The Integrated Teacher

19 Short Stories and Questions For Critical Thinking

Apr 2, 2024

There have been rumblings in different online teacher groups recently about replacing novels with short stories and informational articles in middle and high school English classrooms. I have to admit I was shocked when I first read the comments because I am a book lover at heart, but since then, I’ve considered that there are several pros and cons to this approach.

Short stories and other smaller texts can provide a briefer timeline to complete tasks, and this process is helpful when there is already SO MUCH curriculum to cover. Short stories and related activities can also be more engaging for our students because of the exposure to diverse voices and themes! Using short stories and lessons provides students with amazing choices to meet their needs and preferences!

On the other hand, incorporating mainly short stories and other shorter passages means students’ already-pressed attention spans (as a result of social media influences and pervasive sources of technology) are reinforced. Plus, students miss out on the more complex stories within longer pieces of fiction that are, dare I say, life-altering! A novel can provide opportunities for sustained reading and layers for analysis that shorter pieces of literature like short stories and related texts cannot offer.

Ultimately, no matter where you find yourself on the issue, I think we can all agree that short stories and their counterparts can be vital, effective, and helpful in the modern classroom!

Continue reading for 19 Short Stories and Questions For Critical Thinking!!

Need help with Test Prep ?  Check out this  FREE Pack of 3 Test Prep Activities  to help students achieve success on standardized tests!

short stories and activities picture

Table of Contents

19 Short Stories and Questions – Suggestions for Teaching Them

You don’t need to remove all novels to be able to include short stories and smaller passages like vignettes, articles, and narratives; there’s a time and place for all genres! But if you’re thinking about ways to include more short stories and fun activities, check out this list of 19 varied short stories and critical thinking questions as well as suggestions for teaching them in middle school and high school.

1.  “The Most Dangerous Game” 

“The Most Dangerous Game” is one of my absolute favorite short stories and overall plots to teach! This suspenseful short story by Richard Connell follows the harrowing ordeal of Sanger Rainsford, a skilled hunter who becomes the prey of a deranged aristocrat named General Zaroff. Stranded on Zaroff’s secluded island, Rainsford must outwit the cunning general in a deadly game of survival, where the stakes are life and death. 

the most dangerous game short stories and activities

SUGGESTIONS FOR TEACHING:

  • You could focus on the setting (description of time and place) and examine how the setting changes throughout the story.
  • Students could learn about the plot (major events in the story) and list the major events and evidence as they read.
  • Define foreshadowing (hints for what will happen by the end of the story) and encourage students to hypothesize about what will happen after every page.
  • Analyze the character development (how a character changes over time) of Rainsford and highlight his traits/actions as you read along.

CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS:

  • How does the setting contribute to the tension and suspense in the story?
  • How does the author use foreshadowing? How does the author hint at the danger Rainford is facing?
  • What inferences can you make about the main character and the changes he undergoes from the beginning to the end of the story?

If you want to teach plot elements and plot analysis , check out this lesson bundle for the story , which includes comprehension quizzes and a variety of activities!

2.  “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”

Ambrose Bierce’s story is a gripping tale set during the American Civil War, where a Southern civilian named Peyton Farquhar faces execution by hanging after attempting to sabotage a Union railroad bridge. As Farquhar falls through the trapdoor, time seems to stretch, and he experiences a surreal moment, only to realize his grim reality. 

Integrating historical texts with other short stories and passages like “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” will make history come more alive and relevant for our students!

  • Teach about irony (when the opposite occurs from what is expected) and how it plays a role throughout the story.
  • Explain the term characterization (how a character is depicted) by looking at direct and indirect references while reading with your students.
  • Discuss the major themes (messages) of the story and how they connect to our modern era within a Socratic Seminar.
  • How does the author use characterization to convey Peyton Farquhar’s thoughts, emotions, and motivations?
  • What is the purpose of irony in this story? How does its use affect the reader’s interpretation and understanding of events?
  • What is the significance in our contemporary/real world of the themes of the story, including reality and fantasy, the passage of time, and the consequences of actions?

Ensure students’ understanding of the story with this set of reading questions that are perfect for state test prep, too !

an occurence at owl creek bridge short stories and questions

3.  “The Masque of the Red Death”

This chilling tale from Edgar Allan Poe is set in a secluded abbey where Prince Prospero and his wealthy guests attempt to escape a deadly plague known as the Red Death. Despite their isolation efforts, the guests are confronted with their own mortality as a mysterious figure in a blood-red mask appears.

If you have not read any short stories and poems from Poe, this story is a perfect journey into the horror genre!

  • The setting (description of time and place) plays a MAJOR role in the story, so following the Prince from room to room and highlighting the imagery (description that connects to the five senses) is very important when reading.
  • If you have not introduced mood  (emotion intended for the reader to experience), this story is PERFECT for delineating its progression from start to finish.
  • As students read, you might guide them through identifying various examples of  symbolism  (object, person, or place that represents something else); each room, objects within, and the “antagonist” is symbolic in some way!
  • How does the author convey the tone of the story? How would you, as the reader, describe the story’s mood?
  • What role does the plot structure (focus on the different rooms) play in shaping the reader’s understanding of the story?
  • What is the purpose of the symbolism in the story such as the clock and the masked figure?

Check out this EASY-TO-TEACH bundle , you can practice with your students, so they will feel more confident analyzing higher-level language in “The Masque of the Red Death!”

4.  “The Cask of Amontillado”

Another chilling tale from Poe is the classic story “The Cask of Amontillado.” This one is set during Carnival in an unnamed Italian city. The plot centers on a man seeking revenge on a ‘friend’ he believes has insulted him. If your students are anything like mine, they will relish the ending particularly!

This is just one more of Poe’s short stories and tales that will capture the mind of every reader!

  •  As you plan for this short story, be sure to encourage your students to analyze the changing setting (description of time and place); following Fortunato from scene to scene will help your students track what is really going on.
  • This story is the perfect moment to teach about dialogue (conversation within someone=internal and/or between someone and someone/thing else=external); Montresor certainly means more than what he SEEMS to say!
  • You might also offer a mini-lesson on the 3 types of irony and how each plays a role in the story: verbal (when a person says the opposite of what is really intended), situational (an action occurs that is the opposite from what the reader expects), and dramatic (a character expects a result, but the opposite occurs and the audience can tell what will happen)!
  • Describe Montresor. What are his motives and personality?
  • What inferences can you make about Montresor’s mindset based on his dialogue?
  • What is the purpose of the family’s motto and the carnival atmosphere? 

Check out this Short Story Activity & Quiz Bundle for Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” which contains questions and answers modeled after various reading standardized tests as well as pre-quiz reading comprehension questions, graphic organizers, and a writing activity to get students thinking critically about this classic short story involving REVENGE!

Want 7 more teaching ideas for one of Poe’s epic short stories and questions to go with it? Click below!

questions for the cask of amontillado

5.  “To Build a Fire”

This story by Jack London describes the treacherous journey of a man through the harsh Yukon wilderness during extreme cold. Despite warnings and the company of a loyal dog, the man’s arrogance and underestimation of nature’s power lead to a tragic end.

Short stories and ideas related to survival in nature are still relevant today! Who knows when you might get lost on a hike or crashland in no man’s land?

  • This story is PERFECT for a bit of  literary analysis  (examining the impact of various ideas, elements, or themes within a piece of literature); you could hone in on literary devices, characterization, theme, etc.!
  • Integrating clips from survival shows will help students see connections to the world and extend their thinking by comparing (recognizing similarities) and contrasting (recognizing differences) varied experiences!
  • Write a short narrative about surviving 24 hours in a different setting (description of time and place).
  • How does the author use irony? Provide an example and explain. 
  • What real-world connections can be made between this story and our contemporary life? 
  • What is the story’s message about preparedness and respecting nature?

Grab these engaging short stories and activities to make teaching this Jack London story stress-free!

6.  “The Cactus”

Told from the point of view of a young man at his former lover’s wedding, the narrator retells their story. Like most of O. Henry’s short stories and texts, this one has a twist that involves the titular cactus plant.

The ending will end in a bit of fun for your students!

  • Introduce diction (word choice) and its impact within the story by hyperfocusing on specific words within the story . Students can look up definitions, locate synonyms, create their own sentences, replace the words, etc.
  • Investigate twist endings (unexpected finish to a story); before reading the end of the story, ask students to guess why the girl “rejected” him. Some students may know the answer before reading it!
  • Describe the main characters. What similarities and differences are evident? How does this affect the story’s action?
  • What inferences can you make about Trysdale and his feelings about love and marriage?
  • What are the real and symbolic meanings of the cactus?

This resource packed with questions and answers, graphic organizers, and writing activities is sure to get your students thinking about this love story driven by misconceptions.

short stories and activities image

7.  “After Twenty Years”

This tale of friendship and betrayal focuses on the reunion of two old friends after twenty years apart on a New York City street corner. As they reminisce, something is revealed that demonstrates the reality of their bond as well as the choices they’ve made in life.

If you have not read O. Henry’s short stories and incorporated character analysis yet, this is your chance! The story is not long and can be completed in one to two class periods!

  • Sometimes, we ask students to visualize (create a picture) in their minds, but why not give them the opportunity to use their artistic skills to draw the two characters?
  • As students read, annotate for a description of each character; then, students can do a character analysis (investigation of the characters’ similarities and differences).
  • What type of irony is used in the story? How does its use affect your interpretation and understanding of the story?
  • How does the urban setting contribute to the mood of the story?
  • What is the story’s message about friendship and loyalty?

Examine the links between loyalty and duty with this set of resources designed specifically for this O. Henry story.

8.  “The Lottery”

“The Lottery” is the quintessential short story for middle school or high school English! Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” tells the story of an annual ritual that takes place in a seemingly idyllic town. When the townsfolk gather for the lottery drawing, a shocking turn of events demonstrates the dark side of human nature and their ties to (outdated) traditions.

  • Introduce the terms suspense (uncertainty and/or excitement leading up to a major event) and tension (anxiety or uneasy feelings experienced by characters). While reading, identify evidence that relates to each of these concepts and chat/write about their impact on meaning and plot.
  • Teach title (the name of the text) analysis. The title of “The Lottery” is perfect for teaching the impact of the title and audience expectations. Before reading, students may write what they believe the story will be about based on the title. After reading, students can complete a quick write responding to their previous expectations! You can do a text analysis for all short stories and poems!
  • What role does the plot structure play in building suspense and tension? (Consider the revelation of the lottery’s ‘prize’ in particular.)
  • What social commentary is being made through the story and its characters?
  • Describe Mr. Summers, Tessie, and Old Man Warner. What does the story reveal about their role in the community and their feelings about the lottery?

Give yours elf a breath of fresh air with this NO PREP curriculum that integrates test prep within the teaching of literature by using Shirley Jackson’s quintessential story!

the lottery short stories and activities

9.  “The Pedestrian”

This Ray Bradbury story follows a lone walker in a futuristic society in which everyone else is consumed by technology, particularly the television. One evening, the walker encounters a police car that questions his unusual behavior and the end is quite unexpected! (Most of Bradbury’s short stories and texts connect to the future and technology in some way!)

  • This story exemplifies Dystopian Literature (texts that include a supposedly perfect future society marred in some way by governmental or societal oppression). Using this story to introduce this type of literature is always fun for students because they will easily make connections to other dystopic short stories and poems!
  • Teach about mood (the emotional impact of a story’s description/action). The goal is to get students to deepen their critical thinking skills by recognizing how the mood changes and the purpose for that change!
  • How does the author use foreshadowing and suspense to build the mood of the story?
  • What is the central theme of the story? How might it connect with our current world?
  • What similes and metaphors does Bradbury use to describe the community and its members? What is notable about these comparisons?

With this resource about Bradbury’s “The Pedestrian,” you can just print and teach the lesson and activities with EASE! 

10.  “The Gift of the Magi”

This 1905 story by O. Henry relays a tale about a couple struggling to make ends meet. Throughout the story, they both figure out gifts to buy one another for Christmas and realize what love truly means!

  • Review character traits (how a character is depicted internally and externally). Log the traits of each character within the story and how they are important to the meaning of the story.
  • Extend (move beyond the text) critical thinking skills by encouraging students to think and write about other people. If they had $1,000 to spend on someone else, how would they spend the money and why?

the gift of the magi short stories and questions

  • How would you describe Della and Jim, and their relationship?
  • What values do the characters have, when you consider their actions and decisions?
  • Explain how dramatic irony is used in the story. Is it necessary? Is it effective? Why or why not?

This tale is a great addition to your short stories and questions unit around the winter holidays! Save yourself time at that time of the year with this lesson bundle . 

11.  “The Monkey’s Paw” 

“The Monkey’s Paw” is a classic horror story about the White family who come into possession of a mystical monkey’s paw that grants three wishes. Despite warnings, they use it and then face devastating consequences as a result.

  • Teach about the elements of the horror/suspense genre (Ex. Scary movies are typically dark, stormy, surprising, morbid, etc.).
  • Create a thematic statement (message relayed by the text in a complete sentence). There is no perfectly created theme (message) unless it is directly stated by the author; however, students can create a theme by supporting their ideas with evidence from the story!
  • What is the main theme of the story? Or how does the author communicate the themes of greed or fate? Is one stronger than the other?
  • Are Mr. and Mrs. White more alike or different from one another? How do you know?
  • Should we be afraid of the unknown? What message does the story share? Do you agree or disagree?

Examine W.W. Jacobs’ classic story with this set of questions and answers along with rigorous reading and writing activities . While it is ideal for a spooky season, the story is valuable for its ability to hook readers any time of year!

12.  “Lamb to the Slaughter” 

This classic story with a killer plot twist is about a woman who kills her husband and gets away with murder thanks to cooking a leg of lamb!

  • You could introduce the plot elements (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution), encourage students to identify major events to fit each element and write down textual evidence to support their ideas.
  • Complete a film analysis (examination of film techniques and their effects) to compare/contrast the short story with the classic Alfred Hitchcock television episode.
  • What is Mary Maloney’s state of mind? Does it remain the same or does it change throughout the story? Explain.
  • Is the resolution of the story satisfying? Why or why not? Why do you think the author ended it as he did?
  • How does irony contribute to the theme of deception in the story? Explain.

Spice up your middle school English or high school English class with this short stories and activities bundle for Dahl’s famous story!

13.  “The Tell-Tale Heart” 

Poe’s classic psychological thriller is narrated by an unnamed protagonist who insists on their sanity while recounting how they murdered an old man. The narrator is haunted by the sound of the victim’s beating heart, which ultimately drives him to confess to the crime despite not originally being a suspect. 

  • Teach symbolism (object, person, or place that represents something else) by focusing on the heart and eye . The author used these symbols in various ways!
  • Investigate psychology (the study of the human mind) as a part of the story. Determine what is fact and what is fiction within the narrator’s mind.
  • What does the story reveal about the human psyche?
  • What is the deeper meaning of the two key symbols in the story – the beating heart and the eye of the old man?
  • What role do the narrator’s inner thoughts play in the development of the plot?

the tell tale heart short stories and activities

This Short Story Comprehension Bundle offers quick (and effective!) ways to assess students’ learning and understanding of the story. It’s easy to use and will no doubt save you time too!

14.  “The Scarlet Ibis” 

Emotional short stories and their counterparts have a place as well in English classrooms! This short story by James Hurst about two brothers is a heartbreaking must-read. Through flashbacks, the unnamed narrator tells the life story of his younger sickly brother William Armstrong, who is nicknamed Doodle. And the end…well, you’ll see.

  • Define and explain the purpose of a flashback (referring back to the past within a story). Think about the implications of never thinking back on the past or always thinking about the past.
  • Complete a comparison chart between Doodle and the Ibis as you read along. Then, students can create a visual of each after they have ready by using their own evidence!
  • What is the meaning of the story’s title and the presence of a scarlet ibis in the story?
  • What is the central theme of the story? How do the events of the story support this chosen theme?
  • How does the author use personification for the storm? What effect does this have on the story?

This flexible resource features critical thinking questions and answers as well as writing and reading activities for students to explore Hurst’s heartbreaking story.

15.  “The Veldt” 

This science fiction story by Ray Bradbury was first published as “The World the Children Made” and it is quite fitting as a title! The story focuses on a futuristic world in which a video screen can be controlled and it turns out to be more than simple virtual reality! By the story’s conclusion, the world the children made is the downfall of their parents. 

  • Compare and contrast “The Veldt” with “The Pedestrian,” two short stories and dystopic texts by Ray Bradbury. Analyze the similarities and differences of both short stories and create a thematic statement that connects to both texts!
  • Make connections to our current reality in the 21st century. Locate research about the implications of technology on young people and integrate this information as you discuss this short story.
  • How does the author address the theme of technology versus humanity in the story? Do you agree with this commentary? Why or why not?
  • How does the nursery reflect the personalities of Wendy and Peter in this story?
  • Do you know the story of Peter Pan and his friend Wendy? What connections can you make between it and this story by Ray Bradbury?

