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California Critical Thinking Skills Test Questions

Critical Thinking on the Web

Where do most of us begin when we want to know more about something? Depending on the subject, many of us dive into Google and begin perusing the hits that the search engine provides. Go right ahead ... but before you spend too many unhelpful clicks online, check out a few of these excellent sites.

Mayfield Library: The Jolly Librarian
The library at our main campus has several resources to offer on critical thinking. These are a few favorites that relate specifically to critical thinking issues in the classroom.

What Makes a Good Source? (or Why Should I Believe You?)

Why Does My Professor Hate Wikipedia?

For a thoughtful approach to that most critical of educational skills: Research, check out the Jolly Librarian's step-by-step process at the Mayfield's Research Skills page.

That's right: an encyclopedia. Granted, it isn't acceptable for documentation in academic work, but for a first-step entrée into research on the subject of critical thinking, Wikipedia offers several useful articles:

"Critical Thinking"

"Deductive Reasoning"

"Inductive Reasoning"

"Socratic Questioning"

Foundation for Critical Thinking
The Foundation for Critical Thinking (www.criticalthinking.org) offers several articles designed specifically for students. A few of those are listed below, along with other articles you may find helpful. (For the entire list of student articles, visit http://www.criticalthinking.org/page.cfm?CategoryID=61&endnav=1).

"Becoming a Critic of Your Thinking: Learning the Art of Critical Thinking"

"Critical Thinking in Everyday Life: 9 Strategies"

"A Brief History of the Idea of Critical Thinking"

"Critical Thinking, the Educated Mind, and the Creation of Critical Societies ... Thoughts from the Past"

Miniature Books on Critical Thinking
The Foundation for Critical Thinking has published over 40 mini books on critical thinking, all of which are at the
Mayfield Library.
Check them out!

The Fallacy Files
One of the best sites for information about logical fallacies, this site by Gary N. Curtis not only details the types of flawed logic we must avoid when constructing a good argument or using our critical thinking skills, but also includes many excellent and recent examples of flawed logic from politics, business, and more.

The Fallacy Files

Mayfield Library: Thinking
Yes, the library is highlighted a few spots on this page already. It bears repeating: Mayfield Library is a major stop on your way to your goals; you may even spend a few years there. Get to know what it has to offer. This page points you to some excellent materials about thinking better.

Mayfield Library: Thinking

Critical Thinking at Litemind.com

Sharpen Your Critical Thinking with E-Prime
How can removing the "to be" verb from your sentences make you a better thinker? Read more to find out.

The Relativity Mindtrap: How Comparisons Can Lead Us Astray

Top 10 Thinking Traps Exposed: How to Foolproof Your Mind, Part 1

Top 10 Thinking Traps Exposed: How to Foolproof Your Mind, Part 2

A Few More Web Articles

"Critical Thinking: What It Is & Why It Counts" by Peter Facione

"What Is Critical Thinking and Why Is It Important?"

"Definitions of Critical Thinking"


Critical Thinking Tutorials

Critical Reading
If we read with a critical eye, we understand better what the text says, what it means to say, and how it says it. This brief tutorial provides a helpful look at how to be a more critical thinker when approaching what we read.

What Is Critical Reading?

Practice Test for the CCTST/Exit Exam
Every student who receives a degree from Nashville State (or from most other colleges in this country) must take the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) before graduating.

NSCC philosophy professor Dr. Janusz Polanowski has created a practice exam for those unused to the CCTST's multiple-choice format, or those who just want to get a peek at what to expect. This helpful exercise includes explanations for the answers:

CCTST/Exit Exam Practice Test

Practice Questions for the CCTST
Insight Assessment, producers of the California Critical Thinking Skills Test, have posted a series of questions similar to those found on the CCTST. The questions include links to explanations of the reasoning involved:

CCTST Practice Questions

Mission:Critical Self-Tests
San Jose University's project Mission:Critical offers not only some terrific explanations of the elements of logic, argument, inductive and deductive reasoning (and more--check out Links to your left), but most of its materials also include self-tests. The link below takes you to the Mission:Critical table of contents. (Be sure to check out "An Introduction to Inductive and Deductive Reasoning," which is followed by a self-test.)


Logic Tutor
Designed by W.W. Norton to accompany its textbook The Art of Reasoning, this site addresses some of the basics of logic, argument, and reasoning, with an emphasis on analysis. From the link below, select your area of focus and then move through the tutorial, practice, and self-quiz sections at your leisure.

