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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

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:

reading for critical thinking

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 for critical thinking

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 : . License : Public Domain: No Known Copyright . License Terms : Quoted from website: The use of material found at 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:
  • The Reading Process. Authored by : Scottsdale Community College Reading Faculty. Provided by : Maricopa Community College. Located at : . 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 : . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved
  • video What is Critical Reading? SAT Critical Reading Bootcamp #4. Provided by : Reason Prep. Located at : . License : Other . License Terms : YouTube video
  • image of man smiling and holding a lightbulb. Authored by : africaniscool. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved

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University of York Library

  • Subject Guides

Being critical: a practical guide

Critical reading.

  • Being critical
  • Critical thinking
  • Evaluating information
  • Reading academic articles
  • Critical writing

The purposes and practices of reading

The way we read depends on what we’re reading and why we’re reading it. The way we read a novel is different to the way we read a menu . Perhaps we are reading to understand a subject, to increase our knowledge, to analyse data, to retrieve information, or maybe even to have fun! The purpose of our reading will determine the approach we take.

Reading for information

Suppose we were trying to find some directions or opening hours... We would need to scan the text for key words or phrases that answer our question, and then we would move on.

It's a bit like doing a Google search and then just reading the results page rather than accessing the website.

Reading for understanding

When we're reading for pleasure or doing background reading on a topic, we'll generally read the text once, from start to finish . We might apply skimming techniques to look through the text quickly and get the general gist. Our engagement with the text might therefore be quite passive: we're looking for a general understanding of what's being written, perhaps only taking in the bits that seem important.

Reading for analysis

When we're doing reading for an essay, dissertation, or thesis, we're going to need to actively read the text multiple times . All the while we'll engage our prior knowledge and actively apply it to our reading, asking questions of what's been written.

This is critical reading !

Reading strategies

When you’re reading you don’t have to read everything with the same amount of care and attention. Sometimes you need to be able to read a text very quickly.

There are three different techniques for reading:

  • Scanning — looking over material quite quickly in order to pick out specific information;
  • Skimming — reading something fairly quickly to get the general idea;
  • Close reading — reading something in detail.

You'll need to use a combination of these methods when you are reading an academic text: generally, you would scan to determine the scope and relevance of the piece, skim to pick out the key facts and the parts to explore further, then read more closely to understand in more detail and think critically about what is being written.

These strategies are part of your filtering strategy before deciding what to read in more depth. They will save you time in the long run as they will help you focus your time on the most relevant texts!

You might scan when you are...

  • ...browsing a database for texts on a specific topic;
  • ...looking for a specific word or phrase in a text;
  • ...determining the relevance of an article;
  • ...looking back over material to check something;
  • ...first looking at an article to get an idea of its shape.

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. You're scanning for pieces of information that will give you a general impression of it rather than trying to understand its detailed arguments.

You're mostly on the look-out for any relevant words or phrases that will help you answer whatever task you're working on. For instance, can you spot the word "orange" in the following paragraph?

Being able to spot a word by sight is a useful skill, but it's not always straightforward. Fortunately there are things to help you. A book might have an index, which might at least get you to the right page. An electronic text will let you search for a specific word or phrase. But context will also help. It might be that the word you're looking for is surrounded by similar words, or a range of words associated with that one. I might be looking for something about colour, and see reference to pigment, light, or spectra, or specific colours being called out, like red or green. I might be looking for something about fruit and come across a sentence talking about apples, grapes and plums. Try to keep this broader context in mind as you scan the page. That way, you're never really just going to be looking for a single word or orange on its own. There will normally be other clues to follow to help guide your eye.

Approaches to scanning articles:

  • Make a note of any questions you might want to answer – this will help you focus;
  • Pick out any relevant information from the title and abstract – Does it look like it relates to what you're wanting? If so, carry on...
  • Flick or scroll through the article to get an understanding of its structure (the headings in the article will help you with this) – Where are certain topics covered?
  • Scan the text for any facts , illustrations , figures , or discussion points that may be relevant – Which parts do you need to read more carefully? Which can be read quickly?
  • Look out for specific key words . You can search an electronic text for key words and phrases using Ctrl+F / Cmd+F. If your text is a book, there might even be an index to consult. In either case, clumps of results could indicate an area where that topic is being discussed at length.

Once you've scanned a text you might feel able to reject it as irrelevant, or you may need to skim-read it to get more information.

You might skim when you are...

  • ...jumping to specific parts such as the introduction or conclusion;
  • ...going over the whole text fairly quickly without reading every word;

Skim-reading, or speed-reading, is about reading superficially to get a gist rather than a deep understanding. You're looking to get a feel for the content and the way the topic is being discussed.

