The origin of the debates on the relevance of critical thinking can be traced back to the times of the Greek philosopher – Socrates. What is critical thinking and what makes it important in today’s age and time? At a time when employers give so much prominence to critical thinking skills how can one improve one’s existing skills? Can critical thinking practice exercises help you with it? Let’s find answers to all these questions in this article.
What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking can be defined as a way of thinking that deploys a clear, logical and rational evaluation of things, events, or actions to reach a justified conclusion. It should not be confused with just the accumulation of information and knowledge. It requires an intellectual capacity to discern information skillfully. A person with critical thinking becomes efficient in systematic problem solving, establishing the logic behind ideas, and evaluating cases.
Why is Critical Thinking so important?
Critical thinking holds great significance in all fields of life. Its relevance cannot be contained to a limited number of domains. Be it research, law, education, management, or finance, the worth of critical thinking cannot be undermined less than an asset. Due to its reason oriented approach, critical thinking offers a platform to enhance one’s ability to express. This quality comes handy in all professions that call for good presentation skills.
What else? Critical thinking also helps to inculcate problem solving skills that today hold a great significance in all professions. It is one phenomenon that holds equal importance in both the fields of science and art. It is true that critical thinking is central to the world science, but that does not make it any less relevant in the world of art and creativity. Creative ideas go through a processing cycle that requires analytical skills to filter and deduce the best of ideas.
Why employers value Critical Thinking skills?
Today employers seek critical thinking as one of the most required qualities in candidates as it builds up skills for independent decision making. A critical thinking test assesses analytical skills within a given spectrum of ideas. This skills set is a crucial component of general aptitude that measures the ability to think with reason and logic. It enables individuals to evaluate situations, analyze trends, and devise strategies for the best possible solutions.
Jobs that use Critical Thinking exercises for evaluation
The legal sector is one of the industries that make an intensive use of critical thinking tests. Jobs that require managerial skills also use these tests to evaluate the decision making aptitude of the candidates. Managers are team leaders and their problem solving and decision making skills are crucial to lead others by example. Other than these, a few more job portfolios that use critical thinking tests include the posts of; business analysts, software engineers, human resource specialists, operation managers, marketing associates, sales representatives, treasurers, chief executives, etc. Critical thinking tests can be challenging for job seekers and it requires a good amount of practice to perform up to the mark.
Critical thinking is a valuable skill and a desirable quotient that employers look up in the job candidates. Candidates need to demonstrate their inner critical thinker by assessing a given set of information and draw conclusions from it. Thereby, highlighting their problem solving and decision making skills. Many times employers put up hypothetical situations during interviews to evaluate the critical thinking skills of candidates. At this stage the candidate’s analytical aptitude holds greater importance than the answer to the question itself. Each job portfolio calls for a different set of critical thinking skills, and the candidate should be aware of the skills listed for his/her job portfolio for test preparation.
Critical thinking contributes to a great extent in the sharpening of various skills that are held high by employers in almost every job field. Major skills include the ability to evaluate, conceptualize, interpret, observe, question, reason, communicate, and synthesize information with reasonable conclusions. Let’s take a deeper look at the top five critical thinking tests –
Top five Critical Thinking skills:
- Analytical Thinking– Critical thinking calls for sharp analytical skills on the part of the candidates to evaluate any set of information. Analytical skills involve logic and reason to understand the dynamics of any problem. Also, they objectively study its pros and cons, and consequently draw reasonable solutions for it. Constituting candidates with sharp analytical skills is an asset for the employers of any job field, making it one of the most sought after qualities for their selection criteria.
- Problem Solving – Problem solving is another significant tool that tops the selection agenda of the employers. Critical thinking not only makes analytical thinking possible, but it also enables to implement all the sorted information into finding solutions for problems. Problem solving skill is an integral constituent of employees in all successful businesses.
- Decision Making – The evaluation of all ideas and problems by critical thinking is driven by reason oriented arguments. Hence, value judgments result in justified decision making.
- Communication Skills – There is no denying to the fact that in all areas of employment, communication is must. Sharing of ideas at work calls for engaging in long and serious discussions with co workers and seniors. Even in the most tensed of scenarios, a candidate can stand apart in performance by sharing valuable ideas in a coherent manner. Communication flows organically when the mind is ripe with organized and substantial information. On the whole it can be said that critical thinking enables good communication by offering clarity of thought.
- Creativity – Critical thinking requires a creative lens to identify patterns from collected information and conceptualize them into ideas. Creative instincts help to foresee and imagine the consequences of the course of action chosen. Creative critical thinking skills also contribute in the evolution of innovative ideas that carry implementation value.
Tips for improving your Critical Thinking skills
It is a fact that none of us uses critical thinking all the time to guide our actions. Still you can improve your existing critical thinking skills by paying attention to the following tips –
- Use an objective approach to reflect upon a topic or idea.
- Take into consideration all the sides of an argument regarding the topic.
- Identify strong and weak points in the argument.
- Find a reasonable argument to justify your own opinion.
- Examine your prejudices and assumptions.
- Identify your aim.
- Revaluate the implication of your potential decision.
Example scenario of a Critical Thinking exercise
When appearing for a critical thinking test, you will be presented with a paragraph of information including data that is both numerical and textual. This set of information will be accompanied by a statement that will ask you to verify the degree of truth in the paragraph with the help of your analytical skills. Usually, such tests include five sections including assumptions, analysis, deduction, inference, and interpretation. Let’s make a more detailed study of these five sections –
- Assumptions – The candidate is expected to analyze the text with a perspective to look out for any potential assumptions.
- Analysis – The candidate will be presented with a scenario such as whether the state should provide for the cost of medical expenses of the poor. Such questions will be followed by varied arguments in support of and against the given situation. The candidate will use his/her analytical skills to distinguish between the weak and strong sides of the argument.
- Deduction – In this section, the candidate is expected to deduce a conclusion out of a set of deductions made from the given information.
- Inference – This section calls for the candidate to draw upon the set of possible inferences to find out whether they are absolutely true or false, possibly true of false, or inconclusive.
- Interpertation – The last section of the critical thinking test questions the candidate to interpret information from a set of possible conclusions.
While preparing for critical thinking tests, you need to acquire new information as you will be tested on the basis of your existing reservoir of knowledge. All you can do is, sharpen your critical thinking faculties by critical thinking test preparation to draw out the most accurate solutions. You can find out how much the critical thinking test actually counts for your job portfolio by examining when it features during the recruitment procedure. If the critical thinking test features at the beginning of the procedure, it mostly accounts to be a priority skill for the employers. The increasing relevance of these tests taken up by organizations can be attributed to the assurance they bring for the highly skilled performance of the selected candidates.
Should I practice my critical thinking skills?
Passing a critical thinking test, whether at the screening level, interview level, or during an assessment, optimizes the chances of being hired by the particular organization. Hence, it becomes extremely imperative to work for improving critical thinking skills. Remember, you are tested in comparison to other candidates. Overachieving their scores will give you a much better chance in getting the job.