5 Tips for Building Awesome Trivia Quizzes

by Doug Villhard Second Street

The title of the quiz should be fun and timely.

If the title of the quiz makes people smile, you have a winner you can run any time of the year (“Famous Movie Quotes”).

If it’s timely, you have a winner for a particular season (“Test Your Holiday Knowledge”).

But, if you combine them at the right time, you’ll hit a home run (“Holiday Movie Quotes”).

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Have a strategy for what topics your questions will cover given the title.

I like 10 question trivia surveys because you can easily compute your percentage. You got 8 out of 10. What is your percentage right? It’s easy to compute. 80%.

Before I write a single question, I come up with a strategy. For the Holiday Movie Quotes Trivia quiz, I first researched the top holiday movies ever made. I decided I wanted to have one quote from each of the top 10 popular movies.

Then I searched, for example, for “Elf movie quotes.” I picked quotes there weren’t too long, weren’t too obvious, and were funny.

Order the questions to make the user feel like they’re on a thrill ride.

Make the first question funny and easy. It gives people the confidence to continue on with the quiz. Put the harder questions in the middle and right toward the end.

Think of it like a roller coaster – don’t just go up and then down; go up and down and all around at different heights.

Here’s how I ordered the questions for my Holiday Movie Quotes Trivia quiz:


Randomly position your correct answers.

Once I have come up with the questions, the first thing I do is decide on the positioning of the correct answers.

I always go with 4 answers, just like the ACT and SAT. To start, I enter placeholders – like the letters A, B, C, and D – for all the answers. Then I come back and put in the correct answer in a varied way. I take the quiz in this format to see if I have done a good job mixing up the positioning of the correct answers.

Once I’m satisfied, I start filling in the wrong answers.

The real art of writing trivia is the wrong answers.

Have a goal in mind before you set out. My goal is for the average person to get 7 out of 10 correct.

Have at least one tough question. Make it tough by having all the answers be nearly identical. You can tell immediately here that this quote is from an old movie…but which one?


However, if you make all your answers really tough then people will score poorly and why would they share a trivia quiz that they bombed? Here is the easiest question in my quiz:


However, if you make the quiz too easy it’s no fun. If the other 3 answers had been A Christmas Story, White Christmas, and It’s a Wonderful Life, it would have been too obvious. VCRs didn’t even exist in the era those movies are set.

You should also avoid questions like, “What year did such and such happen?” If it’s nearly impossible to guess the answer, it just isn’t as much fun. Your quiz should be a game of skill and not blind luck. If you do use years, at least spread out the possible answers over decades or centuries.

You can tell if you’ve done a good job by getting friends, family, and coworkers to play your quiz and then looking at the distribution of answers. You can see that #9, my most difficult question, was harder than the others because the answers are more distributed. You can also see that #1, my easy question, had a very high percentage of correct answers:


In Closing

Quizzes can be a blast to make. If you consider these 5 tips, you’re much more likely to build a viral winner. At the end of the day, your real goal should be for the player to want to invite others to play as well.

After you make your quiz, feel free to share a link in the comments. We’ll be happy to play it, and if you’d like, give you some feedback.

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