Skim-reading is easier to do if the text is in a language that's very familiar to you, because you will have more of an awareness of the conventions being employed and the parts of speech and writing that you can gloss over. Not only will there be whole sections of a text that you can pretty-much ignore, but also whole sections of paragraphs. For instance, the important sentence in this paragraph is the one right here where I announce that the important part of the paragraph might just be one sentence somewhere in the middle. The rest of the paragraph could just be a framework to hang around this point in order to stop the article from just being a list.

However, it may more often be that the important point for your purposes comes at the start of the paragraph. Very often a paragraph will declare what it's going to be about early on, and will then start to go into more detail. Maybe you'll want to do some closer reading of that detail, or maybe you won't. If the first paragraph makes it clear that this paragraph isn't going to be of much use to you, then you can probably just stop reading it. Or maybe the paragraph meanders and heads down a different route at some point in the middle. But if that's the case then it will probably end up summarising that second point towards the end of the paragraph. You might therefore want to skim-read the last sentence of a paragraph too, just in case it offers up any pithy conclusions, or indicates anything else that might've been covered in the paragraph!

For example, this paragraph is just about the 1980s TV gameshow "Treasure Hunt", which is something completely irrelevant to the topic of how to read an article. "Treasure Hunt" saw two members of the public (aided by TV newsreader Kenneth Kendall) using a library of books and tourist brochures to solve a series of five clues (provided, for the most part, by TV weather presenter Wincey Willis). These clues would generally be hidden at various tourist attractions within a specific county of the British Isles. The contestants would be in radio contact with a 'skyrunner' (Anneka Rice) who had a map and the use of a helicopter (piloted by Keith Thompson). Solving a clue would give the contestants the information they needed to direct the skyrunner (and her crew of camera operator Graham Berry and video engineer Frank Meyburgh) to the location of the next clue, and, ultimately, to the 'treasure' (a token object such as a little silver brooch). All of this was done against the clock, the contestants having only 45' to solve the clues and find the treasure. This, necessarily, required the contestants to be able to find relevant information quickly: they would have to select the right book from the shelves, and then navigate that text to find the information they needed. This, inevitably, involved a considerable amount of skim-reading. So maybe this paragraph was slightly relevant after all? No, probably not...

Skim-reading, then, is all about picking out the bits of a text that look like they need to be read, and ignoring other bits. It's about understanding the structure of a sentence or paragraph, and knowing where the important words like the verbs and nouns might be. You'll need to take in and consider the meaning of the text without reading every single word...

Approaches to skim-reading articles:

  • Pick out the most relevant information from the title and abstract – What type of article is it? What are the concepts? What are the findings?;
  • Scan through the article and note the headings to get an understanding of structure;
  • Look more closely at the illustrations or figures ;
  • Read the conclusion ;
  • Read the first and last sentences in a paragraph to see whether the rest is worth reading.

After skimming, you may still decide to reject the text, or you may identify sections to read in more detail.

Close reading

You might read closely when you are...

  • ...doing background reading;
  • ...trying to get into a new or difficult topic;
  • ...examining the discussions or data presented;
  • ...following the details or the argument.

Again, close reading isn't necessarily about reading every single word of the text, but it is about reading deeply within specific sections of it to find the meaning of what the author is trying to convey. There will be parts that you will need to read more than once, as you'll need to consider the text in great detail in order to properly take in and assess what has been written.

Approaches to the close reading of articles:

  • Focus on particular passages or a section of the text as a whole and read all of its content – your aim is to identify all the features of the text;
  • Make notes and annotate the text as you read – note significant information and questions raised by the text;
  • Re-read sections to improve understanding;
  • Look up any concepts or terms that you don’t understand.

Google Doc


Questioning goes hand-in-hand with reading for analysis. Before you begin to read, you should have a question or set of questions that will guide you. This will give purpose to your reading, and focus you; it will change your reading from a passive pursuit to an active one, and make it easier for you to retain the information you find. Think about what you want to achieve and keep the purpose in mind as you're reading.

Ask yourself...

  • Why am I reading this? — What is my task or assignment question, and how is this source helping to answer it?
  • What do I already know about the subject? — How can I relate what I'm reading to my own experiences?

You'll need to ask questions of the text too:

  • Examine the evidence or arguments presented;
  • Check out any influences on the evidence or arguments;
  • Check the limitations of study design or focus;
  • Examine the interpretations made.

Are you prepared to accept the authors’ arguments, opinions, or conclusions?

Critical reading: why, what, and how

Blocks to critical reading.

Certain habits or approaches we have to life can hold us back from really thinking objectively about issues. We may not realise it, but often we're our own worst enemies when it comes to being critical...

Select a student to reveal the statement they've made.

Student 1

I have been asked to work on an area that is completely new. Where do I start in terms of finding relevant texts?

