Single standard to determine multi-components (SSDMC) method has been accepted as an efficient technique for the quality control of Traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs), especially for overcoming the shortage of reference standards. HPLC-UV methods have been applied to establish SSDMC method for quantitative analysis in several plant medicines and Chinese patent medicines, however, no LC–MS methods have been used. The purpose of this study is to put forward an improved strategy for the choice of single marker in SSDMC using rapid resolution liquid chromatography coupled with triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrometry (RRLC-QqQ-MS). Five different Panax genus plants, recorded in the Chinese Pharmacopeia 2015 edition, were used as research subjects. An improved SSDMC strategy for simultaneous characterization and determination of 18 bioactive saponins in five Panax plants was put forward, and which was validated to be more superior. Then, it was fully investigated with respect to linearity, LODs, LOQs, precision and accuracy. Coupling with multivariate statistical analysis, the established and validated SSDMC strategy could be successively used in discrimination of the five Panax genus plants.