Logic Tutor

Critical Thinking Vids

A Few Appropriate Film Clips

"She's a Witch"
This classic scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail exemplifies the dangers of poor thinking and logical fallacies! (The .mp4 file at this site will play on the iPod or the Quicktime Player.)

Thank You for Smoking
How does a father explain to his son that he lobbies for the tobacco industry? Watch for the logical fallacies in the construction of his arguments.

Why Critical Thinking, Math & English Matter

How long does it take to go 80 miles?

QEP: The Critical Thinking Initiative
In this short film by Thomas Melton, NSCC's Coordinator of Video Production, instructor Dale Rogers talks with students about the Critical Thinking Initiative on campus. (Thanks to Mary Louise Smith and her theatre class for helping produce this vid!)

QEP: The Critical Thinking Initiative
(If you are off campus and don't have the Quicktime Player installed, you'll need the free download to view this .mov file.) 

Foundation for Critical Thinking
Yes, it's 40 minutes, But Dr. Richard Paul does a mighty fine job of discussing the basic elements of good critical thinking. Plug his name into YouTube to reach more of his and the Foundation's vids.

Standards of Thought, Pt 2

A Few More Videos & Podcasts

Critical Thinking Principles

The Critical Thinker: Empowerment

Critical Thinking Tutorials (podcasts)


Background for Sample Thinking Skills Questions 1-3

For Sample Questions 1, 2 and 3 Please consider this information : A scientific study compared two matched groups of college women. The women in both groups were presented with information about the benefits of a healthy diet and regular exercise. The women in one group were paired up with one another and encouraged to work as two-person teams to help each other stick with the recommended healthy regimen of smart eating and regular vigorous exercise. The women in the other group were encouraged to use the same recommended regimen, but they were also advised to work at it individually, rather than with a partner or teammate. After 50 days the physical health and the well-being of all the women in both groups were evaluated. On average the women in the first group (with teammates) showed a 26 point improvement in measures of cardiopulmonary capacity, body strength, body fat reduction, and sense of well-being. On average the women in the other group (encouraged to work as individuals) showed a 17 point improvement on those same measures. Using statistical analyses the researchers determined that the probability that a difference of this size had occurred by chance was less than one in 1000.

Sample Thinking Skills Question #1.

If true, these research findings would tend to support which of the following assertions?

 A = A college woman cannot achieve optimal health functioning without a teammate.
 B = Universities should require all students living in campus residence halls to participate in a health regime of smart eating and regular vigorous exercise.
 C = A healthy diet will cause one to have better mental health and physical strength.
 D = This research study was funded by a corporation that makes exercise apparel.
 E = A regimen of smart eating and regular exercise is related to better health.

Sample Thinking Skills Question #2.

If the information given in the case above were true, which of the following hypotheses would not need to be ruled out in order to confidently claim that for the majority of young adults a regimen of smart eating and regular vigorous exercise will result in significant improvements in one's overall health.

 A = This study was about women, the findings cannot be generalized to include men.
 B = Since the study began to solicit willing participants before the Research Ethics Review Committee of the college gave the research project its formal approval to gather data, the findings are invalid.
 C = Some women in the study over-reported their compliance with the eating and exercise regimen, which led the researchers to underestimate the full impact of the regimen.
 D = Since many of those studied described themselves as overweight or out of shape when the study began, a similar regimen will not benefit people who are healthier to start with.
 E = The performance tests used to evaluate the health and well-being of females may not be appropriate for evaluating the health and well-being of males.

Sample Thinking Skills Question #3.

Consider the claim, "Working with a teammate or partners on a health regimen is better than working individually." Which of the following additional pieces of information would not weaken that claim?

A = Most of the women in the group that was encouraged to work individually actually worked with friends and partners who were not part of the study.
 B = Most of the pairings and teams created in the first group (with teammates) fell apart after a few days and the women in that group actually worked individually.
 C = There was something about the women in the first group (with teammates) that the researchers overlooked, thus invalidating the intended matching of the two groups.
 D = Men are more likely to work alone, so any recommendation that men find a teammate or partner to support them in sticking with the regimen will be ignored.
 E = The study was undertaken when there were no exams or major projects due, thus the results about working with a teammate do not apply to more stressful times of the year.

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