Ray Bradbury’s classic short stories and similar passages are the BEST to teach in middle and high school English! With so much to dive into, they are sure to be a hit with your students. Grab this set of activities to extend your students’ engagement with rigorous reading and writing activities about “The Veldt.” 

16.  “The Necklace” 

A woman who longs for a life of luxury and elegance beyond her means faces consequences when she loses a borrowed necklace. Guy de Maupassant’s story ends with a twist that has the reader question the value of material possessions. 

  • I love comparing this short story with O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.” You might choose to focus on the theme, characterization, setting, etc.
  • Summarize (writing about the main idea with details) each chunk of the story as you read with your students. Instead of asking students to write a paragraph, you could ask students to create each summary in only one sentence.
  • The story explores vanity, deception, and the consequences of striving for social status. Which theme do you think is the most important? Explain with support from the story.
  • Is Mathilde Loisel a likable character? Does this change during the story? Does it matter if the reader likes her? Why or why not?
  • What clues does the author provide throughout the story that foreshadow the twist at the story’s end?

Focus on the standards with this Short Story Lesson Bundle for “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant!

Need help with implementing activities for “The Necklace?” See below!

the-necklace-by-guy-de-maupassant

17.  “A Vendetta” 

Guy de Maupassant’s late-19th-century story is all about REVENGE. A mother is obsessed with creating a plan to avenge her son’s murder and she then puts the plan into action with a morbid outcome.

  • There are so many texts that involve REVENGE! Why not use this concept as a focus for a thematic unit (texts linked to a similar concept and/or message)? You could read “A Poison Tree,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “Lamb to the Slaughter” as well as “A Vendetta” with the intention of writing about all 4 for a comparison/contrast paper, presentation, or seminar.
  • Analyze the development (how a character changes over time) of the mother and the dog throughout the story; you might annotate for similarities and differences as well as their motivations!
  • What comment is the story making about the nature (or need) for justice? Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?
  • What similes and metaphors does the author use to communicate the main character’s feelings about the vendetta?
  • How does the author use details to explain the main character’s thoughts, feelings, and motivation?

Add these activities for this lesser-known work to your short story plans. It’s sure to keep things fresh for your short stories and activities unit! 

18.  “Thank You, Ma’am” (also known as “Thank You, M’am”)

This heartfelt story by Langston Hughes tells the story of Luella, an older woman in the neighborhood, who is nearly robbed by a young man named Roger. In response to Roger, Luella brings him back to her home and treats him with an abundance of kindness, which has a profound effect on Roger.

This tale is at the top of the list for the BEST short stories and passages for upper middle and younger high school students!

  • Introduce perspective and/or point of view (how a story is told: 1st, 2nd, 3rd omniscient, 3rd limited, 3rd objective). Students might rewrite the story from another perspective or extend the story using the perspective of one of the main characters.
  • Review plot elements with a focus on the exposition (introduction to the characters, setting, and conflict), climax (highest point of interest/turning point of the story), and resolution (how the story is concluded and/or resolved in some way.) You could assign an activity surrounding each concept: visualization of the scene, a journal response to the event, or a short response focused on how the element is important to the overall theme!

thank you maam short stories and questions

  • Do you believe in second chances? What does the story say about second chances? 
  • How might the climax of the story also be seen as the turning point in Roger’s life?
  • How would you describe Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones? Are her actions expected or unexpected in the story? Consider from Roger’s and the reader’s point of view.

Click to check out all of the details for this BUNDLE with differentiated options , which includes a Test Prep Quiz (with varied options), Venn Diagrams, Graphic Organizers, and Writing Responses!! 

19.  “Click Clack the Rattle Bag”

This short story by Neil Gaiman is creepy and fun in the best ways possible! The narrator is taking care of his girlfriend’s little brother and walking him to bed when the child asks for a story. Instead of the narrator sharing a story, the boy shares about the Click Clacks who drink their prey and leave behind rattling bodies. The end is too good to be missed!

Short stories and plots like those in “Click Clack the Rattle Bag” will most certainly engage even your most struggling learners!

  • We all know that test prep can be tough as many reading passages are, well, boring! Why not accomplish some test prep with your students and incorporate 5 standardized test-related questions ? You could focus on theme, structure, order of events, characterization, etc.!
  • Help students make inferences (acknowledging and hypothesizing about the impact of details that are not directly referenced or stated) as the scene moves along. Students can analyze the change in the setting, the little boy himself, the story the boy is telling, and specific phrases from the story.
  • What details in the story contribute to its eerie atmosphere or mood? Or what figurative language devices does Neil Gaiman use to create a sense of suspense in the story? 
  • How does the author use ambiguity in the story? Is it effective or not? Explain.
  • What inferences can you make about the relationship between the narrator and the young boy?

click clack the rattle bag short stories and questions

This “Click Clack the Rattle Bag” Quiz Pack for middle and high school students uses the Common Core standards and contains questions and answers modeled after various state standardized tests! Make teaching this amazing short story by Neil Gaiman SIMPLE & EASY!

Why should we incorporate more short stories and activities in our teaching?

While I would never advocate replacing all novels with short stories and smaller texts, there is still something to be said about spending quality time with short stories and excerpts. 

Including short stories and standards-based activities is an ideal option to improve reading comprehension and develop skills, especially in middle and high school English classes!

SHORT STORIES AND ACTIVITIES RESOURCES: 

short stories and questions unit

This  Short Stories and Test Prep Questions ULTIMATE BUNDLE with Lessons, Quizzes, and Activities uses the Common Core standards with reading comprehension QUESTIONS and ANSWERS for 18 short stories such as “The Most Dangerous Game,” “The Monkey’s Paw,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “After Twenty Years,” “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Veldt,” “The Lottery,” “The Pedestrian,” etc. modeled after various state reading exams.

Make teaching short stories and activities SIMPLE & EASY!

Just PRINT & TEACH with engaging short stories and lessons!!

Need more fun ideas for teaching short stories and corresponding activities? Check out my store Kristin Menke-Integrated ELA Test Prep !

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Develop Good Habits

85 Critical Thinking Questions to Carefully Examine Any Information

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The ability to think critically will often determine your success in life.

Let’s face it. Every day, we are bombarded by news, social media updates, and an avalanche of information. If you take all of this at face value, it’s easy to be deceived, misled or ripped off.

That’s why it’s important to  develop a mindset that focuses on critical thinking . This is a skill that needs to be developed in the classroom. But it’s also a valuable life skill.

With that in mind, the following post will share 85 critical thinking questions you can use to increase your awareness about different problems by carefully examining available information. 

Let’s get started…

Table of Contents

What Are Critical Thinking Questions?

Critical thinking questions are inquiries that help you think rationally and clearly by understanding the link between different facts or ideas. These questions create a seemingly endless learning process that lets you critique, evaluate, and develop a depth of knowledge about a given subject. Moreover, you get to reinforce your viewpoints or see things in a new way.

We make decisions every day, whether at work or home. Adopting logical, rational, and practical approaches in addressing various issues requiring critical thinking is essential in decision-making. Therefore, before arriving at a decision, always ask yourself relevant questions and carefully analyze the matter’s pros and cons.

Critical Thinking Questions When in an Argument

When you make an argument using a critical thinking approach, you focus on justified claims that are valid and based on evidence. It helps one establish a strong argument.

  • Do I disagree with the other person? Might the person I'm arguing with be misinformed on what they are saying?
  • Would I be comfortable saying what I am telling him/her if I was in front of a group of people? 
  • What would happen if I lose this argument? Is engaging in this argument worth my time and energy? How will I feel if I lose?
  • Is there room for ambiguity or misinterpretation? Are we arguing because I didn't make my point explicit? Should I take my time to understand his school of thought?
  • Do I need some rest before saying something? Am I arguing because of other reasons other than the issues at hand? Do I need to take some time and cool down?

critical thinking questions | critical thinking questions examples with answers | fun critical thinking questions with answers

  • Is it more important that I’m right? Am I trying to ask to prove an unnecessary point?
  • Is this argument inductive, deductive, or abductive? Is it a weak or strong argument that I need to engage in? Is it compelling or sound? 
  • Is my opponent sincere? Given that they are wrong, are they willing to admit that they are wrong? Can they depend on available evidence, wherever it leads?
  • Are my opponents only trying to shift their burden to me? What is the best way to prove them wrong without making them feel bad?
  • Are the people I'm arguing with only interested in winning, or are they trying to pass some information across and help me discover the truth?

Critical Thinking Questions When Reading a Book 

When you read a book, you probably ask yourself many “why” questions. Why is this a problem? Why did the character say that? Why is this important? The most challenging part of reading a book is assessing the information you are reading. These questions can help.

  • If I learn only two things from this book, what will they be? How will they help me? How will I apply them in my daily life?
  • What message are the authors trying to pass across? Are they making suggestions or providing evidence for their arguments?
  • Given that almost every book is about solving problems, what is the most prevalent issue that the author is trying to solve?
  • What is the author’s writing style? What strategy or master plan does the author employ to convey his/her main ideas throughout the book?
  • Do I have background information about the book’s topic? If so, how is what the author is saying different from what I already know?
  • What didn’t I understand from the book? Should I re-read the book to understand everything the writer is trying to convey?
  • Which sections of the book do I love the most, and why? Generally, do I like this book? Should I look for more books that are written by the same author?
  • If I had a chance to meet this book’s author, what questions would I ask him/her? What would I tell the writer about the book? Is it a great book worth recommending to your friends and family members?
  • Who are the main characters of the book? If there is only one main character, what overarching goal does the character accomplish?
  • In what ways did the protagonist change from the start of the book to the end? What caused the changes? Was the protagonist reckless in some ways? Which ways?

Critical Thinking Questions to Spot a Scam

Asking questions when you feel that a fraud or a scam is being presented to you is a good way to stretch your critical thinking muscles. Are you being emailed or messaged by a stranger? Or maybe there are other red flags you are unsure about. If so, ask these questions.

  • Does it seem to be too good to be true? Is this stranger pushy or trying to lure me into making a poor decision?
  • When trying out online dating: Is my new “friend” professing strong feelings towards me although we’ve only interacted for a few hours?
  • Why is a stranger calling me to ask about my Social Security Number (SSN), personal contact information, or bank details while claiming they are from the bank or a phone company? 
  • When buying products online, why does the seller ask me to pay for goods using an insecure payment option like Bitcoin or money order?
  • Does the email I have received have any spelling or grammatical errors? Is the language used overly formal or informal?
  • If I do a quick search about the exact words of the email I received, does Google indicate it's a fraud or scam?
  • Why should a stranger manipulate me using obvious questions like “Would you want to be rich or poor?” While they already know the answer?
  • Is the email asking me to download an attachment? Or click a link to some insecure website? 
  • Is the person trying to make me feel selfish or guilty for not sending them money, whether for a donation or buying a product? 
  • Is the stranger portraying a sense of urgency and using pressure tactics? Are they telling me that their family member needs urgent medical attention?

Critical Thinking Questions About Your Life

It can also help to ask yourself a few critical thinking questions about your life. This way, you can gather basic information and uncover solutions to problems you might not have otherwise thought of.

  • Where do I wish to be in a few years, probably two, three, or five years? What short-term and long-term goals should I set?
  • What have I achieved so far from the time I set my previous goals? What should I be grateful for?
  • Do I have any values that guide me in life? If so, what are these values? Am I always true to these values?
  • Am I always worried about what people around me think? Can I act independently without the need to meet social expectations?
  • What should people say about me at my funeral? Would they talk about how good I made them feel or how rich and flashy I was?
  • If I wasn't afraid of anyone or anything, what would I have done? What if I didn't have any fear in me?
  • If today was my last day, what extraordinary thing would I do? Can I do it right now?
  • What should I do with the things that matter the most to me? 
  • What things will make the greatest difference in my future life if I take action now?
  • How should I react when I feel unwanted by the people I love the most? Should I tell them?

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Critical Thinking Questions for a Debate or Discussion

When you are in the middle of a debate or discussion, you need to know that what you are saying is fact, have evidence to support your claim, and position yourself as an expert in what you are saying. Here are some critical thinking questions to ask when you are in a debate or discussion.

  • Is there fairness in this discussion? Is the moderator supporting one side? Do they want to make one side look stupid or wrong? 
  • What is the aim of this discussion? Is there a major problem that needs to be solved? If so, how can I help solve it?
  • Who are the people affected by this discussion? If they were here, what would they say?
  • Do my views on this discussion matter? If I raise my point, will I be redundant?
  • What am I supposed to learn from this debate, and how can I use what I have learned in my daily life?
  • Does the audience seem to be biased towards one side? Are they booing one side? What can I do even if it's our opponents being booed?
  • Who are the discussion panel members? What views have they held about this kind of discussion or any other related discussions in the past?
  • How can I make my point without being ambiguous? Before I speak, should I take down some notes to avoid any confusion during my speech?
  • Am I ready to apologize if I make a mistake during the discussion? If so, what are the limits?
  • What information does my team, or I need before this discussion? 

Critical Thinking Questions About Lying

Admitting when you are wrong, choosing not to cheat, and sharing constructive feedback are all ways to show your honesty. Here are some critical thinking skills to ask regarding lying.

  • Will the lie hurt those I am telling, or will it help them? What if being honest might cause my friend unnecessary pain?
  • Should I be the one telling this person a lie, or I let someone else do it? 
  • Will I be the one hurt if I tell this lie? Will my friend feel I am a betrayer? Will it affect our friendship?
  • Do they answer my questions in detail, or are they always trying to ignore and dodge the main problem?
  • What if I ask these people the same question using different terms and wording? Will they give me the same response?
  • Did the tone of my friend suddenly change after I asked him/her this question? Do they sound louder, faster, or slower compared to how they usually speak?
  • Does this person have something to gain by lying to me? What is their motive?
  • Does this person take a sudden pause or hesitate more than usual when responding to my question?
  • When I look at these people's faces, do their facial expressions match what they say?
  • Should I believe this person or not? What are my intuitions? Does it look like they are telling the truth?
  • Do they blink like other days when I ask them questions? Are they always trying to avoid direct eye contact?
  • Why do they seem uncomfortable when it’s just a normal conversation?  

Critical Thinking Questions When Presented With a Claim

Critical thinking is much more than just evaluating whether a claim is true or not. It also means a critical thinker reflects on what follows from true claims.

  • What does this claim mean, and what are its implications? What if it's a false claim?
  • Which of my morals, values, or beliefs do I have to give up to accept this claim?
  • Do professionals in this field agree or disagree with the claim that has been made?
  • Do they have evidence to back their claim? Which is the most robust evidence to support the claim?
  • What argument can I come up with to refute this claim? Or what is the best view that can support this claim?
  • Who is the primary source of the claim being made? Is the basis of the claim reliable?
  • Is it a claim, or it's just an opinion?
  • Is the claim likely to be 100% false, true, or partially true?
  • Am I allowed to refute the claim and table my evidence, or is it one-sided?

Critical Thinking Interview Questions

Critical thinking skills are valuable in any industry or field and for almost all roles. During a job interview, you will be asked questions so the potential employer can assess your skills and see how you use logic. Your critical thinking ability is just one vital part that can play into your professional development.

  • Is there a time you had to convince someone to use an alternate approach to solve a problem?
  • Have you ever had to make a difficult decision quickly?
  • How would you handle a situation where your supervisor handled something wrong or made a mistake?
  • What is one of the most difficult decisions you have ever had to make at work?
  • How would you solve a disagreement between coworkers when approaching a project?
  • Can you describe a time when you anticipated a problem ahead of time and took the appropriate steps to stop the problem from becoming an issue?
  • If you discover a cheaper way to do something or a better solution to a problem and try to explain it to your supervisor, but they don’t understand, what do you do?

Critical Thinking Questions for Kids

We can’t leave the kids out either. Critical thinking questions for kids get them thinking and talking. It also allows a parent to get to know their child better.

  • How many grains of sand do you think are on the beach?
  • What would happen if it stopped raining?
  • Do you think there is life on other planets?
  • Should children be able to set their own bedtimes?
  • How would you describe what a tree looks like without saying green or leaves?
  • Can you name five different emotions?
  • Can you talk for five minutes without uttering “um?”

What Are the Basic Principles of Critical Thinking?

Your critical thinking skills involve gathering complete information, understanding and defining terms, questioning the methods by which we get facts, questioning the conclusions, and looking for hidden assumptions and biases.

Additionally, we can’t expect to find all of the answers, and we need to take the time to examine the big picture of it all.

Here are the basic principles:

  • Disposition: Someone with critical thinking skills is often skeptical, open-minded, and practices fair-mindedness. They can look at different viewpoints and change positions if the evidence and reason lead them to do so.
  • Criteria: In order to think critically, one must also apply criteria. Certain conditions must be met before someone believes in something. The information needs to be from credible sources.
  • Argument: An argument is simply a statement or proposition that is shown with supporting evidence. When you use your critical thinking skills, you identify, evaluate, and construct your argument.
  • Reasoning: With critical thinking comes reasoning. You must examine logical relationships among the statements being made.
  • Point of View: Critical thinkers can see things from different perspectives and different points of view.

