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critical thinking tests

Critical Thinking Tests

  • 19 tests
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Critical Thinking Tests

Critical thinking tests, sometimes known as critical reasoning tests, are often used by employers. They evaluate how a candidate makes logical deductions after scrutinising the evidence provided, while avoiding fallacies or non-factual opinions. Critical thinking tests can form part of an assessment day, or be used as a screening test before an interview.

What is a critical thinking test?

A critical thinking test assesses your ability to use a range of logical skills to evaluate given information and make a judgement. The test is presented in such a way that candidates are expected to quickly scrutinise the evidence presented and decide on the strength of the arguments.

Critical thinking tests show potential employers that you do not just accept data and can avoid subconscious bias and opinions – instead, you can find logical connections between ideas and find alternative interpretations.

This test is usually timed, so quick, clear, logical thinking will help candidates get the best marks. Critical thinking tests are designed to be challenging, and often used as part of the application process for upper-management-level roles.

What does critical thinking mean?

Critical thinking is the intellectual skill set that ensures you can process and consider information, challenge and analyse data, and then reach a conclusion that can be defended and justified.

In the most simple terms, critical thinking skills will make sure that you are not simply accepting information on face value with little or no supporting evidence.

It also means that you are less likely to be swayed by ‘false news’ or opinions that cannot be backed with facts – which is important in high-level jobs that require logical thinking.

For more information about logical thinking, please see our article all about logical reasoning.

Which professions use critical thinking tests, and why?

Typically, critical thinking tests are taken as part of the application process for jobs that require advanced skills in judgement, analysis and decision making. The higher the position, the more likely that you will need to demonstrate reliable critical reasoning and good logic.

The legal sector is the main industry that uses critical thinking assessments – making decisions based on facts, without opinion and intuition, is vital in legal matters.

A candidate for a legal role needs to demonstrate their intellectual skills in problem-solving without pre-existing knowledge or subconscious bias – and the critical thinking test is a simple and effective way to screen candidates.

Another industry that uses critical thinking tests as part of the recruitment process is banking. In a similar way to the legal sector, those that work in banking are required to make decisions without allowing emotion, intuition or opinion to cloud coherent analysis and conclusions.

Critical thinking tests also sometimes comprise part of the recruitment assessment for graduate and management positions across numerous industries.

The format of the test: which skills are tested?

The test itself, no matter the publisher, is multiple choice.

As a rule, the questions present a paragraph of information for a scenario that may include numerical data. There will then be a statement and a number of possible answers.

The critical thinking test is timed, so decisions need to be made quickly and accurately; in most tests there is a little less than a minute for each question. Having experience of the test structure and what each question is looking for will make the experience smoother for you.

There are typically five separate sections in a critical thinking test, and each section may have multiple questions.

Inference

Inference questions assess your ability to judge whether a statement is true, false, or impossible to determine based on the given data and scenario. You usually have five possible answers: absolutely true, absolutely false, possibly true, possibly false, or not possible to determine.

Assumptions

In this section, you are being assessed on your ability to avoid taking things for granted. Each question gives a scenario including data, and you need to evaluate whether there are any assumptions present.

Deduction

Here you are given a scenario and a number of deductions that may be applicable. You need to assess the given deductions to see which is the logical conclusion – does it follow?

Interpretation

In the interpretation stage, you need to read and analyse a paragraph of information, then interpret a set of possible conclusions, to see which one is correct. You are looking for the conclusion that follows beyond reasonable doubt.

Evaluation of Arguments

In this section, you are given a scenario and a set of arguments that can be for or against. You need to determine which are strong arguments and which are weak, in terms of the information that you have. This decision is made based on the way they address the scenario and how relevant they are to the content.

How best to prepare for a critical thinking test

The best way to prepare for any type of aptitude test is to practice, and critical thinking tests are no different.

Taking practice tests, as mentioned above, will give you confidence as it makes you better understand the structure, layout and timing of the real tests, so you can concentrate on the actual scenarios and questions.

Practice tests should be timed. This will help you get used to working through the scenarios and assessing the conclusions under time constraints – which is a good way to make sure that you perform quickly as well as accurately.

In some practice tests, a timer will be built in, but you might need to time yourself.

Regular practice will also help you to identify if there are any sections of the critical thinking test that you need to work on. Most tests will provide an explanation to each answer, as in the examples above.

Publishers of critical thinking tests

The Watson Glaser critical thinking test

The Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (W-GCTA) is the most popular and widely used critical thinking test. This test has been in development for 85 years and is published by TalentLens.

The W-GCTA is seen as a successful tool for assessing cognitive abilities, allowing recruiting managers to predict job success, find good managers and identify future leaders. It is available in multiple languages including English, French and Spanish.

The test itself can be used as part of an assessment day or as a screening assessment before an interview. It consists of 40 questions on the 5 sections mentioned above, and is timed at 30 minutes. Click here for more information on Watson Glaser tests.

SHL critical reasoning test

SHL is a major aptitude test publisher, which offers critical thinking as part of its testing battery for pre-employment checks.

