Multiple choice questions (MCQ) are popularly known to help in survey questionnaires and education exams. When gathering data for research, we think about two things—the kind of questions to ask and what tool should be used to ask these questions.

One of the major tools used for data collection is the questionnaire. Questionnaires are research instruments consisting of a set of questions to collect relevant information or data from respondents. In other words, they can be simply defined as a written interview. 

There are different types of questionnaires used in research, and they are classified based on the type of questions they contain. In this article, we will be reviewing the Multiple choice question types and how they are used for research purposes. 

What is a Multiple Choice Question (MCQ)? 

A multiple-choice question is a type of questionnaire/survey question that provides respondents with multiple answer options. Sometimes called objective response questions, it requires respondents to select only correct answers from the choice options. 

MCQs are mostly used in educational testing, customer reviews, market research, elections, etc. Although they take different forms depending on their purpose, they have the same structure. 

Parts of Multiple Choice Questions 

A multiple-choice question consists of the following parts:

multiple-choice-questions-mcq

  • Stem: A stem is a question. The questionnaire should make sure the question is straightforward, error-free and is relevant. 
  • Answer: This is the correct answer to the question. The correct answer may be determined by the questionnaire, respondent or some set down rules both the questionnaire and respondent do not influence in. 
  • Distractors: These are the other incorrect responses added to make up the choice options. 

11 Types of Multiple Choice Questions + [Examples]

Image Multiple Choice Questions

This is a multiple-choice question type that uses images as choice options. It is best used for questions that require visual identity. A common example is ReCaptcha, a security measure that confirms human identity or a picture quiz question.


It can also be used for educational testing purposes. Below is an image multiple choice question that asks respondents to identify a cat.

multiple-choice-questions-image

This question asks respondents to identify wild animals. It is multiple select questions, while the former is a single select.

image-mcq-choice-question

Pros

  • It creates a visually appealing interface and is highly interactive. 
  • Improves understanding and decreases survey abandonment rate by giving a visual representation of words respondents don't understand. 

Cons

  • Visually impaired people cannot respond to image choice questions. 
  • It takes up a lot of space on forms. 

Radio Multiple Choice Questions

This is the most popular multiple choice question type among questionnaires. It uses radio buttons to list the various choice options. In most cases, radio buttons are used for single select questions.

Here is an example of a radio multiple-choice question used in collecting nominal data

title-multiple-choice-question

Here is a binary example of a radio MCQ which takes a nominal data of the respondent's gender. 

gender-choice-question-survey

Pros

  • Easy to use on touch screen devices
  • Arranges the options in an organized list.  

Cons

  • Gets cumbersome when dealing with a long list of options. 
  • It doesn't give visual representations

Checkbox Multiple Choice Questions

Checkbox questions are multiple-choice questions type that uses a list of checkbox as options. They are the most ideal for questions in which multiple answers can be selected. 

Checkbox MCQs are mostly used for multiple answer questions. Let us consider this example which takes data of the devices a respondent has. 

checkbox-multiple-choice-question

It can also be used for single answer questions by creating a maximum response validation with Formplus. 

Pros

  • Most ideal for multiple answer questions. 
  • Displays all the options at once.

Cons

  • Not ideal for a large list of options. 
  • It is not very interactive

Single Select Choice Questions

This is a multiple-choice question that allows respondents to select a single option from a dropdown list. Single select is not only used for questionnaires but also website menus. The dropdown menu is an example of a single select choice question. 



It mostly uses a hamburger button as the stem (i.e. question). In the image above, pricing, features, templates, blog, and login are the choice options. The answer is determined by the respondent. 

Here is another example of a single select MCQ which is used in questionnaires. 

single-select-multiple-choice-question

Pros

  • It is ideal for a large number of options. 
  • Easy to use on touch screen devices. The respondent can easily scroll through options. 

Cons

  • It is restricted to only a single answer. 
  • It doesn't fully display the options which may mislead the respondents to think there are no more options. 

Multiple Select Choice Questions

This is used to select multiple answers from a list of options. It is mostly used for questionnaires or surveys and cannot be used as a website menu.

It may be used by restaurants to take orders from customers like in this case. The respondents have the opportunity to choose more than one option from the list. 

multiple-select-choice-question

Multiple select choice questions also have the "Select All" option that allows respondents to easily select all options without having to go through the stress. 

Pros

  • It is ideal for a large number of options
  • It allows the respondents to choose more than one option. 

Cons

  • It doesn't fully display the options which may mislead the respondents to think there are no more options
  • It may be stressful going through the long list to select answers. 

Star Rating Multiple Choice Questions

Star rating is an interactive multiple-choice question type that takes answers on a rating scale. This rating option is used to take ordinal data. 

