How To Write A Survey

Writing surveys can be lots of fun, especially if you're a naturally curious sort of person. Now you can get answers to all your questions!

Writing Questions

At this point, you have 4 or 5 questions all related to the same, specific topic. If you've picked a good topic and good related questions, then you're almost done!

  1. Ask Some Really, Really Specific Questions

    Pick one of the 4 or 5 broad questions you had. Now write 4 or 5 questions related to that one question.

    Show Example >

    Our first broad question was "What do you do to make sure you have a strong relationship with your parents?" Now we could ask even more specific questions, such as "How do you talk to your parents when you want them to do you a favor?" and "When your parents ask you to do something, what's your first response?

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    When you're done, move on to the next question. Keep on going until you have 4 or 5 really, really specific questions for each of the broad questions you started with.

  2. Figure Out What Kind Of Answers You Want

    The next step is to assign a response type for each question. You can make all your questions have the same type of response or pick a different response type for each question.

    If you want a lot of detail, creativity, or variety in your responses, go with an open-ended response so people use their own words. Use short answer or long answer.

    • Short Answer

      Ask for this type of response when you expect a one-word response or a short phrase.

      Show Example >

      Sample Question:
      What is your first or fake name?

      Sample responses:
      "Judy" "xmegmeg234" "ASmartGirl10" "McKenzie"

      Sample Question:
      What is your favorite place to go with your family?

      Sample responses:
      "Applebee's" "my grandma's" "Cape Cod" "the ice cream store on the corner"

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    • Long Answer

      Ask for this type of response when you expect a response that is several sentences long, or even a full paragraph.

      Show Example >

      Sample Question:
      What is your favorite memory with your mother?

      Sample responses:
      "idk. too many to count! I love my momm!!"

      "My favorite memory with my mother was when we went shopping for my prom dress. I was getting stressed because nothing fit me right and I felt fat and ugly. I started to cry in the store which was really embarrassing. My mother asked everyone what they were looking at and people stopped staring. Then she sat with me in the stall and helped me calm down. We went home and she made me my favorite dinner and reminded me that prom dresses don't make people beautiful, people are beautiful no matter what. I was glad she stood up for me and was on my side."

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    If you want neat results that you can make graphs out of, go with a close-ended response so people choose from pre-determined options. Use multiple choice, check box, or Likert scale.

    • Multiple Choice

      Ask for this type of response when you want people to choose between specific options that you give them.

      Show Example >

      Sample Question:
      When your parents ask you to do some chores, how do you usually react?

      Sample Options:





      Sample Question:
      Would you rather...

      Sample Options:


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    • Check Box

      Ask for this type of response when you want people to be able to select more than one option that you give them.

      Show Example >

      Sample Question:
      Which of the following do you do with your family?

      Sample Options:
      Eat breakfast
      Eat lunch
      Eat dinner

      Sample Question:
      Which of the following types of affection are you comfortable giving your father?

      Sample Options:
      Handshake
      High five
      Hug
      Kiss
      Saying, "I love you"

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    • Likert Scale

      Ask for this type of response if you want people to choose between "Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, Strongly Agree" or to rate something on a scale of 1 to 5.

      Show Example >

      Sample Question:
      Do you get along with your mother?

      Sample Scale:
      Strongly Agree
      Agree
      Disagree
      Strongly Disagree

      Sample Question:
      On a scale of 1 to 5, how much do your parents buy for you?

      Sample Scale:
      5: My parents always buy me everything.
      4: My parents buy most of my things.
      3: My parents buy about half my stuff.
      2: My parents buy only a few things for me.
      1: My parents don't buy me anything.

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  3. Assign Options to Close-Ended Response Questions

    If you haven't done so already, list all the options you want available for close-ended responses. Here are tips for writing good close-ended response options

More ideas for writing questions:

  • Think past, present, and future
  • With relationships, think about the point of view of everyone involved
  • Think about locations. Is it the same at home? At school?
  • Get critical: Best, Worst, Most, Least
  • What would they keep the same? What would they change?
  • Be emotional: Favorite, Least Favorite, Related Memories
  • Make them guess! Did you know...?
  • Use your senses: look, feel, taste, touch, hear
  • Learn! Ask for advice, tips, suggestions, and personal definitions.
  • ... and anything else you can come up with!

Next: Making It Work

How to write a survey:

  1. Getting Started
    How to pick a topic for your survey

  2. Writing Questions
    Question ideas, response types, and response options

  3. Making It Work
    Check it over and make it the best it can be

  4. Submit Your Survey
    Submit your survey to SmartGirl