Ask for guidance:

ask your tutor or module leader

use your module reading lists

make use of the Skills Guides (oh... you are! Excellent!)

ask your Faculty Librarians

Take a look at our contextagon and begin to consider sources of information .

Student 2

I don’t understand what I'm reading – It's too difficult!

If the text is difficult, don’t panic!

If it is a journal article, scan the text first – look at the contents, abstract, introduction, conclusion and subheadings to try to make sense of the argument.

Then read through the whole text to try to understand the key messages, rather than every single word or section. On a second reading, you will find it easier to understand more.

If you are struggling to get to grips with theories or concepts, you might find it useful to look at a summary as a way in -- for example, in an online subject encyclopaedia .

If you are struggling with difficult vocabulary, it may be useful to keep a glossary of key vocabulary, particularly if it is specialist or technical.

Remember, the more you read, the more you will understand it and be able to use it yourself.

Take a look at our Academic sources Skills Guide .

Student 3

Help! There is too much to read and too little time!

University study involves a large amount of reading. However, some texts on your reading lists are core texts and some are more optional.

You will generally need to read the core text, but on the optional list there may be a range of texts which deal with the same topic from different perspectives. You will need to decide which are the most relevant to your interests and assignments.

Keep in mind the questions you want the text to answer and look for what is relevant to those questions. Prioritise and read only as much as you need to get the information you need (if it's a book, use the index; if it's an article, concentrate on the relevant parts).

Improve your note-taking skills by keeping them brief and selective.

If in doubt, ask your tutor or Faculty Librarians for guidance.

Take a look at the Organise and Analyse section of the Skills Guides.

Student 4

I am struggling to remember what I have read.

To remember what you have read, you need to interact with the material. If you have questioned and evaluated the material you are reading, you will find it easier to remember.

Improve your active note-taking skills using a method like Cornell or Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review (SQR3).

Annotate your pdfs and use a note-taking app .

Make time to consolidate your reading periodically. You could do this by summarising key points from memory or connecting ideas using mindmapping.

Consider using a reference management program to keep on top of reading, and mind-mapping software like Mindgenius to connect ideas.

Student 5

Where did I read that thing?

Make sure you have a good system for taking notes and try to keep your notes organised/in one place, whether that is using an app or taking notes by hand. There is no right way to do this - find a system that works for you.

Logically label and file your notes, linking new information with what you already know and cross-reference with any handouts.

Make sure you make a note of information for referencing sources.

Where possible, save resources you have used to Google Drive or your University filestore , and organise these (e.g. by module, assessment, topic etc.).

Many of the above tips can be achieved with reference management software .

Student 6

I have strong opinions about the argument being presented in the reading – why can’t I just put this side forward?

Truth is a complicated business. Core texts or texts by highly respected authors are an author’s interpretation, and that interpretation is not above question. Any single text only provides a perspective. Even a scientific observation may be modified by further evidence. Critical writing means making sure your argument is balanced, considering and critiquing a range of perspectives.

Read texts objectively and assess their value in terms of what they can bring to your work, rather than whether you agree with them or not.

If you agree or disagree strongly with an author, you still need to analyse their argument and justify why it is sound or unsound, reliable or unreliable, and valid or lacking validity.

Ignoring opposing views can be a mistake. Your reader may think you are unaware of the different views or are not willing to think the ideas through and challenge them.

Be careful not to be blinded by your own views about a topic or an author. Engaging actively with a text which you initially don’t agree with can mean you have to rethink or adjust your own position, making your final argument stronger.

Take a look at the other parts of the Being critical Skills Guides .

That's not right. Try again.

Being actively critical

Active reading is about making a conscious effort to understand and evaluate a text for its relevance to your studies. You would actively try to think about what the text is trying to say, for example by making notes or summaries.

Critical reading is about engaging with the text by asking questions rather than passively accepting what it says. Is the methodology sound? What was the purpose? Do ideas flow logically? Are arguments properly formulated? Is the evidence there to support what is being claimed?

When you're reading critically, you're looking to...

  • evidence to your own research;
  • and contrast different sources effectively;
  • ...focus research and sources;
  • ...synthesise the information you've found;
  • ...justify your own arguments with reference to other sources.

You're going beyond just an understanding of a text. You're asking questions of it; making judgements about it... What you're reading is no longer undisputed 'fact': it's an argument put forward by an author. And you need to determine whether that argument is a valid one.

"Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting"

– Edmund Burke

"Feel free to reflect on the merits (or not) of that quote..."

– anon.

Critical reading involves understanding the content of the text as well as how the subject matter is developed...

  • How true is what's being written?
  • How significant are the statements that are being made?