What Are Good Analysis Questions?

Analysis is a part of critical thinking that allows you to examine something carefully. Someone with analytical skills can examine the information presented, understand what that information means, and then properly explain that information to others. Analysis in critical thinking provides more clarity on the information you process.

When analyzing, you may ask yourself, “how do I know this,” how would I solve this problem,” and “why does it matter?”

Why Is Critical Thinking an Important Skill?

Critical thinking skills allow you to express thoughts, ideas, and beliefs in a better way. It also leads to improved communication while allowing others to understand you better. Critical thinking fosters creativity and encourages out-of-the-box thinking. This is a skill that can be applied to many different areas of your life.

For example, knowing the answers to critical thinking questions for a job interview will better prepare you for the interview. Many employers, during questioning, are likely to ask you critical thinking questions to assess if you have the ability to evaluate information effectively so you can make more informed decisions.

Final Thoughts on Critical Thinking Questions

Although it's common to get torn between making two or more choices, nobody wants to make the wrong decision. The only thing you can do to avoid this is use critical thinking questions to examine your situation. The answers to these questions will help you make informed decisions and help you comprehend crucial matters in your life. 

Want to learn more about critical thinking and decision-making using a real-life example? Here is  how Jeff Bezos uses critical thinking  to make some of the most challenging life decisions.

Finally, if you want to ask better questions, then watch this short, 20-minute course to learn how to have a great conversation with virtually anyone .

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100+ Critical Thinking Questions for Students To Ask About Anything

Critical thinkers question everything.

reading critical thinking questions

In an age of “fake news” claims and constant argument about pretty much any issue, critical thinking skills are key. Teach your students that it’s vital to ask questions about everything, but that it’s also important to ask the right sorts of questions. Students can use these critical thinking questions with fiction or nonfiction texts. They’re also useful when discussing important issues or trying to understand others’ motivations in general.

“Who” Critical Thinking Questions

Questions like these help students ponder who’s involved in a story and how the actions affect them. They’ll also consider who’s telling the tale and how reliable that narrator might be.

  • Is the protagonist?
  • Is the antagonist?
  • Caused harm?
  • Is harmed as a result?
  • Was the most important character?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Is responsible?
  • Is most directly affected?
  • Should have won?
  • Will benefit?
  • Would be affected by this?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Makes the decisions?

“What” Critical Thinking Questions

Ask questions that explore issues more deeply, including those that might not be directly answered in the text.

  • Background information do I know or need to know?
  • Is the main message?
  • Are the defining characteristics?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Questions or concerns do I have?
  • Don’t I understand?
  • Evidence supports the author’s conclusion?
  • Would it be like if … ?
  • Could happen if … ?
  • Other outcomes might have happened?
  • Questions would you have asked?
  • Would you ask the author about … ?
  • Was the point of … ?
  • Should have happened instead?
  • Is that character’s motive?
  • Else could have changed the whole story?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Can you conclude?
  • Would your position have been in that situation?
  • Would happen if … ?
  • Makes your position stronger?
  • Was the turning point?
  • Is the point of the question?
  • Did it mean when … ?
  • Is the other side of this argument?
  • Was the purpose of … ?
  • Does ______ mean?
  • Is the problem you are trying to solve?
  • Does the evidence say?
  • Assumptions are you making?
  • Is a better alternative?
  • Are the strengths of the argument?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Are the weaknesses of the argument?
  • Is the difference between _______ and _______?

“Where” Critical Thinking Questions

Think about where the story is set and how it affects the actions. Plus, consider where and how you can learn more.

  • Would this issue be a major problem?
  • Are areas for improvement?
  • Did the story change?
  • Would you most often find this problem?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Are there similar situations?
  • Would you go to get answers to this problem?
  • Can this be improved?
  • Can you get more information?
  • Will this idea take us?

“When” Critical Thinking Questions

Think about timing and the effect it has on the characters or people involved.

  • Is this acceptable?
  • Is this unacceptable?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Does this become a problem?
  • Is the best time to take action?
  • Will we be able to tell if it worked?
  • Is it time to reassess?
  • Should we ask for help?
  • Is the best time to start?
  • Is it time to stop?
  • Would this benefit society?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Has this happened before?

“Why” Critical Thinking Questions

Asking “why” might be one of the most important parts of critical thinking. Exploring and understanding motivation helps develop empathy and make sense of difficult situations.

  • Is _________ happening?
  • Have we allowed this to happen?
  • Should people care about this issue?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Is this a problem?
  • Did the character say … ?
  • Did the character do … ?
  • Is this relevant?
  • Did the author write this?
  • Did the author decide to … ?
  • Is this important?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Did that happen?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Do you think I (he, she, they) asked that question?
  • Is that answer the best one?
  • Do we need this today?

“How” Critical Thinking Questions

Use these questions to consider how things happen and whether change is possible.

  • Do we know this is true?
  • Does the language used affect the story?
  • Would you solve … ?
  • Is this different from other situations?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Is this similar to … ?
  • Would you use … ?
  • Does the location affect the story?
  • Could the story have ended differently?
  • Does this work?
  • Could this be harmful?
  • Does this connect with what I already know?
  • Else could this have been handled?
  • Should they have responded?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Would you feel about … ?
  • Does this change the outcome?
  • Did you make that decision?
  • Does this benefit you/others?
  • Does this hurt you/others?
  • Could this problem be avoided?

More Critical Thinking Questions

Here are more questions to help probe further and deepen understanding.

  • Can you give me an example?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Do you agree with … ?
  • Can you compare this with … ?
  • Can you defend the actions of … ?
  • Could this be interpreted differently?
  • Is the narrator reliable?
  • Does it seem too good to be true?

reading critical thinking questions

  • Is ______ a fact or an opinion?

What are your favorite critical thinking questions? Come exchange ideas on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

Plus, check out 10 tips for teaching kids to be awesome critical thinkers ., you might also like.

Examples of critical thinking skills like correlation tick-tac-Toe, which teaches analysis skills and debates which teach evaluation skills.

5 Critical Thinking Skills Every Kid Needs To Learn (And How To Teach Them)

Teach them to thoughtfully question the world around them. Continue Reading

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Critical Reading and Reading Strategy

What is critical reading.

Reading critically does not, necessarily, mean being critical of what you read.

Both reading and thinking critically don’t mean being ‘ critical ’ about some idea, argument, or piece of writing - claiming that it is somehow faulty or flawed.

Critical reading means engaging in what you read by asking yourself questions such as, ‘ what is the author trying to say? ’ or ‘ what is the main argument being presented? ’

Critical reading involves presenting a reasoned argument that evaluates and analyses what you have read.  Being critical, therefore - in an academic sense - means advancing your understanding , not dismissing and therefore closing off learning.

See also: Listening Types to learn about the importance of critical listening skills.

To read critically is to exercise your judgement about what you are reading – that is, not taking anything you read at face value.

When reading academic material you will be faced with the author’s interpretation and opinion.  Different authors will, naturally, have different slants. You should always examine what you are reading critically and look for limitations, omissions, inconsistencies, oversights and arguments against what you are reading.

In academic circles, whilst you are a student, you will be expected to understand different viewpoints and make your own judgements based on what you have read.

Critical reading goes further than just being satisfied with what a text says, it also involves reflecting on what the text describes, and analysing what the text actually means, in the context of your studies.

As a critical reader you should reflect on:

  • What the text says:  after critically reading a piece you should be able to take notes, paraphrasing - in your own words - the key points.
  • What the text describes: you should be confident that you have understood the text sufficiently to be able to use your own examples and compare and contrast with other writing on the subject in hand.
  • Interpretation of the text: this means that you should be able to fully analyse the text and state a meaning for the text as a whole.

Critical reading means being able to reflect on what a text says, what it describes and what it means by scrutinising the style and structure of the writing, the language used as well as the content.

Critical Thinking is an Extension of Critical Reading

Thinking critically, in the academic sense, involves being open-minded - using judgement and discipline to process what you are learning about without letting your personal bias or opinion detract from the arguments.

Critical thinking involves being rational and aware of your own feelings on the subject – being able to reorganise your thoughts, prior knowledge and understanding to accommodate new ideas or viewpoints.

Critical reading and critical thinking are therefore the very foundations of true learning and personal development.

See our page: Critical Thinking for more.

Developing a Reading Strategy

You will, in formal learning situations, be required to read and critically think about a lot of information from different sources. 

It is important therefore, that you not only learn to read critically but also efficiently.

The first step to efficient reading is to become selective.

If you cannot read all of the books on a recommended reading list, you need to find a way of selecting the best texts for you. To start with, you need to know what you are looking for.  You can then examine the contents page and/or index of a book or journal to ascertain whether a chapter or article is worth pursuing further.

Once you have selected a suitable piece the next step is to speed-read.

Speed reading is also often referred to as skim-reading or scanning.  Once you have identified a relevant piece of text, like a chapter in a book, you should scan the first few sentences of each paragraph to gain an overall impression of subject areas it covers.  Scan-reading essentially means that you know what you are looking for, you identify the chapters or sections most relevant to you and ignore the rest.

When you speed-read you are not aiming to gain a full understanding of the arguments or topics raised in the text.  It is simply a way of determining what the text is about. 

When you find a relevant or interesting section you will need to slow your reading speed dramatically, allowing you to gain a more in-depth understanding of the arguments raised.  Even when you slow your reading down it may well be necessary to read passages several times to gain a full understanding.

See also: Speed-Reading for Professionals .

Following SQ3R

SQ3R is a well-known strategy for reading. SQ3R can be applied to a whole range of reading purposes as it is flexible and takes into account the need to change reading speeds.

SQ3R is an acronym and stands for:

This relates to speed-reading, scanning and skimming the text.  At this initial stage you will be attempting to gain the general gist of the material in question.

It is important that, before you begin to read, you have a question or set of questions that will guide you - why am I reading this?  When you have a purpose to your reading you want to learn and retain certain information.  Having questions changes reading from a passive to an active pursuit.  Examples of possible questions include:

  • What do I already know about this subject?
  • How does this chapter relate to the assignment question?
  • How can I relate what I read to my own experiences?

Now you will be ready for the main activity of reading.  This involves careful consideration of the meaning of what the author is trying to convey and involves being critical as well as active.

Regardless of how interesting an article or chapter is, unless you make a concerted effort to recall what you have just read, you will forget a lot of the important points.  Recalling from time to time allows you to focus upon the main points – which in turn aids concentration. Recalling gives you the chance to think about and assimilate what you have just read, keeping you active.  A significant element in being active is to write down, in your own words, the key points. 

The final step is to review the material that you have recalled in your notes.  Did you understand the main principles of the argument?  Did you identify all the main points?  Are there any gaps?   Do not take for granted that you have recalled everything you need correctly – review the text again to make sure and clarify.

Continue to: Effective Reading Critical Thinking

See also: Critical Analysis Writing a Dissertation Critical Thinking and Fake News

Life Lessons

Critical thinking

200+ critical thinking questions.

“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” – Voltaire As critical thinkers, it’s our job to question everything, instead of just blindly believing what we’re told, but what kinds of questions should we be asking though? What are the “right” questions to ask? In this article I’ve compiled a list of 200+ […]

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“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” – Voltaire

As critical thinkers, it’s our job to question everything, instead of just blindly believing what we’re told, but what kinds of questions should we be asking though?

What are the “right” questions to ask?

In this article I’ve compiled a list of 200+ of the very best critical thinking questions for almost any situation.

Critical thinking questions:

  • If you’re presented with a claim

If you’re reading a book, listening to a podcast, watching TV or YouTube

If you’re watching an interview.

  • In a group or panel discussion
  • In an argument or debate

If you’re watching the news

  • If you want to spot a lie

If you want to spot a scam

  • If you’re presented with statistics
  • Critical thinking about your life

Let’s begin:

  • Is this an argument, a claim, a belief, an opinion, or a fact?

When you’re presented with information, whether it’s something you’re reading, watching or listening to, ask yourself:

  • How do you know it’s a fact?
  • What evidence exists to support this “fact”?
  • Has this “fact” been proven?
  • Do the majority of experts on the subject agree that this is a fact? Is there an expert consensus on this fact? If not, why not?
  • Is this an ordinary or extraordinary claim?
  • Do the majority of experts agree with this claim? Or is it contentious?
  • What is the source of this claim?
  • Who is making this claim?
  • Is this person an authority or expert?
  • How reliable is this source?
  • What are the best arguments in support of this claim?
  • What do the harshest critics against this position say?
  • What arguments do skeptics of this position give?
  • Has this claim already been debunked?
  • Is this evidence good enough to accept the arguers assertions?
  • Would this evidence stand up in court?
  • Or is the arguer/author/speaker making assertions without evidence?
  • What is the strongest evidence against this claim?
  • Is there more confirming or disconfirming evidence?
  • Is the expert consensus (if there is one) for or against this claim? Why?
  • Do the majority of experts agree or disagree with this claim? Why?
  • How can we verify or falsify this claim?
  • A statement may be true, but is it relevant? Why?
  • To what degree? To what extent?
  • Under what conditions?
  • In what context or circumstances?
  • This claim is 100% true
  • This claim is 100% false
  • This claim is mostly true, partly false
  • This claim is mostly false, partly true
  • This claim is half true, half false
  • Remember: There are degrees of “rightness” and “wrongness”. Statements are rarely 100% true or 100% false
  • What further claims does this claim logically entail?
  • Which of my beliefs would I have to change if I were to accept this claim?
  • If this is an argument, is it deductive or inductive?
  • If an argument is deductive, is it sound, valid, invalid, or unsound?
  • If an argument is inductive, is it cogent, strong, weak, or unsound?
  • How do you know this?
  • How did you determine this?
  • What evidence or proof do you have for this claim?
  • What is their background?
  • What makes them qualified to speak on this subject?
  • Are they an expert in the field?
  • On what basis is the author or speaker an authority or expert on the subject, or at least credible?
  • Are they conservative or liberal?
  • Atheist or religious?
  • Feminist or MGTOW?
  • (No author/speaker is completely neutral, unbiased and objective)
  • When was the article, book, podcast, video etc., written or recorded? Is it possibly outdated? Is there a more recent up-to-date version available?
  • Why did the author write this article/book?
  • Why is the speaker giving this talk? What is their motivation?
  • What is the purpose of this information? Why was it created?
  • Why did I choose to read/watch/listen to it?
  • Who benefits from this information? Why? How?
  • Is this information relevant to you? If so, how? Why do you need to know this? How does it affect you personally?
  • What are the authors/speakers main arguments and assertions? What is their philosophy? What are their main points?
  • Is the author/speaker arguing for anything controversial? If so, there are likely to be good counterarguments on the other side
  • Anonymous authorities aka “weasel words” e.g. “experts say…” “scientists say…” “studies show…”
  • Deductive or inductive reasoning
  • Expert opinion
  • Expert consensus
  • Randomized controlled trials
  • Scientific studies
  • Scientific consensus
  • Or are they making assertions without evidence?
  • What is the strongest evidence in support of these assertions? Is this evidence good enough to accept the authors/speakers conclusions? Would it stand up in court?
  • What is the strongest evidence against these assertions?
  • What might be another equally valid interpretation of the evidence or study results?
  • What conclusions does the author/speaker want you to draw? What do they want you to think/believe/understand/do?
  • Is the author/speaker/news station trying to push a narrative? e.g. “Diversity”, “Gender pay gap”, “Immigration”?
  • Do you agree with the authors/speakers assertions? Why/why not? Anything you disagree with?
  • Do you agree with the authors/speakers philosophy? Why/why not? Anything you disagree with?
  • Do you agree with the authors/speakers “facts” and description of “reality”? Why/why not? Anything you disagree with?
  • Do you agree with the authors/speakers arguments and rationale? Why/why not? Anything you disagree with?
  • Are there any fallacies in the authors/speakers argument or rationale? If so, what?
  • Does the author/speaker address counterarguments, disconfirming evidence, objections etc.? If so, how effectively do they rebut these points?
  • If the author/speaker provides a “rule”, are there any exceptions to the rule that are not explained or accounted for?
  • Do you agree with the authors/speakers conclusions? Why/why not? (You might agree with their arguments and rationale but not with their conclusions) Are they backed up by sufficient evidence? Or is the author/speaker jumping to conclusions too quickly from insufficient evidence?
  • Are there any other equally valid conclusions or interpretations that could have been drawn from the evidence, or any other competing theories with better explanations for the evidence? If so, what?
  • What is the perspective of the author/speaker? Do they seem like an insider or outsider? Why?
  • Whose perspective is this information presented from? America’s or someone else’s? Conservative or liberal? Men or Women? Gen X, Y or Z?
  • What perspectives/viewpoints are not represented here? What other perspectives might be equally valid, or worth looking into?
  • What would (person) say about it?
  • What would (group) say about it?
  • Is there better evidence for one perspective/viewpoint than another?
  • Is the author/speaker presenting you with both sides of the story – or only one?
  • How has the author/speaker framed the information or story?
  • Is the author/speaker embellishing or sensationalizing the story for dramatic effect? Do you think the story really took place the way the author/speaker tells it?
  • What assumptions is the author/speaker making? What does the author/speaker have to believe is true before the rest of their argument makes sense?
  • What are the implications of the authors/speakers argument? If this is true, what else must be true?
  • What are the main problems the author/speaker is trying to solve? What solutions do they propose?
  • Do you agree with the authors/speakers proposed solutions? Can you think of even better solutions to these problems?
  • Has the author/speaker identified the real problem/s, or only a symptom of the problem?
  • Is the author/speakers analysis or solution to the problem or situation oversimplified or incomplete? What needs to be unpacked or expanded upon?
  • Is the author/speaker engaged in oversimplified black and white thinking as if something “always” or “never” happens, or as if “everyone” or “no one” should think/believe/do something, or as if something was right/wrong, true/false, correct/incorrect, without any grey areas in between?
  • Are you engaged in black and white thinking, as if “everything” or “nothing” the author/speaker says is true? Or are you judging the validity of the information line by line, sentence by sentence, claim by claim, realizing that some parts could be true, and other parts false?
  • Is the author/speaker emotional reasoning? Is it facts over feelings, or feels over reals?
  • How would you describe the author/speakers tone? Dogmatic? Overconfident? Emotive? Pay attention not only to what  is said, but  how it’s said. How does the tone affect your response to the speech/text?
  • Is the author/speaker using emotive language/tonality, and/or dramatic images or video, in an attempt to alarm, scare or outrage you?
  • Is the author/speaker guilty of magical or superstitious thinking? Is there a lot of talk of “the law of attraction”, “miracles”, “soul mates” etc.?
  • Does the author/speaker treat their opponents charitably and fairly? Do they treat the other side as intelligent people with a difference of opinion/perspective? Or do they demonize them as “crazy”, “dangerous”, “evil”, “dumb”, “stupid”, “racist”, “sexist”, “homophobic”, “transphobic” etc.?
  • Does the author/speaker seem intellectually honest? Trustworthy? Why/why not?
  • Is the author/speaker trying to be objective in their analysis and critique? Perfect objectivity isn’t possible, but are they even trying to be impartial, unbiased and objective?
  • Yes: Be careful you’re not automatically believing everything they have to say without evidence, and letting them do your thinking for you
  • No: Be careful you’re not automatically dismissing everything they have to say because you don’t like them (Remember: Examine the statement – not the speaker)
  • Yes: Beware because you’re more likely to believe it whether it’s true or not
  • No: Beware because you’re more likely to dismiss it whether it’s true or not
  • The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth
  • Half-truths and holding something back
  • Straight up lying
  • Is the author/speaker misquoting people, or taking quotes out of context?
  • Did the person really say …? Is this a real quote/tweet? Or has the person been misquoted or quoted out of context? Is this a fake tweet?
  • How are you going to use this information? What are you going to do with it? How are you going to put it into practice? How will it make a difference to your life?
  • What is the purpose of this interview? Is it to educate or entertain the audience? Is it to promote a product or service?
  • Who is the interviewee? Why is this person being interviewed?
  • When did this interview take place? Is this information possibly outdated and no longer relevant?
  • Is the interviewer asking the interviewee mostly softball or hardball questions?
  • Is the interviewer asking the interviewee a lot of leading, loaded or gotcha questions? Do they seem to be trying to lead or trap the interviewee? e.g. “Yeah, but isn’t it true that…”, “Yeah, but don’t you think…”, “Yeah, but what about…”
  • Is the interviewer really listening to the interviewee? Are they making a real effort to try to understand the interviewee and their position, or are they simply trying to promote or condemn it?
  • Is the interviewer deliberately trying to make the interviewee look bad? e.g. Are they being overly disagreeable or standoffish? Do they only ask hardball or gotcha questions and then interrupt the interviewee mid-sentence with another difficult question every time the interviewee starts to give a good answer?
  • Does the interviewer interrupt or cut off the interviewee if they start talking about anything controversial, or if they start talking about anything that doesn’t align with the narrative of the network e.g. anti-abortion, pro-gun or pro-Trump comments?
  • Has the interview been edited to make the interviewee look bad, to paint them in a negative light?
  • What additional questions would you ask the interviewee that the interviewer didn’t ask?

