10 author’ s golden rules for a 5-star Quiz

Aug 21, 2015 | Trainer's advice

Hi Best Selling Authors (or soon to be)!

The quiz is a very popular learning technique. It allows both a rapid, consistent and objective assessment and an efficient yet entertaining memorizing method. In the US, it was institutionalized in 1926 when the national examination for admission to the University, the Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT, took this form. In France, it was introduced in 1960 firstly in the medical schools.

Despite its widespread use in education, there are still debates on a quiz benefits not only for the assessment of factual information but also for valuing knowledge of a higher cognitive level. However, this criticism is most often attributed to a quiz construction defect rather than its intrinsic capabilities.

Yet, writing a good quiz is not trivial: it is important to dwell on its objectives, the knowledge to cover, the questions and answers consistency… What rules then apply to obtain an effective quiz?

To make sure you get the best quiz questions and response options possible, allow us to share with you some essential writing tips, illustrated with true or false type examples.


  1. Relate all questions to the application/module topic!
  2. The wording of the question uses a simple and clear language, so that the learner is not likely to misinterpret the question. In particular, avoid the double negation.
    No: “The 1 January 2000 is not the date the 3rd millennium began. ”
    Yes: “The 1 January 2001 was the first day of the third millennium. “
  3. The wording of the question does not involve any value judgment nor approximation. The answer can only be objective.
    No: “Michael Jackson was a better dancer than singer. ”
    Yes, “Michael Jackson has sold over a billion albums. “
  4. Each question must be sufficient in itself, independent, without causal connection. A statement does not refer to another question or give an index that can be used later.
    No: “Of this billion, what is the most represented album? ”
    Yes: “What Michael Jackson Album totaled the most sales? “
  5. Avoid acronyms, abbreviations and slang, unless they are obvious to the evaluated population.
    No: “Under the procedure, upon LMS failure, the Federal Governor must be notified immediately.”
    Yes: “Under the procedure, upon Winston-Louisville Airport failure, the Federal Governor must be notified immediately.”
  6. The statement must ask 1 question, so that the choice of the answer relates to a single criterion.
    No: “Presbyopia is an eye disorder disturbing distance vision and cannot be corrected. ”
    Yes: “Presbyopia is an eye disorder that interferes with distance vision. “And” Presbyopia is an eye disorder that can not be corrected.”


  1. Response options that do not begin with the same word (if so, raise the word in the question).
    No: A-“Martin Cooper made the first mobile phone call from handheld subscriber equipment in 1973”, B-“Martin Cooper made the first mobile phone call from handheld subscriber equipment in 1983”
    Yes: A-“1973”, B-“1983”
  2. There is only 1 accurate answer. Other(s) may be believable, even funny, but is/are false.
    No: A-“Napoleon passed away in 1821”, B-“Napoleon passed away aged 51”
    Yes: A-“Napoleon passed away in 1821”, B-“Napoleon passed away in 1830”
  3. The grammatical structure and the level of details are harmonized.
    No: A-“The Alchemist was written by Paulo Coelho in Portuguese in 1988”, B-“The Hobbit”
    Yes: A-“The Alchemist, in 1988”, B-“The Hobbit, in 1937”
  4. Possible answers do not overlap, and do not include each other.
    No: A-“Jo Mama’s world famous spaghetti”, B-“Jo Mama’s delicious bolognese pasta”
    Yes: A-“Jo Mama’s world famous spaghetti”, B-“Jo Mama’s great scalloped potatoes”


The pedagogical value of a question is greatly increased by the quality of comments associated with it. Add a web page reference for further enlightenments makes a comment even more beneficial.

Without respect to some good practices, an experienced player might understand a quiz vulnerability and therefore pass it without even knowing the answers:

  •  General statements (all, none, always ..) are mostly false, while broad assertions tend to be true
  • The grammatical form of wrong answers is different from the grammatical form of correct ones, thereby differentiating them.
  • Some words or expressions of the question are included in the correct answer.
  • Etc

Ready? Steady? Ask!  Feel free to enrich this suggested pool of good practices, share yours with us!

And good luck for writing your best content ever!