Design principle 8:

→ Use question variants to optimize the learning effect

When you ask about one and the same learning element in different ways, you will make sure the information is processed actively and, therefore, remembered better. Check below to find out how it’s done!


Want to get the most out of your drills? Use various question variants. This means making multiple questions for one learning element (one piece of information you want people to remember). You could, for example, use different examples/cases. You then mark these different variants of a question as ‘equivalent’. The app will subsequently present different question variants for the same learning element every time. The learning material is the same, but the question about it is phrased differently. This will really put the brain to work! Also, vary question and answer styles by following a multiple-choice question up with an open-ended question, or perhaps even a hotspot question (see design principle 7). Try to design at least one, but preferably two additional variants of a question for each learning element, so that you have 3 questions in total for each element. Take a look at the example below.


Using multiple variants will trigger the student/employee to really think about the question and the associated right answer. It will also prevent people from starting to remember questions and answers, because they recognize them by certain traits, instead of based on knowledge (see design principle 7). When you force learners to actively retrieve knowledge, the knowledge will stick. After all, learning is all about developing and anchoring knowledge. On top of that, variety will make the drill more interesting and more challenging to do. A clear win-win situation!

→ The problem of recognition also occurs when you use unequal answers. Make sure you use homogeneous answers. Try to always fit your answer options into the same format and make them roughly the same length. This way, you can prevent people from recognizing the correct answers based on appearance, instead of based on their knowledge (see design principle 7).


It can be difficult to come up with multiple question variants in the beginning. However, you will get better and better at this. Stay creative!

Mark question variants as equivalent →

10 drill design principles

With the 10 drill design principles, we help you on your way to designing the perfect drills. These tips will help you create the best questions based on educational design principles and ensure an effective learning process and well-anchored knowledge. Click on one of the other 9 design principles for more information and clear examples per design principle.

Workshop drill design

Rather have a personal explanation of how to make the perfect drill? We provide drill design workshops and refresher courses for (future) instructional drill designers. Fill in this form and we will contact you.

Need support?

Don’t have the time or resources to make good drills yourself? Find out how we can help!

  • Training: training your employees to become Certified Instructional Drill Designers.
  • Drill design: you can also opt to outsource parts of the drill design process to us.
  • Drill review: one of our educational specialists will help you by reviewing your drill content.
  • Bulk input: entering large volumes of content.
  • Communications: we would be happy to help you with internal communications on implementing the Drillster method.
  • Customization: integration into an LMS or learning portal: “Drillster inside” your trusted environment.

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