Socrative: Turn Student SmartPhones into Clickers

[Update: See a more recent post on new features.]

This is the tool I’ve been waiting for. Socrative turns your students’ smartphones into a powerful student response system. It’s like PollEverywhere (see this earlier post), but with greater flexibility and ease-of-use, the ability to attach student names to electronic quizzes, and free – even when you have more than 30 students. This promises to be a real challenge to the makers of student response systems.

You and your students have options for accessing Socrative. Access it via the website using a computer or any web-enabled mobile device. For the mobile devices, you can either just access the website, or you can download the free app (Android or iPhone). I tested it out by visiting the Socrative teacher site on my computer and using the student app on my Xoom.

Socrative includes a simulation on their website, so I took the liberty of taking screenshots. You can try it out yourself by going to the Socrative website, and clicking on “Hands-On Demo” in the lower right corner.

To experience it yourself, on your ‘teacher’ device, go to On your ‘student’ device, go to Yes, it’s just that easy. In class, you go to the ‘t’ website and send your students to the ‘m’ website. If you or your students have the app, just run the app.

Connecting student devices to the teacher’s device

On the lecturer’s device, you see “my room number”. When students run the app or visit, they’ll be asked to enter a room number. They just enter the number you have on your device. You can change that number if you’d like. Just select “Change room number” (it’s on the bottom half of the menu, not visible in the screenshot). The number doesn’t have to be a number. It can be text, say, your name or the name of your course. Whatever you choose will be remembered both on your device and your students’ devices. The student’s device will show “Waiting for teacher to start an activity” until you, well, start an activity.

Multiple Choice Questions

Pose a multiple choice question orally, or by writing it on the board, or in your presentation slides. Tap “Multiple Choice”, and the students will be given A through E options.

Once the student chooses, the instructor gets a bar graph, and the student’s device goes back into waiting mode. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no way to display this bar graph to students other than displaying your device using an opaque projector, or if you’re using your computer’s web browser, displaying the web page.

Short Answer Questions

Pose a short answer question to your students. On your device, tap “Short Answer”. That generates a response box on the student’s device.

Here the student entered “I have no idea what the answer is.” That appears on your device, and the student’s device goes back into waiting mode.

Now, if you’d like, you can have students’ vote on the best responses by tapping “Vote on responses.” Each student device now shows all of the short answer responses that were submitted. In this case, just one.

Quick Quiz (Self-Paced)

In a quick quiz, you give students a set of pre-planned questions. After a student submits one question, they move onto the next one, and the next until they’re finished. The first question should be their name.

Here you can see that there is one active user in the room. We know that because that’s how many devices have entered the Socrative room number. At this point, no one has completed the quiz.

The student has answered all 4 questions in the quiz. On the lecturer’s device, click “Live Results” to see who has responded and how they did. Once everyone has completed the quiz, click “End Activity & Send Report.” An Excel spreadsheet will be soon emailed to you with all of the data from the quiz.

This is what the spreadsheet looks like. The green-filled boxes are correct answers; the red-filled are incorrect.

Tip: On the quizzes, change the first question about name into two questions. Question 1: Enter your last name. Question 2: Enter your first name. When you get the spreadsheet, you can sort by last name for easy entry into your gradesheet.

Exit Ticket

The Exit Ticket works in much the same way as quizzes. With 5 to 10 minutes left in class, click “Exit Ticket” and students respond with their name and quick responses to a question, such as “define independent variable.” Research has shown that responding to open-ended questions related to the course content at the end of class improves performance on exams. [See for example: Lyle, K.B. & Crawford, N.A. (2011). Retrieving essential material at the end of lectures improves performance on statistics exams. Teaching of Psychology, 38, pp. 94-97.]

The Exit Ticket should be editable, but as of this writing it doesn’t appear to be. Instead, you can accomplish the same thing by giving a Quick Quiz since the Quick Quizzes are editable.

Space Race

Students compete in small groups (maximum: 10) to answer your pre-loaded questions as quickly as they can. The team that gets the most right in the shortest amount of time wins. Again, when you’re done, click the “end activity & send report” button at the bottom of your screen (not shown). You’ll be emailed an Excel spreadsheet with the results.


Not all students have smartphones, laptops, netbooks, or other portable web-enabled technology. On the quizzes and the exit ticket, once a student is done responding, they’re given the option to finish or let another student take the quiz. For activities that could potentially have points attached, there’s at least this option. If many of your students don’t have internet access in your classroom, consider pairing students so that the two of them provide one response.