Regardless of how objective, technical, or scientific the text may be, the authors will have made certain decisions during the writing process, and it is these decisions that we will need to examine.

Two models of critical reading

There are several approaches to critical reading. Here's a couple of models you might want to try:

Choose a chapter or article relevant to your assessment (or pick something from your reading list).

Then do the following:

Determine broadly what the text is about.

Look at the front and back covers

Scan the table of contents

Look at the title, headings, and subheadings

Read the abstract, introduction and conclusion

Are there any images, charts, data or graphs?

What are the questions the text will answer? Write some down.

Use the title, headings and subheadings to write questions

What questions do the abstract, introduction and conclusion prompt?

What do you already know about the topic? What do you need to know?

Do a first reading. Read selectively.

Read a section at a time

Answer your questions

Summarise or make brief notes

Underline or highlight any key points

Recite (in your own words)

Recall the key points.

Summarise key points from memory

Try to answer the questions you asked orally, without looking at the text or your notes

Use diagrams or mindmaps to recall the information

After you have completed the reading…

Go back over your notes and check they are clear

Check that you have answered all your questions

At a later date, review your notes to check that they make sense

At a later date, review the questions and see how much you can recall from memory

Choose a relevant article from your reading list and make brief notes on it using the prompts below.

Choose an article you have read earlier in your course and re-read it, applying the prompts below.

Compare your comments and the notes you have made. What are the differences?

Who is the text by? Who is the text aimed at? Who is described in the text?

What is the text about? What is the main point, problem or topic? What is the text's purpose?

Where is the problem/topic/issue situated?, and in what context?

When does the problem/topic/issue occur, and what is its context? When was the text written?

How did the topic/problem/issue occur? How does something work? How does one factor affect another? How does this fit into the bigger picture?

Why did the topic/problem/issue occur? Why was this argument/theory/solution used? Why not something else?

What if this or that factor were added/removed/altered? What if there are alternatives?

So what makes it significant? So what are the implications? So what makes it successful?

What next in terms of how and where else it's applied? What next in terms of what can be learnt? What next in terms of what needs doing now?

Here's a template for use with the model.

Go to File > Make a copy... to create your own version of the template that you can edit.

CC BY-NC-SA Learnhigher

Arguments & evidence

Academic reading can be a trial. In more ways than one...

It might help to think of every text you read as a witness in a court case. And you're the judge ! You're going to need to examine the testimony...

  • What’s being claimed ?
  • What are the reasons for making that claim?
  • Are there gaps in the evidence?
  • Do other witnesses support and corroborate their testimony?
  • Does the testimony support the overall case ?
  • How does the testimony relate to the other witnesses?

You're going to need to consider all sides of the case...

Considering the argument

An argument explains a position on something. A lot of academic writing is about gathering those claims and explaining your own position through their explanations.

You'll need to question...

  • ...the author's claims ;
  • ...the arguments they use — are their claims well documented ?;
  • ...the counter-arguments presented;
  • ...any bias in the source;
  • ...the research method being used;
  • the author qualifies their arguments.

You'll also need to develop your own reasoned arguments, based on a logical interpretation of reliable sources of information.

What's the evidence?

Evidence isn't just the results of research or a reference to an academic study. You might use other authors' opinions to back up your argument. Keep in mind that some evidence is stronger than others:


— personal opinions of the author;

— an attempt to be persuasive;

— personal experiences or case studies;

— primary or secondary findings or data.


You can get an idea of an author's certainty through the language they use, too:


"It   that..." "It   that..." "There's   that..."

"It  (not)..." "It   (not)..." "It is   (not)..." "It is   (not)..."

"It   (not)..." "It is (un) ..."

"It  (not)..." "It   (not)..." "It is  ..." "It is  ..."

"It   (not)..." "It   (not)..." "It   (not)..." "It is  (ly)..." "It is  (ly)..." "It is  (ly)..." "it is  ..."


Linking evidence to argument

  • Why did the author select the evidence they did? — Why did they decide to use a particular methodology, choose a specific method, or conduct the work in the way they did?
  • How does the author interpret the evidence?
  • How does the evidence prove or help the argument?

Even in the most technical and scientific disciplines, the presentation of argument will always involve elements that can be examined and questioned. For example, you could ask:

  • Why did the author select that particular topic of enquiry in the first place?
  • Why did the author select that particular process of analysis?

Synthesis :

"the combination of components or elements to form a connected whole."

You'll need to make logical connections between the different sources you encounter, pulling together their findings. Are there any patterns that emerge?

Analyse the texts you've found, and how meaningful they are in context of your studies...

  • How do they compare to each other and to any other knowledge you are gathering about the subject? Do some ideas complement or conflict with each other?
  • How will you synthesise the different sources to serve an idea you are constructing? Are there any inferences you can draw from the material?