If you’re watching a group or panel discussion

If you’re watching a group discussion or debate, especially on a contentious topic e.g. abortion or gun control:

  • Who are the panel members? What makes these people authorities or experts on the subject?
  • Are both sides of the debate equally represented with intelligent people? Or is one side represented by heavyweights and the other side lightweights?
  • Is there an equal distribution of liberal and conservative pundits? Or is it a majority liberal panel with a token conservative? (or vice versa)
  • Does the host seem biased towards one side over the other? Is the host picking sides and showing their approval/disapproval of one side?
  • Is the audience showing an obvious bias to one side of the debate? Are they only applauding/booing one side of the debate?
  • Is the host giving more airtime, credibility and/or respect to one side?
  • Is the host trying to make one side look bad, ignorant or stupid?

In an argument or a debate

If you’re in an argument or a debate, or watching one:

  • Is this an argument or an assertion? If it’s an argument, is it deductive, inductive or abductive? Is it sound or cogent? Valid or invalid? Strong or weak?
  • Are all of the premises true and correct? Do all of the premises necessarily lead to the conclusion? Are there any unjustified leaps of logic?
  • Am I clear on how each word is being defined in the argument?
  • Is someone attempting to redefine words e.g. “rational”, “reasonable”,   “racist” etc., to support their preferred conclusion?
  • Is someone trying to shift the burden of proof? Note: The burden of proof is the obligation to provide evidence to support one’s assertion e.g. “You are guilty” and it is always on the one making the claim – not the other way around
  • Has this argument already been debunked?
  • Is someone making a PRATT? (Point refuted a thousand times)
  • Is this a strawman or steelman argument?
  • Is this the best argument in support of …?
  • What are the best arguments in support of …?
  • What are the best arguments against …?
  • What is the strongest evidence in support of …?
  • What is the strongest evidence against …?
  • Is the preponderance of evidence for or against …? Is there more confirming or disconfirming evidence?
  • Is the expert consensus (if there is one) for or against …? Why?
  • Do the majority of experts agree or disagree with …? Why?
  • Are there any fallacies in this argument or rationale? If so, what? (Fallacies don’t necessarily make an argument invalid but it’s still good to be aware of them)
  • Am I 100% certain I understand my opponent’s position? Am I sure? Could I argue my opponent’s position convincingly? Could I steelman it? Could I pass the Ideological Turing Test? If not, you don’t understand it. Don’t argue for or against a position until you fully understand it
  • What are the strongest points of my opponent’s argument?
  • What are the weakest points of my opponent’s argument?
  • What are the weakest points of my argument?
  • What is the strongest evidence against my position?
  • What are the best arguments against my position?
  • How would I attack my argument if I had to?
  • What do I like about my opponent’s position, and what do I dislike about mine?
  • What aspects of my argument are likely to be unconvincing to those that don’t already agree with me?
  • Does my opponent seem intellectually honest? Are they arguing in good faith? Are they willing to follow the evidence where it leads? Are they willing to admit when they’re mistaken or wrong? Am I?
  • Does my opponent seem more interested in “winning” the argument or discovering the truth?

Ask the other person:

  • How did you determine that?
  • How did you come to that conclusion?
  • What do you know that I don’t?
  • Where am I wrong in my argument or rationale?
  • What evidence would it take to change your mind, to convince you otherwise?
  • Are these your real reasons for believing X? If all of these reasons were proven wrong, would you still continue to believe X? If yes, let’s not even worry about these reasons because they’re not the real reasons you believe X. What are the real reasons you believe X?
  • Why do you think other smart people aren’t convinced by the same arguments and evidence that you are?
  • Associated Press News
  • The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
  • The Economist
  • Pro Publica
  • What is the bias of this news station? Are they liberal or conservative? You can check the bias of a particular news station here:  Media Bias Fact Check
  • Fear mongering
  • Gossip/rumors
  • Hatchet jobs
  • Outrage porn
  • Puff pieces
  • Is this really the most important “news” of the day? Why is this story being prioritized over everything else that happened today?
  • Why do I need to know this? How does it affect me?
  • What is the purpose of this news story? Why was it created? What does the news station want you to think/believe/do?
  • When was this news story published? Is this information current, or is it outdated and/or no longer relevant?
  • Has this story already been debunked?
  • Truth or Fiction
  • The Washington Post Fact Checker
  • Hoax Slayer

Check these websites to see if a claim or story has already been debunked, but don’t rely on any of these websites to do your thinking for you, because they may mislead you with their own political biases

  • Has this story or headline been written to educate, entertain or infuriate you?
  • Is the headline an accurate summary of the information – or is it just clickbait?
  • Do the photos fit the story?
  • Has an unflattering photo been deliberately chosen to paint the subject e.g. Trump in a bad light?
  • Is it likely that this story has been embellished or sensationalized?
  • How has this information been framed or spun?
  • Are you being presented with both sides of the story – or only one?
  • Whose perspective is this presented from? Conservative or liberal? America’s or someone else’s? Men or Women? What other perspectives might be equally valid, or worth looking into?
  • What do the other news stations say? e.g. if you watch CNN or MSNBC, what does CBS or FOX say? (and vice versa)
  • Are you being presented with facts or opinions?  If “facts”, on what basis are they “facts”? What evidence exists to support these “facts”?
  • Do the media’s “facts” and description of “reality” seem accurate? Why/why not? Anything you disagree with?
  • Did someone really say that? Or have they been misquoted or quoted out of context?
  • Does the domain look credible?
  • Is this satire?

How to spot a liar

  • Does it seem like this person is lying or telling the truth? Why? Are they a known liar?
  • Is this person motivated to deceive me? Do they stand to gain something by lying to me? What might this person gain by lying to me?
  • Dodge the question
  • Ignore the question
  • Attack you for asking the question, “How could you ask me a question like that!”
  • Refuse to answer the question
  • Answer a different question
  • Turn the question back on you, “I could ask you the same thing!”
  • Give short one word answers
  • Give vague or ambiguous answers
  • Talk around in circles without answering the question
  • If you ask the person the same question multiple times using different words, do they give different answers and contradict themselves? Do the details in their story keep changing?
  • Uncomfortable
  • Does the person speak slower or faster or louder than normal when answering your questions?
  • Does the person hesitate, take long pauses, or talk slower than normal when answering your questions? (maybe in an attempt to think on the spot and buy time?)
  • Do they avoid eye contact and/or cover their mouth when answering questions?
  • Do they start sentences and not finish them, or change topics and start talking about something else mid-sentence?
  • Does the tone or volume of their voice change? Does their voice crack and/or go higher than normal? Do they cough repetitively and clear their throat, or stammer or stutter?
  • Do they blink rapidly, or not at all, or have a fake or nervous smile?
  • Do they roll their lips back or purse them?
  • Does their body language seem uncomfortable?
  • Do their emotions and facial expressions match their words? When they say they’re “good” or “okay”, do they seem good or okay?
  • Does it seem like they’re in a hurry to change the subject?
  • This person is telling “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”
  • This person is telling half-truths and holding something back
  • This person is playing dumb and pretending to know less than they do
  • This person is straight up lying
  • What does your gut/intuition say? Does it seem like they’re lying or telling you the truth? (or both)
  • Is a stranger emailing, texting or calling you out of the blue claiming something too good to be true? e.g. you’ve entitled to a large inheritance – and all you need to do is provide bank details, or pay taxes or transfer costs? Or that you’ve won a prize in a competition or lottery you’ve never entered?
  • Is someone calling you claiming to be from your bank, gas/electricity provider, phone company etc. and asking you to verify your personal contact details, password, bank details, credit card number etc.? maybe due to “unauthorized” or “suspicious activity” on your account?
  • Does a google search on the exact wording of the email, text or ad reveal a scam?
  • Does the email contain any grammatical or spelling errors, or overly formal language?
  • Does the email ask you to click a link or open an attachment?
  • If you’re buying something online is the seller asking you to make payment with an insecure payment option? e.g. direct bank transfer, money order, or a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin?
  • In an online dating scenario, is someone professing strong feelings for you after only a few encounters?
  • Does the person have a sense of urgency? Are they claiming to need money urgently for a personal or family emergency, medical attention, or to come see you?
  • Is someone using pressure tactics, and trying to make you feel guilty or selfish for not buying their product or service, or donating to a charity?
  • Is someone trying to manipulate you with sleazy sales/self-help seminar type questions e.g. “Do you want to be rich or poor?” “A winner or a loser?” “A success or a failure?”
  • Does it seem too good to be true? Does it seem like a scam? If so, it probably is
  • What does your gut/intuition say?

Statistics questions

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Ask yourself the following questions whenever you’re presented with any statistic:

  • Who paid for the study or survey?
  • Who conducted the study or survey? Does it come from a credible source?
  • Why was the study or survey done? What is the likely agenda?
  • When was the study done? Is the information outdated? Is it still relevant? Times change. Public opinion changes
  • Who was polled? Conservatives or liberals? Men or women? Asians, Blacks, Hispanics or Whites? What age group? Gen X, Y or Z? How diverse was the group?
  • How large was the sample size? How many people were surveyed? Is the sample size large enough? Is it qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods? Was the sample size sufficient?  Was it  representative enough of the wider population? Did the participants come from different cultural and social backgrounds? How generalizable are the findings?
  • What are the statistics measuring?
  • How long did the information take to gather? Was it a 2 week survey? A 6 month study? A 10 year study?
  • What questions were asked?
  • How was each question asked? Were the questions leading or loaded or worded in such a way as to encourage a certain answer?
  • What is the context of the survey?
  • How was the research done? Phone, email, social media, face to face?
  • What is the number as a percentage? e.g. 55, 000 Americans is 0.0167% of the population
  • Is the percentage statistically insignificant? e.g. 500, 000 Americans might be addicted to Heroin, but as a percentage that’s ‘only’ (any number above one is obviously too high) 0.153% of Americans
  • Do the author’s conclusions and the headline logically follow from the data? Or are they reading too much into the data? Find the raw data if you can. Don’t just accept and believe headlines for statistics. Make sure it says what the headline says it says. Statistical headlines are often used to suggest things the data doesn’t actually say
  • Is the research confusing causation and correlation? Check out: spurious correlations for a perfect visual example of why correlation does not equal causation
  • Has this study been peer reviewed by experts?
  • Beware of unsourced statistics

“I can prove anything by statistics except the truth.” – George Canning 

Critical thinking about your life questions

“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates

You can apply critical thinking to the books you read, the podcasts you listen to, the information and “news” presented to you, but ultimately, what better place to apply critical thinking skills than to your own life?

  • Which biases and fallacies are you most guilty of?
  • Where/when do you most often fail to practice critical thinking?
  • What are your sacred cows? What shouldn’t be questioned? What is off limits? God? Jesus? Buddha? Krishna? Muhammad? The Bible? The Bhagavad Gita? The Quran? Your Guru?
  • What do you need to start/stop doing?
  • What do you need to do more/less of?
  • What are your best/worst habits?
  • Where do you waste the most time?
  • Who/what should you cut out of your life?
  • What one thing, if you were to take action on it, would produce the greatest difference in your life?
  • A year from now, what will you wish you had started today?

Recommended reading

For additional critical thinking questions check out:

Critical Reading: The Ultimate Guide

The Socratic Method

50 Critical thinking tips

reading critical thinking questions

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  • Study and research support
  • Academic skills

Critical thinking

Critical reading.

You will select sources and read them in different ways depending on their value to your assignment. For example, you might read to:

  • get a general overview of the text by skimming through it
  • look for specific information or to understand some core concepts by scanning the text
  • examine the text in depth and actively ask questions of the source, in order to understand its relevance and reliability for your own research topic.

The last approach is particularly important for any work you submit for assessment.

You should ask yourself:

  • Why am I reading this? Are you reading for a presentation, assignment, pre-reading for a lecture, or for finding ideas?
  • What do I want to get out of it? Are you looking for specific facts, a general idea of the content, the author's viewpoint?
  • What do I already know?
  • How will I know when I have read enough?

Select what and how to read

Usually, you can't read all the texts you find on a topic, or even everything suggested on a long reading list. You need to make choices and be selective.

Opt for quality and not quantity, and choose reliable and current sources. We also recommend that you start with an easy text to give you an overview of the topic.

You could choose one of four main reading strategies. These are:

  • Predicting : making an educated guess about what the text is about before you start to read.
  • Scanning : looking through the text very quickly to look for keywords.
  • Skimming : reading the introduction and the first line of each paragraph to work out what the text is about.
  • Intensive reading : reading a short section of text slowly and carefully.

When reading and analysing a source closely, use our set of critical thinking questions (PDF) to help you engage critically.

