Everything You Need to Know

Critical thinking tests assess your skills in examining and evaluating reasoning. Such reasoning can be on any subject and can use both verbal and numerical material. The skills of critical thinking include being able to analyze the sequence of claims in reasoning, to assess the strength of reasoning, to interpret meaning, to find implicit claims in reasoning, and to evaluate the possible significance of claims (including evidence).

These tests can be used for selection for higher education courses, and in the employment world as a pre-employment screening tool and as a personnel development tool.


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Critical Thinking Questions Types

The sections below review the most common types of questions included in critical thinking tests and provide examples of question scenarios, answers, and solutions. Additional critical thinking sample questions for you to practice can be found on the free practice tab.

Judging Inferences

In this category, you are given a short passage containing evidence, and some inferences drawn from it. Your task is to judge degrees of truth or falsehood in relation to given inferences that have been drawn from the passage. The degrees range from “true” at one end to “false” at the other, with “probably true” and “probably false” within the range. In addition, there is a possible response of “insufficient data” which fits when none of the other judgments can be made. Though there are five possible options, since the same passage will be used for only two or three questions, not all of them will apply to the inferences that are given.

A worldwide study shows that there are behavioral shifts among consumers. 41% said that they are “increasingly looking for ways to save money.” Consumers are largely brand-loyal but shop around for the best prices. Only 12% of consumers have traded-down to buy cheaper brands (such as bottled water), with 11% trading up (with products such as cosmetics). There has been a big shift towards online shopping. 

Proposed inference:

Not all consumer behavior is concerned with saving money.

  1. True
  2. Probably true
  3. Insufficient data
  4. Probably false
  5. False
Answer:

Recognizing Assumptions

In this type of question, you are looking for what is taken-for-granted or assumed in an argument or in a statement of a position. In other words, though something has not been explicitly stated in an argument or in a position, it is necessary for its author to believe or accept it.

The main justification for taxation is to raise money to increase public welfare rather than to limit the choices available for private spending.

Proposed assumption: 

Choices made by private spending will not maximize public welfare. 

  1. Assumption made
  2. Assumption not made
Answer:

Deduction

In these questions, you are asked to consider if a given conclusion necessarily follows from given statements. By this, we mean that, if the given statements are true (and, for these questions, we always need to take it that they are), then does a given conclusion have to follow? In other words, we are not dealing with conclusions that, at best, probably follow, but those which, given the logic of the argument, must follow.

Some economic predictions are accurate for the short-term. All economic predictions that are accurate for the short-term are inaccurate for the long-term. Therefore…

Proposed conclusion:

No economic predictions are accurate for the long-term. 

  1. Conclusion follows
  2. Conclusion does not follow
Answer:

Interpretation of Information

In these questions, you need to use the standard of “beyond reasonable doubt” in order to judge whether a given conclusion follows from the information that is given. (As with deduction, we need to take it that the information is true.) The criterion of “beyond reasonable doubt” is a strong one but it is weaker than the one used in deduction, which is that the conclusion necessarily follows, given the logical structure of the statements.

Economic forecasters tend to perform well with three to four-month predictions, but become much less successful beyond this timescale, especially with 22 months or more. The biggest errors occur ahead of economic contractions. This is because, though economies normally have steady but slow growth, when they contract, they do so sharply.

Proposed conclusion:

Short-term forecasts (up to four months) of an economy’s performance are normally accurate except when the economy contracts. 

  1. Conclusion follows
  2. Conclusion does not follow
Answer:

Evaluation of Arguments

In these questions, you need to judge the strength or weakness of given arguments. You are given a question in the form of “Should x be the case?” and then an argument in the form of “Yes, because y” or “No, because y.” The relationship between x and y  is then to be judged by evaluating whether the reason given provides weak or strong support.

Should tax evasion and theft be seen as equivalent crimes?

Argument:

No; most people who commit tax evasion wouldn’t also commit theft. 

  1. The Argument is strong
  2. The Argument is weak
Answer:

Examining Definitions

In these questions, you are asked to use some information in what is given in a short dialogue in order to clarify how one of the two participants in the dialogue is using a term. There can be a dispute between the participants as to the meaning of the term.

 “Are you happy with your investment in ABC Holdings?” asked Frank.

“Very much so – it has been a good investment,” said Mary. “I invested in them five years ago and they have given a good return over a period when other investments have achieved much less.”

Of the following, which is the best way to state Mary’s notion of a good investment?

  1. A good investment is one that produces a higher than predicted return over a given period.
  2. A good investment is one that produces a higher return than other investments.
  3. A good investment is one that produces a high return over a period when other investments have not done so.
Answer:

Judging Credibility

In questions on credibility, you are asked to judge between the believability of claims that are made about a given scenario. The scenario will be described in such a way that claims about it can be judged against relevant credibility criteria such as expertise, ability to perceive, motive, and reputation. In other words, you are asked to make a credibility judgment between statements, including identifying the possibility that neither statement is more or less believable than the other.

A research study on the language abilities of parrots has been running for a year. The head of the study, Dr. Polly Atkinson, has extensive experience in working on animal communication. She has recently published the first report on the research.

In the following question, two statements are given: (1) and (2). These statements are underlined and the source of them is given. You need to decide which of the two is the more believable but, if you think that neither one is more believable, then mark (3) as your answer.

(1) Parrots were able to use the majority of the words that they were taught (from “Parrots can talk better than young children” in an article based on the report by Dr. Atkins in “Modern Parenting,” a popular magazine). 

(2) The parrots could mimic a large proportion (83.8%) of the words that they were given over a period of 100 days (from an article by Dr. Atkins in the journal “Animal learning and behavior”).

(3) Neither statement is more believable.

Answer:

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Critical Thinking Tests for Employment

The results of critical thinking tests reflect on how a job prospect decision making and problem-solving skills and were found to be a good predictor of work performance. Poor critical thinking skills may be costly for any business in terms of higher expenses, loss of revenue, and lower productivity. High scores suggest that the candidate is likely to discover crucial information and problems, evaluate the variables and risks properly, and develop quick and adequate solutions for the benefit of the organization. 

Common Critical Thinking Tests

The following are the most used critical thinking assessments. These are mainly used in the employment field but are also utilized as a personal appraisal of critical thinking skills of candidates in various academic programs as an educational placement tool.

  • Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA) – Developed and published by Pearson, this is hands-down the most widely-used critical thinking assessment test. Watson-Glaser’s 40 questions focus on five critical thinking skills – inference, assumptions, deduction, interpretation, and evaluation. It is usually completed in up to 35 minutes.
  • California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) – This test by Insight Assessment is common mostly in the US. Its common version is comprised of 34 questions to be completed in 45-50 minutes. The CCTST evaluates overall reasoning skills, analysis, interpretation, evaluation, explanation, inference, deduction, and induction.
  • Cornell Critical Thinking Test (CCTT) – The CCTT Level Z is the advance level of the test, which is mostly used to predict applicants’ performance in college, and in employment selection. It consists of 52 items to be completed in 50 minutes and assesses induction, deduction, credibility, identification of assumptions, definition, and prediction in planning.

Disclaimer – All the information and prep materials on iPrep are genuine and were created for tutoring purposes. iPrep is not affiliated with publishers of Critical Thinking tests.

Get to know the most common types of questions in Critical Thinking Assessment Tests. Practice with these sample questions: