Make a Decision Using a Quantitative Scoring System

Life involves making a lot of decisions. In fact, one of the decisions you have to make right now is "Should I finish reading this article or shouldn't I?"

So why not learn to make the best decision, or at least a good one every time? While making a decision based on your "gut instinct" often works, occasionally a simple quantitative scoring system can provide additional insights and can help you overcome an emotional decision that you will later be unable to justify logically.

This method will help you quantify your values and make fast decisions between alternatives. It applies to everything from "which mortgage professional should I choose?" to "which car should I buy?".


  1. Write three questions you’re trying to decide. Our example will be "Which mortgage professional should I choose?"
  2. Write up five or six "must-have qualities". For example:
    1. Integrity (What he/she says is consistent with what he/she does),
    2. Professional Knowledge and Expertise (Makes Recommendations consistent with what I value),
    3. Quality of Communication (Helps me understand quickly),
    4. Accessibility (I can reach them when I need them),
    5. Competitive Pricing (Rates and Costs are amongst the best in the marketplace), and
    6. Reliability of recommendations (Shows me that live market data is consistent with recommendations so I can make a timely decision to choose them).
  3. Rate the importance of each of these qualities on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of how important each is to you. (If reliability is far more important than anything, it gets a 10, if Competitive Pricing is the second most important but really not nearly as important as reliability you might give it a 5 or 6, and so on.)
  4. List your options. (Bank Loan Officer, Realtor Referred, my current Loan Broker, etc.).
  5. Rate each option on a scale of 1 to 10 for each quality you put down for that option. (If your current Loan Broker rates are good with you, give them an 8, but if you think they are average, give them a 5.) This is a subjective scale, so it’s up to you to score it as honestly as possible to make the best decision by the end of this process.
  6. Compute scores for each option by multiplying the quality score you gave your option with your target quality score, the one you created in Step 3. (For example, your Loan Broker scores 56 in Integrity: 8 [the importance of Integrity] x 7 [how well you rate them in that area]).
  7. Sum up the scores for each quality for a total score for that option. Compute a separate score for each option.
  8. Decide on a target score.
  9. Divide each option’s total score by your target score and multiply by 100 to get a percentage score. The option with the highest score (compared to your target) is your best choice.

Sample Calculation

Here is a sample completed for selecting an ideal loan broker using the Quantitative Scoring System. Six qualities were scored for the potential broker on a scale of 1-10.

My Ideal Loan Professional

Integrity = 9 (9*9=81)
Communication= 10 (10*10=100)
Competitive= 8 (8*8=64)
Accessibility= 6 (6*6=36)
Reliability= 6 (6*6=36)

Expertise= 9 (9*9=81)
Prospective Loan Professional

(Option A)

Integrity= 8 (8*9=72)
Communication= 4 (4*10=40)
Competitive= 7 (7*8=56)
Accessibility= 6 (6*6=36)
Reliability= 6 (6*6=36)
Expertise= 3 (3*9=27)
Current Loan Broker

(Option B)

Integrity= 9 (9*9=81)
Communication= 10 (10*10=100)
Competitive= 9 (9*8=72)
Accessibility= 8 (8*6=48)
Reliability= 6 (6*6=36)
Expertise= 10 (10*9=90)
Target total score:
Option A's total score:

72+40+56+36+36+27=267 Percentage this option fits your target:

(267/398) * 100 = 67%
Option B's total score:

81+100+72+48+36+90=427 Percentage this option fits your target:

(427/398) * 100 = 107%
Option A fits my target quality score at 67% while Option B surpasses my target quality score at 107%.


  • If you have more than six qualities, the value of the score can get diluted, so think hard about what really matters to you. Leave the nice-to-have qualities aside, or you might get distracted and make a decision based on unimportant factors. Make sure the qualities are non-overlapping, or otherwise you essentially double-count the same underlying attribute.
  • If you use a spreadsheet to carry out the calculations and rankings, especially rankings of the same questions, save it as a template to help guide your future decisions.
    • Explanations of the reasoning involved, however, are best saved for a word processor.
  • The same system may be modified to allow the offset for negative qualities by multiplying by a negative one to allow for negative effects on the overall scoring.
  • If all the options score poorly (below 70%), then something has to change before an acceptable decision can be made. In such a case, your current options do not adequately meet your standards, which means that you need better options or that your expectations are not realistic.
  • If you get a best choice that really surprises you or doesn’t feel right, consider re-scoring your qualities and ratings. Perhaps you didn’t really list what was important to you, or give it the right weight. This process helps you quantify and understand your feelings regarding your options.


  • This method can be addictive, and you may find yourself applying it to potential marriage partners, so be careful when emotion is involved. Emotions can "rationalize" any quality to represent our desired choices in the best "light", so be sure to judge objectively.
  • This approach is deceptively simple. It assumes that your criteria are independent of each other and can be quantified easily (or at all). Unfortunately, many things in life are qualitative, not quantitative, and are far more complex than this, so trust your heart and don't fall prey to oversimplification.

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Sources and Citations