How to Use Critical Thinking Skills

Using critical thinking skills requires practice and self-discipline.

Thinking is natural. Critical thinking, however, is a more active mode of thinking where the thinker consciously separates facts from opinions and challenges assumptions. Developing good critical-thinking skills requires self-discipline and frequent practice inside and outside the classroom. Children, students and adults all should develop -- and use -- critical thinking skills in their daily lives. Using these skills makes an individual apt to make informed, reasoned decisions instead of emotionally-driven ones. Critical thinkers actively seek and evaluate information; they do not passively receive it. Using critical thinking skills improves your thinking and ability to communicate with others.

1 Use Critical Thinking Skills Every Day

2 Think critically reading challenging books and articles

Think critically when reading challenging books and articles. When reading a novel, for example, try to predict what will happen in the plot, ask yourself why the characters do and say what they do and question their motivations. Observe the details of the author's choice of words.

3 When reading articles about current events

When reading articles about current events, question whether the author is biased or not. What sources did the author use to create his or her opinion? Research other perspectives of the same issue to compare and contrast. This active mode of reading will develop abilities to think for yourself.

4 When presented with an issue or question

When presented with an issue or question, consider both sides equally. This can be done simple with a " pro vs. con" list, or by writing arguments in favor of both sides. Carefully evaluate all aspects of the issue to make an evidence-based decision. Debate issues with friends, family and peers. Argue using evidence, not your opinions or emotions. Practice debating both sides of an issue, not just one.

5 Ask lots of questions

Ask lots of questions. Use your critical thinking skills to understand yourself and the world around you more fully. Ask yourself, and others, questions every day. For example: "Why do I enjoy reading fiction more than non-fiction?" or "How would you teach someone to play football?" These questions may have many answers, or no answer at all.

6 Require critical thinking skills and creativity

Math and science problems require critical thinking skills and creativity. Always consider different ways to complete math problems, especially with algebra, geometry and calculus problems. When completing science projects and experiments, think critically and develop multiple strategies. Consider different materials, methods and controls. Consider the advantages of each strategy to determine the best one for your project.

7 Exercise

Exercise thinking skills in different ways by doing brain teasers, puzzles and new projects. Try a crossword puzzle or a new hobby to challenge your thinking skills.

Grace Myers has been writing since 2005. She has worked at a publishing house and modern art museum in the Twin Cities. Myers received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Arts in modern and contemporary literature from the University of York in the United Kingdom.