I anticipate trying this out in the fall. If anyone tries it before I do, I’d love to hear what you and your students think of it!

Thanks to Free Technology for Teachers for posting on this technology!

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31 thoughts on “Socrative: Turn Student SmartPhones into Clickers

  1. This is a great technology, thanks for reviewing it for us. I’ve gotten a bit annoyed at the clicker situation. It turns into a cash cow for the book stores. I think there is pedagogical value to them, but there is substantial trade-off in terms of time. Students often forget the clickers, too. They don’t forget their phones. I’ll do a poll to see how many have smart phones. And, I may adapt the technology to some other uses, because this is clearly the future of clicker-type tech.

  2. I agree. The days of free-standing clickers are numbered. Why buy extra hardware and software when most everyone already has what they need? (The makers of GPS receivers are learning the same lesson.) About a year ago I asked my students, “Can you access the internet in this room right now?” In a room of 40, all but 2 hands went up. Between smartphones, laptops, netbooks, tablets, and eReaders with web browsers, you’re hard-pressed to find someone who can’t access the internet if you provide them with wifi.

  3. The problem that I have at my college with this technology is that we have certain rooms on campus that have a very weak WiFi signal. On the other hand the clickers always work.

  4. Thanks for the review – this is very clearly written and I can see using the technology in my classes. We don’t have clickers on my campus and PollEverywhere was just too clunky to use.

  5. Mary Ann, thanks for your comment! That’s true at a number of institutions.

    The argument I’d make to your IT staff is that it’s cheaper in the long run to invest in boosting the wifi in the weak spots than it is for the bookstore to manage clickers, for the students to buy them, and for IT to manage the hardware in the classrooms and the software on the computers.

    In case you want to argue with your IT staff. =)

  6. Sally, if you try out Socrative, I’d love to hear what you think! I won’t get to try it until late September when our fall quarter starts. Socrative is still officially in beta, I think, so I’ll be watching them closely to see what other features they add.

  7. Thanks for the review Sue! I’m very interested in trying this. Impressed that they use the lingo “formative assessment” on their main splash page. I’m hoping Socrative is flexible enough to handle the sometimes very long single diagnostic items I’ve been working with.

  8. Hi Rob! Right now the multiple choice questions are limited to 5 choices. That’s another change I suspect they’re working on — giving instructors the ability to alter the number of multiple choice options. In the meantime, one (clumsy) solution is to give it as a short answer question, where the short answer is a letter, A through K (or whatever).

  9. Thanks Kelly! This post has generated 5 times as many hits on my blog as I normally get. I agree with you. I think Socrative has an awful lot of potential. So much so that I’ve already begun worrying about what’s going to happen to it. Will the developers set the price point too high when they come out of beta? Will they sell to a textbook publisher? And *I’m* not a worrier! =)

  10. Sally,

    Sorry to hear that. I’m one of the co-founders of Poll Everywhere. What was so clunky about using Poll Everywhere and what would you like from it to be less clunky? Is there anything specific?

    Perhaps Sue can get more into this… is the ad-hoc questioning most important to you?


  11. What a great conversation about smart phone clickers. The key for the web based systems is to allow for participation, collaboration, and assessment for hundreds. The students cannot be tied to a particular class. And, the assessments that are created have to survive the term. They also have to scale to classes of hundreds. is squarely focused on the higher education market and is built to handle the complexity of university instruction and cover all formative assessments.

  12. Hi Scott,

    Splashtop says that they are currently working on an app that would work with Android phones. I’m not sure if they’re just referring to their remote desktop product or if they’re thinking a whiteboard phone app as well. But, I think you’re right. The screen would be awfully small to write on. Time to invest in the new Galaxy Note? =)

  13. love it, my vce students have a ball. what I also like about it is that you can use the short answers [from the report] for feedback with everyone and as a basis for discussion with the rest of the class.

  14. poll everywhere issues: cost-$15 a months? Come on. It is really slow. Takes many minutes for all responses. Answers are anonymous, so there is no way to evaluate individual comprehension. This is a good tool however for qualitative large group

  15. For alternatives to smartphones clickers you can also use Powercom keypads for an interactive event in classrooms for trainings or lessons. It is true that if there is Wifi in the school or building, applicatons like Socrative and Powerclick can be the best option.

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