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Critical Thinking Essay: a Complete Guide

Critical thinking is a complex system of judgments that helps to analyze information and come up with valid conclusions, create an assessment of what is happening, and interpret it. It can be said that critical thinking is high-level thinking, which makes it possible to question the incoming information.

Critical thinking as an academic discipline is based on the rules of formal logic, theory, and practice of argumentation, rhetoric, and scientific epistemology (a section of philosophy that deals with instruments and limitations of cognitive activity).

Every human being has two ways of thinking: absorbing information (like a sponge absorbs the water) and thinking about information (like sifting through sand). While a person that uses the first way will be trying to remember the given information in detail, the other one will actively interact with the obtained knowledge. This doesn’t mean that one way is worse; critical thinking combines these two features.

Developing Critical Thinking Skills

Developing critical thinking is hard, as it’s easier to take the position of your friends, family, or public opinion. Your friends may think that vaccines badly influence children’s health and you will think the same, just because your friends think so. But if you will study available information about this issue, you can change your mind, or just reiterate the conviction.

A person with developed critical thinking skills will be resistant to manipulations, immune to stereotypes or public opinion.

The opinion, worked out independently, can surprise you with its unexpectedness, or it may turn out to be generally accepted. You can find out that such conclusions belong to certain researchers or that they have already been stated by rebels that oppose the established dogmas.

What Is a Critical Thinking Essay?

A critical thinking essay is a type of writing that is aimed to improve your analytical skills. Critical thinking essays should teach the student to carefully read the texts, utilize methodical doubt, find weaknesses in both others and personal arguments, work with concepts, and clearly and reasonably express thoughts. The basis of a critical thinking essay is to ask and answer the right questions. Tutors usually pay attention both to the quality of the text and how a student develops arguments about a certain issue. In any case, you will be sure that you have your own position based on your own research and conclusions.

Essay writing is one of the best exercises to help improve critical thinking skills. This will help you learn how to effectively work with information, structure it, filter out questionable data, make conclusions – simply everything connected with critical thinking. For example, critical thinking in essay writing will help nurses analyze their experience, reflect on a situation, solve problems, and make the right decisions in a new situation.

Fortunately, critical thinking is not an organ that can atrophy. If you think that you have low critical thinking skills, you always have a possibility of improving it on your own.

How to Start a Critical Thinking Essay

Every text needs structure and focus, and consistent guidelines can help you consider all valuable points of a critical essay. As every piece of academic writing, critical thinking essay format consists of an introduction, several body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Choose a central problem or argument.

At college you may be asked to critically analyze essays, articles, controversial opinions, literature, etc. If you will have a chance to pick a topic by yourself, make sure that it is interesting for you and that there is plenty of information that you can read about it. Make sure that the topic is not too difficult and you will be able to come up with basic arguments.

Gather information and recall to existing knowledge.

What do you already know about the topic? If your topic is analyzing a certain text, you will need to read it attentively and point out the main issues. Before you will start reading, make a list of questions that you can consider while reading. Also, a good idea is to take notes as you read and briefly write your own thoughts.

Come up with a thesis statement.

This means that you need to come up with a central focus of your paper. A good thesis statement gives you the aim that you need to achieve in the body paragraph.

Write the body paragraph.

To write this paragraph, you will need to make several actions like analyzing the material. Maybe, you have some notes with ideas that you have come up with during writing, but for writing you need to make a profound analysis.

Analyze the information.

What evidence, arguments, and claims have you found? Identify weaknesses and strengths, pointing out important relationships.

Examine different viewpoints.

For critical writing it is a crucial part, as it will be a mistake to consider a particular viewpoint to be obvious and undeniable. Such approach requires to examine and evaluate scholarly opinions about the topic.

Review contexts.

Does the author try to approach the topic from an ideological perspective? Consider the fact that your own interpretation may be influenced by your culture, ideology, and other biases.

Come up with your own viewpoint. It is advisable to create an additional section or subparagraph dedicated to your opinion. You can imagine that you are a participant of discussion and your task is to explain your opinion with evidence. Remember that you should avoid pronouns like “I” and “my.”

Come up with conclusions. How can you evaluate your own findings? Briefly sum up the ideas you came up with in an overview. Define the importance of your findings and point out the directions that need further research.

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