Ideas on organising ranking exercises

  • Each student works on his own and writes down his ranking. These lists are then compared and discussed in pairs, in small groups or with the whole class. Maybe group needs to defend their list to the class.
  • Or when each student has finished his list, the students sit down together in small groups and try to agree on a common listing which has to be presented and defended in a final general discussion.
  • Or groups of increasing size (two members, then four, then eight) discuss their rankings and aim for an agreed ranking at each stage.
  • Or with more advanced classes, make them come up with own lists - which are then ranked in pairs or groups.
  • Also, you can use a roving ambassador. Each group decides on a ranking. When decisions have been made, get a member from each group to visit another group to report their findings and possibly give ideas to the group they are with. The roving students then report back to their original groups who can make changes to their decisions, if they want.

Ranking exercises

What are the most important thing things to look for in a job. Choose 10, then rank them.

  • the salary, the interest of the work, flexi-time, the people you work with, the chances for promotion, the work environment, the opportunity to travel, the opportunity to make decisions, being close to where you live, feeling you are helping other people, facing new challenges, its social status, job security, the perks (company car, cheap meals etc.)

What jobs are most important to society?

  • Police officer, priest, doctor, entertainer, factory worker, politician, school teacher, university professor, teacher, journalist, farmer, engineer, taxi driver, actor

What 3 people from The past 100 years are "the greatest"

What are most important qualities to become successful

  • Charisma, integrity, money, perseverance, discipline, intelligence, motivation, risk taking, education, luck, optimism, talent, good looks / beauty, talent, confidence and belief in yourself, risk taking, hard work, famous or rich parents, having clear goals, knowing the right people

If you won the lottery, what are the first 5 things you would do?

  • Buy a house, buy a yacht, buy a car, go on a long vacation overseas, give up my job / studies, put the money in the bank, make a donation to charity, buy presents for my friends and family, learn how to do something exciting, other? Discuss with partner. What does this tell about you about each others attitudes to money?


  • What do you fear most? ghosts, evil spirits, going to the dentist, the dark, looking like an idiot, surgery, death, getting very ill, speaking in public, spiders, snakes, sharks, fear of heights, getting old, flying, other? Have you ever overcome one of your fears? How?

Most important qualities in partner / yourself / friend / parents / politicians

  • Intelligence, resilience, honesty, generosity, caution, sense of humour, helpfulness, loyalty, beauty or good looks, gentleness, optimism, perseverance, helpfulness, wisdom, adaptability, integrity, willingness to listen and help, cheerfulness, reliability

What are the top 5 qualities you would like in a dating partner?

  • Sense of humour, honesty, easy and interesting to talk to, lets you be yourself, good looks, beautiful eyes, athletic and fit

Your choice in a holiday

  • exciting modern cites (e.g. New York, London), quaint towns or villages, sandy beaches and beautiful coastline, ancient archaeological sights and great monuments, romantic historical cities (e.g. Venice), natural wonders such as mountains, waterfalls, river canyon, rain forest etc.

What do you think are the greatest inventions of the 20th century?

Which sight would you most like to see?

  • Pyramids (Egypt), Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), The Colosseum (Rome), The Great Wall (China), Statue of Liberty (New York), Eiffel Tower (Paris), Macchu Piccu (Peru), Ice Cliffs (Antarctica)

Desert Island

  • Can do in pairs or groups (e.g. with roving ambassador)
  • Stranded on a deserted island in the Pacific. All you have is the swim suit and sandals you are wearing. There is food and water on the island but nothing else. Here is a list of things you may find useful. Choose eight and rank them in term of usefulness.
  • List is as follows: box of matches, magnifying glass, an axe, a bottle of whisky, an atlas, some metal knitting needles, a transistor radio with batteries, a nylon tent, a camera with 5 roles of film, ointment for cuts and burns, a saucepan, a knife and fork, 20 meters of nylon rope, a blanket, a watch, a towel, a pencil and paper, mirror, bottle, one flare
  • Plus two other things you can come up with.

Remote House

  • You have to spend a month by yourself in a remote house in the Australian outback. All you have are clothes, food and water. Can take 5 items. What will they be?

Dinner party

  • Choose 5 people (alive or dead) who you would like to invite to your dinner party to have around the table. What questions would you ask them? Work in pairs or groups.
  • You can give list of names or come up with own.

Plus Minus Interesting (PMI)

  • Give class an idea and they think about it and generate a Plus, Minus and an Interesting column.
  • Examples of ideas to think about: Families can have a maximum of two children, All drugs are legalised, Smoking is banned completely, Children over 5 are given the vote, The government puts a filter on "undesirable" Internet sites.
  • Individuals create their lists first, then pairs or groups. They rank their points. Finally the class discusses.


  • Introduce a problem and students brainstorm all the alternative solutions. They rank them. Then share with class. The class decides on the top three.