Unraveling the Rating vs Ranking Debate: A Comprehensive Comparison

The rating vs ranking debate is endless. But how do you make an informed decision about which question type best suits your research needs? This article will unravel everything there is to know for you in a comprehensive way.

Tanvi Moitra
June 29, 2023
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Surveys are a popular research method. But, the questions we ask in a survey significantly impact the results; making “how” you ask as crucial as 

what,” you ask. But how do you know which question type you should choose?

Rating and ranking questions are the most commonly used survey question types. Even though they are often used interchangeably, they provide very different insights. 

In this article, we will unravel the rating vs ranking debate and help you choose the question type that best suits your research needs. So, let’s dive in!

Rating Questions

What is a Rating Question? 

Rating questions are close-ended questions where respondents indicate their agreement, likeness, satisfaction or preference on a scale of choice.

What are Rating Questions

Types of Rating Questions

Rating questions are versatile question types. You can use them in multiple ways to achieve your research objectives- 

1. Graphic Rating Scale

Respondents have to rate their level of agreement or disagreement on a scale or line. 

One of the most popular types is the Likert Scale. 

For example-

“Express how satisfied you are with our product”


  • Highly dissatisfied
  • Dissatisfied
  • Neutral
  • Satisfied
  • Highly satisfied

2. Numerical Rating Scale

In this type of ranking question, the answer options are numbers. Visual analog and semantic differential scales are the most commonly used numerical rating scales. 

For example- 

“Rate the performance of our product on a scale of 1-5”


Numerical Rating Scale

3. Descriptive Rating Scale

Each response choice on a descriptive scale is thoroughly explained to the respondents. The answer choices on the descriptive scale don't always have a connection to a numerical number. There are some surveys, like a customer satisfaction survey, that require a detailed explanation of each response option so that every participant is fully aware of what is expected of them.

4. Comparative Rating Scale

As the name implies, it anticipates responses in terms of comparison, i.e. based on relative measurement or using other companies, goods, or qualities as a benchmark.


Examples of Rating Questions

Different types of rating questions yield different results. Some of the rating questions you can use in your survey are -

1. To Measure Degree Agreement/Disagreement

To best evaluate how much a customer agrees or disagrees with your question or assertion, a Likert scale is your go-to option. 

2. To Analyze Customer Experience

Analyzing customer experience is essential to become more customer-centric. The best rating question for this is the Sematic Differential Scale

3. Evaluate Brand Loyalty

Loyal customers are one of the best methods of promoting your brand. This makes retaining the existing customers and converting more customers an absolute essential. You can use a Net Promoter Score question type to achieve the best results. 

Pros of Using Rating Questions

1. Questions are simple to comprehend and use.

2. Allows researchers to compare quantitative data from the target sample in order to make data-driven decisions.

3. Researchers can easily design surveys using graphical rating scales since they take the least time to set up.

4. A rating scale can be used to gather and analyze a lot of data.

5. Examining the responses is quick and reduces manual effort.

6. It is regarded as a benchmark for gathering qualitative and quantitative data for research.

Pros of using rating questions


Ranking Questions

What is a Ranking Question? 

A ranking scale compels responders to choose one thing from each rank in a list of items. Although respondents are frequently asked to rate according to preference in ranking scale inquiries, you can be creative with your ranking criteria. You may, for instance, ask respondents to rank new features according to their significance or likelihood to make a purchase. 

What are Ranking Questions

Types of Ranking Questions

1. Scale Ranking

The scale ranking type invites respondents to compare a group of objects. The idea behind it is based on multiple-choice questions.

Although it appears distinct, it allows you to compare many questions on a single scale, unlike the traditional multiple-choice test. 

2. Drop-down Ranking

With this scale ranking type, numbers are used to determine the order, with 1 being the lowest value. Respondents can rank the alternatives by choosing a number from the list of choices, 

Before releasing a product, market researchers frequently utilize this scale. 

3. Choice Option Scale

Numbers and choice options (radio buttons and checkboxes) are used as the ranking scale in this question type. The alternatives are each identified by a number, and respondents can rank the options by choosing the radio buttons.

4. Drag and Drop

Respondents can rearrange the response options by dragging and dropping them in the desired order. The respondent can arrange the answer choices in any order that best suits their preferences.


Pros of Using Ranking Questions

  1. They are fairly straightforward and easy for the respondents to understand. 
  2. There is less room for rushed or impulse replies as the respondent is to forced to put in some thought before responding.
  3. It is a quick, simple and easy method to collect structured data.
  4. You don’t need to conduct comparitive analysis from scratch as you already have some data based on the order of responses. 
  5. They are easy to visualize using graphs and charts.
  6. They help understand the customer’s priorities and help you focus on key areas.
Pros of using ranking questions

Rating vs Ranking Questions : Which is Better?

Comparing the Cons of Ranking and Rating Questions

We learnt about the advantages of both question types in the above section. But, to truly understand which one is best suited for your research needs, we need to learn about their demerits. 

Cons of Rating Questions

  • Lacks granularity
  • Limits the range of responses
  • Susceptible to response bias and impulse responses

Cons of Ranking Questions

  • Respondents often feel overwhelmed with the cognitive load of ranking questions
  • You cannot list multiple options as it causes fatigue
  • Provides ordinal data which does not provide enough data on the strength of preferences

A Combined Effort

You will get the best results from your survey if you combine both question types. The numerical values gathered from rating scales can help makes statistical analysis simple and the ordinal data from ranking questions can help identify patterns, trends and gaps.

Ranking questions are an excellent way to focus on facts which can then be translated into a question using a rating scale. For instance, you could ask your respondents to rate their 10 favourite and least favourite features of your product. You can then ask respondents to rate how likely they are to use each of the top choices based on the results.  

You can learn more about what your customers enjoy, want, and how they make decisions by asking them multiple questions at once.

Bottom Line

The rating vs ranking debate is endless, but you need to make a smart choice to choose the one that best suits your research needs. 


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Want to conduct lean and unbiased research? Try out Entropik's tech behavioral research platform today!
Want to conduct lean and unbiased research? Try out Entropik's tech behavioral research platform today!
Want to conduct lean and unbiased research? Try out Entropik's tech behavioral research platform today!
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Author Bio

Tanvi Moitra
Tanvi can usually be found anxiously treading the office floor to get her content reviewed, here at Entropik. When not absorbed by researching and writing, she loves to read, go for a swim, play badminton, paint, and otherwise spend too much time bingeing on the Office and cuddling her German Shepherd, Whiskey. An absolute foodie, she would love to cook and bake for you and even give you the best dessert suggestions in the office.

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