Question Writing Guidelines

LifeSmarts questions test teenagers’ consumer knowledge and marketplace skills. Each question must meet the criteria listed below. As you develop LifeSmarts questions, please keep the following criteria in mind:

1. Questions test the core content subject areas: personal finance, consumer rights and responsibilities, health and safety, 
technology, and the environment. Each question must cover at least one core subject area, and questions that "cross-pollinate" 
two or more subjects are encouraged.
Bad example: What is the name of the subway system in London, England?
Better example: Name two advantages of using public transportation.

2. Questions should be succinct and written in simple language. Questions should be easy to understand when they are read aloud.
Bad example: When you say the name of this law out loud, it sounds kind 
of like a geometric shape, even though it's about environmental protection. 
What did Jimmy Carter sign after residents in Love Canal, NY were outraged? 
It was also called Superfund.
Better example: The federal program known as Superfund is aimed at cleaning 
up what?

3. Questions are needed at all levels of difficulty: (1) easy, (2) moderate, and (3) challenging. 

4. Focus questions on what matters most to teenagers, from the products and services they use, to the consumer decisions they are making, and the resources they need now and as young adults.

Bad example: At what age can you join AARP?
Better example: Why should you start saving for retirement as early as possible?

5. LifeSmarts questions should be practically useful and not silly or trivial. Questions that ask for a percentage are usually trivial.

Bad example: What percentage of Americans used a tax preparer to file in 2013?
Better example: Where can a consumer get help filing their income taxes?

6. Questions should be challenging but fair. Remember, players only get 10 seconds to give their entire answer.

Bad example: Name all nine Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Better example: Name one way the U.S. Supreme Court can "check" executive power.

7. Questions should avoid value judgments and be free of any personal bias.

Bad example: Why are American cars better than imported cars?
Better example: Name two things to look for when shopping for a used car.

8. Do not include the name of any company in your questions.

Bad example: How can you stay safe on Facebook?
Better example: Explain how users can protect their personal information
on social media websites.


9. Questions must be national in scope.

Bad example: Which states hold "jungle primary" elections?
Better example: What is the purpose of a primary election?


10. LifeSmarts does not use true-or-false questions. When necessary, try to add at least a third (or fourth) option.

Bad example: True or false: it's okay to store raw meat in a cooler overnight.
Better example: You have a jar of peanut butter, a box of crackers, a bunch of 
grapes, and a block of cheese. If stored properly, which will last the longest?


11. Provide the correct answers for each question. For multiple choice questions provide all four answers (one correct, and three reasonable but incorrect). For open-ended questions provide ALL possible correct answers.

12. Note the resource used for each question. Online sources are acceptable, but questions whose sole source is from a site that can be edited publicly (such as Wikipedia) will be automatically thrown out.

13. Use Bloom’s Taxonomy to create questions that encourage deeper thinking. Follow the guide below:.

LifeSmarts Question Format *

Category Keywords Questions LifeSmarts Question Example
Remember DefineDescribe




Answers questions of Who, What, Where, and When Chemicals that improve and maintain quality in fuels are known as: a. Additives (correct)

b. Adjusters

c. Supplements

d. Lubricants

Understand ExplainCompare




Answers questions that demonstrate understanding Milk is labeled by fat content. Order the following types of milk from most fat content to least fat content: low-fat milk—whole milk—skim milk:Answer: whole milk, low-fat milk, skim milk
Apply Choose Identify


Answers questions such as “How is,” or “Why is” Give one reason pasteurization is significant to public health:Answer: It eliminates milk borne illness or disease; makes milk safe to drink
Analyze AnalyzeDifferentiate





Answers questions such as, “What are the Parts,” “Distinguish between,” “What factors affect…” You are aware of the human cost to the environment, and you want to reduce your carbon footprint. To visit your grandmother who lives 300 miles away, your best choice of travel would be:a. By car

b. By plane

c. By train (correct)

d. By bus

Evaluate ConcludeCritique



Answers questions that organize parts of information If the price of oil continues to rise, what impact will this have on the number of miles Americans drive this year?Answer: Miles driven will go down
Synthesize ChangeRelate



Answers questions that require connecting two or more facts Describe two serious challenges that occur when a pandemic emerges in the world population:Answers: Rapid spread, health care systems overloaded, death rates high, medical supplies inadequate, travel disruption, economic disruption, businesses and schools close

* Based upon Bloom’s Taxonomy; Source: Anderson, L.W., & Krathwohl, D.R. (Eds.) (2001)