JavaScript
Article
By Yaphi Berhanu

How to Make a Simple JavaScript Quiz

By Yaphi Berhanu

“How do I make a JavaScript quiz?” — this is one of the most common questions I hear from people who are learning web development, and for good reason. Quizzes are fun! They are a great way of learning about new subjects and allow you to engage your audience in a fun, yet playful manner.

How to Make a JavaScript Quiz

And coding your own JavaScript quiz is a fantastic learning exercise. It teaches you how to deal with events, handle user input, manipulate the DOM, provide the user with feedback and keep track of their score (for example, using client-side storage). And when you have your basic quiz, there are a whole host of possibilities to add more advanced functionality, such as pagination. I go into this at the end of the article.

In this tutorial I will walk you though creating a multi-step JavaScript quiz which you will be able to adapt to your needs and add to your own site. If you’d like to see what we’ll be ending up with, you can skip ahead and see the working quiz.

Things to be Aware of Before Starting

A few things to know before starting:

  • This tutorial is entirely on the front end, meaning that the data is in the browser and someone who knows how to look through the code can find the answers. For serious quizzes, the data needs to be handled through the back end, which is beyond the scope of this tutorial.
  • The code in this article uses ES2015 syntax, meaning the code will not be compatible with any versions of Internet Explorer. However it does work for modern browsers, including Microsoft Edge.
  • If you need to support older browsers, I’ve written a JavaScript quiz tutorial that’s compatible back to IE8. Or, if you’d like a refresher on ES2015, check out this course by Darin Haener over on SitePoint Premium.
  • You’ll need some familiarity with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, but each line of code will be explained individually.

The Basic Structure of Your JavaScript Quiz

Ideally, we want to be able to list our quiz’s questions and answers in our JavaScript code and have our script automatically generate the quiz. That way, we won’t need to write a bunch of repetitive markup, and we can add and remove questions easily.

To set up the structure of our JavaScript quiz, we’ll need to start with the following HTML:

  • A <div> to hold the quiz
  • A <button> to submit the quiz
  • A <div> to display the results

Here’s how that would look:

<div id="quiz"></div>
<button id="submit">Submit Quiz</button>
<div id="results"></div>

Then we can select these HTML tags and store references to these elements in variables like so.:

const quizContainer = document.getElementById('quiz');
const resultsContainer = document.getElementById('results');
const submitButton = document.getElementById('submit');

Next we’ll need a way to build a quiz, show results, and put it all together. We can start by laying out our functions, and we’ll fill them in as we go:

function buildQuiz(){}

function showResults(){}

// display quiz right away
buildQuiz();

// on submit, show results
submitButton.addEventListener('click', showResults);

Here, we have functions to build the quiz and show the results. We’ll run our buildQuiz function immediately, and we’ll have our showResults function run when the user clicks the submit button.

Displaying the Quiz Questions

The next thing our quiz needs are some questions to display. We’ll use object literals to represent the individual questions and an array to hold all of the questions that make up our quiz. Using an array will make the questions easy to iterate over.

const myQuestions = [
  {
    question: "Who is the strongest?",
    answers: {
      a: "Superman",
      b: "The Terminator",
      c: "Waluigi, obviously"
    },
    correctAnswer: "c"
  },
  {
    question: "What is the best site ever created?",
    answers: {
      a: "SitePoint",
      b: "Simple Steps Code",
      c: "Trick question; they're both the best"
    },
    correctAnswer: "c"
  },
  {
    question: "Where is Waldo really?",
    answers: {
      a: "Antarctica",
      b: "Exploring the Pacific Ocean",
      c: "Sitting in a tree",
      d: "Minding his own business, so stop asking"
    },
    correctAnswer: "d"
  }
];

Feel free to put in as many questions or answers as you want.

