Critical thinking skills can be applied in everything college students do for class — from research to skimming examination excerpts.

Thinking critically allows students to develop the higher-order thinking abilities needed for academic study and career success. Share these tips with your students for thinking critically during midterm time.

Reading critically

Not only is it possible to think critically, it’s also important to read critically.This allows you to start making connections as soon as you begin a task. Reading critically can help you when you first start a research project or even as you’re reading through a big examination excerpt.

You’ll begin to determine how a body of text relates to you, how it compares to other modern trends, and how it’s connected to other areas you may be studying. According to author John Chaffee in his text, Thinking Critically, 11th Edition, in order to do all this, you must ask yourself the right questions as you’re reading.

Asking Questions
Asking questions will help you read critically. One set of useful questions is based on the basic components of writing: purpose, audience, subject, writer, and context.
• What is the purpose of the selection, and how is the author trying to achieve it?
• Who is the intended audience, and what assumption is the writer making about it?
• What is the subject of the selection, and how would you evaluate its cogency and reliability?
• Who is the writer, and what perspective does she bring to the writing selection?
• What is the larger context in which this selection appears? Is the writer responding to a particular event or participating in an ongoing debate? (76)

Use these questions to help you tackle your assignments. If you’re asked to reflect on a reading, one of these questions specifically could serve as a writing prompt. If you’re asked to write a research paper for your midterm or final exam, use these questions as a starting point when you’re drafting a thesis to support your topic choice.

Thinking critically

Critical thinking skills can be applied in all of your classes, as well as outside of the classroom. These skills will transfer to your personal relationships, your first “real world” job, and well beyond. Chaffee explains that:

By becoming a more powerful critical thinker, you are acquiring the abilities you need to achieve your goals, solve problems, and make intelligent decisions. Critical thinkers are people who have developed thoughtful and well-rounded beliefs to guide their choices in every area of their lives. In order to develop the strongest and most accurate beliefs possible, you need to become aware of your own biases, explore situations from many different perspectives, and develop sound reasons to support your points of view. (532)

What other ways do you think reading and thinking critically can be of use in your life? Share your thoughts below.

Reference: Chaffee, John. 2015. Thinking Critically, 11th Edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.