Careers Service

Critical Thinker

Critical Thinker

Critical thinking is about questioning information, evaluating it from different points of view and carefully considering whether something makes sense and is accurate.

As a student, you need to be able to think critically about the resources and information you use. It’s not accepting what you read or hear at face value; you need to ask the right questions when reading the work of others, weigh up different arguments and perspectives and use evidence to help you form your own opinions, arguments, theories and ideas. 

Employers also need critical thinkers in the workplace. You need to be able to analyse information, to help you effectively diagnose problems, identify possible solutions and make balanced decisions.

How can you become a critical thinker?

These are just some examples of how you can develop critical thinking, both in your academic life and outside of university. 

  • Visit the Writing Development Centre for advice on developing your critical voice.
  • The Academic Skills Kit (ASK) website has useful information and tools on evaluating information (including fake news) and reducing the impact of information overload.
  • Ask questions about what you read, hear, think, experience and observe.
  • Assess how well ideas, statements, claims, arguments and findings are backed up, to help you make a reasoned judgement about how convincing they are. Look at a video, news story or social media post and examine it further to find out what is behind it. Does it seem credible?
  • Practise critical reasoning tests, such as the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Test, which can be used in graduate and professional recruitment, particularly in law and finance. These test your ability to recognise assumptions and evaluate arguments.
  • Get involved in class discussions in tutorials or join a debating society. Discussing your opinions with others is a good way to anticipate objections to their arguments, to answer counterarguments and to weigh the evidence on both sides.
  • Show critical thinking in an interview situation. Give an example which includes reflection on how you performed, anything you could improve and how you overcame any challenges, to demonstrate your thinking process.
  • Sign up for a free FutureLearn online course on critical thinking from University of Leeds and the University of Auckland.

 Related skills: curious, reflective and self-aware

student looking at questions on board, portraying critical thinking