Spreeder is an online tool useful for skim-reading text whilst still gaining an understanding of the context. You can adjust the number of words presented and reading speed of your text, helping you to improve your reading speed.

Warren Berger

A Crash Course in Critical Thinking

What you need to know—and read—about one of the essential skills needed today..

Posted April 8, 2024 | Reviewed by Michelle Quirk

  • In research for "A More Beautiful Question," I did a deep dive into the current crisis in critical thinking.
  • Many people may think of themselves as critical thinkers, but they actually are not.
  • Here is a series of questions you can ask yourself to try to ensure that you are thinking critically.

Conspiracy theories. Inability to distinguish facts from falsehoods. Widespread confusion about who and what to believe.

These are some of the hallmarks of the current crisis in critical thinking—which just might be the issue of our times. Because if people aren’t willing or able to think critically as they choose potential leaders, they’re apt to choose bad ones. And if they can’t judge whether the information they’re receiving is sound, they may follow faulty advice while ignoring recommendations that are science-based and solid (and perhaps life-saving).

Moreover, as a society, if we can’t think critically about the many serious challenges we face, it becomes more difficult to agree on what those challenges are—much less solve them.

On a personal level, critical thinking can enable you to make better everyday decisions. It can help you make sense of an increasingly complex and confusing world.

In the new expanded edition of my book A More Beautiful Question ( AMBQ ), I took a deep dive into critical thinking. Here are a few key things I learned.

First off, before you can get better at critical thinking, you should understand what it is. It’s not just about being a skeptic. When thinking critically, we are thoughtfully reasoning, evaluating, and making decisions based on evidence and logic. And—perhaps most important—while doing this, a critical thinker always strives to be open-minded and fair-minded . That’s not easy: It demands that you constantly question your assumptions and biases and that you always remain open to considering opposing views.

In today’s polarized environment, many people think of themselves as critical thinkers simply because they ask skeptical questions—often directed at, say, certain government policies or ideas espoused by those on the “other side” of the political divide. The problem is, they may not be asking these questions with an open mind or a willingness to fairly consider opposing views.

When people do this, they’re engaging in “weak-sense critical thinking”—a term popularized by the late Richard Paul, a co-founder of The Foundation for Critical Thinking . “Weak-sense critical thinking” means applying the tools and practices of critical thinking—questioning, investigating, evaluating—but with the sole purpose of confirming one’s own bias or serving an agenda.

In AMBQ , I lay out a series of questions you can ask yourself to try to ensure that you’re thinking critically. Here are some of the questions to consider:

  • Why do I believe what I believe?
  • Are my views based on evidence?
  • Have I fairly and thoughtfully considered differing viewpoints?
  • Am I truly open to changing my mind?

Of course, becoming a better critical thinker is not as simple as just asking yourself a few questions. Critical thinking is a habit of mind that must be developed and strengthened over time. In effect, you must train yourself to think in a manner that is more effortful, aware, grounded, and balanced.

For those interested in giving themselves a crash course in critical thinking—something I did myself, as I was working on my book—I thought it might be helpful to share a list of some of the books that have shaped my own thinking on this subject. As a self-interested author, I naturally would suggest that you start with the new 10th-anniversary edition of A More Beautiful Question , but beyond that, here are the top eight critical-thinking books I’d recommend.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark , by Carl Sagan

This book simply must top the list, because the late scientist and author Carl Sagan continues to be such a bright shining light in the critical thinking universe. Chapter 12 includes the details on Sagan’s famous “baloney detection kit,” a collection of lessons and tips on how to deal with bogus arguments and logical fallacies.

reading critical thinking questions

Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments Into Extraordinary Results , by Shane Parrish

The creator of the Farnham Street website and host of the “Knowledge Project” podcast explains how to contend with biases and unconscious reactions so you can make better everyday decisions. It contains insights from many of the brilliant thinkers Shane has studied.

Good Thinking: Why Flawed Logic Puts Us All at Risk and How Critical Thinking Can Save the World , by David Robert Grimes

A brilliant, comprehensive 2021 book on critical thinking that, to my mind, hasn’t received nearly enough attention . The scientist Grimes dissects bad thinking, shows why it persists, and offers the tools to defeat it.

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know , by Adam Grant

Intellectual humility—being willing to admit that you might be wrong—is what this book is primarily about. But Adam, the renowned Wharton psychology professor and bestselling author, takes the reader on a mind-opening journey with colorful stories and characters.

Think Like a Detective: A Kid's Guide to Critical Thinking , by David Pakman

The popular YouTuber and podcast host Pakman—normally known for talking politics —has written a terrific primer on critical thinking for children. The illustrated book presents critical thinking as a “superpower” that enables kids to unlock mysteries and dig for truth. (I also recommend Pakman’s second kids’ book called Think Like a Scientist .)

Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters , by Steven Pinker

The Harvard psychology professor Pinker tackles conspiracy theories head-on but also explores concepts involving risk/reward, probability and randomness, and correlation/causation. And if that strikes you as daunting, be assured that Pinker makes it lively and accessible.

How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion and Persuasion , by David McRaney

David is a science writer who hosts the popular podcast “You Are Not So Smart” (and his ideas are featured in A More Beautiful Question ). His well-written book looks at ways you can actually get through to people who see the world very differently than you (hint: bludgeoning them with facts definitely won’t work).

A Healthy Democracy's Best Hope: Building the Critical Thinking Habit , by M Neil Browne and Chelsea Kulhanek

Neil Browne, author of the seminal Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking, has been a pioneer in presenting critical thinking as a question-based approach to making sense of the world around us. His newest book, co-authored with Chelsea Kulhanek, breaks down critical thinking into “11 explosive questions”—including the “priors question” (which challenges us to question assumptions), the “evidence question” (focusing on how to evaluate and weigh evidence), and the “humility question” (which reminds us that a critical thinker must be humble enough to consider the possibility of being wrong).

Warren Berger

Warren Berger is a longtime journalist and author of A More Beautiful Question .

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How to Encourage Critical Thinking Skills While Reading: Effective Strategies

reading critical thinking questions

Encouraging critical thinking skills while reading is essential to children’s cognitive development. Critical thinking enables them to engage deeply with a topic or a book, fostering a better understanding of the material. It is a skill that does not develop overnight but can be nurtured through various strategies and experiences.

One effective way to cultivate critical thinking in children is by sharing quality books with them and participating in discussions that facilitate an exchange of ideas and opinions. Through these conversations, children can draw on their existing knowledge, problem-solving abilities, and experiences to expand their understanding of a subject.

Parents and teachers help kids think more deeply about things. They can do this by answering questions that help kids compare different ideas, look at things from different angles, guess what might happen, and develop new solutions.

Importance of Critical Thinking Skills in Reading

Critical thinking helps us understand what we read better. It helps us ask questions and think more deeply about the text. Critical thinking skills can help us analyze, evaluate, and understand what we read.

By incorporating critical thinking, readers can differentiate between facts and opinions, forming their views based on logical reasoning and evidence. This ability is particularly crucial in today’s information abundance, where readers are often exposed to biased or unreliable content. According to Critical Thinking Secrets , using critical thinking in reading allows learners to exercise their judgment in assessing the credibility of the information.

Furthermore, critical thinking promotes creativity and problem-solving skills. Practicing critical thinking allows learners to devise new and innovative ideas to address various challenges. This skill improves academic performance and prepares young minds for future professional endeavors.

Engaging with quality books and participating in thought-provoking discussions can nurture critical thinking abilities in children. Reading Rockets emphasizes the importance of exposing children to texts that challenge their thinking and encourage them to ask questions, fostering the development of critical thinking skills over time.

Teachers also play a significant role in promoting critical thinking in the classroom. Employing various instructional strategies, such as problem-based learning, asking open-ended questions, and providing opportunities for group discussions, can help students cultivate critical thinking habits.

Developing a Reading Environment That Fosters Critical Thinking

Creating a reading environment that promotes critical thinking enables students to engage with texts more deeply and develop essential analytical skills. The following sub-sections outline strategies for choosing thought-provoking materials and encouraging open discussions.

Choosing Thought-Provoking Materials

Selecting suitable reading materials is critical to stimulating critical thinking among students. Teachers should look for texts that:

  • Are relevant and relatable to students’ lives and interests
  • Present various perspectives and diverse characters
  • Pose challenging questions and open-ended problems

By incorporating such texts into the classroom, students can be exposed to new ideas and viewpoints, promoting critical thinking and engagement with the material. For instance, in Eight Instructional Strategies for Promoting Critical Thinking , teachers are advised to choose compelling topics and maintain relevance to foster critical thinking

Encouraging Open Discussions

Fostering an environment where open discussions occur is essential to promoting critical thinking skills while reading. Teachers should:

  • Create a culture of inquiry by posing open-ended questions and encouraging students to form opinions and debates
  • Facilitate discussions by asking students to explain their thinking processes and share their interpretations of the text
  • Respect all opinions and viewpoints, emphasizing that the goal is to learn from each other rather than reach a “correct” answer

Students who feel comfortable participating in discussions are more likely to develop critical thinking skills. The Reading Rockets emphasizes the importance of reading together and engaging in conversations to nurture critical thinking in children.

Active Reading Strategies

Active reading is an essential skill for encouraging critical thinking skills while reading. This involves consciously engaging with the material and connecting with what you know or have read before. This section discusses key strategies that can help you become an active reader.

Annotating and Note-Taking

Annotating the text and taking notes as you read allows you to engage with the material on a deeper level. This process of actively engaging with the text helps you to analyze and retain information more effectively. As you read, it is important to make marginal notes or comments to highlight key points and draw connections between different sections of the material.

Asking Questions While Reading

One important aspect of critical reading is questioning the material. This means not taking everything you read at face value and considering the author’s interpretation and opinion . As you read, develop the habit of asking questions throughout the process, such as:

  • What is the author’s main argument?
  • What evidence supports this argument?
  • How is the information presented in a logical manner?
  • What are the possible opposing viewpoints?

By asking questions, you can better understand the author’s viewpoint and the evidence presented, which helps to develop your critical thinking skills.

Summarizing and Paraphrasing

Summarizing and paraphrasing are essential skills for critical reading. Summarizing the material allows you to condense key points and process the information more easily. Paraphrasing, or rephrasing the ideas in your own words, not only helps you better understand the material, but also ensures that you’re accurately interpreting the author’s ideas.

Both summarizing and paraphrasing can enhance your critical thinking skills by compelling you to analyze the text and identify the main ideas and supporting evidence. This way, you can make informed judgments about the content, making your reading more purposeful and engaging.

Developing critical thinking skills while reading literature involves a comprehensive understanding of various literary devices. This section highlights three primary aspects of literary analysis: Recognizing Themes and Patterns, Analyzing Characters and Their Motivations, and Evaluating the Author’s Intent and Perspective.

Recognizing Themes and Patterns

One way to foster critical thinking is through recognizing themes and patterns in the text. Encourage students to identify recurring themes, symbols, and motifs as they read. Additionally, examining the relationships between different elements in the story can help create connections and analyze the overall meaning.

For example, in a story about the struggles of growing up, students might notice patterns in the protagonist’s journey, such as recurring conflicts or milestones. By contemplating these patterns, learners can engage in deeper analysis and interpretation of the text.

Analyzing Characters and Their Motivations

Character analysis is an essential aspect of literary analysis, as understanding characters’ motivations can lead to a thorough comprehension of the narrative. Encourage students to analyze the motives behind each character’s actions, focusing on the factors that drive their decisions.

For instance, in a novel where two characters have differing goals, have students consider why these goals differ and how the characters’ motivations impact the story’s outcome. This exploration can lead to thought-provoking discussions about human behavior, facilitating the development of critical thinking skills.

Evaluating the Author’s Intent and Perspective

Critical thinking is essential to evaluating the author’s intent and perspective. This process involves deciphering the underlying message or purpose of the text and analyzing how the author’s experiences or beliefs may have influenced their writing.

One strategy for accomplishing this is to examine the historical or cultural context in which the work was written. By considering the author’s background, students can better understand the ideas or arguments presented in the text.

For example, if reading a novel set during a significant historical period, like the Civil Rights Movement, understanding the author’s experience can help students analyze narrative elements, enhancing their critical thinking abilities.

Methods to Encourage Critical Thinking Beyond Reading

While reading is essential to developing critical thinking skills, it can be further enhanced by incorporating certain activities in daily routines that promote critical thinking.

Debates and Group Discussions

Debates and group discussions are excellent methods for encouraging critical thinking. By participating in debates or discussions, learners exchange diverse ideas, challenge each other’s reasoning, and evaluate the strength of their arguments. These activities require participants to think and respond quickly, synthesize information, and analyze multiple perspectives.

Teachers and parents can facilitate debates and group discussions by selecting topics that are relevant and related to the subject matter. Promoting respectful dialogue and modeling effective listening skills are also important aspects of setting up successful debates or discussions.

Exploring Other Media Formats

In addition to reading, exploring other media formats like documentaries, podcasts, and videos can help stimulate critical thinking in learners. Different mediums present information in unique ways, providing learners with various perspectives and fostering a more comprehensive understanding of the topic.

Using diverse media formats, individuals can compare and contrast information, question what they know, and further develop their analytical skills. It is essential that educators and parents encourage learners to explore these formats critically, assessing the credibility of the sources and ensuring accuracy in the information consumed.

Assessing Progress and Providing Feedback

Developing critical thinking skills while reading requires continuous assessment and feedback. Monitoring students’ progress in this area and providing constructive feedback can help ensure development and success.

Setting Measurable Goals

Establishing clear, measurable goals for critical thinking is vital for both students and educators. These goals should be specific, achievable, and time-bound. To effectively assess progress, consider using a variety of assessments, such as:

  • Classroom discussions
  • Reflective writing assignments
  • Group projects
  • Individual presentations

These different assessment methods can help determine if students are reaching their critical thinking goals and guide educators in adjusting their instruction as needed.

Providing Constructive Feedback

Constructive feedback is essential for students to improve their critical thinking skills. When providing feedback, consider the following guidelines:

  • Be specific and focused on the critical thinking aspects of students’ work
  • Link feedback directly to the established goals and criteria
  • Encourage self-assessment and reflection
  • Highlight strengths and areas for improvement
  • Offer realistic suggestions for improvement

By implementing these strategies, educators can ensure that students receive the necessary support and guidance to develop their critical thinking skills while reading.

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reading critical thinking questions

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Questioning: The Ultimate Reading Strategy for Critical Thinkers

reading critical thinking questions

Questioning is a reading strategy that involves generating and answering questions before, during, and after reading to enhance comprehension. It helps readers to engage with the text, think critically, and retain information. This article will provide an overview of questioning as a reading strategy, discuss its formation and promotion, explore how it can help RTI students, and offer practical tips for implementing it in the classroom.

Overview of Questioning as a Reading Strategy

Questioning is a metacognitive reading strategy that involves actively engaging with the text by asking questions, seeking answers, and making connections between ideas. The strategy is divided into three stages: before, during, and after reading.

Before Reading: This stage involves generating questions before reading to help activate prior knowledge and set a purpose for reading. Questions could be related to the author, genre, topic, or theme of the text.

During Reading: This stage involves generating questions while reading to monitor comprehension, clarify understanding, and make predictions. Questions could be related to the meaning of unfamiliar words, the main idea, or the author's purpose.

After Reading: This stage involves generating questions after reading to evaluate understanding, reflect on learning, and make connections to real-life situations. Questions could be related to the text's relevance, the author's bias, or the characters' motivations.

Formation and Promotion of Questioning as a Reading Strategy.

The questioning reading strategy was first introduced in the 1960s by the educational psychologist, Benjamin Bloom, who developed the Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Bloom's Taxonomy is a framework for classifying learning objectives into six hierarchical levels, ranging from simple recall of information to complex analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The questioning strategy is based on the higher-order thinking levels of Bloom's Taxonomy, which require students to engage in critical thinking and problem-solving.

Since its inception, the questioning strategy has been widely promoted by educators, researchers, and curriculum developers as a powerful tool for improving reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. It has been incorporated into various reading programs and curricula, including the Reading Recovery Program, the Common Core State Standards, and the Response to Intervention (RTI) framework.

How Questioning Helps RTI Students

The RTI framework is a multi-tiered system of support designed to help struggling students by providing targeted interventions that address their specific needs. The questioning reading strategy is an effective tool for RTI students because it helps them to:

Activate Prior Knowledge: Questioning before reading helps students to activate their prior knowledge and build connections between what they already know and what they will be reading. This can improve their comprehension and retention of information.

Monitor Comprehension: Questioning during reading helps students to monitor their comprehension and identify areas of confusion or misunderstanding. This can help them to clarify their understanding and improve their overall comprehension.

Reflect on Learning: Questioning after reading helps students to reflect on what they have learned and make connections to real-life situations. This can help them to apply their learning and develop a deeper understanding of the text.

