How do you write a good poll question?

The key to keeping learners engaged and involved is asking the right questions. Audience response technology like TurningPoint can provide the tools for interactive presentations and surveys, but using the system to its full potential takes more than yes and no responses.

Asking good poll questions that demand critical thinking not only keeps participants awake, but also encourages interaction, collaboration and communication. Instant feedback lets presenters see and address the needs of audiences in real time, while scheduled assessments are a great way to gauge understanding prior to a lesson, or to ensure comprehension after it.

What are some good poll questions to ask?

It doesn’t take long to get started with TurningPoint. Knowing how to craft good poll questions that truly enhance learning, on the other hand, takes a bit more expertise. Here are some question types to consider including in order to craft outstanding presentations and lectures, whether you have used TurningPoint for years or this is your first time out of the gate.

Asking good poll questions that demand critical thinking not only keeps participants awake, but also encourages interaction, collaboration and communication.

Recall questions

Asks learners to recall facts and concepts in order to assess understanding.

  • Conduct pre- and post-testing with poll questions to gauge presentation effectiveness.
  • Ensure learners have basic understanding before moving on to the next topic.

Conceptual understanding

Asks learners to not only recall definitions but understand concepts associated with definitions.

  • Base incorrect answers on common misconceptions to spark rich discussion.
  • Encourage further conversation when responses are split among answer choices
  • “Which of the following is NOT an example or characteristic of concept X?”
  • “Which of the following statements best explains the concepts of X?”

Procedural questions

Asks learners to apply knowledge of a procedure or technique to a problem or situation, and can help to reveal parts of the procedure that learners do not understand.

  • “In this scenario, what step or steps would you take next?”

Prediction questions

Asks learners to predict the result of an experiment or procedure in order to help them make sense of a concept, and allow you to see if the concept is understood.

  • “How will adding X affect the outcome of the situation?”
  • “What will happen if we add X?”
  • Committing to a prediction beforehand makes learners more invested in the answer.

Critical thinking questions

Asks learners to analyze relationships among multiple concepts or make evaluations based on particular criteria.

  • Encourage learners to think critically by polling complex questions and answer choices.
  • Follow-up results with discussion regarding reasoning behind answer choices.
  • Re-vote after discussion has taken place to see if answers have changed.
  • Construct follow-up poll questions on-the-fly, focusing on why answers were chosen.

One best answer questions

Asks learners to answer multiple-choice questions that do not have a single correct answer.

  • Have learners think critically about the best answer among several defensible ones.
  • Ask a question, allow participants to suggest their own answers and vote for the best one.
  • Often applied in medical scenarios, asking for the best treatment of a patient.

Presentation assessment questions

Asks learners to evaluate presentations, sessions or events. Provides valuable feedback, especially when planning for future events.

  • Offer multiple levels of quality of satisfaction in several categories.
  • Create questions based on pre-determined, pertinent objectives.
  • Keep surveys short and sweet, and provide a mid-point for ranking.
  • Balance different question types within the survey, and define necessary terms.

Open-ended questions

Asks learners to answer open-ended response questions.

  • Supports brainstorming.
  • Best to use if there are a large amount of possible responses.

Perspective questions

Asks learners poll questions designed to surface perspectives versus assess knowledge of a subject.

  • Tailor your presentation to participants’ answers.
  • Discover where everyone stands on sensitive topics.
  • Use anonymous polling to collect honest answers.
  • Make topics relatable, and open up discussions when similar experiences are shared.

Confidence level questions

Ask participants to clarify level of confidence along with answer choices.

  • Use these questions to assess knowledge and discern when learners are guessing.
  • Ask learners to assess confidence when completing a task. For example, “How confident would you be X?”
  • Ask for confidence level at the beginning to identify needs or material that should be covered.

Monitoring questions

Asks learners to gauge progress so speakers can monitor effectiveness of presentation.

  • Create a benchmark in order to compare learner progress.

Interspersing these question types throughout your lecture, training or presentation provides a richer experience for your learners no matter the setting. Contact us today to see how it works for yourself.

Definitions and examples taken from the Following sources:
(2009). 2009 Health care for America survey. Retrieved from
Bruff, D. (2009). Teaching with classroom response systems: Creating active learning environments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Case, S. M., & Swanson, D. B. Constructing written test questions for the basic and clinical sciences (3rd ed.). Retrieved from