What is critical thinking?

1 - Spot the signals in the brief

Discuss, analyse, synthesise, contrast, consider, compare, evaluate,
criticise, interpret, justify.

2 - Read and interact with texts

  • See note making and research.
  • Always consider the purpose, context and the author’s motivation.
  • Practise summarising and paraphrasing.
  • Be curious and explore – but watch out for distractions (keep reminding yourself to focus).

3 - Multiple sources

  • Compare and evaluate views from different sources.
  • Creating spidergrams and concept maps shows the bigger picture and how ideas fit together.

4 - In your writing

  • Be well informed rather than opinionated.
  • Show that your ideas and interpretations have developed from the research that you have done.
  • You won’t always find a single clear answer or interpretation – you may need to embrace uncertainty.
  • See writing tips.

5 - Multiple sources

  • Compare, contrast, evaluate and contextualise views from a range of authors 
  • Remember that academic debate will rarely arrive at a single answer

6 - Be logical and informed

  • Aim to be logical, reasonable, focussed and systematic
  • Be informed rather than opinionated
  • Use different paragraphs to separate critical writing from writing that is just descriptive

Critical thinking

  • 5 Active Reading Strategies

    5 Active Reading Strategies for Textbook Assignments - College Info Geek

  • 5 tips to improve your critical thinking

    Every day, a sea of decisions stretches before us, and it’s impossible to make a perfect choice every time. But there are many ways to improve our chances — and one particularly effective technique is critical thinking.  Samantha Agoos describes a 5-step process that may help you with any number of problems. 

  • Coogle

    Coggle is an online tool for creating and sharing mindmaps. It works online in your browser: there's nothing to download or install.

  • Link to DeeperWeb tutorial


    A Google tool which allows you to refine your search results using tag clouds.

  • Draw.io

    “Draw.io is free online diagram software for making flowcharts, process diagrams, org charts and network diagrams”. Links easily to Google Drive, Dropbox and One Drive to make saving mindmaps easier

  • Getting Critical

    A useful short guide to critical thinking in practice.

  • MindMup

    Free online mind mapping tool that doesn’t require an account to use.

  • Link to library catalogue for Study Skills Handbook

    Study Skills Handbook

    The 'go-to' study skills book for new students with (or without) dyslexia.