Universal ABCD Polls on Zoom

By Mee Chu Cheung and Vincent Wong

The Challenge 1

Get students engaged in virtual synchronous science class.  Help teachers integrate interactive activities into virtual class.

The Solution 1

Doing multiple choice practice questions right after explanation of a difficult concept allows for quick formative assessment and also helps in engaging students.  Polls function in Zoom is an effective platform for doing this formative assessment. 

A survey across three sections of students held in Summer 2021 shows 92% positive feedback about doing the practice questions using Polls function in synchronous Zoom class.  The breakdown of students’ feedback is shown in Figure 1 below: 

Figure 1. The breakdown of students’ feedback in doing practice questions using Zoom Polls function.

The Challenge 2

Overcome the limitations in setting up poll questions in Zoom. 

Limitations of Polls function on Zoom are as follows: 

  • Limited number of polls is allowed to be set in a Zoom meeting 
  • Text fields in Zoom poll question is NOT word processing friendly.  Math and science symbols, and other word formats are not allowed (Figure 2). 
  • It is time consuming to look for a particular poll question for editing. 
Figure 2 – Subscript is not allowed in text field of Zoom poll question (i.e. cannot be typed as Fe2O3 in this example) 

The Solution 2

Steps below shows how to set up poll questions efficiently without the limitations on Zoom platform: 

  1. Create the content rich practice questions in any word processing friendly applications such as Word, PowerPoint or OneNote (Figure 3).   
  1. On Zoom, create ONE poll question.  Keep the text in question and choices generic.  For example, in question field, key in a generic statement such as “Select the correct answer”.  In the choice fields, key in A, B, C, D to number the options (Figure 4).   
Figure 3. Questions created in Microsoft Word.
Figure 4. ONE generic poll question created on Zoom.  
  1. Relaunch this generic poll question for other practice questions whenever required.  A screenshot of how the practice question and poll dialog appears on student’s screen is shown in Figure 5.  
Figure 5. Practice question displayed on OneNote (left hand side) and poll dialog displayed on Zoom (right hand side).

Universal ABCD Polls Strategy

ONE generic poll question set up on Zoom can be used for ALL practice questions set up on word processing friendly applications – we called this strategy as Universal ABCD Polls.  This generic poll question can be set up easily when scheduling a meeting on Zoom.  Or this generic poll question can be saved as template and adopted in other Zoom meetings. 


Universal ABCD Polls is our life-saving strategy in teaching synchronous class.   It saves abundant of our time in setting up and maintaining the practice questions in word processing friendly applications.  Hence, we can use the Polls function on Zoom effectively to improve the student engagement in synchronous class.   

A video showing how to set up this Universal ABCD Polls can be accessed below: 

View on YouTube: Poll in Zoom (ABCD method)

Mee Chu Cheung

Mee Chu Cheung is faculty in Pre-Health Sciences Program of School of Advancement at Centennial College. Her major teaching subject is Chemistry. The co-author of this article is Vincent Wong who is faculty in the same program as Mee Chu. His major teaching subject is biology.

Vincent Wong