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.

Inference

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.

Recognizing Assumptions

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.

Deduction

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.

Interpretation

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.


Watson Glaser

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 Assumptions

Wife 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. 

Answer explanation: 

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 Information

Several 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 – Inferences 

Following 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.

A. True

B. Probably true

C. Insufficent data

D. False

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:

Lawyers Police Officers Supervisors
Dispatchers Firefighters Administrators
Corrections Officer Court Officer Probation Officer

Prepare for Critical Thinking and Critical Reasoning Assessments

The Critical Thinking PrepPack™ is designed to provide you with an inclusive critical thinking preparation experience, as our test questions, study guides, and score reports are all aimed at improving your skills. Start preparing today and ensure your success.


JobTestPrep is not affiliated with any specific test provider. Therefore, while our materials are extremely helpful and styled similarly to most critical thinking tests, they are not an exact match.