Asking Questions: Six Types

Both asking and answering questions are important parts of effective learning and teaching. The types of questions you ask should capture the students’ attention, arouse their curiosity, reinforce key points, and encourage active learning. Here is a list of question types based on Benjamin Bloom’s six cognitive levels:


(identification and recall of information):

  • “Who, what, when, where, how …?”
  • “Describe …”


(organization and selection of facts and ideas):

  • “Retell …”
  • "Summarize …"


(use of facts, rules and principles):

  • “How is … an example of …?”
  • “How is … related to …?”
  • “Why is … significant?


(separation of a whole into component parts):

  • “What are the parts or features of …?”
  • “Classify … according to …”
  • “Outline/diagram …”
  • “How does … compare/contrast with …?”
  • “What evidence can you list for …?”


(combination of ideas to form a new whole):

  • “What would you predict/infer from …?”
  • “What ideas can you add to …?”
  • “How would you create/design a new …?”
  • “What might happen if you combined …?”
  • “What solutions would you suggest for …?”


(development of opinions, judgments, or decisions):

  • “Do you agree …?”
  • “What do you think about …?”
  • “What is the most important …?”
  • “Place the following in order of priority …”
  • “How would you decide about …?”
  • “What criteria would you use to assess …?”


If you would like support applying these tips to your own teaching, CTE staff members are here to help.  View the CTE Support page to find the most relevant staff member to contact.

teaching tipsThis Creative Commons license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon our work non-commercially, as long as they credit us and indicate if changes were made. Use this citation format: Asking Questions: Six Types. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.