Using Google forms for in-class real-time student response analysis

I am looking for a simple IT replacement for my in-class voting system (which currently uses coloured card). I have been looking for something as simple as Socrative, but without the 50 user limit.

I found that some people have been using Google forms, so I set one of these up to see whether it reallly did work in real-time.

You can see a sample form at

[Note added September 3 2021: Argh! At some point I accidentally deleted that form during “housekeeping”. I do have a backup copy, but it has a different URL. If I can find any way to reattach the old URL in future I will!]

You can easily view the responses to your form in a spreadsheet, or a summary of the responses as a pie chart.(but make sure you have bookmarked the links you want or used or similar to make a link that is easy to tremember!).

Here is a picture of a zoomed-in portion of the summary page, which is what I got from a “multiple choice” (radio button) question. (If you use checkboxes instead, so students can give multiple answers, it looks like you get a bar chart instead.)


You can get to this summary either from editing the form via Responses -> Summary of responses or from the response data spreadsheet via Form -> Show summary of responses

The link may enable you to see results from the current sample form, if I have set it up right!

[Note added September 3 2021: Same housekeeping error as above!]

My idea was to stick to a form with one question and then use it again and again. When I made the question a “required” question I hit a snag though: my own android phone was unable to respond! Or rather, no matter what I tried, the browser told me that I had failed to answer a required question on the form. Maybe this is a known bug or feature, but it looks to be safer not to make the question a “required” question.

The next snag I hit was on how to re-use the same form. I tried deleting the data in the spreadsheet, but this had no effect on the summary of the responses. (With the new Google spreadheets the response data is stored in the form.)

I spent some time searching on Google, and found a number of complicated methods that would take too long to  do during a class (where you might have several questions), I even considered making lots of different spreadsheets, but it seems to me better if you can stick to one easy-to-remember URL.

Finally I found!msg/docs/bpjj6yFdyGk/fsDak6bff68J

from where I quote the simple solution:

open your form and click Responses > Delete all responses

That post also suggests

then click Responses > Change response destination and create a new response sheet

but that isn’t necessary for me, because I don’t really need to keep a record of the responses to the question.

I will try this system out at the forthcoming University of Nottingham Open Days.

3 thoughts on “Using Google forms for in-class real-time student response analysis

  1. Joel June 23, 2014 / 12:21 pm

    It looks like the free version of FluidSurveys does allow unlimited responses to their simple polls (or at least that is what they claimed after I requested further clarification), so that is another possibility.
    See for my query on this and their response.
    I’m still going to use my Google Forms approach at the end of this week for the University Open Days, unless the internet stops working (which might happen!).
    Other suggestions I have received so far (in addition to ResponseWare, which may well be the way to go in the end) include and (in use at Leicester).


  2. Joel April 19, 2015 / 4:31 pm

    I now use lettered responses A-F, and response E is often “Please explain the question again!”. Here E does not usually get many votes, but on one occasion this year the majority voted for it! See timestamp 26:25 of my 18th lecture in Foundations of Pure Mathematics

    Several of my colleagues are now using my Google form system. My colleague Richard Wilkinson has found another system, from, and he says this works well and is easy to use, so I’ll probably look into this. (On the other hand, I am still very happy with my Google form system.)


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