Understanding Critical Thinking Skills And How To Pass Critical Thinking Tests

Critical thinking is one of the key skills which employers are looking out for in numerous fields where decision-making and clear understanding is vital. For this reason, employers use Critical thinking tests to assess your ability to identify strong and weak arguments, make correct inferences and deductions, and highlight interpretations and inferences in the workplace. This guide will give you everything you need to complete the critical thinking test, including explanations for each kind of question, example questions and answers, as well as plenty of sample questions to familiarise yourself with.

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Critical thinking is the discipline of being able to use evidence and reason to create strong arguments, and identify where other arguments are weak. It’s a skill used by everyone from philosophers and politicians, to lawyers and scientists, and is vital in everyday life for being able to think for oneself. The role of a critical thinker is to be able to examine beliefs, opinions, data, and arguments, whilst highlighting important details which others may have missed.


The critical thinking test is an assessment used to evaluate candidates’ critical thinking skills in the following areas:

  • The ability to identify assumptions being made by a passage;
  • The ability to make deductions based on text and then come to conclusions;
  • The ability to make accurate inferences;
  • The ability to interpret passages to see which statements logically follow from them;
  • The ability to interpret and evaluate arguments.

The critical thinking test comes in two forms. The first is a 40-question test, with 30 minutes to complete it in. The other is an 80-minute test, which is to be completed within 60 minutes. The test is usually taken at a computer in the earlier stages of an application process, but may also appear at an assessment centre. Either way, it’s important to take the time to learn what the critical thinking test is like, as well as how to pass it.


In this download guide, you’ll learn how to answer every kind of question in the critical thinking test. You’ll also receive an explanation for each of the kinds of question, their logical and critical basis, as well as have the opportunity to answer sample questions on each. In addition, you’ll have access to 20 inductive and abstract reasoning questions to get your brain in gear for thinking critically. Finally, you’ll get the chance to answer our sample paper – 80 questions to get you ready for the real critical thinking test.


An assumption is a claim that is accepted as the truth without sufficient evidence. These are an issue for critical thinkers because, as a rule, claims made without factual evidence are unhelpful and can be misleading. For example, imagine if you worked at a company, and the success and survival of it depended on a continued market demand for DVDs. If, at the start of each financial year, executives at the company agreed that DVDs would continue to sell based on zero evidence, this would be an assumption. This could be dangerous since the sales of DVDs could suddenly drop, leaving the company in a difficult position. For this reason, it’s important to avoid making assumptions in the working world.

Assumptions are made quite often when constructing arguments. You might have heard the phrase, ‘for the sake of the argument, let’s assume that…’ This is an explicit example of an assumption being made – an assumption that is required in order for the argument to make sense, or Of course, you shouldn’t leave anything up to assumption when making an argument – even if all parties agree on the truth of the assumption.

People use assumptions when they’re making a claim or constructing an argument. Sometimes, the person making the argument is explicit about their assumptions: ‘Let’s assume that…’ These assumptions are obviously easiest to spot, and can be contested if one feels that the assumptions are incorrect.

However, some assumptions aren’t as identifiable. Sometimes, the person constructing the argument won’t make their assumptions explicit. For the most part, this is down to one of the following reasons:

  1. The person making the argument knows that this assumption is incorrect and is deliberately trying to conceal it to make their argument look stronger;
  2. The person making the argument doesn’t even realise that their argument is based on the assumptions that they’ve subconsciously made.

In either case, it’s important in a critical discussion to highlight assumptions, whether they’re correct or not.

Explicit Assumption: An assumption made during construction of an argument which is disclosed by the person making the argument.

Implicit Assumption: An assumption which is not disclosed by the person making an argument.

Assumption questions in the critical thinking test assess your ability to highlight what assumptions an argument or statement is making. For questions of this kind, you’ll be given a statement, usually followed by three assumptions. Take a look at this example:

If I go down to the pond today, the only birds I will see are swans.

Assumption 1: There will be no ducks at the pond.

Assumption 2: All swans are white.

Assumption 3: There will be swans at the pond today.

Your task is to identify which of the above assumptions, if any, are being made by the text. In other words, you need to state whether the assumption is being made (‘Assumption Made’) or if the assumption isn’t being made by the argument (‘Assumption Not Made’). These assumptions are implicit, so you need to spot them for yourself. Take a look at the following answers and explanations to the above example:

Assumption 1: There will be no ducks at the point.

Answer: Assumption Made.

