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I will never forget sitting down to take my Economics 101 final in college and seeing multiple choice questions with answers ranging from A to F. The look of panic that was on my face must have been priceless. As I sloughed through the plethora of answer choices, trying desperately to find the correct one, I made a vow to avoid multiple choice tests if at all possible for the rest of my education (and I did just that).

Recently, multiple choice quizzes on Buzzfeed have been seeing millions of visits (much to my spite). So what gives? why do people actually enjoy taking these multiple choice quizzes that roughly in the same class as the horrible quiz I suffered through in college?

That’s exactly what I’ll be diving into in the following 1000 words or so (sorry for being long-winded, I promise this will be more interesting than Econ 101). Without further ado, here’s how to make a multiple choice quiz that doesn’t suck.

Part 1: Writing the quiz

Selecting your topic. 

1. Go small. Don’t try to reach all 7 Billion people on earth with your quiz – it’s impossible to reach them all, I tried. To illustrate what I mean, let’s look at Faquier County Virginia, a county with population of just over 60,000 people. The local newspaper created a quiz about the county’s geography and shared it out. 10,000 of the 60,000 people in the county took the quiz. Address a specific group of people, even if you don’t think it’s a large enough group and make a quiz just for them.

2. Use Shaq’s rule. NBA All Start Shaquille O’Neal created an amazing formula for sending tweets that also applies to quizzes. He says that 80% of all his tweets are meant to entertain, 15% are to educated, and 5% are to sell you something. Your quiz should mostly exist to entertain, being informative and pushing your products should be small pieces of the puzzle.

3. Solve an issue. The 15% of your quiz that is meant to inform (according to Shaq) should also be the backbone of your quiz. All great quizzes start with a real issue and then disguise it as something pure fun. Take for example the “Will you survive when the S*** Hits the Fan?” This is a seemingly ridiculous quiz, but it also helps you find out if you could survive if something was to go terribly wrong (which does happen in this crazy world)

Writing your quiz title

1. Use the Upworthy method for excellence. Upworthy is a phenomenon of our times – a website who’s entire existence revolves around re-naming content scraped from around the web. You can’t argue with the stats though (50 million hits last month), and thus it’s smart to follow their advice for writing headlines. They recommend writing 25 different titles for each post before choosing one to actually use. That seems like an absurd amount, but once you get to number 21 you’ll see why it’s also genius. When you write that many titles, some of them are goofy, some are dumb, and some are pure gold.

2. Present a challenge. Many of the top performing multiple choice quizzes are posed like this: “How Much do You Actually Know About The World Cup?” by posing your test as a challenge instead of just an assessment makes it seem a lot more fun.

3. Make it very personal. Let’s face it, we all care deeply about ourselves. Play off of that by making your quizzes apply directly to the people taking it. “How Smart are You?” is an excellent example.

Writing the quiz questions

1. Short and sweet works best. Don’t have too many questions, 6-12 works best. Don’t make your questions too long either. A good example question is “What one is right?”

2. Hand over the mic. We love to talk about ourselves. A full 40% of all the words that come out of our mouths are about ourselves (for our whole lives, that’s a lot of talking about ourselves). Write the question answers in a way that lest your quiz takers voice their opinions.

3. Spark some thought. Never, ever write questions where the answers are (sometimes, always, never). You are better than that. Write quiz questions that spark real thought by digging deep or just bringing up a new perspective. For example, “Who Started the Internet?” is an interesting question people probably haven’t thought of before.

Setting up the quiz results

1. Prepare for sharing. Prepare to have your quiz results shared. The formula works like this “I got (my score)(name of the quiz)” which would look like “I got: You are a genius. How smart are you?” Anticipate how that will look to maximize social sharing.

2. Stay honest. You want to start with honesty. Don’t tell people they are something they aren’t. This will cause your quiz takers to lose trust in you and potentially your brand as a whole.

3. Give credit where credit’s due. While staying honest, be nice. If someone is smart (or dumb), stay positive. Remember the goal is to get shared so don’t be mean or no one will share your results.

Part 2: A couple of excellent examples

1. “How Much do You Actually Know About the World Cup?” The United States advanced in the world cup today, Americans are excited about soccer (football) for the first time pretty much ever, nationalism is at a local maximum. That make this quiz fit in perfectly with the times, and gives us a blueprint for making future quizzes. The blueprint goes like this; when there is a major national or international event that doesn’t come around very often, make a quiz to see how much people know about it. That way you’ll latch on to the press push surrounding the event.

votolatino

2. “What’s Your Content Marketing IQ?” I like this one because it manages to provide great value without being super boring. I work in marketing and know how complicated it can be which is another reason for the appreciation I have for this quiz. Multiple choice quizzes can be used to help people find out what they need to learn. This one gets borderline educational, so be careful not to bore your readers away.

3. “Will You Survive When the S*** Hits the Fan?” This is one of my favorites just because it’s so far away from being a school test that you’d probably be fired if you were a professor and administered this quiz. Fittingly, it was created by a survival site The Organic Prepper (an excellent site for everything survival rated, you’ll be prepared for the Zombi Apocalypse after reading it).

Seriously though, the quiz nails it. It’s got a personality, it provides real value (how prepared are you if something were to go wrong?), and it has share-able results. (who doesn’t want to brag about their survival skills?’)

will you survive

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