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HEIghten® Critical Thinking Assessment

Critical thinking is deemed one of the most important and necessary skills for college graduates endeavoring to be effective contributors in the global marketplace.

The HEIghten® Critical Thinking assessment addresses two central aspects of critical thinking — Analytic and Synthetic.

Analytic Skills:

  • evaluating evidence and its use, including evaluating the evidence itself and evaluating it in light of its larger context, its relevance to the argument, appropriateness of sources, possibilities of bias and the degree of support the evidence lends to the claims made in the argument
  • analyzing and evaluating arguments, including understanding or assessing the structure of the argument independent of the evidence offered, such as identifying stated and unstated premises, conclusions and intermediate steps
  • understanding the language of argumentation and recognizing linguistic cues
  • distinguishing between valid and invalid arguments, including recognizing structural flaws that may be present in an invalid argument (e.g., "holes" in reasoning)

Synthetic Skills:

  • understanding implications and consequences, including identifying unstated conclusions or implications and consequences that go beyond the original argument
  • developing arguments that are valid (i.e., exhibiting good reasoning) and sound (i.e., built on strong evidence)

In addition, some questions may, as part of assessing analytic or synthetic skills, also assess skills in evaluating claims or drawing conclusions pertaining to causation or explanation.

Test Design

The HEIghten Critical Thinking assessment is administered in a single testing session. In just under an hour, each test taker answers 32* questions. The item types include critical thinking sets, short arguments or informational passages, and sets that present conditions applicable to a fictional situation.

*Includes some pre-test items that are not included in scoring.

Sample Questions

Below are sample questions and answers for reference only. They provide examples of skills measured, contexts covered and the difficulty of the questions. For Critical Thinking, sample questions are not included before the actual online assessment.

Download the sample questions.

Test Review

While the HEIghten Critical Thinking assessment is developed to measure a common set of skills, judging the appropriateness of the test is an important first step in considering its use. Assessment directors and faculty members should review the test content and skill area coverage to determine whether it is consistent with your institution's expectations.

ETS provides resources to help institutions evaluate the appropriateness of the HEIghten Critical Thinking assessment.

For more information about how the HEIghten Critical Thinking assessment can be used at your institution, contact an ETS Advisor.

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