How To Write A Critical Thinking Essay, Topics, Outline, Examples

Critical thinking is a skill that helps an individual to analyze information independent of other people’s thoughts. Therefore, it is the ability to make proper judgments based not only on what you think but what is true. It is a difficult skill to master yet critical for students as well as running daily life. Critical thinking essay writing involves absorbing the information and then further evaluating it. A critical thinker is not swayed by other people’s opinions, rather relies on the analyzed information to make decisions.

What is a critical thinking essay?

A critical thinking essay is a piece of writing that uses a writer’s analytical skills to address certain issues. This essay involves a well-read piece, combined with the identified weaknesses and personal arguments. The writer should understand that the role of this essay is not to fault-find. A critical thinking essay will use the available information, filter the unnecessary and make conclusions. A properly written critical thinking paper asks the right questions and addresses them appropriately. High school, college, and university students encounter such essays to equip them with knowledge on how to solve real-life problems.

Professor’s gauge such essays based on the students’ writing and analytical skills. Therefore, one must be present the ideas in a manner that proves their critical thinking prowess.

How to create a thesis statement for critical thinking essay 

When writing a thesis statement for a critical thinking essay, pick the opinion that you are least likely to agree with.

To get started, answer these questions about your topic:

  • What is your position on this issue?
  • Why do you think your position is true?
  • How did you come to this conclusion?
  • What facts have led you to form an opinion?
  • Are there any facts that contradict your claim?

If so, how could they be explained in a way that does not conflict with your opinion? You can then draft your thesis statement by completing the following sentence template: "I believe [OPINION] because [REASONS], but many people disagree because [REASONS]."

Here are some examples of good thesis statements for critical thinking essays: 

  1. I believe that we should eliminate all paper money in order to reduce crime and stimulate the economy. Many people disagree with me because they think it's impractical, but I believe it can be done.
  2. I believe that school uniforms are necessary because students cannot learn if they are too distracted by clothing. Many people disagree with me because they think uniforms will make students less creative. However, I don't agree because there is no evidence to support this claim.
  3. I believe that children do better in smaller classes because several studies show a significant difference in academic achievement between kids who attend small classes and kids who attend large ones. Many people disagree with me because they think teachers' salaries need to be increased instead of class sizes decreased, but I think this is a false trade-off.
  4. I believe that cell phone usage should be banned in schools because it's too distracting. Many people disagree with me because they think students should be able to learn how to handle distractions by practicing on their own time, but I don't agree because they are not being held accountable for their performance once they leave the classroom. With practice, students will get used to being distracted which will harm them academically.
  5. I believe that women have an obligation to serve as soldiers during wartime even if it would mean killing innocent civilians. Many people disagree with me for religious reasons, but I believe that it is just for women to do whatever they can to protect their countries.
  6. I believe that gun control laws should be reformed because the current laws are ineffective. Many people disagree with me because they think that stricter restrictions will not stop criminals from getting guns illegally, but I don't agree because it is easy for anyone to get a hold of a weapon if they want one badly enough.
  7. I believe that our public education system needs improvement because too many children are dropping out before finishing high school. Many people disagree with me because they think the government spends more on education than it needs to, but I believe that increased funding has made little impact on test scores or graduation rates.
  8. I believe that religion is an obstacle to world peace because antagonism based on religious beliefs contributes significantly to violence around the world. Many people disagree with me because they think that religion is fundamental to many cultures, but I believe that it has played a role in much of the conflict that exists today.
  9. I believe that internet pornography should be illegal because it harms families and encourages sexual violence. Many people disagree with me for political reasons, but I believe this would reduce sex crimes overall.
  10. I believe that schools should start later so students will get more sleep. Many people disagree with me because they think starting earlier makes kids perform better academically, but I don't agree because there is no scientific evidence supporting this argument.

These are some examples of thesis statement for critical thinking essay to help you formulate your own thesis.

How to start a critical thinking essay in 9 steps

Starting a critical thinking essay is not hard when you know how to approach it. Critical thinking is the process of constructive reasoning that involves gathering information, evaluating evidence and analyzing data. This type of essay will require you to take a side on an argumentative issue in order to show your own critical thinking skills.

Here are 9 steps of starting a critical thinking essay effectively:

1. State the issue

State the main argumentative issue of your topic in a sentence. It is an important step because it will be used as a basis for further explaining and analyzing it. Keep in mind that you have to keep your points concise so do not write anything too long. For example, if you were doing a critical thinking essay on whether fast food should be banned from schools, you would write something like this: "The topic I will analyze critically in this essay is whether there should be fast food restaurants at schools."

