What Is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking, also known as critical reasoning, is the ability to assess a situation and to consider and understand various perspectives, all while acknowledging, extracting, and deciphering facts, opinions, and assumptions.
Why Is the Critical Thinking Test Important to Employers?
Critical thinking, or critical reasoning, is important to employers because they want to see that when dealing with an issue, you are able to make logical decisions without involving emotions. Being able to look past emotions will help you to be open-minded, confident, and decisive—making your decisions more logical and sound.
When Is Critical Thinking Used?
Critical thinking is used in several stages of the problem-solving and decision-making process:
- Defining the problem
- Selecting the relevant information to solve the problem
- Recognizing the assumptions that are both written and implied in the text
- Creating hypotheses and selecting the most relevant and credible solutions
- Reaching valid conclusions and judging the validity of inferences
Critical Thinking Skills Tests
Critical thinking tests can have several sections or subtests that assess and measure a variety of aspects.
In this section, you are asked to draw conclusions from observed or supposed facts. You are presented with a short text containing a set of facts you should consider as true. Below the text is a statement that could be inferred from the text. You need to make a judgement on whether this statement is valid or not, based on what you have read. Furthermore, you are asked to evaluate whether the statement is true, probably true, there is insufficient data to determine, probably false, or false. For example, if a baby is crying and it is his feeding time, you may infer that the baby is hungry. However, the baby may be crying for other reasons—perhaps it is hot.
In this section, you are asked to recognize whether an assumption is justifiable or not. Here you are given a statement followed by an assumption on that statement. You need to establish whether this assumption can be supported by the statement or not. You are being tested on your ability to avoid taking things for granted that are not necessarily true. For example, you may say, "I’ll have the same job in three months," but you would be taking for granted the fact that your workplace won't make you redundant, or that that you won’t decide to quit and explore various other possibilities. You are asked to choose between the options of assumption made and assumption not made.
This section tests your ability to weigh information and decide whether given conclusions are warranted. You are presented with a statement of facts followed by a conclusion on what you have read. For example, you may be told, "Nobody in authority can avoid making uncomfortable decisions." You must then decide whether a statement such as "All people must make uncomfortable decisions" is warranted from the first statement. You need to assess whether the conclusion follows or the conclusion does not follow what is contained in the statement.
This section measures your ability to understand the weighing of different arguments on a particular question or issue. You are given a short paragraph to read, which you are expected to take as true. This paragraph is followed by a suggested conclusion, for which you must decide if it follows beyond a reasonable doubt. You have the choice of conclusion follows and conclusion does not follow.
Evaluation of Arguments
In this section you are asked to evaluate the strength of an argument. You are given a question followed by an argument. The argument is considered to be true, but you must decide whether it is a strong or weak argument, i.e. whether it is both important and directly related to the question.
Another popular critical thinking assessment, Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA) is a well-established psychometric test produced by Pearson Assessments. The Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal is used for two main purposes: job selection/talent management and academic evaluations. The Watson Glaser test can be administered online or in-person.
Critical Thinking Examples
As there are various forms of critical thinking, we've provided a number of critical thinking sample questions.
Example 1 – Underlying AssumptionsWife to Husband: Our joint income is lower than it could be. But soon I will begin to work an additional part-time job and I will earn extra income.
Proposed Assumption: Asking for a raise at her current place of work is not the best way to increase the wife's income.
A. Assumption made
B. Assumption not made
The correct answer is (B), Assumption not made.
The conclusion of the wife's statement: Soon we will increase our joint income.
The evidence supporting this conclusion: I will begin to work an additional part-time job.
The underlying assumption/s that must be true for the conclusion to be true: A part-time job will provide me with extra money.
The proposed assumption: "Asking for a raise at her current place of work is not the best way to increase the wife's income" is not necessary for the conclusion to be true.
Example 2 – Interpreting InformationSeveral years ago, Harold and his wife adopted a two-year-old orphan named Betty. Today, Betty is an undergraduate student, living far away from home. Harold feels unhappy and misses Betty tremendously. He would like her to come home more often.
Proposed Assumption: Harold’s wife doesn’t feel unhappy.
A. Conclusion follows
B. Conclusion does not follow
The correct answer is (B), Conclusion does not follow.
Answer explanation: Harold’s wife is not mentioned in the passage, and, therefore, you cannot presume any information regarding her feelings.
Example 3 – InferencesFollowing a reduction in the number of applicants, the college has been asking students to evaluate faculty teaching performance for the last two years. The college's management announced that the purpose of these evaluations is to give information to faculty about teachers' strengths and weaknesses, and to allow those who make decisions about pay raises and promotions to reward the better teachers. Last week, Professor Burke, a recently retired senior lecturer at the college, wrote a letter in which he objected to these evaluations, claiming they compromise academic standards.
Proposed Assumption: There is more to the management's announced intentions than those mentioned by them in the passage.
B. Probably true
C. Insufficent data
E. Probably false
The correct answer is (B), Probably true.
Answer explanation: The text begins by introducing the management's announcement as a reaction to a negative trend—reduction in the number of student applications. While the announcement explicitly addresses both the college's staff and its students, it is likely that the issue at hand is not only a wish to achieve academic excellence but, in fact, a means to resolve the issue of reduced applications and college reputation, which has implications on the college's future. Therefore, the correct answer is probably true.
Professions That Use Critical Thinking Tests
Below are some professions that use critical thinking tests and assessments during the hiring process as well as some positions that demand critical thinking and reasoning skills:
Prepare for Critical Thinking and Critical Reasoning Assessments
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About Critical Thinking Tests
Critical thinking tests measure an individual’s ability to make analyse, conceptualise and reason effectively. Critical thinking tests can measure critical thinking in a number of ways, and critical thinking tests often comprise multiple different sub-tests within a single test. Critical thinking tests are common selection tool for roles which require significant critical, independent thought, particularly in the legal sector. Although critical thinking tests primarily measure cognitive ability, there is often a learned, developable aspect to critical thinking, which allows individuals to improve their critical thinking skills, and subsequent scores on critical thinking tests. Candidates taking critical thinking tests may also be required to complete other assessments, which may include personality, situational judgement or other aptitude tests.
Psychological research has found critical thinking tests to be highly valid predictors of future performance in work and education. As a result, job candidates may be asked to complete a critical thinking test as part of an organisations selection process. Organisations are likely to use a critical thinking test in a number of possible ways. Firstly, a critical thinking test may be used as an early screening tool, identifying high potential candidates early in the selection process. Secondly, a critical thinking test may be used in conjunction with an interview, either before the interview or shortly after. Finally, candidates may be required to complete a critical thinking test during an assessment centre, at the final stages of the selection process. Regardless of when the critical thinking test is administered, passing it is essential to maximising your chances of being selected by that organisation.