Step 5: Pilot test the survey

Even the best survey designer is bound to write a question that seems clear to them, but may be confusing to others. Testing your survey before implementing it on a large scale will help you to improve your survey so that you are better able to obtain informative and useful information. Here are a few things to keep in mind when conducting a pilot test:

  • Keep it manageable by testing your survey on a small group of people.
  • It is always best to test your survey on individuals that are similar to your actual survey population (e.g., for student surveys, test on a small group of students). 
  • After completing the survey, ask participants to provide feedback on the clarity of questions and response options, as well as the length of time it took them to complete the survey.
  • Review the test responses to the survey, looking for any inconsistencies or unexpected answers.
  • Make any necessary changes to the survey before implementing it on a large scale. Consider conducting a second pilot test if extensive changes have been made to the original survey.

Suskie, L. A. (1996.) Questionnaire survey research: What works. (2nd ed.). Tallahassee, FL: The Association for Institutional Research.

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