Incorporating quizzes into PowerPoint presentations

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I recently received a question about the creation of Computer-Based Training (CBT) that incorporates quizzes in the middle of the lesson. The intent was to keep people engaged in the content, and not to actually track students’ scores. After considering several different software packages, I circled back to one of my guiding principles: How can we achieve this simply and easily with the tools we already have at our disposal?

It turns out that MS PowerPoint proves to be a powerful tool in the creation and delivery of simple self-directed learning. This article provides a step-by-step guide to creating a computer-based training presentation that incorporates quizzes.

Advantages of using PowerPoint over dedicated CBT creation software

Most courseware authoring software creates materials in one of two formats: self-running executables or interactive Flash/video files. These formats have limitations in many lock-down corporate environments. Executables are not able to run without prior configuration, testing and deployment. Depending on how they are created, I have noted that the Flash files created by courseware authoring tools can become relatively large, with the potential to impact the computer network and storage infrastructure. Flash content that contains streaming video must also be hosted on a media server for distribution.

PowerPoint files are relatively small if the number of images and embedded media are kept to a minimum, making storage and distribution less problematic; they can be stored on (and retrieved from) file servers or document management systems without any changes to those systems.

So, in environments in which PowerPoint is deployed, we already have the tools to satisfy our immediate needs. Next, we will look at how we can build this quiz functionality into our PowerPoint presentations.


The following set of five slides describes how we will structure the quiz in our example.

Overview of the structure and flow of the quiz

Detailed description

In this example, I use PowerPoint 2003 to create the quiz structure, but the concepts apply to all versions of PowerPoint (or other presentation software, for that matter.)

For each quiz question, three slides need to be created:

1) the question slide,
2) the “you got it wrong” slide, and
3) the “you got it right” slide.

The order of the slides is important, as this will minimize the work you have to do to make this work.

The trick to making this all work is to override PowerPoint’s default slide-to-slide flow and jump to either the “right” or “wrong” slide based on the  answer the user clicked. The red arrows in the previous diagram indicate where you have to make these jumps.

Since you will be inserting jumps into the normal presentation flow, you do not want the users to advance the slides by using the keyboard or clicking anywhere on the screen, since they will be able to bypass your jumps and it could get confusing for them. To turn off the normal slide advance behaviour, click on the Slide Show menu and select Set Up Show.

The Set Up Show dialog box
Select the Browsed at a kiosk show type, and Use timings, if present options. Click OK to commit your changes.

Since the normal mouse and keyboard navigation have now been disabled, you will have to provide a way for the user to move back and forth through the slides.  The example contains forward and back arrow images, with the appropriate actions already configured.

This was done by right-clicking the "next" image, and selecting Action Settings… from the pop-up menu to bring up the Action Settings window. Click the Hyperlink to: option, and select Next Slide from the drop-down choice below it. Do the same for the "previous" image. You can then cut and paste these two action images into the rest of your slides.

Setting up the question slide

This is a simple multiple-choice question, where you create each of the possible answers as a separate text box. Right-click one of the answers, and select Action Settings… from the pop-up menu to bring up the Action Settings window. Click the Hyperlink to: option, and select Slide… from the dropdown choice below it. In the Hyperlink to Slide dialog box that appears, select either the “you got it wrong” or “you got it right” slide depending on the answer. Click OK twice to close the dialog boxes, and repeat the process for the remaining answers on the slide.

Configure what happens when the user clicks on an answer

Finishing touches

The other jump you will have to configure is on the “you got it right” slide. The Back button should jump back to the question (as indicated by the dotted red line) and not to the “you got it wrong” page.

You will also notice that the Forward button has been removed from the question and “you got it wrong” slides to prevent the user from skipping over them without answering correctly.

Once you have the first question set up, try out the presentation to make sure everything works. If everything goes well, you can cut and paste the three slides as many times as you need; you will only have to change the Hyperlink to option to jump to the right places.

Author Comment

Hey, that's great! Thank you.

Expert Comment

Very good.  I'll incorporate this method into a training presentation.

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