How to shuffle test items in random order in Microsoft Word?
March 18, 2008 1:03 PM   Subscribe

how do i shuffle questions in a Word document in random order?

I am writing an exam that consists of multiple choice questions. I write questions after reading each chapter. What happens as a result is that I have a test which has all the question items in order (by chapter). Is there a way to shuffle these test items so they appear in random order? (I guess it would be the same function that would help me generate multiple versions of the same test with same questions but different order).
posted by esolo to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would actually start using Microsoft Excel and then transfer your table to Word:

1) In Excel insert your questions in column A (1 question per line)
2) In Column B, in each row tht contains a question, enter the following: =rand()*100. This simply generates a random number between 1 and 100.
3) Select both columns and then sort (i.e. from the menu bar, click "Data", "Sort"; when prompted, sort by the column that has your randomized numbers)
4) Once sorted, you can copy all of the questions in the Excel file and paste them into Word.

The beauty of the randomize function in Excel is that each time you hit Enter the randomize numbers re-randomize.

Hope this works!
posted by bitteroldman at 1:34 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

wow - that is a great suggestion. Would you stick response options together with the question or put them separately into a column? (A1 = question1, B1 = response options for question1)?
posted by esolo at 1:39 PM on March 18, 2008

Hmmm... tried that. Struggling with the logistics. When I copy a question from Word (or text document) into Excel, it pastes each response option into a separate row. If i try and merge the rows, i lose all the information in the rows except the first one...
posted by esolo at 1:45 PM on March 18, 2008

Esolo, you might want to start with making your test in Excel, and then follow bitteroldman's suggestion.

Hell, if it formats okay, just keep it in Excel.
posted by radioamy at 2:37 PM on March 18, 2008

it pastes each response option into a separate row
That's because you're pasting it down as a table. To paste it as text only, use Edit > Paste Special > Unformatted Text.
posted by junesix at 4:20 PM on March 18, 2008

Sorry for the delay. I only logged back in now.
OK so, it seems that your question/answer format is as such:

What is 2+2?
a) 3
b) 4
c) none of the above
d) all of the above

So when you copy your questions/answers into Excel (say column A) you will get 5 rows - 1 question and 4 answers.

Try this solution - i might be a bit of work to set up, but it seems to work all right when I test it on my end:

0) Copy your questions and answers into Column A as they normally copy (i.e. each question and answer on a single line)

1) Assuming that Column B will contain your randomized numbers, enter the formula =rand()*100 only in those rows that have the questions.

2) Assume then, that the above formula will only exist in cell B1, B6, B11, B16, B21, etc.

3) For the set of answers that correspond to a specific question, enter the following formula: =Bx, where "x" corresponds to the row number of the question. For example, for the answers in cells B2 to B5, your formula will read =B1. For the answers in cells B7 to B10, your formula will read =B2.

Basically what this does is it assigns a random number to the question only and then assigns this same random number to the corresponding answers - so that they do not get mixed up when you sort.
posted by bitteroldman at 6:40 PM on March 18, 2008

« Older Paperback alert?   |   The tax man's coming to get me! But hopefully to... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.