Role Of Pilot Testing In Surveys

Blocksurvey blog author
Jan 17, 2024 · 4 mins read

Are you responsible for creating surveys in your organization? Do you want to make sure that the surveys you run should be successful? Not sure how to create efficient surveys? The need to run efficient surveys is ever-increasing. Survey administrators are searching for ways to improve the quality of the surveys they create.

Are you thinking about how to avoid survey failures? Welcome to the world of Pilot testing surveys. Pilot surveys can be helpful in the following cases.

  • Create successful surveys
  • Increase your survey responses.
  • Improve the quality of the collected data.
  • Write better survey instructions.
  • Make a better survey layout.
  • Write better survey questions.

Every aspect of your survey can be made better with Pilot surveys. Creating successful surveys is not easy. It requires a lot of thought to create a successful survey. The success of a survey is not predetermined. Creating a survey involves a lot of effort, time, and money. It is vain if surveys do not produce the intended result. If surveys do not ask the right questions, do not collect enough responses, or if the quality of the collected data is bad, your survey can be a total failure.

Do you want to know more about the Pilot Survey? Read on to know more.

1. What is a Pilot Survey?

Discovering the unexpected is more important than confirming the known. – George E. P. Box

Pilot surveys are usually conducted before conducting the main survey. The Pilot survey is conducted on a smaller sample size than the planned sample for the main survey. You do a “dry run” before the main survey. The same set of questions asked in the main survey are asked in the Pilot survey. Some Pilot surveys can also add a few feedback questions after the main questionnaire.

Conducting pilot surveys on a large audience group is not necessary. Conducting pilot surveys on even a smaller group of people can suffice. It is enough to observe and derive areas of improvement. In short, even applying it to a very small group can significantly improve the quality of the main survey.

The Pilot survey is used not only to assess the weaknesses of the main survey but also the strengths. It can help you determine if the survey questions are difficult to understand. It can help you find out if the survey layout is good. Also, other things like survey length and response rate can be predicted using a pilot run.

When compared to the main survey, pilot surveys are inexpensive and easy to run. Conducting a survey on a large group involves time, money, and effort. Conducting a survey on a small group of maybe 10-12 people can be easy and inexpensive to run. It also helps you identify the areas of improvement for the main survey.

2. Advantages Of Pilot Survey

Testing leads to failure. And failure leads to understanding. – Burt Rutan

There are a few really good advantages of running a pilot testing survey. The main advantage of running a pilot survey is that it helps detect elements that cause negative impact. Detecting negative elements can be highly beneficial because the main survey can be rectified accordingly. This does a lot of good for the main study survey.

The pilot survey can help you identify the survey's bad design. The bad design of the survey can be detected from the unwillingness of the respondents to take the survey. It can also be detected directly from the pilot questions asked after the main questionnaire. The bad design can be changed accordingly to give a better design to the main survey.

Most people would have encountered surveys that have questions that are difficult to understand. When questions are difficult to understand, then the response rate will be poor. Most people will not complete the survey. It will result in a total failure. Such poorly asked questions can be easily detected from the Pilot survey.

Running surveys costs money. It is a major money loss if the main survey becomes a total failure. No company can afford loss arising out of a poorly created survey. Running Pilot surveys can help you identify survey infirmity at a very early stage and thus help the survey creator or his/her company save financial resources.

3. Disadvantages Of Pilot Survey

Although a Pilot survey has a plethora of advantages, it also has its share of disadvantages. The success of a pilot survey is not a sure indicator that the main survey will be a success. The Pilot survey can make inaccurate predictions at times. So, it is necessary to keep this in mind before running your main survey.

Since you are conducting the pilot surveys on a smaller audience group, it does not guarantee large-scale survey success. Also, the response rate of pilot surveys is not a direct indicator of the response rate of the main survey. A higher response rate for the pilot survey does not indicate a higher response rate for the main survey.

4. Types Of Pilot Survey

The External pilot survey is carried out with audiences who are not part of your main survey. External surveys can be conducted with your friends, relatives, and co-workers. External pilot surveys are great to test the technical aspects of your survey. You can test the survey instructions and survey questions with the external pilot survey.

The Internal pilot survey is a preliminary study that precedes your main study. The results of the internal pilot survey are included in your main study, and your respondents are considered the first participants. Only if your internal pilot surveys reveal something really wrong with your survey it is not considered for your study.

The Participatory pilot survey is carried out on people who are aware that they are a part of the pilot survey. Just because the respondents understand that it is not a real study, you can ask questions specific to the pilot study. You can ask questions like the difficulty of the survey questions or the time taken to complete them.

The Undeclared pilot survey is conducted on people who don’t realize they are part of a pilot study. The participants focus on the content rather than the design of the survey. The results of the undeclared pilot survey can very well predict the main survey results because they are carried out undeclared.

5. Sample Questions For Your Pilot Surveys

In this section, I will discuss a few questions that can be a part of your Pilot Survey Questionnaire.

The below question can tell if the respondent likes the survey opening.

How was the opening of the survey?

The below question can tell you how long it takes to complete the survey.

How long did it take to complete the survey?

The question below can tell you how complex the main questionnaire is.

How difficult was it to answer survey questions?

This question can tell you if the questionnaire contains any words that are difficult to understand.

Were there any terms or words you did not understand?

The question below can tell if respondents like the survey design.

Did you like the design of the survey?

The below question can tell you if the respondent likes answering the survey.

Did you like answering the survey?

This question can tell you how engaged the respondents were.

Were you engaged till the completion of the survey?

The Pilot Survey can include more such questions. You can ask more such questions to get the most out of the Pilot Survey.

Test your knowledge on Pilot Testing

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has given you a big picture behind Pilot Surveys. You learned what is a pilot survey. You understood the advantages and disadvantages of Pilot Surveys. You also learned about all types of Pilot Surveys.

This article should have prepared you to conduct a pilot testing survey before starting your main survey. Also, use a pilot survey to test the responsiveness to different devices like desktops, tablets, and mobiles. Take note of everything you observe in the Pilot Survey. Get ready to use the results of Pilot surveys to create a better survey.

Role Of Pilot Testing In Surveys FAQ

What is the role of pilot testing in surveys?

Pilot testing helps ensure the validity and reliability of survey instruments by allowing researchers to identify and address any issues or shortcomings before full-scale implementation.

How does pilot testing contribute to the expertise of survey information?

Pilot testing allows researchers to demonstrate their expertise by fine-tuning survey questions, response options, and data collection procedures based on their knowledge and experience in the field.

What role does pilot testing play in establishing the authoritativeness of survey findings?

By conducting pilot tests, researchers can establish themselves as authorities in their respective fields, as they have taken necessary steps to ensure the accuracy, precision, and credibility of their survey findings.

How does pilot testing enhance the trustworthiness of survey results?

Pilot testing builds trust by demonstrating researchers' commitment to producing reliable and high-quality data. It shows that they have taken measures to mitigate potential biases, errors, and uncertainties in their surveys.

What are the benefits of pilot testing in terms of the E-A-T of survey information?

Pilot testing enhances the Expertise of researchers, establishes the Authoritativeness of their findings, and increases the Trustworthiness of the information provided, making it more credible and reliable.

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blog author description

Sarath Shyamson

Sarath Shyamson is the customer success person at BlockSurvey and also heads the outreach. He enjoys volunteering for the church choir.


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