2. Provide reasons for your position

Doing this simply involves listing the reasons why you think one side is better than another or why one decision is more advantageous than another. There are many ways to come up with these, but the easiest is to choose from a list of common arguments. For example, if you were writing about fast food restaurants in schools, these would be some reasons why they should stay:

  • They provide easy access to cheap and quick meals.
  • They employ teenagers who need money for college or other expenses.
  • A lot of students eat there because it's close by and more affordable than bringing their own lunch.

3. Discuss the consequences

This step is very important because consequences are usually used as evidence when arguing one side over another so ignoring them will make your essay seem incomplete. You need to write about both sides' possible consequences, even if you think one or another seems unlikely or ridiculous."The consequences of banning fast-food restaurants from schools are that students won't have access to affordable meals when they are hungry. Many teenagers who work part-time jobs at these restaurants will lose their only source of income."

4. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses

There are always pros and cons to every plan, so do not neglect this step by simply focusing on the best possible outcomes or the worst ones. If you were writing about fast food restaurants in schools, an example of a strength would be something like having booths available during lunch time for students with special dietary needs while a weakness would be students being less likely to eat healthy if they can get cheap items like onion rings or burger combos. You need to list them all down because some arguments will contradict others, which means that you have to pick one over the other.

5. Analyze the alternatives

Having a list of alternatives will help you create a more thorough argument that covers all possibilities. You can either use the same plan with different variations of it or create new ones based on what you know about your topic so far. For example, if you were doing a critical thinking essay on whether fast food restaurants should be banned from schools, an alternative would be allowing these restaurants to stay but adding healthier items to their menus or providing educational information on nutrition for people who are interested in improving their diets.

6. Argue against your position

This step involves arguing against your own position by stating reasons that prove your side is not beneficial as others think it is or that it has flaws that would not occur with another plan. This is important because it will help you convince your audience that although your position may be unpopular, they should buy into what you're saying rather than the popular opinion by showing them how there are pros and cons to both arguments. If you were doing a critical thinking essay on whether fast food restaurants should be allowed at schools, an example of an argument against this idea could be:

"The existence of these restaurants encourages students to buy fast food instead of bringing their own lunch which is healthier for them."

7. Conclude the essay

Doing this step last allows you to use any new information or ideas you come up with while writing the rest of your paper that will allow you to finish it without worrying about forgetting something or going off topic. The conclusion should be a summary of your main points and reasons, pointing out which ones have the most evidence while still managing to stay within the word limit.

For example, in a critical thinking essay on whether fast food restaurants should be banned from schools a good conclusion would be:

"Although there are many pros and cons to both arguments, I believe that fast food establishments should not be allowed in schools because they do not provide necessary nutrition for students who use them as their main source of food."

8. Make your citations

Citations are important because academics love numbers even though it's only ever one person's opinion or point that is being represented by these statistics or facts so you need to give credit when it is due. Make sure that you provide the full name of the source and a page number whenever you make a citation. The style used differs from one school or research institution to another, so you should check it out before doing your essay or asking someone for help.

9. Edit and proofread your work

The last step involves going over every sentence and checking if any words are misspelled or misplaced, including where punctuation goes within quotations and which type is being used. When you're done, print out what you have written and read it through once more to see if any new information or ideas come up that could improve your paper. You might want to spend a bit of time reading the essay back to yourself in a different voice than the one you would typically use so you can hear how it sounds and find anything that doesn't quite fit with the rest of the writing.

How to write a critical thinking essay for school in 6 steps

The following are some steps that will help you to effectively write a critical thinking essay:

Step 1. Choose the right topic

Some instructors may provide students on a topic to analyze while others will allow the learners to choose. If one is availed to you, make sure you read and understand it before starting to conduct your research. Your professor may ask you to analyze an article, essay, piece of literature or a controversial opinion. On the other hand, if you are to pick a topic, choose one that interests you. As much as you would like to impress your professor, never choose a tic that is too difficult for you to handle. Select an area that provides sufficient information for your basic arguments.

Step 2. Conduct your research

Collect information that relates to your current knowledge on the topic. Ensure that you gather the materials from credible and verifiable sources. If you are to analyze another person’s piece of work, read through it attentively. Write down your thoughts as you continue reading. You can also include a list of questions that will need to be addressed from the text. Note the sources from which you have drawn information.

Step 3. Develop a thesis statement

A good thesis forms the central argument of your essay and the direction you will take. Though brief, the thesis statement should mention the main points of your argument and your stand. Having gathered the relevant information, a good thesis should contain the points that you will discuss in the body of your essay. Take time to come up with a strong thesis statement since it will determine how critically analyzed your information is. Do not use obvious facts or information as your thesis statement.

