UPDATED: 2 tools are better than one: comparing Socrative and Kahoot


(Updated September 7, 2015 to reflect new features in Socrative 2.0).

Sometimes we want a quick check to see how our students are doing with a topic. We want to ask a few questions and know right away if the students were right or wrong. We want to be able to discuss questions students got wrong in the moment, so they can learn from their mistakes and deepen their understanding. 

Many tools exist that allow us to “poll” and “quiz” students on computers, tablets, or smartphones. This updated post looks at two such tools. 

Kahoot is a free, Web-based tool that allows you to survey students, ask formative assessment questions, or facilitate an online discussion on computers or mobile devices. So far, that is very similar to Socrative, which I have successfully used numerous times. For this post, I will be discussing only Kahoot’s “quiz” features. Their discussion platform is content for another post.

When I first found Kahoot, I was most immediately drawn to the feature that shows a bar graph after each question; this was a feature that was lacking in the first version of Socrative. Fortunately, since being acquired by MasteryConnect, quite a few enhancements have been added to Socrative. One of my favorites is when you choose a “teacher run” quiz, it now lets you press a button called “How are we doing?” after all students have responded. The result is the bar graph showing how many students chose each answer. This feature is critical in classes that are serious about formative assessment, or assessment for learning. With the bar graphs, I can have my students engage in conversations about what made one answer right and the others wrong. Or students can discuss what would have to be different about the other responses in order for them to be correcct. Now that both Kahoot and Socrative provide this feature, Socrative will return to my menu of  formative assessment tools I use regularly in class.

Perhaps my favorite new feature in Socrative is the “student-paced, student-navigated” quiz. There was a “student-paced” version before, but now, teachers can also opt to have students complete a version in which students can freely navigate quiz, including skipping questions and coming back to them later. They can also edit their responses. This can be useful for formative assessment, but there is another potential use for this particular quiz tool: Since you can add photos to Socrative (and Kahoot) and ask questions based on the photos, teachers can now develop quizzes in which some information is provided via photo (which could even be a screen shot of text on a Web page) for them to evaluate in one question and then a different viewpoint or a photo with additional information is provided in a subsequent question. Since students can navigate freely, they are also free to change their minds as they are exposed to new sets of information, data (such as charts/graphs used as photo prompts for questions), or perspectives. This is a valuable skill that teachers are (or should be) developing across the curriculum. Students must leave our educational programs able to not only form an opinion and justify it, but to form an opinion and re-evaluate their own beliefs in the face of new information…perhaps even leading to changing their minds. Socrative’s “student-paced, student-navigated” quiz could be one way to provide practice in exactly that kind of evaluation and re-evaluation of points of view.

Gamifying formative assessment


Two teams competing in Socrative’s Space Race. They receive feedback on their devices as to whether their answers were right or wrong.

Kahoot "quiz" screen durin gcompetition. Students' devices only show colors and shapes for answer choices. All text is on the front screen.

Kahoot “quiz” screen durin gcompetition. Students’ devices only show colors and shapes for answer choices. All text is on the front screen.

In the area of engagement, Socrative’s Space Race is still quite good, but I have to say that when it comes to student engagement, Kahoot still comes out on top for me if we are doing checks-for-understanding or very concrete formative assessments.  
Space Race shows them questions, and uses team rockets (by color) to show which team is making progress the fastest, but my students are even more engaged when the “quiz” starts on Kahoot. In fact, I can hear their engagement. Why? Because it uses a valuable instructional strategy: it builds in thinking time. Kahoot does this by initially showing the question and then waiting several seconds before the response choices are visible and before they can be selected on student devices. As a result, I can hear the student teams discussing the question and formulating answers before the choices even appear. Once the choices are visible, I can also hear my students discussing why their choice wasn’t there, or I can hear their validation when their correct choice was present.
In both Socrative’s Space Race and in Kahoot, students receive immediate feedback on their devices regarding their responses. Here are some feedback screens students see in Socrative and Kahoot.
Student screen after a correct response (this version had no written "feedback" about the responses)

Student screen after a correct response (this version had no written “feedback” about the responses)

Incorrect response, as seen on student's device. When not playing "space race" students can also receive comments about why they answer was incorrect (you must create the comments when you create the quiz).

Incorrect response, as seen on student’s device. When not playing “space race” students can also receive comments about why they answer was incorrect (you must create the comments when you create the quiz).

Here's what the student sees when he/she selects an incorrect response in Kahoot.

Here’s what the student sees when he/she selects an incorrect response.

At the end of the Kahoot  game, students receive an overall score and ranking and can share on social media.

At the end of the Kahoot game, students receive an overall score and ranking and can share on social media.

