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.

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