Now that we have our list of questions, we can show them on the page. We’ll go through the following JavaScript line by line to see how it works:

function buildQuiz(){
  // we'll need a place to store the HTML output
  const output = [];

  // for each question...
  myQuestions.forEach(
    (currentQuestion, questionNumber) => {

      // we'll want to store the list of answer choices
      const answers = [];

      // and for each available answer...
      for(letter in currentQuestion.answers){

        // ...add an HTML radio button
        answers.push(
          `<label>
            <input type="radio" name="question${questionNumber}" value="${letter}">
            ${letter} :
            ${currentQuestion.answers[letter]}
          </label>`
        );
      }

      // add this question and its answers to the output
      output.push(
        `<div class="question"> ${currentQuestion.question} </div>
        <div class="answers"> ${answers.join('')} </div>`
      );
    }
  );

  // finally combine our output list into one string of HTML and put it on the page
  quizContainer.innerHTML = output.join('');
}

First, we create an output variable to contain all the HTML output including questions and answer choices.

Next, we can start building the HTML for each question. We’ll need to loop through each question like so:

myQuestions.forEach( (currentQuestion, questionNumber) => {
  // here goes the code we want to run for each question
});

For brevity, we’re using an arrow function to perform our operations on each question. Because this is in a forEach loop, we get the current value, the index (the position number of the current item in the array), and the array itself as parameters. We only need the current value and the index, which for our purposes, we’ll name currentQuestion and questionNumber respectively.

Now let’s look a the code inside our loop:

// we'll want to store the list of answer choices
const answers = [];

// and for each available answer...
for(letter in currentQuestion.answers){

  // ...add an html radio button
  answers.push(
    `<label>
      <input type="radio" name="question${questionNumber}" value="${letter}">
      ${letter} :
      ${currentQuestion.answers[letter]}
    </label>`
  );
}

// add this question and its answers to the output
output.push(
  `<div class="question"> ${currentQuestion.question} </div>
  <div class="answers"> ${answers.join('')} </div>`
);

For each question, we’ll want to generate the right HTML, and so our first step is to create an array to hold the list of possible answers.

Next, we’ll use a loop to fill in the answer choices for the current question. For each choice, we’re creating an HTML radio button. Notice we’re using template literals, which are strings but more powerful. We’ll make use of the following features:

  • Multi-line capabilities
  • No more having to escape quotes within quotes because template literals use backticks instead
  • String interpolation, so you can embed JavaScript expressions right into your strings like this: ${code_goes_here}

Once we have our list of answer buttons, we can push the question HTML and the answer HTML onto our overall list of outputs.

Notice that we’re using a template literal and some embedded expressions to first create the question div and then create the answer div. The join expression takes our list of answers and puts them together in one string that we can output into our answers div.

Now that we’ve generated the HTML for each question, we can join it all together and show it on the page:

quizContainer.innerHTML = output.join('');

Now our buildQuiz function is complete.

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Displaying the Quiz Results

At this point, we want to build out our showResults function to loop over the answers, check them, and show the results.

Here’s the function, which we’ll go through in detail next:

function showResults(){

  // gather answer containers from our quiz
  const answerContainers = quizContainer.querySelectorAll('.answers');

  // keep track of user's answers
  let numCorrect = 0;

  // for each question...
  myQuestions.forEach( (currentQuestion, questionNumber) => {

    // find selected answer
    const answerContainer = answerContainers[questionNumber];
    const selector = 'input[name=question'+questionNumber+']:checked';
    const userAnswer = (answerContainer.querySelector(selector) || {}).value;

    // if answer is correct
    if(userAnswer===currentQuestion.correctAnswer){
      // add to the number of correct answers
      numCorrect++;

      // color the answers green
      answerContainers[questionNumber].style.color = 'lightgreen';
    }
    // if answer is wrong or blank
    else{
      // color the answers red
      answerContainers[questionNumber].style.color = 'red';
    }
  });

  // show number of correct answers out of total
  resultsContainer.innerHTML = numCorrect + ' out of ' + myQuestions.length;
}

First, we’ll select all the answer containers in our quiz’s HTML. Then we’ll create variables to keep track of the user’s current answer and the total number of correct answers.

