Pay Rates for Multiple-Choice Questions

by John Soares on September 29, 2011

The pay rates for multiple-choice questions that you write for a textbook or a learning manual can vary greatly. I recently answered the following forum question inside the Freelance Writers Den:

“I have a potential opportunity to write 250 multiple-choice questions about a topic I know well, but I have no idea how long this kind of thing might take or how much too charge. Any insights? (Questions have to include an explanation for the right answer.) Thanks!”

Here’s my answer, with a bit of added detail…
Rates typically range from $3 – $10 per multiple-choice question. I’ve actually been paid as high as $15 per question, but it was for very specialized material. Let’s look at…

Important Factors That Affect Pay for Multiple-Choice Questions

What’s offered depends on the company and how much work is involved.

Do you have to write five potential answers or only four?

And how detailed does the explanation have to be? Just one or two short sentences, or over 100 words? Those explanations can take a long time.

Also ask if there’s anything else, like linking to learning objectives or designating Bloom’s taxonomy categories.

Another factor: is this from a textbook or online material? How much material is there relative to the number of questions? It’s usually much easier to write many questions on a smaller amount of material; if it’s a lot of material and relatively few questions, you have to read everything and then come up with just the best questions = harder and more time-consuming.

Estimate how many you think you can do in an hour and use your minimum hourly rate to get a bottom estimate. Then ask for a bit more and be ready to negotiate. Writing good multiple-choice questions isn’t easy.

About the Freelance Writers Den

So far I’m very impressed with the quality of the information inside the Freelance Writers Den and how active and useful the forums are. Read my review of the Freelance Writers Den for more information.

Your Take

What’s been your experience with pay rates for multiple-choice questions?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon Anscher October 3, 2011 at 5:38 am

Thanks. I’m just getting into freelance writing, and test questions is one of those areas that I have some expertise already. Your article was really helpful.


John Soares October 3, 2011 at 6:24 am

I’m glad you liked it Jon. Writing test questions for a textbook is one of the most common types of supplement assignments freelance writers do.


Nicola Parry October 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Great advice for writers, John – it’s difficult for people knowing where to pitch their price when they first start out. I know I learned by trial and error – never a bad thing, but it’s definitely better when someone can also offer some ball-park figures as a guideline. Most of the MCQs I’ve had to compose have not been based on some defined syllabus that was provided – typically I’ve had to simply make up a bunch of Qs (my area is biological sciences/veterinary/medicine), being told not to plagiarize from any current sources “out there”. It was a tough learning curve since nothing was provided for me, & knowing where to start was a pain! Having to come up with all the explanations was hard work, and at the end of the day, I was initially working for companies who paid much less than $3 per item. Now I’d never write for less than that – I’m in your $5+ camp!


John Soares October 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience Nicola. I always try to determine how many questions I can write in an hour and then figure out if the amount I’ll make is worth my while.

And all freelance writers wind up accepting a few projects that take a lot longer than expected. I’m glad you’re getting the good pay rates now.


Carol Wiley December 8, 2011 at 11:09 am

Hey John, that was my question! Turned out they were looking for cheap, which I wasn’t willing to do.. By the way, your social networking bar is covering up about the first five characters on the left sid of my screen.


John Soares December 9, 2011 at 9:29 am

Sorry to hear it didn’t work out Carol. Next time!

Social networking bar issue: you either have your monitor set on a fairly low resolution or you’ve substantially increased the font size in your browser.


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