Thursday, January 19, 2017

Make Sequencing Questions with Google Forms

Google Forms is a great tool for assessments, and it provides a wide range of question types, including multiple choice, checkboxes, short answer, and more.

However, it is becoming common for our students to see high-stakes online assessments with more advanced question types, such as drag and drop, hotspots, and ordering items. Unfortunately Google Forms does not support these more interactive types of questions yet.

However, if we get creative with some of the features in Google Forms, there is a way to do ordering or sequencing type problems. These types of questions have students put randomized items in the proper order, such as dates of historical events, stages in a science process, parts of a story, and more.

In this blog post we will take a look at how to create a randomized sequencing question using just Google Forms with written directions and a short tutorial video. We will also try out several examples to see what the end result would look like.


First, let’s begin with the big picture overview of how we will do this. Google Forms does not currently support questions where students put random items in the proper order or sequence. To mimic this sort of a question with Google Forms we will do the following four steps:
  1. Create the Form as normal.
  2. Add directions for the question.
  3. Add a separate question for each item to be put in order.
  4. Set the option to shuffle the form questions.
See below for the detailed steps in video format and in written directions.

Tutorial Video (13 minutes)

1) Create Form as normal

Begin by creating the Form as usual, just like you are making a regular quiz. This would include giving it a title, setting the color palette, and such. You will also want to turn on the quiz settings for the Form.

  • Click the gear icon in the top right corner and then choose the "Quizzes" tab.
  • Toggle the slider on for "Make this a quiz".
  • Set the rest of the quiz options to your preferences.

2) Add directions for the question

Since the sequencing question will actually be multiple individual questions, you will need to add your directions separately. You can do this in two ways:

  • Form Description - If you want you can just type the directions into the Form Description area right below the Form Title.
  • New Title and Description - Alternately you can add a new title and description to include you directions. To do this, click to the "Add title and description" button in the floating toolbar (the button looks like a double "T"). For the title you could enter "Directions" and for the description you could type in the directions.

3) Add a separate question for each item to be put in order

Next you will create your sequencing problem. However, the way you will do this is by creating a separate question for each item in the sequence.

Later we will turn on the option to shuffle the questions, so each time a student takes the quiz the items will be in a new random order. Because of this, I would suggest creating the items in the correct order of the sequence, since this will be easier for you to set up the answer key, and the students will always see the items randomized anyway.

To create your first question do the following:

  • Click the "Add question" button in the floating toolbar (the button looks like a circle with a plus "+" sign in it.)
  • For the question type choose "Dropdown" (this will help save space when the students fill out the quiz.)
  • For the question, enter the first item to be sorted.
  • For the possible answers, enter the possible positions such as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and so on.
  • If needed, add an image by clicking the image button to the right of the question title.
  • Be sure to click the "Answer Key" link to select the correct answer and set the point value.

Depending on what you are having the students sequence, your question may be just text (such as an event from the Revolutionary War) or text and an image (such as a stages of the frog life cycle with a picture of that stage) or just an image and no text (such as a panel from a comic strip).

To save time for the rest of the items to be sorted, simply make a copy of your first question and make changes to the copy as needed. To copy the question click the "Duplicate" button in the bottom right corner of the question.

4) Set the option to shuffle the Form questions

Now that you have made a question for each item to be sequenced, you need to make sure they are shown to the students in random order.
  1. Click the gear icon in the top right corner and then choose the "Presentation" tab.
  2. Check the box for "Shuffle question order".
  3. Click "Save".

If you added images, they will stay with their associated question when everything gets randomized. This is because you added the images inside of the questions, not as separate images on their own.

Note: When the "Shuffle question order" feature is enabled, Google Forms will randomly shuffle all the questions in the form. If you want to have more than one sequencing problem, you will need to put the next problem on a new page so its questions do not get mixed in with the first problem. You can add multiple pages to the form by clicking the "Add section" button in the floating toolbar (the button looks like an equals sign "=").


Below are several examples of what the end result can look like. For each of these examples I only did one sequencing problem per form. Some of the examples have just text, some just images, and some both text and images. Try each out to see how they work.


Hopefully in time Google will add more question types to Forms, such as drag and drop, clicking on hotspots, and proper sequencing. In the meantime we can use the directions above to mimic a sequencing or ordering type of problem. This can be a good option for a quick assessment where students put events, steps, stages, or other items in order.

Post by Eric Curts. Connect with Eric on Twitter at and on Google+ at


  1. Good stuff Eric. Simple, clean and useful. Thanks!

  2. Good idea. have you thought about doing it as a grid question - you can't do that as a quiz - ie you can't set it up to auto mark but it will do the job

    1. Martin, Good idea! You could probably use Flubaroo to grade those. Hopefully Google will extend the autograding to other question types such as the grid option.

  3. The issue that I have with these is the inability to select "1st" for a choice and then have that option removed from the rest. For example, when someone chooses "1st" it no longer appears as an option for the others. ChoiceEliminator will do it for an individual question, but not multiple ones.

    1. Using the grid question option will allow you to do that. You can set a validation rule that each column can only be chosen once. It doesn't remove the option but it does prevent students submitting 2 firsts.

  4. Thank you! Excellent tutorial and examples.

  5. Thank you, Eric! It should be especially useful when there are pictures in the questions! I also used the multiple-choice grid for jumbled sentences the other day, as the checkbox grid and the multiple choice grids can be graded in quizzes now. But then I have to use Google Drawings to show the parts of the sentences so that they look nice visually.