// gather answer containers from our quiz
const answerContainers = quizContainer.querySelectorAll('.answers');

// keep track of user's answers
let numCorrect = 0;

Now we can loop through each question and check the answers.

// for each question...
myQuestions.forEach( (currentQuestion, questionNumber) => {

  // find selected answer
  const answerContainer = answerContainers[questionNumber];
  const selector = `input[name=question${questionNumber}]:checked`;
  const userAnswer = (answerContainer.querySelector(selector) || {}).value;

  // if answer is correct
  if(userAnswer===currentQuestion.correctAnswer){
    // add to the number of correct answers
    numCorrect++;

    // color the answers green
    answerContainers[questionNumber].style.color = 'lightgreen';
  }
  // if answer is wrong or blank
  else{
    // color the answers red
    answerContainers[questionNumber].style.color = 'red';
  }
});

The general gist of this code is:

  • Find the selected answer in the HTML.
  • Handle what happens if the answer is correct.
  • Handle what happens if the answer is wrong.

Let’s look more closely at how we’re finding the selected answer in our HTML:

// find selected answer
const answerContainer = answerContainers[questionNumber];
const selector = `input[name=question${questionNumber}]:checked`;
const userAnswer = (answerContainer.querySelector(selector) || {}).value;

First, we’re making sure we’re looking inside the answer container for the current question.

In the next line, we’re defining a CSS selector that will let us find which radio button is checked.

Then we’re using JavaScript’s querySelector to search for our CSS selector in the previously defined answerContainer. In essence, this means that we’ll find which answer’s radio button is checked.

Finally, we can get the value of that answer by using .value.

Dealing with Incomplete User Input

But what if the user left an answer blank? Then using .value would cause an error because you can’t get the value of something that’s not there. To solve this, we’ve added ||, which means “or” and {} which is an empty object. Now the overall statement says:

  • Get a reference to our selected answer element OR, if that doesn’t exist, use an empty object.
  • Get the value of whatever was in the first statement.

As a result, the value will either be the user’s answer or undefined, which means a user can skip a question without crashing our quiz.

Evaluating the Answers and Displaying the Result

The next statements in our answer-checking loop will let us handle correct and incorrect answers.

// if answer is correct
if(userAnswer===currentQuestion.correctAnswer){
  // add to the number of correct answers
  numCorrect++;

  // color the answers green
  answerContainers[questionNumber].style.color = 'lightgreen';
}
// if answer is wrong or blank
else{
  // color the answers red
  answerContainers[questionNumber].style.color = 'red';
}

If the user’s answer matches the correct choice, increase the number of correct answers by one and (optionally) color the set of choices green. If the answer is wrong or blank, color the answer choices red (again, optional).

Once the answer-checking loop is finished, we can show how many questions the user got right:

// show number of correct answers out of total
resultsContainer.innerHTML = `${numCorrect} out of ${myQuestions.length}`;

And now we have a working JavaScript quiz!

If you’d like, you can wrap the whole quiz in an IIFE (immediately invoked function expression), which is a function that runs as soon as you define it. That way, your variables will stay out of global scope and your quiz won’t interfere with any other scripts running on the page.

(function(){
  // put the rest of your code here
})();

Now you’re all set! Feel free to add or remove questions and answers and style the quiz however you like.

At this point, your quiz might look like this (with a tiny bit of styling):

See the Pen Simple JavaScript Quiz (ES6) V3 (No Params) by SitePoint (@SitePoint) on CodePen.

Adding Pagination

Now we have our basic quiz running, let’s have a look at some more advanced features. For example, let’s say you want to show only one question at a time.

You’ll need:

  • A way to show and hide questions
  • Buttons to navigate the quiz

We’ll need to make some updates, so let’s start with the HTML:

<div class="quiz-container">
  <div id="quiz"></div>
</div>
<button id="previous">Previous Question</button>
<button id="next">Next Question</button>
<button id="submit">Submit Quiz</button>
<div id="results"></div>

A lot of the markup is the same as before, but now we’ve added navigation buttons and a quiz container. The quiz container will help us position the questions as layers that we can show and hide.

Inside the buildQuiz function, add a <div> element with class slide to hold the question and answer containers you already created.

output.push(
  `<div class="slide">
    <div class="question"> ${currentQuestion.question} </div>
    <div class="answers"> ${answers.join("")} </div>
  </div>`
);

Next, you can use some CSS positioning to make the slides sit as layers on top of one another. In this example, you’ll notice we’re using z-indexes and opacity transitions to allow our slides to fade in and out. Here’s how that CSS might look:

.slide{
  position: absolute;
  left: 0px;
  top: 0px;
  width: 100%;
  z-index: 1;
  opacity: 0;
  transition: opacity 0.5s;
}
.active-slide{
  opacity: 1;
  z-index: 2;
}
.quiz-container{
  position: relative;
  height: 200px;
  margin-top: 40px;
}

Now we’ll add some JavaScript to make the pagination work.

We can start with some variables to store references to our navigation buttons and keep track of which slide we’re on:

// pagination
const previousButton = document.getElementById("previous");
const nextButton = document.getElementById("next");
const slides = document.querySelectorAll(".slide");
let currentSlide = 0;

Next we’ll write a function to show a slide.

function showSlide(n) {
  slides[currentSlide].classList.remove('active-slide');
  slides[n].classList.add('active-slide');
  currentSlide = n;
  if(currentSlide===0){
    previousButton.style.display = 'none';
  }
  else{
    previousButton.style.display = 'inline-block';
  }
  if(currentSlide===slides.length-1){
    nextButton.style.display = 'none';
    submitButton.style.display = 'inline-block';
  }
  else{
    nextButton.style.display = 'inline-block';
    submitButton.style.display = 'none';
  }
}
showSlide(0);

Here’s what the first three lines do:

  • Hide the current slide by removing the active-slide class.
  • Show the new slide by adding the active-slide class.
  • Update the current slide number.

The next lines introduce the following logic:

  • If we’re on the first slide, hide the Previous Slide button. Otherwise, show the button.
  • If we’re on the last slide, hide the Next Slide button and show the Submit button. Otherwise, show the Next Slide button and hide the Submit button.

After we’ve written our function, we can immediately call showSlide(0) to show the first slide.

Next we can write functions to make the navigation buttons work:

function showNextSlide() {
  showSlide(currentSlide + 1);
}

function showPreviousSlide() {
  showSlide(currentSlide - 1);
}

previousButton.addEventListener("click", showPreviousSlide);
nextButton.addEventListener("click", showNextSlide);

Here, we’re making use of our showSlide function to allow our navigation buttons to show the previous slide and the next slide.

Now your quiz has working navigation!

See the Pen Simple JavaScript Quiz (ES6) V4 (Stylized) by SitePoint (@SitePoint) on CodePen.

What’s next?

Now that you have a basic JavaScript quiz, it’s time to experiment.

Maybe you could try different ways of responding to a correct answer or a wrong answer. Maybe you’ll find a creative use for the concepts in this type of quiz.

Here are some suggestions you can try:

  • Style the quiz nicely.
  • Add a progress bar.
  • Let users review answers before submitting.
  • Give users a summary of their answers after they submit.
  • Update the navigation to let users skip to any question number.
  • Create custom messages for each level of results. For example, if someone scores 8/10 or higher, call them a quiz ninja.
  • Add a button to share results to social media.
  • Save your high scores using localStorage.
  • Add a countdown timer to see if people can beat the clock.
  • Apply the concepts from this article to other uses, such as a project price estimator or a social “which-character-are-you” quiz.

If you have questions or comments or if you’ve made an interesting quiz, feel free to share in the comments section below.

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