SHL tests cover all kinds of behavioural and aptitude tests, from logic to inference, verbal to numerical – and with a number of test batteries available online, they are one of the most popular choices for recruiters.

Cornell critical thinking test

The Cornell critical thinking test was made to test students and first developed in 1985. It is an American system that helps teachers, parents and administrators to confidently predict future performance for college admission, gifted and advanced placement programs, and even career success.

Prepare yourself for leading employers

5 Example critical thinking practice questions with answers

Inference

In this section, you need to deduce whether the inferred statement is true, false or impossible to deduce.

Statement

The UK Government has published data that shows 82% of people under the age of 30 are not homeowners. A charity that helps homeless people has published data that shows 48% of people that are considered homeless are under 30.

Inference

The lack of affordable housing on the sales market is the reason so many under-30s are homeless.

  1. Definitely True
  2. Probably True
  3. Impossible to Deduce
  4. Probably False
  5. Definitely False

Answer

The information given does not infer the conclusion given, so it is impossible to deduce if the inference is correct – there is just not enough information to judge the inference as correct.

Assumptions

Statement

The removal of the five-substitution rule in British football will benefit clubs with a smaller roster.

Assumption

Clubs with more money would prefer the five-substitute rule to continue.

  1. Assumption Made
  2. Assumption Not Made

Answer

Assumption Not Made

This is an example of a fallacy that could cause confusion for a candidate – it encourages you to bring in any pre-existing knowledge of football clubs.

It would be easy to assume the assumption has been made when you consider that the more money a club has, the more players they should have on the roster. However, the statement does not make the assumption that the clubs with more money would prefer to continue with the five-substitute rule.

critical thinking tests

Deduction

Statement

All boys love football. Football is a sport, therefore:

  1. All boys love all sports
  2. Girls do not love football
  3. Boys are more likely to choose to play football than any other sport

Answer

In this section we are looking for the conclusion that follows the logic of the statement. In this example, we cannot deduce that girls do not love football, because there is not enough information to support that.

In the same way the conclusion that all boys love all sports does not follow – we are not given enough information to make that assumption. So, the conclusion that follows is 3: boys are more likely to choose football than any other sport because all boys like football.

Interpretation

Statement

The British Museum has a range of artefacts on display, including the largest privately owned collection of WWII weaponry.

Conclusion

There is a larger privately owned collection of WWII weaponry in the USA.

  1. Conclusion Follows
  2. Conclusion Does Not Follow

Answer

Conclusion Does Not Follow

The fact that the collection is in the British Museum does not make a difference to the fact it is the largest private collection – so there cannot be a larger collection elsewhere.

Evaluation of Arguments

Statement

The Department for Education should lower standards in examinations to make it fairer for less able students.

  1. Yes – top grades are too hard for lower-income students
  2. No – less fortunate students are not capable of higher standards
  3. Yes – making the standards lower will benefit all students
  4. No – private school students will suffer if grade standards are lower

Answer

  1. The strongest argument is the right answer, not the one that you might personally believe.

In this case, we need to assess which argument is most relevant to the statement. Both 1 and 4 refer to students in particular situations, which isn’t relevant to the statement. The same can be said about 2, so the strongest argument is 3, since it is relevant and addresses the statement given.

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What are the basics of critical thinking?

In essence, critical thinking is the intellectual process of considering information on its merits, and reaching an analysis or conclusion from that information that can be defended and rationalised with evidence.

How do you know if you have good critical thinking skills?

You are likely to be someone with good critical thinking skills if you can build winning arguments; pick holes in someone’s theory if it’s inconsistent with known facts; reflect on the biases inherent in your own experiences and assumptions; and look at problems using a systematic methodology.

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Critical Thinking Tests Tips

1Practice

The most important factor in your success will be practice. If you have taken some practice tests, not only will you start to recognise the way questions are worded and become familiar with what each question is looking for, you will also be able to find out whether there are any parts that you need extra practice with.

It is important to find out which test you will be taking, as some generic critical thinking practice tests might not help if you are taking specific publisher tests (see the section below).

2Fact vs fallacy

Practice questions can also help you recognise the difference between fact and fallacy in the test. A fallacy is simply an error or something misleading in the scenario paragraph that encourages you to choose an invalid argument. This might be a presumption or a misconception, but if it isn’t spotted it can make finding the right answer impossible.

3Ignore what you already know

There is no need for pre-existing knowledge to be brought into the test, so no research is needed. In fact, it is important that you ignore any subconscious bias when you are considering the questions – you need logic and facts to get the correct answer, not intuition or instinct.

4Read everything carefully

Read all the given information thoroughly. This might sound straightforward, but knowing that the test is timed can encourage candidates to skip content and risk misunderstanding the content or miss crucial details.

During the test itself, you will receive instructions that will help you to understand what is being asked of you on each section. There is likely to be an example question and answer, so ensure you take the time to read them fully.

5Stay aware of the time you've taken

This test is usually timed, so don’t spend too long on a question. If you feel it is going to take too much time, leave it and come back to it at the end (if you have time). Critical thinking tests are complex by design, so they do have quite generous time limits.

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