Additionally, my students–who are studying French in grades 9-12–also seem to prefer the competition style used in Kahoot to Socrative’s “Space Race”.  They like the fact that each question is timed, They also really like the “leaderboard”. After each question, and after showing the bar graph of the responses, Kahoot shows which teams are in the lead. Teams get more points for providing a correct response quickly, so leaderboard can change drastically after just one question.
It should be noted that my students work in teams when we use personal devices in class for two reasons: the first is that our district’s bandwidth isn’t sufficient for all of them to be on their devices at once (which led to a lot of crash-and-burn frustrations with technology when I first started using tools like Socrative, InfuseLearning and Kahoot in class since the students’ devices would be randomly dropped from the school’s wifi). The second reason we do teams is because not all students are able to bring a device to school. As a result, I do not “grade” the students with these formative assessment tools. I have other ways (and other times) to assign a grade for their proficiency with a given topic (see my post on grading and assessment).
Getting back to the topic, in my classes, with its use of think time and the leaderboard, student engagement appears to be enhanced with Kahoot. But, I mentioned earlier that another key factor in choosing an online formative assessment tool is real-time data. This is really where Kahoot and Socrative both shine, in slightly different ways. Both tools have the capacity to show bar graphs with data regarding how many teams chose each response. In Socrative, the best type of quiz for this appears to be “teacher-paced”. This version of your quizzes will allow to you choose to display a bar graph after any question. It is not automatically displayed as it is in Kahoot. As mentioned above, in Socrative, you have to click the button called “how are we doing?” in order for the bar graph to appear, but once you click on it, the graph is very clear and each option is easy to see and discuss. Socrative has another great feature that is not available in Kahoot: it allows you to also toggle on or off the display of feedback regrading their answers to the students on their devices. This is defaulted to “off” in the teacher-paced quizzes, probably to facilitate the discussions you would want to have after the bar graphs are displayed. However, in student-paced quizzes, you can opt to turn on the feedback. If you typed in any information about why a certain answer was right or wrong, that information will be provided to the students after they submit each response. This is not an option in Kahoot (they are told the right answer, but there is no way to push information to their devices that tells them why it is the right answer or what makes the other answers wrong). It is also easier to have students complete a quiz anytime, anywhere in Socrative: as a teacher you can just open a quiz and leave it running…any student who joins your “room” will see that quiz after they sign in. However, you can only run one quiz at a time, so if you teach several different classes, like me, you will have to be sure to “finish” a quiz that is running before you can start another one.
When doing the quizzes In Kahoot, the bar graph automatically displays after all responses have been received or after the time runs out for the question. In the bar graph, the incorrect responses are washed out and the correct response is still in full color. I do wish Kahoot would NOT wash out the incorrect choices, because we actually do the most important part of the formative assessment once all the students’ responses are visible. But, at least can immediately see how many teams selected each response and I can facilitate the discussion from there.Whether we’re looking at the bar graph from Socrative or the one from Kahoot, our follow-up conversation in class typically goes something like this:
“I see that two teams selected choice B [normally I will state the actual language in the choice] and another team selected choice A. Turn to your partners and discuss what makes choice C correct and what specifically is wrong with A and B.”
Or sometimes, I might ask them “what would have to be different/true to make choice A correct.” Either way, the point is that we have a conversation after each question, unless no teams got the answer wrong. This is how we can help students learn from formative assessment. Using the “teacher-paced” quiz in Socrative or the regular quiz format in Kahoot both allow us to have those important conversations.
What about when the quiz is over? What data is available to to the teacher? Both Socrative and Kahoot provide a variety of data reports teachers can analyze, including whole-class response graphs for all the questions, and data on individual students or even how the whole class responded to individual questions. Here are some screens of the data reports you can look at in both tools:
Socrative report request screen (note the many ways you can get the report: email, download, GoogleDrive, etc.)
Socrative's report request screen. You can request individual student data, individual question data and/or an overall report.

Socrative’s report request screen. You can request individual student data, individual question data and/or an overall report.

Kahoot’s spreadsheets:
You can see data about one question from this Kahoot screen, including how many got it right or wrong, how each student answered, and even how long each student took to arrive at a response.

You can see data about one question from this Kahoot screen, including how many got it right or wrong, how each student answered, and even how long each student took to arrive at a response.

Kahoot provides one other type of data for teachers: students can actually evaluate the quiz after completing it. They can rate it 0-5 stars for how “fun” it is, indicate if they felt they actually learned from participating, whether or not they liked it and whether or not they would recommend it. This screen was not from an actual class, but rather me taking the quiz as two students and I forgot to click on the stars…
Getting feedback from the students regarding their perceptions and feelings after participating in Kahoot.

Getting feedback from the students regarding their perceptions and feelings after participating in Kahoot.

