Difference between Open and Closed questions with Examples

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What are open and closed questions? If you have this doubt, keep reading this article because we clarify what open and closed questions are with examples of both types.

The best way to solve all your doubts about an issue is through questions. Whether to learn, clarify concepts or obtain information, asking is the best way to solve the unknowns that bother you so much. Therefore, it is essential to know that there are two types of questions, open and closed, to resort to them at the right time.

There are open, closed, and even mixed questions. Each of the question has its advantages and limitations, so it is convenient to know what they mean. Discover everything about open and closed questions, what they are, and clarifying examples.

Lets start with the meaning of open and closed questions.

What are open and closed questions?

It is important to comprehend what open and closed questions mean before you ask them:

Open-ended Questions Meaning

Open questions are used to formulate a question without an answer list proposition. In surveys, an empty text box can be shared for the respondent to answer freely. In exam questions or quizzes, open questions can be seen in theory. For instance: 

  • Explain the challenges students face in college.
  • In your own words, define manure.

To avoid very long answers, you can limit the response time or, if it is in writing, the number of characters. Open questions significant advantage is that respondents can freely express themselves on one or more topics. In this way, patterns of thought are obtained from the people questioned, favoring the emergence of new currents of opinion or new practices.

Being open questions, the sender can understand the true feelings of the receiver of the questions. You have at your disposal an element that helps you obtain information about the receivers thought processes and suggestions for resolving conflicts or problems.

Closed questions definition

Closed questions are used when it is intended to propose a list of answers to the person questioned. Writing these types of questions requires a good development of the list of answers. Therefore, it must be an integrated and balanced set.

The person questioned must be able to express their opinions on the subject. He must also be guaranteed the consistency of the corresponding response procedures. To achieve this, the proposed answers to the closed questions must follow an identical logic related to the proposed question. If this condition is not met, there is a risk of obtaining inconsistent and disparate responses.

Closed questions result in easier data processing or collected responses than open questions.

Examples of Open questions

By giving freedom of response, open questions allow more variable information to be obtained than closed questions. Below are few examples of open questions are as follows:

  • What do you think the government should do to improve the educational system?
  • What does it take to register a business?
  • What is your job?
  • What are your professional goals for this year?
  • Why do you think you are the best candidate for this job?
  • What do you feel right now?
  • What year were you born?
  • What book are you reading right now?
  • What are your plans for next year?
  • What are your favorite sports?
  • How do you define joy?
  • Who is the president of Canada today?
  • Which country would you like to visit?
  • Why do you refuse to go on vacation to the mountains?

Examples of Closed questions

Closed questions can be of various types depending on the answer options provided. 

Here are a few examples:

  • Single selection: Do you own a vehicle? Otherwise. Do you use tobacco? Otherwise. Have you ever gone shopping? Otherwise.
  • Multiple choice: Do you participate in any of these sports? Mark all the correct answers. 1-Football, 2-Basketball, 3-Tennis, 4-Swimming.
  • On a scale: from 1 to 10, where 1 is bad and 10 is excellent, how was your experience in the hotel restaurant?
  • Ranking: Order the dishes below based on your preferences.1- Pot Roast, 2- Spaghetti, 3- Macaroni, 4- Egg Sauce, 5- Smoked chicken, 6- Chinese noodles, 7- Beef Stroganoff, 8- Jollof rice.

Difference between Open and Closed questions

The following differences can be observed between open and closed questions:

  • Open questions allow the interviewee to express themselves verbally without restricting or limiting their thoughts. 
  • They are not as dominant or objective as closed questions are.
  • Unlike an open question, a closed question provides a list of simplified answers.
  • Closed and open questions present various challenges to interviewees. 
  • They focus all their attention on the exact responses chosen by the interviewer in closed questions, whereas in open questions, they can reflect and write what they think or what is available in their brains.
  • In almost every case, asking the same question in both formats yields different results. 
  • Few interviewees choose categories such as others, preferring to take their time thinking about writing answers other than those on the list.

Now that you know better what open and closed questions are, we recommend you check some high school interview questions.

Gregory Nyesom

I'm Nyesom Gregory, the Founder, and CEO of Examspot. My love for education and career is the drive behind this blog. I hold a bachelor's degree in Economics and Development Studies. I am an educationist, avid reader, a researcher, and data scientist.