Critical Thinking Tests (2023 Guide)
Updated November 18, 2023
- What Is Critical Thinking?
- Who Uses Critical Thinking Tests and Why?
- Critical Thinking Tests Explained
- Most Common Critical Thinking Tests in 2023
- How to Prepare for a Critical Thinking Test in 2023
- Key Tips for Critical Thinking Test Success
- Final Thoughts
Critical thinking is the ability to scrutinize evidence using intellectual skills. Reflective skills are employed to reach clear, coherent and logical conclusions – rather than just accepting information as it is provided.
Critical thinking tests measure the candidate’s understanding of logical connections between ideas, the strength of an argument, alternate interpretations and the significance of a particular claim.
A major facet of critical thinking is the ability to separate facts from opinions and work against any subconscious bias.
In critical thinking tests, employers are looking for people who can think critically about information, showing they are open-minded, good problem-solvers and excellent decision-makers.
Critical thinking tests assess how well a candidate can analyze and reason when presented with specific information.
They are used as part of the application process in several industries, most commonly for professions where employees would need to use advanced judgment and analysis skills in decision-making.
Academic applications – In some instances, critical thinking tests are used to assess whether prospective students have the skills required to be successful in higher education.
Law – Critical thinking assessments are often used in the legal sector as part of the application process. In many law positions, facts are more important than opinion, subconscious bias or pre-existing ideas so an applicant needs to be skilled in critical thinking.
Finance – In financial institutions, decisions often need to be made based on facts rather than emotion or opinion. Judgments made in banking need to be skilled decisions based on logic and the strength of data and information – so to be successful, candidates need to demonstrate that they will not accept arguments and conclusions at face value.
Graduate roles – In some sectors, critical thinking tests are used in graduate recruitment because they are considered to be predictors of ability.
With several different tests available, suited to different industries, many top-level jobs are likely to include critical thinking assessments as part of the application process.
Critical thinking tests are usually presented in a similar format no matter who the publisher is. A paragraph of information and data is given, with a statement that is under scrutiny.
Multiple-choice answers are presented for each statement, and there may be more than one question about the same paragraph.
While each question is presented in the same way, different aspects of critical thinking are assessed throughout the test.
For this type of question, there may be something ‘taken for granted’ in the information provided – and it might not be explicitly stated.
The candidate needs to evaluate the scenario and conclude whether any assumptions are present. The statement below the scenario may or may not support the statement and the answer selection will be about whether the stated assumption is made or not made in the scenario.
The mainstream media presents information that is supported by the political party in power.
Assumption: The information that the mainstream media presents is always correct.
a) Assumption made
b) Assumption not made
Following a paragraph of information containing evidence, you will be presented with an inference and need to assess whether the inference is absolutely true, possibly true, possibly false, absolutely false, or it is not possible to reach a decision.
An inference is a conclusion that can be reached based on logical reasoning from the information. Although all the evidence to support (or not support) the inference is included in the passage, it will not be obvious or explicitly stated, which makes the inference harder to conclude.
It has been snowing all night and there is thick snow on the ground. Today’s weather is sunny and bright.
Inference: The snow will melt today.
a) Possibly true
b) Absolutely true
c) Possibly false
d) Absolutely false
e) Not possible to reach a decision
For this type of question, the information presented will be a set of factual statements and the candidate will need to decide if the deduction applies or does not apply.
This logical thinking is a top-down exercise where all the information is provided and needs to be read in the order it is presented.
If statement A = B, does B = C? There should be no grey areas – it either does or does not follow.
All plants have leaves.
All leaves are green.
Proposed deduction: All plants are green.
a) Deduction follows
b) Deduction does not follow
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Presented with information, the candidate needs to assess whether a given conclusion is correct based on the evidence provided.
For the purposes of the test, we need to believe that all the information provided in the paragraph is true, even if we have opinions about the correctness of the statement.
When cooking a meal, one of the most important things to get right is the balance between major food groups. Satisfaction from a good meal comes from getting the most nutrition and can therefore be attributed to a wide variety of flavors, including vegetables, a good source of protein and carbohydrates. A balanced diet is about more than just everything in moderation and should be considered a scientific process with measuring of ingredients and efficient cooking methods.
Proposed conclusion: The best meals are those that are scientifically prepared.
a) Conclusion follows
b) Conclusion does not follow
In this analysis section, the candidate is presented with a scenario and an argument that might be in favor of the scenario or against it.
The candidate needs to evaluate whether the argument itself is weak or strong. This needs to be based on the relevance to the scenario and whether it accurately addresses the question.
Should all drugs be made legal?
Proposed argument: No, all drugs are dangerous to everyone.
a) Argument is strong
b) Argument is weak
Watson Glaser is the most commonly used test publisher for critical thinking assessments and is used by many industries.
When sitting a Watson Glaser test, your results will be compared against a sample group of over 1,500 test-takers who are considered representative of graduate-level candidates.
The test is usually 40 questions long, with 30 minutes to answer, but there is a longer version that asks 80 questions with a time limit of an hour.
