE possible answer to the question.

3. Phrase the Question as a Question

End it with a question mark. Otherwise, include format instructions like "Complete this sentence..." or "True or False?" If the user reads a statement and not a Question, followed with Answer Choices True or False, it can make them stumble and force them to reread the statement for clarity, which slows them down and causes anxiety under a ticking clock. Make it easy to review your question.

4. Don't make Questions too easy or too hard

Making it easy does not necessarily make it fun. We all like to be challenged: just not too challenged. On the other hand, if the Player is unlikely to know the answer and has to guess, it will also be less enjoyable. 

5. Begin at the end

Write the Insight or Learn More Item first, then go back to write the Question and the Clue. Learn More items can be text, an image, a website, a video, or a PDF. You can use the same Learn More Item for multiple Questions. For best results, create a short Learn More item after every question... but at the very least, there should be one Learn More Item for every Habit listed in your Goal Design.

6. Insight should be actionable

The insight is more than a mini-lesson to memorize. It is an action driver. Make sure the info is beneficial and drives users to take that info into their daily routine. That's how you build habits.

7. Q's only have one correct answer

It's tempting to write a Q where the correct answer is your OPINION. But if you're not careful, this can frustrate your Players. To make it a fun and empowering experience for your Players, they need to know WHERE they can find the information that will help them do well in the game and not be left guessing.

The most effective way to overcome an argument is to use a source for your answer.

Cite a reliable citation that the Player can find online, such as a reputable publication or video. You can even use yourself as a source! Identify that source in your Q and Learn More item. For instance, your Q can be worded "According to the source: XYZ..." and then ask your question. Also, have that source appear in your Learn More item.

8. Phrase all answers choices similarly

When writing out Answer choices, you don't want to make it too easy for your learners, so that is why you must phrase your Answers so be similar.
For example, if your question is how much sleep is a healthy amount to get, you would want your answers to look like this:
1) 8 hours
2) 10 hours
3) 2 hours
4) 5.25 hours
The correct answer is 8 hours.

9. How to write answer choices

When writing Answers to your Questions, you can make them as simple – or as challenging – for your Players as you need to. Just keep in mind that the more similar the Answers are and the more a player has to think to deduce the correct answer, the more stress your Players will feel when they're up against a ticking clock.

For Questions with FOUR Answer Choices:

  • One is the Correct Answer; the ONLY correct answer. 
  • One is the "Distracter:" it sounds correct but is not.   
  • One is pretty easy to eliminate as a Correct Answer. 
  • One is utterly ridiculous.

10. The clue shouldn't give away the answer

The purpose of a clue is to get your learner thinking about the answer to the question. If the clue answers the question, then your learning isn't learning anything.

11. The learn more is a how-to

The learn more section is designed to teach your performers about your given topic and give them practical ways to apply their knowledge. You want them to know how to do something. You don't want to provide them with a wall of text and have them absorb it.

12. Avoid "All/Except/None of the above" Answer Choices

Because users know it is usually the correct answer, they ignore the other choices. The one exception to this rule is if you use this convention often and it is not always the correct answer.

13. Avoid negatively worded questions.

We want to build up our players and help them learn with positive reinforcement. We do not recommend writing "negative" questions. For example, "Which of these options is NOT right." In other words, we do not recommend negatively worded questions.

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