How to write a personality quiz

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Writing a quiz is not like writing an article – it’s a completely different animal. An article is meant to be a one-to-many medium, where a quiz is one-to-one. You wouldn’t talk to a friend at a bar as if they were a crowd of people, so don’t write a quiz like it’s addressing a crowd of people. This isn’t something we are used to as writers. Typically we create pieces that will hopefully be read by thousands of people and perhaps commented on, talking directly to someone through a quiz is a new task.

Here’s how to write the perfect personality quiz. (or at least try)

The quiz title

A full 80% of quiz takers will make a decision about whether or not to take your quiz based off of the title it’s given. You should spend nearly as much time coming up with a title as you do actually writing the quiz. However, if you don’t feel like doing that, here are a couple of title template that work every time.

  • The “Actually” title: “How much do you actually know about the world cup?” this quiz is just a simple knowledge assessment, but by adding an element of challenge it becomes much more fun
  • The celebrity comparison title: “Which celebrity would play you in a movie version of your life?” based on a simple personality quiz, this headline appeals to our undeniable love for all things celebrity.
  • Which blank are you? “Which type of cake are you?” again, this is just an adaptation of the personality quiz with personalities replaced by objects (in this case cakes)

The quiz results

With any quiz, you’ve got to work backwards from the results. The result is what gets shared, what calls people to action, and what makes your quiz worth talking about.

Results must be convincingly upbeat, meaning that you’ve got to make every single result positive without coming off as a phony. Here’s how to do that.

  • Be genuine: Whether you tell someone they are like Michael Jordan or are like an Oatmeal Raisin cookie, there’s something genuinely good about whatever they are. Lead with the good.
  • Be simple: Don’t use too many flowery words and adjectives in an attempt to be upbeat. One of the ways Detectives can tell if someone is lying is when they add extraneous details to a story. Say what you have to say and say it clearly.
  • Use personal pronouns: You is one of the most powerful words in our language. A quiz should speak to you and use the word you.
  • Be certain: Don’t use generalities. If you want to tell a quiz taker that they’re the color blue, come right out and say, then state the reasons why. Certainty is a strong way to ensure trustworthiness.
  • Build rapport: Speak conversationally. Insert yourself as the writer into the equation by creating hypothetical scenarios. Remember, a quiz is a one-to-one medium where you can speak like you would to a friend.
  • Don’t try too hard: This isn’t a grammar school or any kind of school, no need to use overly formal language or perfect sentences.
  • Use images properly: Images can be good or bad. Good images make sense in context and add to the result, bad images are in the result for the sake of having an image in the result.

Let’s look at a great quiz result and dissect what they did right.

not goingThis is a quiz result that basically states I don’t like socializing, something that carries a stigma in society. This quiz taker would be referred to as a loner or even a loser. However, the Buzzfeed writer does an excellent job of turning the tables to make this result positive. First, they pull the good out of it “You don’t need to have a ton of people to have a good time”The writer then goes on to use simple language and speak directly to the quiz taker, building rapport by speaking conversationally “I’d suggest we hang out.” The result also feels natural, there’s no over the top wording or flowery syntax.

The quiz questions:

The goal of quiz questions is to funnel people towards the quiz results while building up anticipation. You want to build up a connection with the quiz taker so they’ll be more likely to believe and potentially share your quiz result. Here are a few ways to do that.

  • Listen: We all really enjoy talking about ourselves. Let people express themselves by answering your quiz questions.
  • Don’t try too hard: No need for formality or big words. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
  • One-to-one: A quiz is you as the writer talking to one quiz taker at at time, use that to your advantage. How would you ask someone what their favorite food was if you just met them at at a party?
  • Be the “tipsy college student” version of yourself: If you think something is too edgy, make it edgier. Quizzes aren’t the place to use your amazing academic writing skills.

Let’s look at the quiz questions for the result we were analyzing earlier to see how they did it.

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The loose style of these quiz questions makes me feel like we’re at a pub, a few drinks deep, enjoying a conversation. The questions are informal and short, letting me voice my opinion. They’re also pretty forward and edgy, there’s no formality to be found here.

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