The Watson Glaser Test is used in a wide variety of industries for different roles, especially in the legal and banking sectors. Some employers that use the Watson Glaser Test are:
- Bank of England
- Irwin Mitchell
- Simmons & Simmons
The Watson Glaser Test is based on something called the ‘RED model’. The questions in the test are based on:
- Recognizing assumptions
- Evaluating arguments
- Drawing conclusions
The science behind the Watson Glaser Test shows that candidates who show strong critical thinking skills in these areas are more likely to perform well in roles where logical decisions and judgments have to be made.
Watson Glaser Tests have a specific layout and format. If you are going to be completing one of the assessments as part of your application, it’s best to practice questions that match the test format.
You can find Watson Glaser practice tests at JobTestPrep as well as a prep pack to give you all the tips, tricks and information you need to make the most of your practice time.
The SHL Critical Reasoning Battery Test includes questions based on numerical, verbal and inductive reasoning. This test is usually used for managerial and supervisory roles, and can include mechanical comprehension if needed for the job role (usually in engineering or mechanical roles).
You can find out more on JobTestPrep’s SHL Critical Reasoning Battery pages.
The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is an online adaptive test – using sophisticated algorithms to adjust the difficulty of the questions according to the answers already provided.
Questions include integrated, quantitative and verbal reasoning as well as an analytical writing assessment. The GMAT is widely used to predict performance in business or management programs in more than 1,700 universities and organizations.
How to Prepare for a Critical Thinking Test in 2023
Preparation is key to success in any pre-employment assessment. While some people think critical reasoning is not a skill you can practice, there are some steps you can take to perform at your best.
Critical thinking tests are straightforward but not necessarily easy.
If you can determine who the publisher is for the test you will take, it may be worthwhile investing in a prep pack from that particular publisher.
JobTestPrep offers prep packs for many major test publishers. These packs include realistic practice tests as well as study guides, tips and tricks to help you build your own question-solving strategies.
Even if you decide not to purchase a prep pack, taking practice tests will help you focus on the areas where you need to improve to be successful.
It is important to find out the publisher of the test you will take because not all critical thinking tests are at the same level and they may not follow the same structure. Timings, answering methodologies and the number of questions will vary between publishers.
You can usually find out the test publisher before you take the assessment by asking the recruiter or searching online.
Critical thinking tests are timed. To give yourself the best chance of achieving a high score, you need to answer the questions quickly and efficiently.
Practicing under test conditions – including the time limit – will help you to understand how much time you need to spend on each question and will help you to develop efficient time management skills for the assessment.
Practicing under test conditions will also help you focus so you can make the most of the session.
Abstract reasoning is a form of critical thinking that uses logic to form a conclusion. Some abstract reasoning tests are presented as word problems.
Practicing these is a good way to flex critical thinking muscles. You can find practice questions on the Psychometric Success website.
Reading widely, especially non-fiction, is a good way to practice your critical thinking skills in everyday life.
Newspaper articles, scientific or technical journals, and other sources of information present an opportunity to think about:
- The strength of arguments
- The perspective of the author
- Whether there are enough facts presented to draw the conclusion given
- Whether other conclusions could be drawn from the same information
Knowledge of logical fallacies will help you to judge the effectiveness of an argument. Fallacy describes ‘faulty reasoning’ in an argument and is often seen in hyperbole or opinion pieces in newspapers and magazines.
There are many types of fallacy that you might come across, such as:
- Strawman – An argument that doesn’t address the statement.
- False cause – An argument based on a connection that doesn’t exist.
- Ambiguity – An argument using a phrase that is unclear or that may have different meanings.
- Appeal to popularity – An argument that states it must be true because many people believe it.
There are many others, including red herrings, appeal to authority and false dichotomy. Learning these will help you to identify a weak argument.
Cramming and panicking about a critical thinking assessment is rarely conducive to great performance.
If you are looking for a career in a sector where critical thinking skills are necessary, then long-term practice will have better results when you come to be assessed. Make critical thinking a part of life – so that every day can be a chance to practice recognizing assumptions.
Familiarity is important for any assessment, and in critical thinking tests, it is essential that you can recognize what the question is looking for. As mentioned above, this is usually one of the following:
- Assessing assumptions
- Determining inferences
- Making deductions
- Interpreting conclusions
- Evaluating arguments
Practice tests will help you become comfortable with the structure and format of the test, including ways to answer, and will also demonstrate what the question types look like.
Taking time to read and understand the content provided in the question is important to ensure that you can answer correctly.
The information you need to determine the correct answer will be provided although it might not be explicitly stated. Careful reading is an important part of critical thinking.
While some of the information provided in the critical thinking test might be related to the role you are applying for, or about something that you have existing knowledge of, you mustn't use this knowledge during the test.
A facet of critical thinking is avoiding subconscious bias and opinion, so only use the information that is provided to answer the question.
Throughout the critical thinking test, look out for facts and fallacies in the information and arguments provided.
Identifying fallacies will help you decide if an argument is strong and will help you answer questions correctly.
Critical thinking tests are used as pre-employment assessments for jobs that require effective communication, good problem-solving and great decision-making, such as those in the legal sector and banking.
These tests assess the ability of candidates to question and scrutinize evidence, make logical connections between ideas, find alternative interpretations and decide on the strength of an argument.
All critical thinking tests are not the same, but they do have similar question types. Learning what these are and how to answer them will help you perform better. Practicing tests based on the specific publisher of your test will give you the best results.