Embracing other perspectives

Good critical research seeks to be impartial, and will embrace (or, at the very least, address) conflicting opinions. Try to bring these into your research to show comprehensive searching and knowledge of the subject.

You can strengthen your argument by explaining, critically, why one source is more persuasive than another.

Recall & review

Synthesising research is much easier if you take notes. When you know an article is relevant to your area of research, read it and make notes which are relevant to you. Consider keeping a spreadsheet or something similar , to make a note of what you have read and how it relates to the task.

You don't need elaborate notes; just a summary of the relevant details. But you can use your notes to help with the process of analysing and synthesising the texts. One method you could try is the recall & review approach:

Try to summarise key words and elements of the text:

  • Sketch a rough diagram of the text from memory — test what you can recall from your reading of the text;
  • Make headings of the main ideas and note the supporting evidence;
  • Include your evaluation — what were the strengths and weaknesses?
  • Identify any gaps in your memory.

Go over your notes, focusing on the parts you found difficult. Organise your notes, re-read parts, and start to bring everything together...

  • Summarise the text in preparation for writing;
  • Be creative: use colour and arrows; make it easy to visualise;
  • Highlight the ideas you may want to make use of;
  • Identify areas for further research.

Critical analysis vs criticism

The aim of critical reading and critical writing is not to find fault; it's not about focusing on the negative or being derogatory. Rather it's about assessing the strength of the evidence and the argument. It's just as useful to conclude that a study or an article presents very strong evidence and a well-reasoned argument as it is to identify weak evidence and poorly formed arguments.


The author's argument is poor because it is badly written.

Critical analysis

The author's argument is unconvincing without further supporting evidence.

Academic reading: What it is and how to do it

Struggling with academic reading? This bitesize workshop breaks it down for you! Discover how to read faster, smarter, and make those academic texts work for you:

Think critically about what you read...

  • examine the evidence or arguments presented
  • check out any influences on the evidence or arguments
  • check out the limitations of study design or focus
  • examine the interpretations made


Active critical reading

It's important to take an analytical approach to reading the texts you encounter. In the concluding part of our " Being critical " theme, we look at how to evaluate sources effectively, and how to develop practical strategies for reading in an efficient and critical manner.


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Please ensure you sign up at least one working day before the start of the session to be sure of receiving joining instructions.

If you're based at CITY College you can book onto the following sessions by sending an email with the session details to your Faculty Librarian:

[email protected]

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Reading Textbooks Reading Articles

Reading Skills Part 1: Set Yourself Up for Success

"While - like many of us - I enjoy reading what I want to read, I still struggle to get through a dense research article or textbook chapter. I have noticed, however, that if I take steps to prepare, I am much more likely to persist through a challenging reading. "

Reading Skills Part 2: Alternatives to Highlighting

"It starts with the best of intentions: trusty highlighter in hand or (for the tech-savvy crowd) highlighting tool hovering on-screen, you work your way through an assigned reading, marking only the most important information—or so you think."

Reading Skills Part 3: Read to Remember

"It’s happened to the best of us: on Monday evening, you congratulate yourself on making it though an especially challenging reading. What a productive start to the week!"

Reading a Research Article Assigned as Coursework

"Reading skills are vital to your success at Walden. The kind of reading you do during your degree program will vary, but most of it will involve reading journal articles based on primary research."

Critical Reading for Evaluation

"Whereas analysis involves noticing, evaluation requires the reader to make a judgment about the text’s strengths and weaknesses. Many students are not confident in their ability to assess what they are reading."

Critical Reading for Analysis and Comparison

"Critical reading generally refers to reading in a scholarly context, with an eye toward identifying a text or author’s viewpoints, arguments, evidence, potential biases, and conclusions."

Pre-Reading Strategies

Triple entry notebook, critical thinking.

Use this checklist to practice critical thinking while reading an article, watching an advertisement, or making an important purchase or voting decision.

Critical Reading Checklist (Word) Critical Reading Checklist (PDF) Critical Thinking Bookmark (PDF)

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Hillary Wentworth on SKIL Grad Writing Courses, Critical Reading, & Online Etiquette

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Interrogating Texts

  • Reading Strategies

15th century Altarpiece fragment, Mary Magdalene reading. National Gallery (Great Britain). Available through ArtSTOR

Rogier van der Weyden, 1399 -1464. Altarpiece fragment, Mary Magdalene reading. National Gallery (Great Britain). Available through   ArtSTOR

St. Ivo reading, ca.1450. National Gallery (Great Britain). Available through ArtSTOR