Implementing Questioning in the Classroom

Here are some practical tips for implementing the questioning reading strategy in the classroom:

Model the Strategy: Model the questioning strategy by asking students questions about the text before, during, and after reading. This can help them to see how the strategy works and develop their own questioning skills.

Provide Guided Practice: Provide guided practice by giving students a set of questions to answer before, during, and after reading. This can help them to develop their questioning skills and build confidence.

Encourage Independent Practice: Encourage independent practice by having students generate their own questions before, during, and after reading. This can help them to take ownership of their learning and develop their critical thinking skills.

Use Graphic Organizers: Use graphic organizers, such as KWL charts or mind maps, to help students organize their questions and make connections between ideas.

Differentiate Instruction: Differentiate instruction by providing different levels of questioning for students at different levels of proficiency. For example, lower-level questions for struggling readers and higher-level questions for advanced readers.

In conclusion, questioning is a powerful reading strategy that can help RTI students to improve their reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. By generating and answering questions before, during, and after reading, students can engage with the text, monitor their comprehension, and reflect on their learning. Implementing this strategy in the classroom requires modeling, guided practice, independent practice, graphic organizers, and differentiated instruction. By incorporating questioning into their reading instruction, teachers can help their students to become more effective readers and critical thinkers.

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On one level, reading critically simply means asking questions and evaluating the claims, and not simply accepting what you read.

However, the types of questions you ask, and the types of issues you prioritise in your evaluation, can vary considerably. 

You can do it in a relatively 'logical' way, thinking about the reasoning used, the claims made based on the evidence, etc. You can also do it in a more 'political' way, where the social implications are taken into account. 

You can also ask your tutor for examples, to find out how they understand the concept of criticality. This may help to understand what they are expecting in your writing.  

We might ask some of the questions below when reading a text.

Look at the questions carefully, and check that you understand what they are asking. You do not need to use all of these questions every time you read. Choose two or three which make the most sense to you, and start there.

Questions about the overall text

(a) What is the purpose/aim of this text? How do you know? How might this influence the way it is written?

(b) Can you see any justification (direct or implied) for the research decisions? Do the justifications seem reasonable?

Questions about the truth claims made within the text

(c) Are any assumptions being made in this text? Assumptions might include: _______________________ is important. _______________________ is possible. _______________________ might influence _______________________. _______________________ is a positive thing. _______________________ is a negative thing.

(d) Do these assumptions seem reasonable in this context? Why or why not?

(e) Are any generalisations being made? Are these generalisations reasonable here?

(f) Do any claims seem too certain?

(g) Are there suitable examples?

(h) Are there claims which are based on authority for support? What kind of authority is it? Does this seem reasonable?

(i) Are there claims which are based on evidence for support? What kind of evidence is it? Does this seem reasonable?

(j) Are any concepts being conflated?

Questions about how the text could be different

(k) What is missing from the text?

(l) How could the text be not like this / different?

(m) Is anything being used out of context in the text?

Political Questions

(n) Is there anything problematic in the text?

(o) Are any groups being excluded or marginalized in the text or in the implications of the claims?

(p) Is there any exclusionary language used in the text?

(q) What would the implications be, if we were to take the claims seriously? i.e. What would happen next?

Personal Engagement

(r) How does this text relate to my personal experience?

(s) How does my personal knowledge and experience affect  the way I read the text?

(t) Can my personal experience help me to evaluate the  claims?

(u) What status does my personal experience have, in relation to the published research?

(v) Can I find anything in the literature to help me  relate this to my personal experience?

Further Critical Questions

What else? (Can you think of further critical questions? Do you have a favourite question?)

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reading critical thinking questions

Critical Thinking for Reading Comprehension

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Critical Thinking, Language Arts

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Supercharge reading comprehension and analysis skills with this 64-page language arts resource designed for ages 7-11. Critical Thinking for Reading Comprehension teaches the identification and evaluation of text and image-based evidence using short, high-interest activities. In simple, understandable terms, 'Critical Thinking' is the identification and evaluation of evidence to guide decision-making. The activities in this book diverge from traditional reading comprehension exercises, emphasizing the development of critical thinking through "low read" excerpts that require careful reading and analysis to identify supporting evidence and solutions. After just a few activities, most students will come to understand the importance of reading for understanding and evidence-based decision-making. Students will develop vital life skills while enjoying the fun of uncovering the right answers. To maximize the learning experience, teachers should work through the first few activities with students and encourage students to describe their evidence and rationale for each answer. This approach builds confidence and reinforces the significance of critical thinking in making decisions, setting students up for success. Embark on an enriching journey that will empower young minds to excel!

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Reading & Writing Purposes

Introduction: critical thinking, reading, & writing, critical thinking.

The phrase “critical thinking” is often misunderstood. “Critical” in this case does not mean finding fault with an action or idea. Instead, it refers to the ability to understand an action or idea through reasoning. According to the website SkillsYouNeed [1]:

Critical thinking might be described as the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking.

In essence, critical thinking requires you to use your ability to reason. It is about being an active learner rather than a passive recipient of information.

Critical thinkers rigorously question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them at face value. They will always seek to determine whether the ideas, arguments, and findings represent the entire picture and are open to finding that they do not.

Critical thinkers will identify, analyze, and solve problems systematically rather than by intuition or instinct.

Someone with critical thinking skills can:

  • Understand the links between ideas.
  • Determine the importance and relevance of arguments and ideas.
  • Recognize, build, and appraise arguments.
  • Identify inconsistencies and errors in reasoning.
  • Approach problems in a consistent and systematic way.
  • Reflect on the justification of their own assumptions, beliefs and values.

Read more at:  https://www.skillsyouneed.com/learn/critical-thinking.html

reading critical thinking questions

Critical thinking—the ability to develop your own insights and meaning—is a basic college learning goal. Critical reading and writing strategies foster critical thinking, and critical thinking underlies critical reading and writing.

Critical Reading

Critical reading builds on the basic reading skills expected for college.

College Readers’ Characteristics

  • College readers are willing to spend time reflecting on the ideas presented in their reading assignments. They know the time is well-spent to enhance their understanding.
  • College readers are able to raise questions while reading. They evaluate and solve problems rather than merely compile a set of facts to be memorized.
  • College readers can think logically. They are fact-oriented and can review the facts dispassionately. They base their judgments on ideas and evidence.
  • College readers can recognize error in thought and persuasion as well as recognize good arguments.
  • College readers are skeptical. They understand that not everything in print is correct. They are diligent in seeking out the truth.

Critical Readers’ Characteristics

  • Critical readers are open-minded. They seek alternative views and are open to new ideas that may not necessarily agree with their previous thoughts on a topic. They are willing to reassess their views when new or discordant evidence is introduced and evaluated.
  • Critical readers are in touch with their own personal thoughts and ideas about a topic. Excited about learning, they are eager to express their thoughts and opinions.
  • Critical readers are able to identify arguments and issues. They are able to ask penetrating and thought-provoking questions to evaluate ideas.
  • Critical readers are creative. They see connections between topics and use knowledge from other disciplines to enhance their reading and learning experiences.
  • Critical readers develop their own ideas on issues, based on careful analysis and response to others’ ideas.

The video below, although geared toward students studying for the SAT exam (Scholastic Aptitude Test used for many colleges’ admissions), offers a good, quick overview of the concept and practice of critical reading.

Critical Reading & Writing

College reading and writing assignments often ask you to react to, apply, analyze, and synthesize information. In other words, your own informed and reasoned ideas about a subject take on more importance than someone else’s ideas, since the purpose of college reading and writing is to think critically about information.

Critical thinking involves questioning. You ask and answer questions to pursue the “careful and exact evaluation and judgment” that the word “critical” invokes (definition from The American Heritage Dictionary ). The questions simply change depending on your critical purpose. Different critical purposes are detailed in the next pages of this text.

However, here’s a brief preview of the different types of questions you’ll ask and answer in relation to different critical reading and writing purposes.

When you react to a text you ask:

  • “What do I think?” and
  • “Why do I think this way?”

e.g., If I asked and answered these “reaction” questions about the topic assimilation of immigrants to the U.S. , I might create the following main idea statement, which I could then develop in an essay:  I think that assimilation has both positive and negative effects because, while it makes life easier within the dominant culture, it also implies that the original culture is of lesser value.

When you apply text information you ask:

  • “How does this information relate to the real world?”

e.g., If I asked and answered this “application” question about the topic assimilation , I might create the following main idea statement, which I could then develop in an essay:  During the past ten years, a group of recent emigrants has assimilated into the local culture; the process of their assimilation followed certain specific stages.

When you analyze text information you ask:

  • “What is the main idea?”
  • “What do I want to ‘test’ in the text to see if the main idea is justified?” (supporting ideas, type of information, language), and
  • “What pieces of the text relate to my ‘test?'”

e.g., If I asked and answered these “analysis” questions about the topic immigrants to the United States , I might create the following main idea statement, which I could then develop in an essay: Although Lee (2009) states that “segmented assimilation theory asserts that immigrant groups may assimilate into one of many social sectors available in American society, instead of restricting all immigrant groups to adapting into one uniform host society,” other theorists have shown this not to be the case with recent immigrants in certain geographic areas.

When you synthesize information from many texts you ask:

  • “What information is similar and different in these texts?,” and
  • “What pieces of information fit together to create or support a main idea?”

e.g., If I asked and answered these “synthesis” questions about the topic immigrants to the U.S. , I might create the following main idea statement, which I could then develop by using examples and information from many text articles as evidence to support my idea: Immigrants who came to the United States during the immigration waves in the early to mid 20th century traditionally learned English as the first step toward assimilation, a process that was supported by educators. Now, both immigrant groups and educators are more focused on cultural pluralism than assimilation, as can be seen in educators’ support of bilingual education. However, although bilingual education heightens the child’s reasoning and ability to learn, it may ultimately hinder the child’s sense of security within the dominant culture if that culture does not value cultural pluralism as a whole.

reading critical thinking questions

Critical reading involves asking and answering these types of questions in order to find out how the information “works” as opposed to just accepting and presenting the information that you read in a text. Critical writing involves recording your insights into these questions and offering your own interpretation of a concept or issue, based on the meaning you create from those insights.

  • Crtical Thinking, Reading, & Writing. Authored by : Susan Oaks, includes material adapted from TheSkillsYouNeed and Reading 100; attributions below. Project : Introduction to College Reading & Writing. License : CC BY-NC: Attribution-NonCommercial
  • Critical Thinking. Provided by : TheSkillsYouNeed. Located at : https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ . License : Public Domain: No Known Copyright . License Terms : Quoted from website: The use of material found at skillsyouneed.com is free provided that copyright is acknowledged and a reference or link is included to the page/s where the information was found. Read more at: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/
  • The Reading Process. Authored by : Scottsdale Community College Reading Faculty. Provided by : Maricopa Community College. Located at : https://learn.maricopa.edu/courses/904536/files/32966438?module_item_id=7198326 . Project : Reading 100. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • image of person thinking with light bulbs saying -idea- around her head. Authored by : Gerd Altmann. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : https://pixabay.com/photos/light-bulb-idea-think-education-3704027/ . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved
  • video What is Critical Reading? SAT Critical Reading Bootcamp #4. Provided by : Reason Prep. Located at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Hc3hmwnymw . License : Other . License Terms : YouTube video
  • image of man smiling and holding a lightbulb. Authored by : africaniscool. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : https://pixabay.com/photos/man-african-laughing-idea-319282/ . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved

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Critical Thinking Reading Comprehension Worksheets

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Short Story Reading Comprehension Worksheets

  • Beginning Level
  • Answers for this series are included at the end of each worksheet.
  • "My Friend" - Low Beginning. 3 answer choices. 7 questions. 74 words.
  • "My House" - Low Beginning. 3 answer choices. 7 questions. 92 words.
  • "Time to..." - Low Beginning. 4 answer choices. 11 questions. 89 words.
  • "My Family" - Low Beginning. 4 answer choices. 6 questions. 90 words.
  • "Rainy Day" - Low Beginning. 4 answer choices. 5 questions. 78 words.
  • "A Call to the Pool" - Low Beginning. 4 answer choices. 5 questions. 116 words.
  • "The Singing Bird" - Low Beginning. 4 answer choices. 5 questions. 96 words.
  • "Seeing Stars" - Low Beginning. 4 answer choices. 8 questions. 92 words.
  • "I Fly" - Low Beginning. 4 answer choices. 4 questions. 113 words.
  • "The Drive" - Mid Beginning. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 120 words.
  • "Zach's Animals" - Mid Beginning. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 104 words.
  • "Griffin's Talents" - Mid Beginning. 4 answer choices. 9 questions. 112 words.
  • "A Happy Visitor" - Mid Beginning. 4 answer choices. 5 questions. 170 words.
  • "An Adventure" - Mid Beginning. 4 answer choices. 5 questions. 177 words.
  • "Running" - Mid Beginning. 4 answer choices. 5 questions. 148 words.
  • "Paul Cooks" - Mid Beginning. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 112 words.
  • "Bella Hides" - Mid Beginning. 4 answer choices. 8 questions. 135 words.
  • "First Prize" - Mid Beginning. 4 answer choices. 8 questions. 155 words.
  • "What Number?" - Mid Beginning. 4 answer choices. 12 questions. 154 words.
  • "The Interview" - High Beginning. 4 answer choices. 9 questions. 205 words.
  • "Julian's Work" - High Beginning. 4 answer choices. 12 questions. 194 words.
  • "Talia's Special Day" - High Beginning. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 204 words.
  • "One Hundred Dollars" - High Beginning. 4 answer choices. 13 questions. 273 words.
  • "New Shoes for Maddy" - High Beginning. 4 answer choices. 11 questions. 223 words.
  • "The 20" - High Beginning. 4 answer choices. 12 questions. 256 words.
  • "Big City Noise" - High Beginning. 4 answer choices. 13 questions. 238 words.
  • Intermediate Level
  • "By the Water" - Low Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 9 questions. 225 words.
  • "A Cold Day" - Low Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 14 questions. 286 words.
  • "Vet Emergency!" - Low Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 247 words.
  • "Late" - Low Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 14 questions. 284 words.
  • "The Brenners" - Low Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 13 questions. 297 words.
  • "Bullied" - Low Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 13 questions. 197 words.
  • "The New School" - Low Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 14 questions. 286 words.
  • "The Park" - Low Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 11 questions. 297 words.
  • "Worth Working For" - Mid Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 280 words.
  • "The Rent Man" - Mid Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 12 questions. 215 words.
  • "Time with Grandpa" - Mid Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 9 questions. 237 words.
  • "The Bus Driver" - Mid Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 15 questions. 294 words.
  • "A Day Like No Other" - Mid Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 12 questions. 305 words.
  • "A Mystery" - Mid Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 247 words.
  • "Just One Touch" - Mid Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 15 questions. 326 words.
  • "Wanga" - Mid Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 13 questions. 340 words.
  • "Ana Finds an Apartment" - Mid Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 12 questions. 408 words.
  • "Guermo's Surprise" - High Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 9 questions. 372 words .
  • "Canopy of Nature" - High Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 8 questions. 332 words .
  • "Blizzard in Birmingham" - High Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 319 words.
  • "A Christmas in March" - High Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 385 words.
  • "Bail" - High Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 301 words.
  • "Clean Water Act" - High Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 632 words.
  • "BB" - High Intermediate. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 511 words .
  • Advanced Level
  • "The Mini Problem" - Low Advanced. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 291 words .
  • "Flower Power" - Low Advanced. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 368 words.
  • "Seeing Clearly" - Low Advanced. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 284 words .
  • "Accused" - Low Advanced. 4 answer choices. 12 questions. 285 words.
  • "City Girl" - Low Advanced. 4 answer choices. 13 questions. 429 words.
  • "Fried" - Mid Advanced. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 235 words.
  • "Tattoo" - Mid Advanced. 4 answer choices. 11 questions. 350 words.
  • "The Transfers" - Mid Advanced. 4 answer choices. 12 questions. 381 words.
  • "Wild" - Mid Advanced. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 493 words.
  • "Scorpion" - Low Advanced. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 333 words
  • "Remains of a Marriage" - Mid Advanced. 4 answer choices. 11 questions. 345 words.
  • "Museum Hours" - Mid Advanced. 4 answer choices. 10 questions. 179 words.
  • "Seeing Through" - High Advanced. 5 answer choices. 10 questions. 326 words.
  • "Ursula Pugh" - High Advanced. 5 answer choices. 8 questions. 324 words.
  • "Dreams" - High Advanced. 4 answer choices. 12 questions. 357 words.
  • "Tracks" - High Advanced. 5 answer choices. 11 questions. 531 words.
  • "Love Train" - High Advanced. 5 answer choices. 12 questions. 646 words.
  • "The Storm" - High Advanced. 4 answer choices. 12 questions. 407 words.

Informational Passages Reading Comprehension Worksheets

In these reading comprehension worksheets, students are asked questions about information they have read about a specific topic. each passage reads similar to a newspaper of journal article, and provides interesting information about some aspect of history, nature, mechanics, science, art, and more. questions involve critical thinking with a focus on logic and inference..

