Common Rating Scales to Use when Writing Questions

Philip Enders Arden September 13, 2013

Have you ever tried to write your own survey or questionnaire scale? Knowing how to write a questionnaire scale can be a deceptively difficulty problem for both novice and experienced survey makers alike.

Poorly written scales are actually one of the most frequent mistakes I see when reviewing questionnaires. I wish I’d had a concise chart like this handy when I started writing survey questions, but now I’m thrilled to share some of this wisdom with you.

If writing questionnaires, surveys, or scales is a challenge for you – don’t feel bad. This is a topic that has gotten academic and professional attention for the last century and beyond. I wouldn’t be surprised if scales are nearly as old as writing itself.

A Useful Reference for Questionnaire Scales

After all these years thankfully, there are a few common scales that work for almost any question. If necessary, you can change your existing question slightly so that you can use one of the following highly effective, research-based scales.

AcceptabilityNot at all acceptable, Slightly acceptable, Moderately acceptable, Very acceptable, Completely acceptable
AgreementCompletely disagree, Disagree, Somewhat disagree, Neither agree nor disagree, Somewhat agree, Agree, Completely agree
AppropriatenessAbsolutely inappropriate, Inappropriate, Slightly inappropriate, Neutral, Slightly appropriate, Appropriate, Absolutely appropriate
AwarenessNot at all aware, Slightly aware, Moderately aware, Very aware, Extremely aware
BeliefsNot at all true of what I believe, Slightly true of what I believe, Moderately true of what I believe, Very true of what I believe, Completely true of what I believe
ConcernNot at all concerned, Slightly concerned, Moderately concerned, Very concerned, Extremely concerned
FamiliarityNot at all familiar, Slightly familiar, Moderately familiar, Very familiar, Extremely familiar
FrequencyNever, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Always
ImportanceNot at all important, Slightly important, Moderately important, Very important, Extremely important
InfluenceNot at all influential, Slightly influential, Moderately influential, Very influential, Extremely influential
LikelihoodNot at all likely, Slightly likely, Moderately likely, Very likely, Completely likely
PriorityNot a priority, Low priority, Medium priority, High priority, Essential
ProbabilityNot at all probable, Slightly probable, Moderately probable, Very probable, Completely probable
QualityVery poor, Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent
Reflect MeNot at all true of me, Slightly true of me, Moderately true of me, Very true of me, Completely true of me
Satisfaction (bipolar)Completely dissatisfied, Mostly dissatisfied, Somewhat dissatisfied, Neither satisfied or dissatisfied, Somewhat satisfied, Mostly satisfied, Completely satisfied
Satisfaction (unipolar)Not at all satisfied, Slightly satisfied, Moderately satisfied, Very satisfied, Completely satisfied

Remember how we mentioned that there is serious academic research into how to create usable scales? This list follows guidance to use 5-point unipolar scales and 7-point bipolar scales given by Jon A. Krosnick and Stanley Presser in chapter 9 of the peer reviewed Handbook of Survey Research 2nd Edition.

When it comes to managing surveys, creating questionnaires, scaling questions and collecting data Verint Survey Management can help you not only build your questionnaires but also take the manual data crunching out of the equation. With easier, faster insights, you can do more with your data and even close the loop on individual customer concerns.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our recent maturity model guides for web and mobile experience and for in-location experience where we go into more depth about how survey management is just one part of creating exceptional customer experiences.