Workshop of Rogier van der Weyden. St. Ivo reading, ca.1450. National Gallery (Great Britain). Available through   ArtSTOR

max beckmann reclining woman reading with irises 1923

Max Beckmann (1884-1950). Reclining Woman Reading, with Irises (192 3). Oil on canvas. Private collection. Image available in  HOLLIS

daumier reader man with book with red-edged pages

H onore  Daumier (1808-1879). Reader (1863). Oil on wood.  University of California, San Diego.  Image available in  ARTStor

young man reading book 16th century painting aga khan museum

Young Man Reading a Book (c.1570-1574). Attributed to Mirza 'Ali (c.1510-1576). Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper. Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Image available in HOLLIS

reading for critical thinking

Ms. Richardson 5, fol. 66v Book of Hours, England, ca. 1420. Houghton Library. Image linked from HOLLIS

Thinking-Intensive Reading

Critical reading--active engagement and interaction with texts--is essential to your academic success at Harvard, and to your intellectual growth.  Research has shown that students who read deliberately retain more information and retain it longer.

Your college reading assignments will probably be more substantial and more sophisticated than those you are used to from high school. The amount of reading will almost certainly be greater.  College students rarely have the luxury of successive re-readings of material, however, given the pace of life in and out of the classroom. 

So how should you approach reading in this new environment?

While the strategies described below are (for the sake of clarity) listed sequentially, you typically do most of them simultaneously. If you're used to doing little more than moving your eyes across the page, they may feel awkward at first, and you may have to deploy them consciously.  But

But as they become habits, you'll notice the differences -- both in what you “see” in a course reading, and in the confidence with which you approach your texts.

Look “around” the text before you start reading. 

Previewing enables you to develop a set of expectations about the scope and aim of the text.  These very preliminary impressions offer you a way to focus your reading. 

You’ve probably engaged in one version of previewing in the past, when you’ve tried to determine how long an assigned reading is (and how much time and energy, as a result, it will demand from you).  But you can learn a great deal more about the organization and purpose of a text by taking note of features other than its length. For instance:

  • What does the presence of headnotes , an  abstrac t, or other  prefatory materia l  tell you?
  • Is the author known to you already?  If so, how does their  reputation   or  credentials (like an institutional affiliation)   influence your perception of what you are about to read?

If an author is unfamiliar or unknown in an essay collection, does an editor introduce them (by supplying brief biographical information, an assessment of the author’s work, concerns, and importance)?

Texts demand different things of you as you read, so whenever you can, register the type of information you’re presented with. 

  • How does the disposition or  layout of a text  prepare you for reading? Is the material broken into parts--subtopics, sections, or the like?  Are there long and unbroken blocks of text or smaller paragraphs or “chunks” and what does this suggest?  How might the identified parts of a text guide you toward understanding the line of inquiry or the arc of the argument that's being made?
  • Does the text seem to be arranged according to certain conventions of discourse ? Newspaper articles, for instance, have characteristics that you will recognize, including "easy" language. Textbooks and scholarly essays are organized quite differently. 

2. Annotate

Annotating puts you actively and immediately in a "dialogue” with an author and the issues and ideas you encounter in a written text. .

It's also a way to have an ongoing conversation with yourself as you move through the text and to record what that encounter was like for you. Here's how to make your reading thinking-intensive from start to finish:

  • Throw away your highlighter : Highlighting can seem like an active reading strategy, but it can actually distract from the business of learning and dilute your comprehension.  Those bright yellow lines you put on a printed page one day can seem strangely cryptic the next, unless you have a method for remembering why they were important to you at another moment in time.  Pen or pencil will allow you to do more to a text you have to wrestle with.  
  • Mark up the margins of your text with words and phrases : the   ideas that occur to you, notes about things that seem important to you, reminders of how issues in a text may connect with class discussion or course themes. This kind of interaction keeps you conscious of the reasons you are reading as well as the purposes your instructor has in mind. Later in the term, when you are reviewing for a test or project, your marginalia will be useful memory triggers.
  • Develop your own symbol system : asterisk (*) a key idea, for example, or use an exclamation point (!) for the surprising, absurd, bizarre.  Your personalized set of hieroglyphs allow you to capture the important -- and often fleeting -- insights that occur to you as you're reading.  Like notes in your margins, they'll prove indispensable when you return to a text in search of that perfect passage to use in a paper, or when you are preparing for a big exam.  
  • Get in the habit of hearing yourself ask questions: “What does this mean?” “Why is the writer drawing that conclusion?” “Why am I being asked to read this text?” etc. 

Write the questions down (in your margins, at the beginning or end of the reading, in a notebook, or elsewhere. They are reminders of the unfinished business you still have with a text: something to ask during class discussion, or to come to terms with on your own, once you’ve had a chance to digest the material further or have done other course reading.