It is mostly used by businesses to get customer reviews on their products or service. Ride-hailing services like Uber and Bolt (Taxify) use a star rating to rate their drivers. Google and Apple play store also use a star rating to indicate reviews on mobile apps.

star-rating-multiple-choice-question

A restaurant trying to improve its service may use a star rating to gather data on customer views on specific parts of its service. 

Pros

  • It is highly interactive 
  • It gathers data that can easily be analyzed. 

Cons

  • The data gathered from the star rating is not usually detailed. The restaurant in the above example, for instance, will not know why the customer thinks the chef deserves a 3 star.

Heart Rating Multiple Choice Questions

Heart rating is also an interactive multiple-choice question type. It uses the heart or love symbol as a rating scale. 

This rating scale uses a more personal approach to collecting data. It is mostly used for reviews by businesses who want to have an emotional connection with its customers. 

In this example, the questionnaire uses the word "love" in the question, appealing to the emotion of the respondent. 

Event planners may also use the heart rating scale to get data on how people feel about the panel sessions at the event. 

heart-rating-choice-question

Pros

  • It is highly interactive. 
  • It is emotionally appealing

Cons

  • It doesn't give a detailed account of the emotion behind the responses. 
  • The respondents may get carried away with the emotional tone and give emotionally driven rather than correct answers. 

Rating Scale Multiple Choice Questions

The rating scale is a type of multiple-choice question that takes input from respondents using a linear scale. The scale can either be vertical or horizontal depending on the questionnaire. 

rating-scale-multiple-choice-questions

The above is a vertical example of a rating scale that asks respondents to rate their excel skills. Here is a horizontal or inline example of a linear rating scale.

Pros

  • It does not take up much space on the form. 

Cons

  • It does not define each level of the scale. For instance, the example above does not define what is in between "Very Hot" and "Very Cold".
  • The linearity of the scale may be difficult for respondents to understand. 

Matrix Point Rating Multiple Choice Questions

This is a multiple-choice question type that uses a table to ask questions and list options. The example below collects ordinal data of customer feedback using radio buttons. It is a 3 point Likert scale example.

3-point-likert-scale-choice-question

The matrix scale options can be further increased into a 5 point Likert scale. The first row contains a list of the choice options while the first column contains the questions. The other cells in the table contain the radio buttons. 

multiple-choice-question-mcq

A matrix scale can be used to ask multiple questions at a time. That is, it can have two or more stems. 

Pros

  • It can be used to ask multiple questions at a time. 
  • It gathers data that can be easily analyzed. 

Cons

  • The multiple questions and radio buttons may confuse the respondents. 

Smiley Rating Multiple Choice Questions

This highly interactive multiple choice question type uses emojis/smileys as a rating scale. It collects data of the respondent's mood and allows them to visualize their emotions. 

A weight is assigned to each smiley on the scale, and used in the analysis of the data gathered. 

Many organizations use smiley rating because of its interactive nature and emotional feel. 

Pros

  • It is interactive. 
  • It visualizes the display of emotion. 

Cons

  • It does not capture the reason behind the respondent's answer.

Thumbs Multiple Choice Question

This multiple-choice question type collects binary data, which in this case is the thumbs up and thumbs down. The thumbs MCQ is also a rating scale question. 

The option includes an emoji or image representing the thumbs up and thumbs down, which means like and dislikes respectively. 

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Cons

  • It is restricted to only binary questions
  • It does not give a detailed explanation of the reason behind the respondent's choice. 

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How to Use Formplus Multiple Choice Features for Surveys/Quizzes 

Multiple-choice questions are the most common type of question used in surveys/quizzes. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to use the multiple-choice features on Formplus. 

Step 1 - Select Feature

There are various multiple-choice question features on Formplus and they fall under two main categories, namely; ratings and choice options. In this example, we will be using the Choice Options.

  • Click the "Choice Options" tab in the form builder menu. 
  • Click on the Radio button.


Step 2 - Edit Form

We will edit our form into anything we want. In this guide, we will be creating a quiz that asks respondents to identify a non-continent. 

  • Click on the edit button to edit the form. 
  • Add the questions and choice options. 
  • Click save and preview the quiz. 

Step 3 - Customise 

You can also customise the forms in the Customise section. Formplus allows you to change colours, add images and even personalize your forms. 

For rating options:

  • Click on the 'Ratings' tab in the form builder menu. 
  • Click on Star rating. 

Go to the next step, which is editing. 

  • Click on the edit option and edit the form as you please. 


Uses of Multiple Choice Questions 

  • Research

Data collection is an integral part of the research, and there are various tools used in collecting data. One of those tools is online and offline surveys/questionnaires. 