  • Answer Key - This answer key is available but still under development.
  • "The Sun" - Low Beginning. 3 questions. Under 50 words.
  • "Gas" - Low Beginning. 3 questions. Under 50 words.
  • "Music" - Low Beginning. 4 questions. Under 50 words.
  • "Birds" - Low Beginning. 4 questions. Under 50 words.
  • "The Heart" - Low Beginning. 4 questions. Under 50 words.
  • "The Butterfly" - Low Beginning. 5 questions. Under 50 words.
  • "Pigs" - Low Beginning. 3 questions. Under 50 words.
  • "The Brain" - Low Beginning. 3 questions. Under 50 words.
  • "The Ocean" - Low Beginning. 7 questions. Under 100 words.
  • "Trees" - Low Beginning. 4 questions. Under 100 words.
  • "Alligators" - Low Beginning. 6 questions. Under 100 words.
  • "The Blow-Dryer" - Low Beginning. 5 questions. Under 100 words.
  • "Green Grass" - Low Beginning. 6 questions. Under 100 words.
  • "Taste" - Low Beginning. 4 questions. Under 100 words.
  • "Bees" - Mid Beginning. 10 questions. Under 200 words.
  • "Frogs" - Mid Beginning. 10 questions. Under 200 words.
  • "Beds" - Mid Beginning. 10 questions. Under 200 words.
  • "Humans" - Mid Beginning. 10 questions. Under 200 words.
  • "Fish" - Mid Beginning. 10 questions. Under 200 words.
  • "Houses" - Mid Beginning. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Soda Pop" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 200 words.
  • "Tea" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 200 words.
  • "Ice Fishing" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Bears" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Flags" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Leonardo Da Vinci" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 300 words..
  • "Tennis" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Dogs" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Money" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Abraham Lincoln" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Corn" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Umbrellas" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Ben Franklin" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Cars" - High Beginning. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • Answer Key - This is the answer key for to the intermediate level informational passages.
  • "Helicopters" - Low Intermediate. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Yellowstone National Park" - Low Intermediate. 10 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Empress of the Blues" - Low Intermediate. 10 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "The Cactus" - Low Intermediate. 10 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Space Exploration Voyagers 1 and 2" - Mid Intermediate. 10 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Television" - Mid Intermediate. 10 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Hibernation and Estivation" - Mid Intermediate. 10 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Marco Polo" - Mid Intermediate. 10 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Movie Ratings" - Mid Intermediate. 10 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Birdsongs" - Mid Intermediate. 10 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Counting" - Mid Intermediate. 10 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Easter Island" - High Intermediate. 10 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Mosquitoes" - High Intermediate. 12 questions. Under 700 words.
  • "Fingerprints" - High Intermediate. 11 questions. Under 700 words.
  • "Mother's Day" - High Intermediate. 10 questions. Under 700 words.
  • "Europe" - High Intermediate. 12 questions. Under 700 words.
  • Answer Key - This is the answer key for to the advanced level informational passages.
  • "Chocolate" - Low Advanced. 10 questions. Under 600 words.
  • "Houses Around the World" - Low Advanced. 10 questions. Under 700 words.
  • "Cells" - Low Advanced. 10 questions. Under 700 words.
  • "Soccer" - Low Advanced. 12 questions. Under 700 words.
  • "Bathtubs" - Low Advanced. 12 questions. Under 700 words.
  • "Pollution" - Low Advanced. 12 questions. Under 700 words.
  • "Interstate Highways" - Low Advanced. 10 questions. Under 800 words.
  • "The U.S. Census" - Low Advanced. 10 questions. Under 800 words.
  • "Sleep" - Low Advanced. 11 questions. Under 800 words.
  • "The U.S. Postal Service" - Mid Advanced. 11 questions. Under 800 words.
  • "Chemical Elements" - Mid Advanced. 11 questions. Under 800 words.
  • "Africa" - Mid Advanced. 11 questions. Under 1000 words.

Technical Reading Comprehension Worksheets

In these reading comprehension worksheets, students are asked questions about the meaning, significance, intention, structure, inference, and vocabulary used in each passage. each passage reads like an encyclopedic or technical journal article. answers for worksheets in this section can be found at the end of each individual worksheet..

  • "Water" - Beginning level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 300 words.
  • "Paper" - Beginning level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 300 words.
  • "The Flu" - Beginning level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 400 words.
  • "Nuts" - Beginning level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 400 words.
  • "The Sun" - Beginning level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 400 words.
  • "The White House" - Beginning level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 400 words.
  • "Soap" - Intermediate level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 400 words.
  • "Clocks" - Intermediate level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 400 words.
  • "The Robin" - Intermediate level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 400 words.
  • "Hybrid Vehicles" - Intermediate level. 4 questions with answers included. Under 500 words.
  • "Photography" - Intermediate level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 500 words.
  • "Biomimetics" - Intermediate level. 4 questions with answers included. Under 700 words.
  • "The Great Debates" - Intermediate level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 400 words.
  • "Salt" - Advanced level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 700 words.
  • "Colony Collapse" - Advanced level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 600 words.
  • "Columbian Exchange" - Advanced level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 700 words.
  • "Ethanol" - Advanced level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 600 words.
  • "Generations" - Advanced level. 3 questions with answers included. Under 600 words.
  • "The Hubble Telescope" - Advanced level. 7 questions with answers included. Under 1000 words.
  • "Intellegence Augmentation" - Advanced level. 5 questions with answers included. Under 1000 words.

Role Play Reading Comprehension Worksheets

In these reading comprehension worksheets, students can increase their understanding of colloquial and idiomatic expressions and get a feel for conversational english. they also allow several students to participate at the same time - which makes them really fun great for use in school or at home..

  • Answer Key - This is the answer key to the role play worksheets.
  • "What Time Is It?" - Beginning Level. 4 questions. Under 100 words.
  • "How Are You?" - Beginning Level. 4 questions. Under 100 words.
  • "Tie Your Shoes!" - Beginning Level. 4 questions. Under 100 words.
  • "Where Are My Glasses?" - Beginning Level. 4 questions. Under 100 words.
  • "A Cookie" - Beginning Level. 4 questions. Under 100 words.
  • "Where Are My Keys?" - Beginning Level. 4 questions. Under 100 words.
  • "City Life, Country Life" - Beginning Level. 10 questions. Under 200 words.
  • "Flu Shot" - Intermediate Level. 5 questions. Under 200 words.
  • "Vinegar" - Intermediate Level. 4 questions. Under 200 words.
  • "Wait for Me!" - Intermediate Level. 8 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Glasses" - Intermediate Level. 8 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Hungry" - Advanced Level. 8 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Want to Know a Secret?" - Advanced Level. 8 questions. Under 200 words.
  • "Milk and Aesthetics" - Advanced Level. 8 questions. Under 500 words.

Dual Version Reading Comprehension Worksheets

In each of these reading comprehension worksheets, the same story is told, but with two versions: one that is basic, and one that is more advanced. this allows students to make direct comparisons between the advanced version to the more basic one, and makes for a powerful learning experience..

  • Answer Key - Coming Soon!
  • "An Overcast Day" - Beginning Level. 4 questions. Under 200 words.
  • "Who Knows My Name?" - Beginning Level. 4 questions. Under 200 words.
  • "A Call to the Pool" - Beginning Level. 6 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Oh No!" - Beginning Level. 8 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "An Adventure" - Beginning Level. 6 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Happy Birthday" - Beginning Level. 4 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "My Family" - Beginning Level. 8 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "My Family" - Beginning Level. 5 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Driving Directions" - Beginning Level. 6 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "A Happy Visitor" - Beginning Level. 7 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "The Singing Bird" - Intermediate Level. 10 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "Violet Makes a Cake" - Intermediate Level. 8 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "A Visit to the Doctor" - Intermediate Level. 7 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "Making Dinner" - Intermediate Level. 8 questions. Under 400 words.
  • "The Market" - Intermediate Level. 10 questions. Under 500 words.
  • "Maria Gets Her License" - Intermediate Level. 8 questions. Under 500 words.
  • "A Paper for School" - Advanced Level. 7 questions. Under 300 words.
  • "A Birthday Surprise" - Advanced Level. 7 questions. Under 600 words.
  • "Getting a New Job" - Advanced Level. 8 questions. Under 600 words.
  • "The Dinner Party" - Advanced Level. 9 questions. Under 600 words.

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Differentiated Teaching

125+ Reading Comprehension Question Stems for Any Text

Good reading comprehension instruction starts with strong lesson plans. One of the most important parts of any reading lesson is the questioning that takes place. Whether you're planning a novel study, reading a picture book, or doing passage practice , well-crafted reading comprehension question stems can help teachers plan high-quality lessons that promote deep understanding and engagement from their students.

Reading Comprehension Question Stems 1 reading comprehension question stems

In this blog post, I'll share easy ways to incorporate reading comprehension question stems into your instruction and provide you with a list of options to make lesson planning go a little more smoothly. Let's get started!

What are question stems?

Question stems are the heart of reading comprehension instruction. They provide teachers with a framework for asking questions that probe student understanding and promote critical thinking.

When used correctly, question stems can ensure all standards are covered and help reading instruction move from surface level to deeper levels of understanding.

This makes them an important tool for fast and effective lesson planning.

Reading Comprehension Question Stems 400 × 600 px 2 1 reading comprehension question stems

Why use stems to support reading comprehension?

There are many reasons why reading comprehension question stems should be an integral part of reading instruction. First, question stems help teachers to focus their questioning. It can be easy to get off track when asking questions during a reading lesson and question stems provide a helpful guide.

Second, question stems encourage students to think more deeply about what they are reading. Good questions should require students to do more than just remember facts or retell the story. Instead, they should be questions that make students think critically about the text and wrestle with complex ideas. There doesn't have to be a correct answer!

Why Should I Use Reading Comprehension Question Stems reading comprehension question stems

Third, question stems can help reading instruction to be more equitable. By using question stems, teachers can ensure that all students are being asked the same types of questions regardless of the level of their text. This affords them the opportunity to share their thinking and gives exposure to the rich academic language often seen in the question types used on standardized assessments. By utilizing these frameworks throughout the year, you'll ease the burden of test prep!

When everyone is on the same page, reading instruction can be more effective and engaging for all.

How to use reading comprehension question stems

Now that we know a little bit more about question stems, let's talk about how to incorporate them into reading instruction. Here are a few easy ways to get started:

Reading Comprehension Question Stems 400 × 600 px 3 1 reading comprehension question stems

– Use question stems as a planning tool. Before reading a text with your students, take some time to brainstorm which question stems would be most appropriate. This will help you to focus your instruction and ensure that all students are being challenged.

– Use question stems as a guide for questioning. During reading, use the question stems as a guide for your questions. This will help you to stay on track and ensure that all students are engaged.

– Use question stems as a way to assess understanding. After reading, use the question stems to assess student understanding. This will give you a good idea of which areas need more attention and which areas your students have mastered.

120+ Comprehension Question Stems to Use with Your Readers

Now that we've talked about how to use reading comprehension question stems, it's time to give you a list of options to use with your students. I've organized the stems by type so that you can easily find the ones that will work best for your instruction. Remember, these are just a starting point- feel free to adapt them as needed to meet the needs of your students.

Reading Comprehension Question Stems

Pre-reading Question Stems

Pre-reading is an important part of engaging students in the reading process. The goal of pre-reading questions is to activate prior knowledge.

In a whole group lesson, these can also help build shared knowledge in preparation for reading a text. These questions should be used before reading to help students engage with the text.

  • What do you already know about [this topic]?
  • What do you wonder about [this topic]?
  • After seeing [the cover/illustrations/title/etc.], what do you think will happen in the story?
  • What are your predictions for what will happen in the story?
  • Describe the images or illustrations used on the cover. What clues might they give about the text?
  • What does the title tell us about the text?
  • Who is the author and what other books has he/she written?
  • What can we determine about the setting? Is this time/place familiar? If so, what do we already know about it?
  • What genre does this text appear to be? How can you tell?
  • Is this book fiction or non-fiction? How can you tell?

Story Elements

These questions focus on who, what, when, where, why, and how. They are perfect for helping students to identify story elements and understand the plot of a text. As a result, these questions tend to focus on “right there” comprehension. In other words, for most of these questions, students can find the answer by looking back at a specific location in the text. Therefore, these are considered to be a more basic level of comprehension.

While some of these questions ask students to recall details from the entire passage, others focus on taking text details and reframing them into their own words. The most complex and difficult questions that fall in this category, in my opinion, are the main idea questions. This is because these require students to synthesize separate parts of their reading to create a single statement.

  • Who is the main character/protagonist of the story?
  • When/Where does the story take place?
  • What happened [before/after/when] _________?
  • What caused the main character to [do/say] __________?
  • How do you know where the story takes place?
  • Does this story take place in the past, present or future? How do you know?
  • Describe [the main character/setting] using details from the text.
  • What words does the author use to describe ________?
  • What problem was the main character facing? How did s/he resolve it?
  • What important event(s) happened at [the beginning/middle/end] of the story?
  • How does [character] act when [event] happens? Explain what s/he says or does.
  • What was the [turning point/climax/etc.]?
  • What is the main idea of [the passage/paragraph/etc.]?
  • Paraphrase the main events.
  • According to the text, what caused [character/event] to ______?
  • What event in the story caused ______?

Making predictions is a great way for students to engage with a text. It allows them to think about what might happen next and why based on their understanding of the plot. They also help keep students focused on the big events and how they are interconnected.

  • What do you think will happen next? Why do you think that?
  • Based on what has happened so far, what do you think the ending will be?
  • Who do you think is the [mystery person/animal/etc.]? What do you think is the purpose of [character/object/event]?
  • Is [character] going to be a friend or foe? How can you tell?
  • Do you think this story will have a happy ending? Why or why not?
  • Based on the setting, what can you predict about the relationship between the main characters?
  • Knowing the genre, what do you predict will happen in this story?

Analysis questions take things further by requiring students to think critically about the text. These questions are perfect for helping students to make inferences and think beyond “right there” comprehension. To answer these questions, students must pull from their own experiences and what they've read in the text.

These questions can be asked more straightforwardly, or you can get creative. However, creatively formatted questions are often more engaging for learners while still requiring them to analyze the text.

Character Analysis

  • Based on your reading, what character traits would you use to describe [character]?
  • Based on what you know about [character], is this someone who you'd want to be friends with? Why or why not?
  • Describe the relationship between [character] and [character].
  • How does [character] change throughout the story? What causes these changes to occur?
  • How do [character]'s actions at the beginning of the story help you better understand him/her?
  • Which statement from the text summarizes the relationship between [character] and [character]?
  • How are you similar to [character]? How are you different?
  • On page #, the narrator says, “—-“. Based on this statement, how would you describe him/her?
  • What does this character contribute to the story?
  • How are [character] and [character] similar? In what ways are they different?
  • How is this character's role different from other characters in the story?
  • Do you think that this character is [reliable]? Why or why not?
  • Knowing this character, what would you do if you were in his/her shoes?
  • What does the author mean when s/he says, “—-“? Do you agree with this statement?
  • Do you agree with [character]'s decision? Why or why not?
  • Did [character] do what you anticipated s/he would to solve [problem]? Explain.
  • How does [character] react when faced with [situation]? Compare her/his reaction with your own when you've been in similar situations.

Text Analysis

  • How does the ending reflect the themes of the story?
  • What do you think is the main message or theme of the story?
  • Do you think that this text was [informative/engaging/etc.]?
  • What point of view is the story told from? How might this impact the reader's understanding of the plot?
  • What context clue(s) best help you figure out the meaning of the word ____?
  • How does the author build tension in the passage/story? How did this impact you as a reader?
  • Explain what the author meant by _____ using your own/different words.
  • What does the author's choice of words contribute to the tone of the story?
  • How does the author's use of [imagery/metaphors/etc.] help readers understand the text?
  • Which detail from the text best supports [claim/statement/idea]?
  • Write a summary of the [story/passage/etc.] that incorporates the main ideas concisely.
  • The author includes the phrase “—-” to show –
  • In paragraph #, what is the meaning of the word [vocabulary word]?
  • How does this author show ______?
  • What is the meaning of [paragraph/lines]?
  • In paragraph #, what is the meaning of [figurative expression]?
  • Why is the [first paragraph/last stanza/etc] important to this piece?
  • What from the pictures/illustrations helps you understand ____?
  • Can you see any similarities between this story and other's we've read?
  • What stories have we read with a similar theme to this story?

Inferring/Drawing Conclusions

In order to answer these questions, students need to be able to read between the lines and make inferences based on their understanding of the text. Inference questions can be used while reading or after reading when the author leaves the reader with unanswered questions. However, since inferring is a higher-order skill, many students will need scaffolded support in order to answer these types of questions.

