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Types of Critical Thinking Exams Study Guide

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Updated on Sep 20, 2011

Lesson Summary

Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer.

Charles Caleb Colton, English writer and minister (1780–1832)

Did you know that people applying for jobs or job promotions take critical-thinking exams somewhat like the ones college-bound students take? More and more businesses, including state and local governments, test the critical skills of prospective employees to measure their ability to handle problems on the job. In this lesson, you'll discover what some of those critical-thinking test questions are like. And you'll learn how to prepare to ace these tests.

Most college-bound high school students are familiar with the ACT and the SAT, tests that many colleges and universities use to make admissions decisions. And college graduates may take tests like the GRE, GMAT, and LSAT to get into graduate school. All these tests have a section that measures critical-thinking skills through a variety of questions based on reading passages, scientific experiments, and written opinions and arguments. Many of the tests are similar: ACT critical reading questions are similar to those on the SAT, and the GRE Analytical Writing Test is comparable to parts of the GMAT and LSAT. So in this lesson, we will focus on sections of each test that are unique.

The SAT Reasoning Test

The SAT is divided into three parts: critical reading, math, and writing. The critical reading section includes short and long reading passages, followed by questions that test your ability to comprehend the content. Questions may be based on one or two reading passages, and some are not based on any passage, but instead measure your knowledge of word meaning and logical sentence structure.

What You Will Find on the Test

The SAT passages represent various writing styles and are taken from different disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. They are written at the college level, which means they are sophisticated and complex, and may contain some unfamiliar vocabulary. It is not expected that you have any prior knowledge of the material in the passages, but rather that you have the ability to read, understand, and use the information in them. Each SAT also contains a pair of related passages presented as one reading section. They may express opposite points of view, support each other's point of view, or otherwise complement each other.

Critical reading questions will direct you to:
  • infer the meaning of words from context
  • comprehend the information presented in the passage
  • analyze the information
  • critique the authors' arguments (singly and as opposed to one another in a dual passage section)

Using Study Guides to Prepare for the SAT

Lessons that relate directly to skills needed for success on the SAT Critical Reading section are:

  • Judgment Calls: Judgment Call Study Guide. This lesson also teaches about inference. When you have some evidence, but not enough to come to a clear-cut decision, you will need to make a judgment about the answer.
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