How to Write a College Critical Thinking Essay

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Critical thinking essays test the ability for a student to objectively analyze and evaluate components of a problem to come to a conclusion about the issue. Thinking critically requires a student to put their own agenda, goals and objectives aside and evaluate an issue based purely on the factual merits of an issue. Professors expect to see that students can arrive at a conclusion supported by the facts of the issue. Critical thinking provides students with the ability to come up with their own solutions to problems rather than rely on the solutions of others.

Create a Thesis

Develop a thesis statement that explains what you want to prove. Find your thesis by first determining the topic of the essay. The topic should provide a broad overview, such as the effects of war on a country's economy.

Gather evidence to create and support one main point for your topic. If a correlation exists between war and the creation of manufacturing jobs, then one piece of evidence can state that wars create manufacturing jobs. Find additional evidence that relates to war and the creation of manufacturing jobs to refine your main point. In this case, if you find evidence to support it, you can create a main point stating that war creates an increase in manufacturing jobs.

Create a purpose statement from your main idea that shows what the paper aims to prove. For example, a good purpose statement could state that the paper aims to prove that war increases manufacturing jobs by the creation of need for additional tanks, missiles and other equipment used by the military.

Compile a list of evidence that supports your purpose statement, and research any evidence that could potentially refute your purpose statement. If you find enough evidence to support another theory, redefine your purpose statement to reflect your findings. Critical thinking requires you to abandon a previously held belief if new evidence proves your belief wrong.

Compose a draft of your thesis statement that contains a summary of the point you want to prove in your essay. A good thesis statement provides specific information and forms the basis for the essay's argument. For example, a good thesis may state that an improved economy in war time is the result of an increase in manufacturing jobs through the creation of new technology, equipment and military expenditures. The thesis should state what you intend to prove and give a summary of the evidence you plan to use in your essay.

Writing the Paper

Gather additional evidence to support your thesis statement. If you uncover evidence that proves your thesis statement wrong, you may need to refine, revise or create an entirely new thesis statement. Make sure to source each new piece of evidence using note cards, ensuring that you cite the location where you found the evidence. Always question whether the evidence provides relevance to your thesis statement.

Consider alternate viewpoints that could also provide reasoning for the conclusion of your thesis statement. Actively research other points of view, and take notes if you can disprove alternate points of view using empirical evidence. Part of a critical thinking essay involves showing that you can take different viewpoints into consideration and still arrive at your conclusion.

Evaluate all of the evidence you have gathered, and determine whether you can discount any of the evidence by accounting for cultural or historical context. If wars of the past didn't require the creation of new technology and equipment, it's possible that a war would not help an economy. However, other factors such as taking on new conquered land and acquiring the fortunes of the vanquished may still support your thesis.

Create an outline that covers the main facts you want to argue that support your position. Attempt to limit a discussion of each fact to a single paragraph to create cohesiveness in your argument. As you uncover additional evidence you may need to refine, revise or create an entirely new thesis statement.

Create an objective opinion based on the facts you acquired in your research. Critical thinking doesn't mean that you come out with the correct and only solution to a problem, but it does mean that you have analyzed an issue and used facts (not beliefs) to form your opinion.

Draft a conclusion that accounts for potential arguments against your thesis. Point out factors that could potentially change your thesis statement in the future, and discuss any potential branches of thought that researchers can use for further study.

Things Needed

  • Note cards


About the Author

Avery Martin holds a Bachelor of Music in opera performance and a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian studies. As a professional writer, she has written for, Samsung and IBM. Martin contributed English translations for a collection of Japanese poems by Misuzu Kaneko. She has worked as an educator in Japan, and she runs a private voice studio out of her home. She writes about education, music and travel.

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