Infer about character, setting, plot

  • Based on the story, what can you conclude about [character/setting/problem/etc.]?
  • How did [character] feel after [event]?
  • Why was [event/character/setting] important to the story?
  • What can you infer about the relationship between [character] and [character]?
  • If [event] had not happened, how might the story have changed?
  • Why does the author compare [character/setting/event/etc.] to ______?
  • What motive does [character] have to ______?
  • What words in the [paragraph/passage/selection] help you understand how [character] feels about [event]?
  • Based on your understanding of the plot, could this story have taken place in [different setting]?
  • What does the narrator mean when s/he says, “—-“? How do you know?
  • Consider the problem that arose in this passage. Using what you know about them, explain how each of the main characters might solve it.
  • What inferences can you make about ____?
  • What can you conclude about the relationship between [character] and [character]? How did you reach this conclusion?
  • Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of how [character] chose to solve [problem]. Do you think s/he made the right choice?

Infer about author's craft/tone/message

  • What lesson do you think the author was trying to convey through this [story/passage]?
  • How might the tone of the passage change if the author was ______?
  • Why did the author choose to include ______ in this story? How does it impact the reader's understanding/experience?
  • What theme(s) are incorporated into this [story/passage]?
  • What can you tell about the narrator as you reached the end of the story?
  • Based on your understanding of the text, the author draws the comparison between ______ and _____ in order to help the reader do what?
  • How does the ending of the [story/passage] reflect its themes?
  • What is the author trying to convey? Explain using text evidence.

Author's Craft

Asking students to examine the author's craft is helpful both to their experience as readers and writers. When students spend time exploring and analyzing the author's craft they can better understand the nuances of the text and can begin to see how these same skills can be applied to their own writing to improve their craft.

Here are a few of my favorite question stems that encourage students to focus on the author's craft during reading instruction.

Literary Elements & Text Features

  • What was the author's intent for including ________ in this passage?
  • A cliffhanger is used to engage the reader and keep them wanting more. As you finish this chapter, what questions are you left with?
  • Why do you think the author chose to end the chapter this way? How does it impact you as a reader?
  • Foreshadowing is when an author gives subtle clues that allow a reader to predict what will happen. What clues has the author given in this selection that helped you prepare for future events?
  • Examine the author's use of figurative language in this [chapter/passage/selection]. How did it help you better understand/visualize what was happening?
  • Why did the author choose to title this chapter _____? After reading, do you feel this was a good fit?
  • How does the author's use of descriptive language impact your reading experience? How might this story be different if the author chose to forego these details?
  • These chapters/paragraphs are all about ____. Why do you think the author chose to include this information? How does it help the reader connect with the story?
  • What senses does the author appeal to through the imagery of this [poem/passage/stanza/etc.]?

Characters/Setting/Etc.

  • How do the illustrations included in the text help contribute to your understanding?
  • What does [vocabulary word] mean? What clues helped you come to that conclusion?
  • How does the author organize the selection? Why do you think s/he chose to organize it in this fashion?
  • After reading the passage, explain the mood the author is trying to convey.
  • The author writes from the perspective of _____. What effect does this have on how the story is told?
  • Examine how the author conveys [character]'s feelings about _____. How might you apply a similar style to your own writing?
  • Why do you think the author chose to tell this story from a [first person/second person/third person] point of view? How might this story be different if told from a different point of view?

Non-fiction Text Reading Comprehension Question Stems

Nonfiction texts are often more difficult for readers. While they include factual information, it is common to have a more technical vocabulary and less familiar concepts. These question stems can help you support your students while reading nonfiction passages.

Text Features & Elements of Non-Fiction

  • What can you tell me about the structure of this text?
  • How does the author's choice to include ____ help contribute to your understanding of the text?
  • Based on the text/illustration, what is the meaning of [vocabulary word]?
  • According to the passage, what happens after [insert event or step of process]?
  • Explain the reason for the section titled ____ in this passage. How does it benefit the reader?
  • Why do you think the author chose to include the [photograph/graph/other text feature] on page #? What information can you gather from this?
  • Diagram the parts of a _____ according to the article.

Other Non-Fiction Reading Comprehension Question Stems

  • How does the author support his/her claims throughout the reading?
  • What is the author's purpose for writing this [text/chapter]?
  • How does the author develop his/her argument in this selection?
  • What evidence does the author use to support ______?
  • Who is providing this information? How might this differ if it were being told from a [first-hand/second-hand] account instead?
  • Is this a primary or secondary source? How do you know?
  • Is there anything you disagree with the author on?
  • What is the main idea of this [section/chapter/passage]?
  • What details in the text support the main idea?
  • Based on what you've read, what are the pros and cons of [topic]?
  • Why did the author feel it was important to share ______ with readers?
  • What are some [facts you learned/opinions the author shared] in the text?
  • Why did the author write this passage?
  • What evidence from the article supports the author's viewpoint that [insert viewpoint]?
  • According to the article, what are the steps involved in _____?
  • Which sentence from the article supports the idea that ___________?
  • Based on what you've read, what is the most important thing a reader should know about [topic]?

A meaningful way to guide the discussion

You can use reading comprehension question stems to help plan high-quality reading lessons for your students. By using these question stems, your students will understand fiction and nonfiction texts better. In addition, they'll be able to extract important information from nonfiction texts, which is a critical skill as they move toward high school.

Reading comprehension question stems can be used to help students analyze texts more deeply and develop an understanding of the author's purpose and argument. As students become more proficient readers, they can use these question stems to generate their own questions about the text. This will help them become better, more thoughtful readers.

If you're looking for a way to improve reading comprehension in your classroom, using reading comprehension question stems is a great place to start. By modeling, scaffolding using graphic organizers during class discussions, and through the use of these stems, you can help your students become better, more engaged readers.

Ready to get started? Grab my graphic organizers bundle to use with these question stems in your classroom.

Read Respond reading comprehension question stems

What is the Critical Thinking Test?

Critical thinking practice test, take a free practice critical thinking test, practice critical thinking test.

Updated November 16, 2023

Edward Melett

The Critical Thinking Test is a comprehensive evaluation designed to assess individuals' cognitive capacities and analytical prowess.

This formal examination, often referred to as the critical thinking assessment, is a benchmark for those aiming to demonstrate their proficiency in discernment and problem-solving.

In addition, this evaluative tool meticulously gauges a range of skills, including logical reasoning, analytical thinking, and the ability to evaluate and synthesize information.

This article will embark on an exploration of the Critical Thinking Test, elucidating its intricacies and elucidating its paramount importance. We will dissect the essential skills it measures and clarify its significance in gauging one's intellectual aptitude.

We will examine examples of critical thinking questions, illuminating the challenging scenarios that candidates encounter prompting them to navigate the complexities of thought with finesse.

Before going ahead to take the critical thinking test, let's delve into the realm of preparation. This segment serves as a crucible for honing the skills assessed in the actual examination, offering candidates a chance to refine their analytical blades before facing the real challenge. Here are some skills that will help you with the critical thinking assessment: Logical Reasoning: The practice test meticulously evaluates your ability to deduce conclusions from given information, assess the validity of arguments, and recognize patterns in logic. Analytical Thinking: Prepare to dissect complex scenarios, identify key components, and synthesize information to draw insightful conclusions—a fundamental aspect of the critical thinking assessment. Problem-Solving Proficiency: Navigate through intricate problems that mirror real-world challenges, honing your capacity to approach issues systematically and derive effective solutions. What to Expect: The Critical Thinking Practice Test is crafted to mirror the format and complexity of the actual examination. Expect a series of scenarios, each accompanied by a set of questions that demand thoughtful analysis and logical deduction. These scenarios span diverse fields, from business and science to everyday scenarios, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of your critical thinking skills. Examples of Critical Thinking Questions Scenario: In a business context, analyze the potential impacts of a proposed strategy on both short-term profitability and long-term sustainability. Question: What factors would you consider in determining the viability of the proposed strategy, and how might it affect the company's overall success? Scenario: Evaluate conflicting scientific studies on a pressing environmental issue.

Question: Identify the key methodologies and data points in each study. How would you reconcile the disparities to form an informed, unbiased conclusion?

Why Practice Matters

Engaging in the Critical Thinking Practice Test familiarizes you with the test format and cultivates a mindset geared towards agile and astute reasoning. This preparatory phase allows you to refine your cognitive toolkit, ensuring you approach the assessment with confidence and finesse.

We'll navigate through specific examples as we proceed, offering insights into effective strategies for tackling critical thinking questions. Prepare to embark on a journey of intellectual sharpening, where each practice question refines your analytical prowess for the challenges ahead.

This is a practice critical thinking test.

The test consists of three questions . 

After you have answered all the questions, you will be shown the correct answers and given full explanations.

Make sure you read and fully understand each question before answering. Work quickly, but don't rush. You cannot afford to make mistakes on a real test .

If you get a question wrong, make sure you find out why and learn how to answer this type of question in the future. 

Six friends are seated in a restaurant across a rectangular table. There are three chairs on each side. Adam and Dorky do not have anyone sitting to their right and Clyde and Benjamin do not have anyone sitting to their left. Adam and Benjamin are not sitting on the same side of the table.

If Ethan is not sitting next to Dorky, who is seated immediately to the left of Felix?

Job Test Prep

You might also be interested in these other PRT articles:

A Guide to the Watson Glaser Test: & Tips

IMAGES

  1. Ultimate Critical Thinking Cheat Sheet

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  3. Critical Thinking Reading Comprehension Grade 1

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  4. Critical Thinking Answers

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  5. Critical Thinking: Test-taking Practice for Reading Grade 4

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  6. Critical Thinking Reading Comprehension Worksheets Pdf

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VIDEO

  1. Critical Thinking Questions For NEET 2024 @Thorax100#neet #cellcycle #neetbiology #neetquestion

  2. Explains critical reading as reasoning

  3. Critical Thinking 1 Units 1-4 Review Questions

  4. ሎጅክና የምክኑያዊ እሳቤ ጥያቄ (Logic & Critical Thinking Questions)

  5. Question Bank Discussion on Problems Solving and Critical Thinking Questions by Dr. Naresh Kumar

  6. Explains critical reading as looking for ways of thinking II Reading & Writing 11

COMMENTS

  1. 19 Short Stories and Questions For Critical Thinking

    Table of Contents. 19 Short Stories and Questions - Suggestions for Teaching Them. 1. "The Most Dangerous Game". 2. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge". 3. "The Masque of the Red Death". 4.

  2. 85 Critical Thinking Questions to Carefully Examine Any Information

    Your critical thinking skills involve gathering complete information, understanding and defining terms, questioning the methods by which we get facts, questioning the conclusions, and looking for hidden assumptions and biases. Additionally, we can't expect to find all of the answers, and we need to take the time to examine the big picture of ...

  3. Critical Thinking Questions: The Big List for Your Classroom

    Encourage careful reading and deeper connections with this list of critical thinking questions. Use these during your next book discussion. Critical thinkers question everything. ... Students can use these critical thinking questions with fiction or nonfiction texts. They're also useful when discussing important issues or trying to understand ...

  4. 48 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area

    The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Digital Thinking by Global Digital Citizen Foundation is an excellent starting point for the 'how' behind teaching critical thinking by outlining which questions to ask. It offers 48 critical thinking questions useful for any content area or even grade level with a little re-working/re-wording. Enjoy the list!

  5. Critical Reading & Reading Strategies

    Critical Thinking is an Extension of Critical Reading. Thinking critically, in the academic sense, involves being open-minded - using judgement and discipline to process what you are learning about without letting your personal bias or opinion detract from the arguments. Critical thinking involves being rational and aware of your own feelings ...

  6. Question Generation: A Key Comprehension Strategy

    There is significant evidence that learning to generate questions while reading improves memory, integration and identification of main ideas, and overall comprehension (Rosenshine et al., 1996; National Reading Panel, 2000; Trabasso & Bouchard, 2002).. Good readers automatically engage in critical thinking by asking themselves questions to make sense of what they read.

  7. 200+ Critical thinking questions

    In this article I've compiled a list of 200+ of the very best critical thinking questions for almost any situation. Critical thinking questions: If you're presented with a claim. If you're reading a book, listening to a podcast, watching TV or YouTube. If you're watching an interview. In a group or panel discussion.

  8. Questions to Provoke Critical Thinking

    Questions to Provoke Critical Thinking. Varying question stems can sustain engagement and promote critical thinking. The timing, sequence and clarity of questions you ask students can be as important as the type of question you ask. The table below is organized to help formulate questions provoking gradually higher levels of thinking.

  9. PDF Critical Reading and Thinking

    Reading critically means reading for more than just facts and understanding; it means reading to understand the author's purpose, possible biases, and how the argument is constructed effectively (or not). In short, critical reading means reading to understand first and questioning the content second. The following are questions to consider:

  10. Critical reading

    Intensive reading: reading a short section of text slowly and carefully. When reading and analysing a source closely, use our set of critical thinking questions (PDF) to help you engage critically. Spreeder is an online tool useful for skim-reading text whilst still gaining an understanding of the context. You can adjust the number of words ...

  11. A Crash Course in Critical Thinking

    Neil Browne, author of the seminal Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking, has been a pioneer in presenting critical thinking as a question-based approach to making sense of the ...

  12. How to Encourage Critical Thinking Skills While Reading: Effective

    Encouraging critical thinking skills while reading is essential to children's cognitive development. Critical thinking enables them to engage deeply with a topic or a book, fostering a better understanding of the material. It is a skill that does not develop overnight but can be nurtured through various strategies and experiences.

  13. Questioning: The Ultimate Reading Strategy for Critical Thinkers

    The questioning strategy is based on the higher-order thinking levels of Bloom's Taxonomy, which require students to engage in critical thinking and problem-solving. Since its inception, the questioning strategy has been widely promoted by educators, researchers, and curriculum developers as a powerful tool for improving reading comprehension ...

  14. 101 Great Higher-Order Thinking Questions for Reading

    In order to skyrocket students' reading comprehension, it's essential that teachers incorporate a variety of higher-order thinking questions. Higher-order thinking questions require an open-ended response that goes beyond the ability to answer literal questions. These types of questions demand a higher level of critical thinking that ...

  15. Critical Reading Questions

    You can do it in a relatively 'logical' way, thinking about the reasoning used, the claims made based on the evidence, etc. You can also do it in a more 'political' way, where the social implications are taken into account. ... Critical Reading Questions. We might ask some of the questions below when reading a text. Look at the questions ...

  16. Critical Thinking for Reading Comprehension

    Supercharge reading comprehension and analysis skills with this 64-page language arts resource designed for ages 7-11. Critical Thinking for Reading Comprehension teaches the identification and evaluation of text and image-based evidence using short, high-interest activities. In simple, understandable terms, 'Critical Thinking' is the identification and evaluation of evidence to guide decision ...

  17. Introduction: Critical Thinking, Reading, & Writing

    Critical thinking might be described as the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. In essence, critical thinking requires you to use your ability to reason. It is about being an active learner rather than a passive recipient of information. Critical thinkers rigorously question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them ...

  18. Education Sciences

    The role of critical thinking, along with reading attainment, is being touted as essential competencies for the 21st century. For example, in its Learning Framework for 2030, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [] identifies critical thinking as an essential skill necessary to navigate the complexities of today's world.The ultimate outcome of reading attainment is ...

  19. PDF 501 Critical Reading Questions

    By reading and working through 501 Critical Reading Questionsyou will become much more proficient at answering the multiple-choice questions found on those tests. The benefits you gain from this practice and from your conscious attention to critical reasoning skills will extend far beyond any exam and into all aspects of your life.

  20. Free Reading Comprehension Worksheets

    Critical Thinking Reading Comprehension Worksheets ... Questions involve critical thinking with a focus on logic and inference. Beginning Level; Answer Key - This answer key is available but still under development. "The Sun" - Low Beginning. 3 questions. Under 50 words. "Gas" - Low Beginning. 3 questions. Under 50 words.

  21. PDF Deeper Learning through Questioning

    Deeper Learning through Questioning. Asking good questions is central to learning and sometimes can be more important than getting the answers, particularly when the questions en-courage students to think critically. "Skill in the art of questioning lies at the basis of all good teach-ing " (Betts, 1910, p. 55).

  22. 125+ Reading Comprehension Question Stems for Any Text

    Here are a few easy ways to get started: 125+ Reading Comprehension Question Stems for Any Text 7. - Use question stems as a planning tool. Before reading a text with your students, take some time to brainstorm which question stems would be most appropriate.

  23. Critical Reading v. Critical Thinking

    Critical reading is a technique for discovering information and ideas within a text. Critical thinking is a technique for evaluating information and ideas, for deciding what to accept and believe. Critical reading refers to a careful, active, reflective, analytic reading. Critical thinking involves reflecting on the validity of what you have ...

  24. Critical Thinking Test: Free Practice Questions

    PRT Critical Thinking Test: question 1 of 3. Six friends are seated in a restaurant across a rectangular table. There are three chairs on each side. Adam and Dorky do not have anyone sitting to their right and Clyde and Benjamin do not have anyone sitting to their left. Adam and Benjamin are not sitting on the same side of the table.