So, where does all this leave us? Since it is important to have a variety of tools (both for student interest and because we must always select the right tool for the right situation), Socrative will remain in my tool box and Kahoot has become the newest permanent member of the box. Socrative one additional advantage over Kahoot in one situation in particular: if I have the computer carts available–or are giving students time to access from home or a library (so all students can answer individually, in a non-competitive, more “serious” format), Socrative trumps Kahoot. It presents questions and answers very clearly and “cleanly” on the student’s device.  Kahoot requires that students be able to see the questions projected at the front, because only the answer choices  appear on their devices–and even then they only appear as colors and shapes–the text of the answers is also only available on the front screen. This makes Kahoot great for doing formative assessment as a whole class, but not so much for assessments they are intended to complete individually or that might even be graded by the teacher. Again, having a variety of tools in the tool box is important. It’s also important to remember that life isn’t multiple choice, so as often as my students ask if we can “play Kahoot again”, I use all such tools very selectively and far less frequently than they would like.
And because we all need a toolbox with more than one tool, here is a list of formative assessment tools I use with my students:
  1. Kahoot: Create your account at https://getkahoot.com/. Students participate at https://kahoot.it
  2. Socrative: teachers create at t.socrative.com. Students access and participate at m.socrative.com
  3. Google forms (with Flubaroo script to grade and email feedback if the answers are multiple choice). Here is some information and tutorials: Forms: https://sites.google.com/site/classinthecloud/google-docs Flubaroo: https://sites.google.com/site/classinthecloud/scripts-for-ed 
  4. InfuseLearning: In addition to the usual multiple choice and open-ended quiz formats, this tool has two really great features for use on students’ mobile devices the others don’t have. The first is “draw”: so students can draw a response on their screens and submit it. Then we can discuss the drawings. This is great for vocabulary practice, especially if you have them draw a “symbol” to represent abstract vocabulary. Then, on your screen at the front, you can project the results with all of their symbols and students can try to identify which words/phrases the symbols represent. The other nice feature in InfuseLearning is the ability for the teacher to “push” a URL to the students’ devices. So you can send them a Web page you want them to view, or a video, or any other item that has a URL. For example, I record some of my lessons so students can review them later. They are housed online, some on YouTube and some in other places, depending on the tools I used. With “push”, I can send all of my students the video lesson. Create your account at http://teacher.infuselearning.com/. Students participate at http://student.infuselearning.com/

Also, remember that learning management systems such as Edmodo and Schoology have built-in quizzing and polling features you can also use, as well as providing a classroom community where students and teachers can communicate and a one-stop shop where you can upload, link and store all resources for each of your lessons. And there is now a whole suite of tools hitting the Web that allow you to build questions around video content. Sounds like the topic of a separate post!


6 thoughts on “UPDATED: 2 tools are better than one: comparing Socrative and Kahoot

  1. Great post!! I love them both, especially the “new” features of Socrative. One app that I use that combines many of the best features of both of those is Quizizz. It has the fun aspect of Kahoot, but the self-paced ability of Socrative. Plus instead of having the questions on the main screen like Kahoot, they get the questions on their own screen. Check it out!! It’s one of my favorites!


  2. I agree that Kahoot engages students and promotes out loud thinking. However, I still like InfuseLearnings extra “On the fly” type options with drawing, linking, and sharing student creations. Truthfully, a selection of tools are appreciated. Each has its own benefits. Once you have a solid question bank and/or a fair understanding of how to use at least two quiz/activity sites, you can mix-and-match as you see fit. On the third activity (we only use a 1 every 2 weeks), the students were not so excited by the leader board. A variety keeps them engaged. Great post!


    • Yes, I mentioned the draw and link features of InfuseLearning as well. We will be using draw this week. I love the fact that each tool does different things. As for the Leaderboard, they are more attuned to progress on it than they are to Space Race, but I’m not sure why.


  3. I agree with you! Beside the engagement, I also really like that I can direct instruction in the weak areas. Love it! I have in place a system of points: 5 points to the 1st place, 3 to the second, and 2 to the third. Students earn points with which they can then buy free-assignment day, extra credit on a test and so on. My students want to play every class. I also like the fact that I can use the sign-up time to play a video to introduce the topic or a song with lyrics (I teach Italian). 🙂


    • I have some students who actually shut down in competitive events, so I don’t make a big deal of the competition factor in those classes–not even with points. I like the fact that they can still participate at their own pace, more or less anonymously. I’ve found that my non-competitive students will actually do the Web 2.0 formative assessment activities thoughtfully because they don’t have to be “in your face” about competing. Some of the in-class table games we do actually shut them down–they literally barely participate because they are so opposed to competing, so they won’t try to be the first one to find the card, etc. If no one at the table finds it and they see it they will take it, but typically the other students are so actively competing, that the non-competitive students just watch. Like I said, a toolbox is important. I’m glad that these Web 2.0 tools can provide more sheltered options, in addition to the in-person events we do in class.


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