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
  • Recognising 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.

Recognising Assumptions

In this section, you are asked to recognise 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 is a well-established psychometric test produced by Pearson Assessments. The Watson Glaser test 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 – Argument Analysis

In a recent study, anthropologists surveyed 250 adults who own pets and 250 adults who do not own pets on their interpersonal capacities. The questions asked of both those who own pets and those who do not own pets included tests for 'computational requirements', that is, tuning in to all the little signals necessary to operate as a couple. While members of each group displayed outstanding interpersonal capacities, in general, the adults who own pets were much more empathetic than those who do not own pets. This indicates that people who are especially empathetic are more likely to adopt a pet in spite of the personal sacrifice and the occasional inconvenience than people who are less empathetic.

A. Most of the people surveyed, whether they own pets or do not own pets, displayed outstanding interpersonal capacities.

B. The adoption of a pet involves personal sacrifice and occasional inconvenience.

C. People with high degrees of empathy are more likely to adopt pets than people with low degrees of empathy.

D. Interpersonal capacities entail tuning in to all the little signals necessary to operate as a couple.

E. A person's degree of empathy is highly correlated with his or her capacity for personal sacrifice.

The correct answer is (C), People with high degrees of empathy are more likely to adopt pets than people with low degrees of empathy.

Answer explanation: In a question of this type, the rule is very simple: the main conclusion of an argument is found either in the first or the last sentence. If, however, the main conclusion appears in the middle of an argument, it will begin with a signal word such as thus, therefore, or so. Regardless of where the main conclusion appears, the rest of the passage will give the reasons why the conclusion is true or should be adopted. The main conclusion in this passage is the last sentence, signaled by the words, 'This indicates that people who are especially empathetic are more likely to adopt a pet…than people who are less empathetic'.

Example 2 – Argument Practice

Would differential cash bonuses for high productivity be beneficial to the workplace?

Proposed assumption: No. Differential bonuses have been found to create a hostile working environment, which leads to a decrease in the quality and quantity of products.

A. Strong

B. Weak

The correct answer is (A), Strong. 

Answer explanation: 

Schema of statement: Differential cash bonuses (productivity↑)→ workplace↑

Explanation: This argument targets both the action and the consequences of the action on the object of the statement. It states that the action (implementing differential cash bonuses) has a negative effect on the workplace (a decrease in quality and quantity of products). Therefore, it is an important argument, one that is relevant for the workplace. Note that this argument does not specifically target differential cash bonuses. Still, they are considered a sub-group of the subject of the argument (differential bonuses).

Example 3 – Interpretations 

Everyone who has been diagnosed with sleep apnoea has encountered a personal battle owing to the disease. For example, Vicki suffered from depression and lost her job, while Bill felt a strain on his marriage.

Proposed assumption: Vicki and Bill encountered a personal battle because they couldn’t come to terms with their disease.

A. Conclusion follows

B. Conclusion does not follow

The correct answer is (B), Conclusion does not follow.

Answer explanation: It is plausible that the reason people who suffer from sleep apnoea encounter a personal battle is because of an inability to come to terms with this disease. However, since the passage does not provide an actual reason, you cannot reach this conclusion without reasonable doubt.


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 Managers
Engineers Firefighters Accountants

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 Watson Glaser or 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.