Step 4. Outline your work

Since you have the thesis statement and relevant material, create your essay’s blueprints. Some critical thinking essays are backed up by external sources while others depend on your thinking. A critical thinking essay is not the place to take express emotions. Therefore, you should present the logical views in line with your thesis statement. While creating your outline, consider other scholarly viewpoints on the same matter.

Step 5. Draft your essay

Your essay is almost complete, only that it is in bits and pieces. You need to put the information gathered together to come up with a perfect critical thinking essay. A good critical thinking essay should have an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Some writers choose to begin in a systematic order while others start with the body paragraphs. Use the approach that works best for you in analyzing your ideas and expressing your thoughts.

  • Introduction: The first sentence of your essay should uniquely identify the purpose of the piece of writing. A compelling start will make the reader anxious to read your content. Therefore, starting it in a boring tone makes you predictable. Use statistics, facts, anecdote or an engrossing question to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Body paragraphs: A critical thinking essay may entail your research or another person’s work. The content of the body paragraphs depends on what you are analyzing. If it is your research, identify your arguments in the first two paragraphs. Use the next paragraphs to give supporting evidence to your arguments. If you are analyzing an article, essay or other person’s literature, summarize the main points in the first few paragraphs. Apply your analytical skills to express your thoughts on the content highlighted. If you are using the five-paragraph essay format, focus on the main ideas and remain relevant. However, it is better to have three short paragraphs that one long one. The body paragraphs are a reflection of your critical thinking skills, based on the arguments you present. Clearly illustrate your logical opinions but avoid using pronouns like “I” or “my”. While you may base your work on some research, have a paragraph that explicitly expresses your opinion. Again, do not let emotions take the lead here.
  • Conclusion: Your conclusion should highlight what findings you have covered and their importance. How does the information you have provide affect you or relate to the reader? You can also provide an avenue for further research on the topic. Let the reader see the same direction you had pointed out in your thesis statement.

Step 6. Revise and proofread your essay

Submitting a critical thinking paper that you have not proofread could cost you a considerable number of points. In the course of revising your work, you will identify the hitches in your logical thinking. It will also help you polish the writing errors. Ensure that you have used the required formatting styles. Revisit the instructions and establish what the instructor expects your essay to look like. If you do not feel a smooth flow of ideas, neither will the reader. Do not forget to cite the sources as advised by your professor. Since you had noted down the references during research, this should not take up much of your time.

Important critical thinking skills in essay writing

The ability to think critically is not a skill possessed by everyone. In fact, many people have never been taught how to think critically and instead simply rely on their existing knowledge or what they were told by others. Critical thinking involves questioning assumptions rather than just accepting them at face value. A lack of critical thinking can lead to someone making incorrect decisions without even realizing it, especially given the complex nature of some issues. While some forms of writing do not require any critical thinking skills, such as when an article is copied from another source word for word with no original thought or opinions included, other types of writing actually benefit from including this sort of information. Essays are one where having these skills will help ensure that the final product is a good one.

Important critical thinking skills in essay writing include:

1. Understanding how to use evidence:

When people write essays they need to include evidence in order to support their claims and opinions. Evidence in writing can come in many different forms, including facts or data that are collected by someone with expert-level knowledge or observations that are made by an everyday person who happened to see something interesting happen. People do not always think about using evidence when they are writing an essay, but it will be included naturally if the writer does his research before starting the process of putting together these thoughts. Being able to accurately find dependable sources is another important area where critical thinking skills may be needed for this type of assignment.

2. Knowing what makes an argument strong:

While not every essay that someone writes will be focused on proving a point, it is still important to include arguments that are based in fact rather than just opinions or assumptions. There are many different elements involved when determining the strength of an argument. For example, one must consider whether or not the evidence used seems reasonable and if there is enough of it to prove what the writer is claiming. Other areas where critical thinking skills can help include looking at various points of view so that all sides are considered instead of taking one side over another or simply inventing opinions without providing any proof for them.

3. Avoiding fallacies:

Fallacies are statements that appear to be true but cannot be verified as being accurate to lack of information or because they are not accurate to begin with. For example, if a writer were simply to state that all dogs like human affection and then end the argument there without any evidence or research done to prove that this is true, it would be considered a fallacy because there may be some dogs who do not like affection and others who only like certain types of affection. Anyone who wants to write an essay needs to avoid using fallacies in their writing as much as possible. This will make the contents of the paper more credible and bring up less questions from readers because everything will be factually based rather than just stating opinions.

As seen above, critical thinking skills can help you write an essay better by helping them separate assumptions from facts and properly use evidence while also avoiding common mistakes such as fallacies. Critical thinking does not just apply to subjects such as science and math, but it can be useful in any topic under the sun.