Explanation: In order to only see swans at the pond, there must be no other birds. Since ducks are a kind of bird, their presence at the point would mean you’d see them as well as swans. Therefore, there cannot be any ducks at the pond in order to only see swans.

Assumption 2: All swans are white.

Answer: Assumption Not Made.

Explanation: The statement does not specify what colour the swans have to be, only that swans have to be seen. Therefore, this assumption is not implied by the statement.

Assumption 3: There will be swans at the pond today.

Answer: Assumption Made.

Explanation: This is an assumption made by the initial statement because in order to see swans at the pond, there must be swans at the pond.

Assumption questions are more straightforward than inferences because you don’t need to worry about probability. All you need to do is see if the argument relies on any of the assumptions in order to be correct. If the argument requires the assumption, that means it’s an assumption being made by the text (‘Assumption Made’). If the argument doesn’t require the assumption, then it isn’t an assumption being  made by the text (‘Assumption Not Made’).


For each of the following questions, decide whether if the arguments are strong (‘Strong Argument’) or weak (‘Weak Argument’).

Question 1

Should businesses in London ensure that wages match the living wage for staff living in the city?

Argument 1: No – staff can live outside of London and commute into the city to work.

Argument 2: Yes – the alternative would be to force staff to commute, which can lead to increased stress and therefore reduced productivity.

Argument 3: No – if businesses have to pay more for their staff to live where they want, they could end up having to pay for other luxuries such as private health care.

Question 2

Do schools have an obligation to make sure that students study at least one of the sciences at A-Level? 

Argument 1: Yes – there’s a demand for people experienced in the core sciences in the workplace, so making students take at least one science subject will increase their job prospects. Since schools should prepare students for the real world, they have an obligation to get them on the right track for a good career.

Argument 2: No – it isn’t the school’s responsibility to decide exactly which subjects students choose. Pupils are free to choose the subjects that they want to take, but should be made aware of the possible benefits of studying one of the sciences at A-Level.

Argument 3: No – none of the A-Level students that I’ve met have wanted to do science.

Question 3

The amount of organised crime in major cities has been increasing year on year. The number of armed police officers has also increased year on year. The government is now debating spending money on a new specialised taskforce for organised crime. A number of ex-chiefs of police have commented positively on this. Is this the correct decision?

Argument 1: No – we can see from the statistics that the increase in number of armed police officers is rising at the same time as the amount of organised crime. A new taskforce would just add to the problem rather than solve it.

Argument 2: Yes – ex-chiefs of police think that it’s a good idea to do it.

Argument 3: Yes – a specialised taskforce could be completely devoted to the problem of organised crime. In the long-term, this might mean that the government could potentially spend less money on armed police, which has the added benefit of having less police officers with firearms in cities.

Question 4

Out of all the major businesses in London, 90% of them disclose their diversity statistics in an annual report. The rest of the firms are being pressured by investors who believe that a greater focus on diversity would increase annual profit. Should these remaining companies disclose their diversity data?

Argument 1: Yes – everyone else is doing it, so they should too.

Argument 2: Yes – the investors think it’s a good idea, and if the companies refuse to comply with their suggestions, the investors might pull funds from them.

Argument 3: No – increasing diversity isn’t something that companies should have to do since it’s not normal for there to be total equality in terms of ethnicity and gender.

Question 5

Should nurses trained in the UK, and funded by the NHS, be required to work for a certain period of time within the UK public sector before being allowed to work in the private sector or overseas?

Argument 1: Yes – the NHS funds many of these nurses through training, so they should have to give back for a fixed period of time. This further experience would benefit them as well.

Argument 2: No – this denies them of their freedom where to work. They might as well be in a work camp.

Argument 3: Yes – I find it ridiculous that taxpayers’ money is spent on training these nurses, only for them to go overseas.


Written and researched by the UK’s leading recruitment experts, this ultimate guide consists of:

  • An in-depth explanation of what both critical thinking and the critical thinking test are – a valuable life skill and the tools to pass the critical thinking test;
  • Abstract and inductive reasoning questions to get you ready to think critically;
  • A guide to the etiquette of forming arguments, including how they are structured and how to identify a poor argument;
  • A glossary of logical and argumentative fallacies, each with explanations and examples to improve your ability to highlight them in the critical thinking test as well as everyday life;
  • A step-by-step explanation for each of the five main kinds of question in the critical thinking test: assumptions, deductions, inferences, interpretations, and evaluating arguments;
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