3. Outline, Summarize, and Analyze

The best way to determine that you’ve really gotten the point is to be able to state it in your own words. take the information apart, look at its parts, and then, put it back together again in language that is meaningful to you. three ways to proceed: .

Outlining  the argument of a text is a version of annotating, and can be done quite informally in the margins of the text, unless you prefer the more formal Roman numeral model you may have learned in high school.  Outlining enables you to see the skeleton of an argument: the thesis, the first point and evidence (and so on), through the conclusion. With weighty or difficult readings, that skeleton may not be obvious until you go looking for it.

Summarizing  accomplishes something similar, but in sentence and paragraph form, and with the connections between ideas made explicit.

Analyzing  adds an evaluative component to the summarizing process—it requires you not just to restate main ideas, but also to test the logic, credibility, and emotional impact of an argument.  In analyzing a text, you reflect upon and decide how effectively (or poorly) its argument has been made.  Questions to ask:

  • What is the writer asserting?
  • What am I being asked to believe or accept? Facts? Opinions? Some mixture?
  • What reasons or evidence does the author supply to convince me? Where is the strongest or most effective evidence the author offers  -- and why is it compelling?
  • Is there any place in the text where the reasoning breaks down?  Are there things that do not make sense,  conclusions that are drawn prematurely, moments where the writer undermines their purposes?

4. Look for repetitions and patterns

The way language is chosen, used, and positioned in a text can be an important indication of what an author considers crucial and what they expect you to glean from their argument.  .

Language choices can also alert you to ideological positions, hidden agendas or biases.   Be watching for:

  • Recurring images
  • Repeated words, phrases, types of examples, or illustrations
  • Consistent ways of characterizing people, events, or issues

5. Contextualize

Once you’ve finished reading actively and annotating it,   consider the text from the multiple perspectives..

When you contextualize, you essentially "re-view" a text you've encountered, acknowledging how it is framed by its historical, cultural, material, or intellectual circumstances. Do these factors change, complicate, explain, deepen or otherwise influence how you view a piece? 

Also view the reading through the lens of your own experience. Your understanding of the words on the page and their significance is always shaped by what you have come to know and value from living in a particular time and place.

6. Compare and Contrast

Set course readings against each other to determine their relationships (hidden or explicit)..

  • At what point in the term does this reading come?  Why that point, do you imagine?
  • How does it contribute to the main concepts and themes of the course? 
  • How does it compare (or contrast) to the ideas presented by texts that come before it?  Does it continue a trend, shift direction, or expand the focus of previous readings?
  • How has your thinking been altered by this reading, or how has it affected your response to the issues and themes of the course?

Susan Gilroy , Librarian for Undergraduate Writing Programs, Lamont Library 

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reading for critical thinking

Princeton Correspondents on Undergraduate Research

In Between the Lines: A Guide to Reading Critically

I often find that Princeton professors assume that we all know how to “read critically.” It’s a phrase often included in essay prompts, and a skill necessary to academic writing. Maybe we’re familiar with its definition: close examination of a text’s logic, arguments, style, and other content in order to better understand the author’s intent. Reading non-critically would be identifying a metaphor in a passage, whereas the critical reader would question why the author used that specific metaphor in the first place. Now that the terminology is clarified, what does critical reading look like in practice? I’ve put together a short guide on how I approach my readings to help demystify the process.

  • Put on your scholar hat. Critical reading starts before the first page. You should assume that the reading in front of you was the product of several choices made by the author, and that each of these choices is subject to analysis. This is a critical mindset, but importantly, not a negative one. Not taking a reading at face value doesn’t mean approaching the reading hoping to find everything that’s  wrong, but rather what could be improved .
  • Revisit Writing Sem : Motive and thesis are incredibly helpful guides to understanding tough academic texts. Examining why the author is writing this text (motive), provides a context for the work that follows. The thesis should be in the back of your mind at all times to understand how the evidence presented proves it, but simultaneously thinking about the motive  allows you to think about what opponents to the author might say, and then question how the evidence would stand up to these potential rebuttals.
  • Get physical . Take notes! Critical reading involves making observations and insights—track them! My process involves underlining, especially as I see recurring terms, images, or themes. As I read, I also like to turn back and forth constantly between pages to link up arguments. I was reading a longer legal text for a class and found that flipping back and forth helped me clarify the ideas presented in the beginning of the text so I could track their development in later pages.
  • Play Professor. While I’m reading, I like to imagine potential discussion or essay topics I would come up with if I were a professor. These usually involves examining the themes of the text, placing this text in comparison or contrast with another one we have read in the class, and paying close attention to how the evidence attempts to prove the thesis.
  • Form an (informed) opinion. After much work, underlining, and debating, it’s safe to make your own judgments about the author’s work. In forming this opinion, I like to mentally prepare to have this opinion debated, which helps me complicate my own conclusions—a great start to a potential essay!

