7 Tips For Writing Great Quiz Questions

The most important part of a quiz is the questions. If the questions don't engage or challenge the contestants, the quiz won't be enjoyable which it=s the whole point of running a quiz in the first place!

Here is a list of our top 7 tips for writing great quiz questions we make sure are in all our quizzes.

  1. Don’t make the questions too easy
  2. Don’t make the questions too hard!
  3. Make the questions relevant today and in the future
  4. Ensure the correct answer can’t be challenged
  5. Make sure the quizmaster can pronounce all the words
  6. Challenge the contestants to work out the answer
  7. Choose topics that the majority of audiences will know about

Tip 1 - Don’t make the questions too easy

A quiz is most enjoyable when it is challenging but the answers are achievable. If each question in the quiz is too easy, then contestants will likely get bored and distracted and teams will all score high with little to separate them at the end. An example of an easy question is ‘What is the capital city of France?’ We all know it’s ‘Paris’, and a quiz full of easy questions like that will take the fun out of it.

Tip 2 - Don’t make the questions too hard!

One of the most enjoyable parts of participating in a quiz is when you can work out an answer that is tricky. This puts a smile on contestants faces and is what they are at the quiz for. If the questions are all too hard and teams are struggling to answer any of them, then the fun of the quiz will be lost. If there is a difficult question in a quiz, then it is always best to add three options as answers, so although the contestants may not know the exact answer, they may be able to deduce the answer from the options.

Tip 3 - Make the question relevant today and in the future

A quiz question that is timely is always good, as often the topic is currently in the news and therefore tests the contestant knowledge of current affairs. However, if the quiz question are to be used again in the future, then they need to ensure that they are worded correctly. For example, the question ‘Who is the current Foreign Secretary?’, or ‘How old is the Queen?’ are good questions, but the answer will change over time. To future proof the question, it should be worded in a way to reflect this. For example, ‘Who became Foreign Secretary in July 2019?’ and ‘In which year was the Queen born?’ are much better ways of wording those questions. The answers are ‘Dominic Raab’ and ‘1926’.

Tip 4 - Ensure the correct answer can’t be challenged

One of the biggest frustrations for anyone playing in a quiz is when you know your answer is correct but the quizmaster has something else. If the scores are close at the end of a quiz and there are a number of quiz questions where there could be a few different correct answers, the quiz will end with disappointment contestants. An example of a question with multiple answers is ‘What is the collective noun for a group of Whales?’ The answer could be either a ‘Pod, School or Gam’. All those answers would be correct, but is the quizmaster had only one of them, it makes for some challenges from the quiz teams.

Tip 5 - Make sure the quizmaster can pronounce all the words

This is a lesser occurrence when it comes to quiz questions but one that can cause confusion for the teams. If a certain work in a question is difficult to pronounce, the contestants will struggle to answer the question even if they do know the correct answer. An example question for this issue is ‘Aphenphosmphobia is the fear of what’? Aphenphosmphobia is a difficult word to say (and a question that is too difficult) and will cause confusion. The answer to this is ‘fear of being touched’.

Tip 6 - Challenge the contestants to work out the answer

A challenging quiz question is one that will keep contestants engaged and increases the level of enjoyment of a quiz. Rather than having a quiz full of straight forward answers, such as ‘What is Elton John’s real name?’ (the answer is Reg Dwight), a question such as ‘If it’s 4pm in Dubai on a June afternoon, what time is it in New York?’. If you’re in the UK, you’ll have to figure out how many hours Dubai is ahead, and how many hours New York is behind and then work out at 4pm what the time would be on New York. The reason ‘A June afternoon’ was included in the question is because of daylight saving in other months of the year which could lead to two correct answers. The actual answer is 8am.

Tip 7 - Choose topics that the majority of audiences will know about

Similar to the the issue with making quiz questions too hard, creating a quiz question on a topic that is so obscure or niche will make the quiz too difficult. Equally, the quizmaster should avoid all the questions in the quiz are around a small handful of specific categories. For example, if all the questions is a sports round are based on cricket, then unless everyone participating in the quiz are cricket fans, contestants will be unhappy. Variety is the key to getting the topics right, and cover a range of popular topics.

All the above tips are not only for written quiz questions, but they can be applied to picture rounds, music rounds and anything else that is deemed a question in the quiz.

The Pub Quiz Club quizzes take all this into account when we write our quizzes. Take a look at our Weekly Quiz and give it a go!