Critical thinking is a vital life skill that everyone should learn about sooner rather than later. The more aware people are of this, the better off they will be when trying to determine what information they are given is accurate or if it needs to be questioned further before being accepted as fact. Being able to use critical thinking skills can help avoid mistakes that may cost someone time, money, or opportunities for advancement down the road.

25 Critical thinking essay topics to write about

Here are 25 interesting critical thinking essay topics to write about:

  1. Describe a time in your life when you were faced with a problem that could have been resolved better if you had applied critical thinking skills. How can we teach people to think critically? Why is it important to think critically about the world around us? Are most human beings capable of being rational thinkers or do we behave more irrationally than rationally on a day-to-day basis? Can critical thinking be developed at an early age?
  2. What are some reasons why humans would want to foster a culture of critical thinking in our society today, and how does this compare with other cultures around the world?
  3. What are some components of critical thinking? How is the development of those components related to learning and education? How is it related to our ability to function as a society?
  4. What role do emotions play in the process of critical thinking, and why should we attempt to detach our feelings from such processes?
  5. Why is critical thinking important for success in life and work today? Is there a difference between "critical thinking skills" and "critical reading skills"? Are most people naturally good at critical reading or understanding, or must these abilities be learned?
  6. Can critical-thinking tools (e.g., guiding questions, templates help readers, listeners, viewers, thinkers?) How?
  7. What is the relationship between thought and language? Critical thinking and emotions: If we "feel" that something is true, does that mean it IS true? What is the role of emotions in critical thinking and decision making?
  8. Is there such a thing as a "logic instinct" (i.e., an innate ability to reason) or are logic skills learned behaviours? How does this relate with critical thinking abilities vs critical reading abilities? What effort has been made by educational institutions around the world to promote better reasoning skills and encourage students to think more critically than before.
  9. Do our dreams help us to think more creatively? Do our dreams help us to make better decisions?
  10. What makes an argument valid or invalid, strong or weak? Why is the study of logic important if one hopes to be a critical thinker?
  11. What do we mean when we say that something is "true"? What different types of truth are there, and how does knowing this help us remain grounded in reality?
  12. How has the development and increased relevance of social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) affected critical thinking and reasoning skills for younger generations? How about older generations? Why do you think this might be significant in terms of its effects on society at large?
  13. What do we mean when we say that something is "false"? What different types of falsehoods are there, and how does knowing this help us to recognize deceitful claims made by others? Is it possible for an argument or claim to be true and false at the same time?
  14. How can critical thinking skills help us in terms of problem solving?
  15. How would you define science as opposed to pseudoscience? What makes a scientific theory valid or invalid? Can "honest mistakes" be made in scientific research - i.e., honest mistakes vs outright fraud, deceit, lies etc.?
  16. Can a person have a belief that is both valid and invalid at the same time? Can a person be right for the wrong reasons, or wrong for the right reasons? How can we tell which of those two possibilities apply to any given situation?
  17. What is Socrates' contribution to philosophy and critical thinking? Why did he become so well-known as a result, and why should we study him today if we hope to cultivate better reasoning skills in ourselves?
  18. What role do "unconscious beliefs" play in one's life and how does this affect our decision making abilities on a daily basis? In what ways might all people be - i.e., less rational - than they think?
  19. What is the difference between inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning? What is an example of each type of reasoning, and how do each work in terms of logical arguments?
  20. How are conspiracy theories used as rhetorical devices by politicians or groups with particular political agendas? Why does this matter for critical thinkers who hope to avoid being influenced by false information spread online about politics, science, history etc.? Are there benefits to using conspiracy theories rhetorically? How can critical thinking help people to recognize conspired rhetoric when it exists in any given context - i.e., what are the techniques used by conspir rhetoric to appeal emotionally to listeners/readers?
  21. How can critical thinking help people to spot deceptive advertising when they see it online or on TV etc.?
  22. What is an "appeal to authority" and how does it compare with valid forms of argumentation? Why is the study of fallacies important for any critical thinker?
  23. What types of cognitive biases do all individuals suffer from, according to research findings in the field of psychology? Why might this information be significant for critical thinkers who hope to avoid being influenced by them in their daily lives?
  24. Why is it that some truths remain difficult to discover even after extensive research has been done on a given topic by experts? What are the different ways scientists establish the validity of their claims?
  25. How can critical thinking help people to avoid falling prey to pseudoscience or intentional deceit online? In what cases might one person's ignorance constitute another individual's knowledge, and vice versa?

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is a set of skills and traits that define the way people process information and make decisions. Characteristics of critical thinkers include: an ability to think, reflect, apply knowledge to ideas or concepts, analyze problems from multiple angles, value evidence over assumption, consider ethics as well as personal and social consequences, and adapt to the changing world.

References and external links on how to write a college critical thinking essay

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