- Protecting you from the man everyday!
How to win contests | Search | Get paid for opinions | Get a job | Odd things | Money | Be a webmaster | Online dating | Travel
HOME > Contests > Articles on winning contests! > Order of Importance

Order of Importance

By Lynne Suzanne

Order of merit, or order of importance competitions, as they are sometimes known, are those competitions where you are asked to list specified features or qualities of a product or service in what you believe is the order of importance, for example:

Place the following six features in order of importance for a new car:

A             Style

B             Safety

C             Colour

D             Fuel economy

E             Luggage space

F             Performance

Should the order of importance you decide upon match the order chosen by the judges, you could find yourself an outright winner or pass through to the tiebreaker judging stage.

The chances of selecting the same order of importance with six features, as the example above, is 720-1.  Then means you would have to make 720 entries giving every possible permutation to ensure that one of these matched the judges’ choice.
Given these odds, your entry would have to be ‘very lucky’ to win. 

An easy way to discover your odds is to use your calculator.  Take the number of features, for instance, six and multiply as shown below:

6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 720

For a contest where you’re asked to place seven features in order of importance you would need 5,040 entries.

7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 =  5040

Can you hazard a guess as to how many different permutations of features you’d need to make for competitions with ten features.  Ten thousand? A hundred thousand?  A million?    Calculator at the ready. Here we go:

10 x 9 x 8 x 7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 =  3,628,800

Yes, you’d have to make over three and a half million entries covering every possible permutation of the ten features to ensure that one of them matched the judges’ choice.

So what can you do when you enter these contests?

1.  Pick features at random with a pin and hope for the best

2.  Pick those features you like best and make a random choice entry

3.  Try the scoring system

The scoring system is when you select each feature in turn and compare it with another. You then score one point for the feature you feel is more important of the two. for instance: 

A             Style

B             Safety

C             Colour

D             Fuel economy

E             Luggage space

F             Performance

Start by writing down the letters of the features, one against the other, like this:

 AB     AC     AD     AE     AF

BC     BD     BE     BF

CD     CE     CF

DE     DF


Then compare one against the other, in turn.   Do you think A. Style is more important than B. Safety?  If you think No, then score one point for B.   

Move on to the next letters. Do you think A. Style is more important than C. Colour?  If you think it is, then score one point for A.

Continue in this way until you’ve covered all the features. Then tot up your scores. Now place the highest scoring feature in first place, with the lowest scoring feature in last place.

Whilst this method is not a guarantee of success, it sure beats the random “pick a feature with a pin”.   So when you next enter an order of preference contest or are asked to pick numbers to match the judges’ selection, you’ll know just what to do, won’t you?

Oouch! That’s where I left that pin!

Copyright 2002  Lynne Suzanne

About the author
Lynne Suzanne is a freelance writer, consultant and speaker. She has written four books on winning prize competitions and slogan writing and presents Win With Lynne Roadshows and marketing seminars. FREE Win With Lynne Expert Guide to Winning competition prizes 2005. All Rights Reserved.