The Advantages of Rating Scales

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Teachers use it, employers use it, and even young kids in school use it. Simple and easy to understand, a rating scale can be used for many different things by a wide variety of users. They are prevalent and provide a large amount of data in a concise way for users to base important decisions on.

1 Characteristics of a Rating Scale

The uses of a rating scale are abundant, and it helps to know the characteristics of a rating scale. Rating scale questions are used to indicate a survey respondent’s personal opinions on agreement, frequency or satisfaction of a person, place or thing. Good rating scale questions should follow the how, which or would line of questioning.

For instance, “How likely,” “How much,” “Which did you prefer,” or “Would you prefer this over that" are good starting points to discern the survey taker’s opinions about a subject, class or event. In a rating scale survey, respondents choose among a list of things they may like with ranking questions. The ranking question type allows the individual to categorize which objects or subjects that they prefer from least to most. The narrower the choices, the more specific the data can be.

2 Who Uses a Ranking Scale?

Students use the rating scale for school projects in order to collect data that is relatively easy to understand, record and report. The rating scale is easily applied to many situations with good, solid data results. Teachers may use the rating scale to get feedback from students about the curriculum, satisfaction about specific projects or how to improve classroom instruction. Employers often use ranking scales to assess employees’ job satisfaction, potential for future positions or for a specific campaign or task after the project has been completed.

3 Advantage and Disadvantage of a Rating Scale

While rating scales can deliver an abundance of insightful information, they do have some areas of weakness. One of the main shortcomings in the uses of a rating scale is finding data that can help the researcher make specific decisions about a subject.

The non-differentiation of the rating scale model makes it less useful when trying to narrow the information. For instance, if you are attempting to discover what the survey takers preferred as a breakfast item, a rating question would not necessarily work. It does not allow the person taking the survey to be specific outside of the questions listed on the rating scale assessment. Another drawback to this general type of survey is that it can be general. They can offer information that can be misperceived by the researcher.

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at