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Variations of the standard multiple choice question

Alternative multiple choice question formats
Matrix questions
Sometimes you may want to ask several questions in a row that each have the same response options.

For example, consider a series of Agree/Disagree questions, or a series of rating questions asking your respondents to pick the number from 1 to 10 that indicates how likely they are to recommend a product to a friend (much like the NPS).

If this is the case for your survey, consider using a matrix. While matrix questions simplify the question content, very large matrices can be burdensome for respondents, especially on mobile devices. Respondents might abandon surveys that are difficult to complete, which can impact your completion rates.

If your matrix is so large that respondents will have to continuously scroll right or down, you should break up your questions or reduce the number of answer choices you provide so that your survey is easier to complete.


Dropdown questions
Instead of displaying all of the answer choices beneath the question, the dropdown question gives respondents a scrollable list to select their answer from.

Dropdown questions work best for questions that have a long list of brief answer choices, such as asking a respondent for his home state or birth year.

They should be used sparingly. For most multiple choice questions, having all choices visible at the same time will give respondents context as they are answering the question.


Ranking questions
Ranking questions let your respondents choose the order of answer choices that best fit their opinions.

For example, asking respondents to rank their top five pizza toppings tells you not just whether someone likes pepperoni, but how much in relation to the other flavors available.

If you want to capture more information than you can from simple multiple choice questions, then a ranking question might be best for you.

Ranking questions are more difficult to analyze than regular multiple choice questions.

They give you a sense of whether a respondent likes one answer choice more than another, but they don’t tell you how much more. So unless you are specifically interested in respondents’ preferences at the individual level and not just on average, ranking questions might add more complication to your survey than needed.