Rating Scale Questions

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Rating Scale Questions

People completing an online survey

Rating questions are a popular type of question used in questionnaires and other feedback gathering methods. A popular type of survey question, they ask respondents to rate their level of agreement, satisfaction, or other metric on a numerical scale. You can find a range of types of rating scale, although rating questions are commonly measured on a 5, 7 or even a 10-point scale (see also: Likert scale and semantic dfferential scale). Here is an example of a 5-point rating scale question:

How helpful was the content presented at our event?
  1. Extremely helpful
  2. Very helpful
  3. Somewhat helpful
  4. Not very helpful
  5. Not at all helpful

Different things can be measured with these questions, such as how happy people are with a service or product, their perception of value for money, the usefulness of a staff presentation, and so on.

Rating vs ranking questions

Many people use ranking questions and rating questions as if they are one and the same thing. This is an error, since they are very different. Understanding the difference will also allow you to better grasp when to use each type of question.

Although complex to understand, you must take some time to get to grips with the difference between ranking and rating, not in the least because the data they provide you with can affect the results of your questions greatly.

For instance, using a survey for a restaurant as an example, when someone ranks the food as the lowest, this does not necessarily mean that people did not enjoy the food. This is why answers and piping are also very important, so you can ask follow-up questions in your online survey.

Pros and cons of rating questions

While rating questions can be a valuable tool for collecting feedback, they also have their strengths and weaknesses, and their use must be carefully considered in different contexts.

Strengths of rating questions

Ease of use: Rating questions are relatively easy to understand and answer, which can increase response rates and reduce survey fatigue.

Quantitative data: Rating questions produce numerical data that can be analyzed quantitatively. This data can be easily summarized, compared, and analyzed using statistical methods.

Consistency: Rating questions use a standardized scale, which ensures that responses are consistent and can be compared across respondents and surveys.

Versatility: Rating questions can be used in a wide range of contexts and for various purposes, such as measuring customer satisfaction, employee engagement, or patient experience.

Weaknesses of rating questions

Limited insights: Rating questions provide only limited insights into respondents’ experiences, opinions, or attitudes. They may not capture the nuances and complexity of certain issues or situations.

Lack of context: Rating questions do not provide context for the responses, which can make it difficult to interpret the results. For example, a high rating may not necessarily indicate overall satisfaction if the respondent had low expectations to begin with.

Social desirability bias: Respondents may be influenced by social desirability bias, meaning they may provide responses that they believe are more socially acceptable or favorable, rather than their true feelings or experiences.

Reliability: If respondents are in a hurry or lose interest in the questionnaire, they may just assign an average score to each of the items without actually looking at them. Also, people often have “tactics” when it comes to completing these types of questions. Very few, for instance, will ever assign the highest or lowest score.

Man completing rating scale satisfaction survey featuring star graphics

Rating scale questions examples

Customer surveys:

On customer feedback questionnaires, rating questions are often used to measure overall satisfaction with a product, service, or experience.

  • On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with your recent purchase?
    Example 10-point scale: Very satisfied – 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 – Very unsatisfied
  • Please rate your agreement with the following statement, “[Company] made it easy for me to resolve my issue”
    Example 5-point scale: Strongly agree | Agree | Neither agree nor disagree | Disagree | Strongly disagree
  • How often do you purchase a newspaper?
    Example 4-point scale: Daily, Weekly, Occasionally, Never

Employee surveys:

On employee feedback questionnaires, rating questions are often used to measure engagement, motivation, or job satisfaction.

  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how likely are you to recommend our company as a great place to work?
    Example 5-point scale: Very likely | Somewhat likely | Undecided | Somewhat unlikely | Very unlikely
  • How relevant was the content of the training to your job responsibilities?
    Example 5-point scale: Very relevant, somewhat relevant, neutral, somewhat irrelevant, completely irrelevant
  • Please rate your agreement with the following statement, “Employees are given all the resources required to do a great job”
    Example 5-point scale: Strongly disagree | Disagree | Neither agree nor disagree | Agree | Strongly agree

Healthcare surveys:

On healthcare questionnaires, rating questions are often used to measure patient experience and satisfaction with care.

  • On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend our GP practice to a friend or family member?
    Example 10-point scale: Very likely – 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 – Very unlikely
  • In the past year, how frequently did you visit your dental practice?
    Example 6-point scale: Never | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | More than 4 times
  • Please state your level of satisfaction with our appointment-booking system
    Example 5-point scale: Very satisfied | Satisfied | Neutral | Unsatisfied | Very unsatisfied

Hospitality surveys:

  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate the cleanliness of your hotel room?
    Example 5-point scale: Excellent | Good | Average | Poor | Terrible
  • How likely are you to recommend our restaurant to a friend or family member?
    Example 5-point scale: Very likely | Somewhat likely | Undecided | Somewhat unlikely | Very unlikely
  • Please rate your agreement with the following statement, “the conference venue influenced my decision to attend today”
    Example 4-point scale: Strongly disagree | Disagree | Agree | Strongly agree

Education surveys:

  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate your relationship with your form tutor?
    Example 5-point scale: Excellent | Good | Average | Poor | Terrible
  • How would you rate the effectiveness of the instructor in delivering the course material?
    Example 10-point scale: Very effective – 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 – Very ineffective
  • In the last school year, how often did you access student information using the school intranet?
    Example 5-point scale: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Rarely, Never

Community surveys:

  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how safe would you feel walking in your neighborhood after dark?
    Example 5-point scale: Very safe | Generally safe | Neither safe nor unsafe | Generally unsafe | Very unsafe
  • In the past 12 months how often have you used local public transport?
    Example 4-point scale: Frequently (at least once per week) | Occasionally (at least once per month) | Rarely (at least once per year) | Never
  • Please rate your agreement with the following statement, “My local area has sufficient access to parks and gardens”
    Example 5-point scale: Strongly disagree | Somewhat disagree | Undecided | Somewhat agree | Strongly agree

Wrapping up

In conclusion, rating questions are a useful tool for collecting feedback and measuring attitudes, opinions, and experiences in a standardized and quantitative manner.

Nonetheless, their utilization should be meticulously evaluated in different contexts, and other question types should also be employed to provide more nuanced and detailed insights.

By employing a blend of rating questions and other question types, survey designers can acquire a more comprehensive understanding of respondents’ experiences and opinions.

More survey design advice

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