Surveys are mostly used to collect categorical (qualitative) data, and one of the techniques used by researchers are multiple-choice questions. Multiple choice questions help researchers easily gather data from respondents.

MCQ can be used for both scientific and marketing research. Let us consider this competitive market research example:

Which of the following phone brands are you familiar with? 

  • iPhone
  • Samsung
  • LG
  • Xiaomi
  • Sony

This example is multiple select choice options. 

  • Education

Multiple choice questions are mostly used in the objective section of tests and/or exams. It is a common technique for student evaluation in the US and other parts of the world. 

Benjamin D. Wood developed the multiple-choice question in the early 20th century to test students. It became more popular in the mid-20th century when scanners and data-processing machines were developed to check the results.

Although there are arguments about whether multiple-choice questions is a good technique for educational testing, it is still commonly used. Below is an example of a multiple-choice question in education.

If x+2=5, what is the value of x? 

  • 7
  • 0.4
  • 3
  • 2.5
  • 10
  • Online Registration

Online registration forms are known for using multiple choice questions for data collection. It is used in all online registration process. 

When registering on a website, for instance, a respondent is required to input details like country, title, gender, etc. These questions are mostly asked using a drop-down menu. Consider the following examples:

  1. Indicate your title
  • Mr.
  • Miss
  • Mrs.
  • Dr. 
  • Prof. 

b. What gender are you?

  • Male 
  • Female
  • Transgender
  • Others
  • Human Resources

It is also used by Human Resources Managers during the employment process. Each stage of the application collects data through multiple-choice questions. 

During the first application stage, they ask applicants to enter details like their highest level of education. For example:

What is your highest level of education? 

  • School SAT
  • High School
  • BSc. 
  • MSc. 
  • PhD. 

During the prescreening stage, they give applicants aptitude tests to test their ability. This ranges from the test of maths, business, language, listening, etc. For example:

How would you react if a customer complains about the meal? 

  • Get angry. How dare he/she?
  • Call the security
  • Apologize and pacify the customer with a better meal. 
  • Psychology

When attending to patients, psychologists need to collect data about the patient. They use different multiple-choice question types to ask questions from the patient. 

This is very necessary for the psychologist to have a proper understanding of the patient and determine the type of illness and; ake proper diagnosis and treatment. 

Which of the following emotions do you feel often? 

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Happiness
  • Bored

Create MCQ Test or Surveys with Formplus

Advantages of Multiple Choice Questions

  • Saves Time

Multiple choice questions are less time consuming for respondents and as such increases response rate. With MCQ, respondents don't have to go through the pain of typing responses. 

It aids researchers in asking straightforward questions. 

  • Easy to analyze

The data collected from multiple-choice questions are easy to analyze because questionnaires don't have to deal with irrelevant data. Factors like illegible handwriting, clarity of presentation, etc. are eliminated. 

  • Mobile Device Compatibility

They are said to be compatible with mobile devices because of their ease of filling. Respondents don't need a keyboard to type responses. 

They only have to tap and scroll through the form to answer multiple-choice questions. With the popularity of online forms, it is reported that 1 in 5 respondents fill forms on their mobile devices.

Considering the absence of a mouse or keyboard MCQs make it easy to fill these forms. 

Disadvantages of Multiple Choice Questions 

  • Limited assessment scope

There is a limitation to the type of assessment or investigation that can be carried out through multiple-choice questions. It is best adapted for well-defined investigations. 

When carrying out problem-solving and high order reasoning assessments in educational testing, for instance, it is better to use short answer or essay test

  • Ambiguous interpretation

There is a possible ambiguity in the way a questionnaire interpreted the input. Since the responses are not descriptive, the questionnaire may fail to properly interpret the respondents intent. 

This may lead to analyzing the wrong data and making wrong conclusions. 

  • Collects incorrect data

In most cases, questionnaires do not leave the respondents with the option of leaving the answer field empty when filling online forms. This may lead respondents to choose any random option which may be incorrect. 

Let us consider multiple-choice questions used ]n educational testing. A student who doesn't know the correct answer to the questions may take guesses and end up getting them right. 

He/She may even score higher than the intelligent ones. Situations like this do not test for true knowledge.

Conclusion

Multiple-choice questions have many applications in education, election, scientific research, market research, etc. Until recently, it is mostly known to be used in educational testing only. 

Despite the recent uproar about the need for it to be scrapped, Multiple Choice Questions remain very popular in educational testing. A lot of top educational institutions around the world use it to administer tests on students. 

Its application to marketing and customer service has helped increase its popularity. Many brands now use interactive MCQs like smiley rating, star rating, etc. to get customer reviews and other relevant information. 

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