Critical reading is an important prerequisite for the academic writing that Princeton professors expect. The best papers don’t start with the first word you type, but rather how you approach the texts composing your essay subject. Hopefully, this guide to reading critically will help you write critically as well!

–Elise Freeman, Social Sciences Correspondent

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The Art of Close Reading (Part One)

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Critical reading: what is critical reading, and why do i need to do it.

Critical reading means that a reader applies certain processes, models, questions, and theories that result in enhanced clarity and comprehension. There is more involved, both in effort and understanding, in a critical reading than in a mere "skimming" of the text. What is the difference? If a reader "skims" the text, superficial characteristics and information are as far as the reader goes. A critical reading gets at "deep structure" (if there is such a thing apart from the superficial text!), that is, logical consistency, tone, organization, and a number of other very important sounding terms.

What does it take to be a critical reader? There are a variety of answers available to this question; here are some suggested steps:

1. Prepare to become part of the writer's audience.

After all, authors design texts for specific audiences, and becoming a member of the target audience makes it easier to get at the author's purpose. Learn about the author, the history of the author and the text, the author's anticipated audience; read introductions and notes.

2. Prepare to read with an open mind.

Critical readers seek knowledge; they do not "rewrite" a work to suit their own personalities. Your task as an enlightened critical reader is to read what is on the page, giving the writer a fair chance to develop ideas and allowing yourself to reflect thoughtfully, objectively, on the text.

3. Consider the title.

This may seem obvious, but the title may provide clues to the writer's attitude, goals, personal viewpoint, or approach.

4. Read slowly.

Again, this appears obvious, but it is a factor in a "close reading." By slowing down, you will make more connections within the text.

5. Use the dictionary and other appropriate reference works.

If there is a word in the text that is not clear or difficult to define in context: look it up. Every word is important, and if part of the text is thick with technical terms, it is doubly important to know how the author is using them.

6. Make notes.

Jot down marginal notes, underline and highlight, write down ideas in a notebook, do whatever works for your own personal taste. Note for yourself the main ideas, the thesis, the author's main points to support the theory. Writing while reading aids your memory in many ways, especially by making a link that is unclear in the text concrete in your own writing.

7. Keep a reading journal

In addition to note-taking, it is often helpful to regularly record your responses and thoughts in a more permanent place that is yours to consult. By developing a habit of reading and writing in conjunction, both skills will improve.

Critical reading involves using logical and rhetorical skills. Identifying the author's thesis is a good place to start, but to grasp how the author intends to support it is a difficult task. More often than not an author will make a claim (most commonly in the form of the thesis) and support it in the body of the text. The support for the author's claim is in the evidence provided to suggest that the author's intended argument is sound, or reasonably acceptable. What ties these two together is a series of logical links that convinces the reader of the coherence of the author's argument: this is the warrant. If the author's premise is not supportable, a critical reading will uncover the lapses in the text that show it to be unsound.

Questions, comments, and other sundry things may be sent to [email protected]

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  • What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples

What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples

Published on May 30, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on May 31, 2023.

Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyze information and form a judgment .

To think critically, you must be aware of your own biases and assumptions when encountering information, and apply consistent standards when evaluating sources .

Critical thinking skills help you to:

  • Identify credible sources
  • Evaluate and respond to arguments
  • Assess alternative viewpoints
  • Test hypotheses against relevant criteria

Table of contents

Why is critical thinking important, critical thinking examples, how to think critically, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about critical thinking.

Critical thinking is important for making judgments about sources of information and forming your own arguments. It emphasizes a rational, objective, and self-aware approach that can help you to identify credible sources and strengthen your conclusions.

Critical thinking is important in all disciplines and throughout all stages of the research process . The types of evidence used in the sciences and in the humanities may differ, but critical thinking skills are relevant to both.

In academic writing , critical thinking can help you to determine whether a source:

  • Is free from research bias
  • Provides evidence to support its research findings
  • Considers alternative viewpoints

Outside of academia, critical thinking goes hand in hand with information literacy to help you form opinions rationally and engage independently and critically with popular media.

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Critical thinking can help you to identify reliable sources of information that you can cite in your research paper . It can also guide your own research methods and inform your own arguments.

Outside of academia, critical thinking can help you to be aware of both your own and others’ biases and assumptions.

Academic examples

However, when you compare the findings of the study with other current research, you determine that the results seem improbable. You analyze the paper again, consulting the sources it cites.

You notice that the research was funded by the pharmaceutical company that created the treatment. Because of this, you view its results skeptically and determine that more independent research is necessary to confirm or refute them. Example: Poor critical thinking in an academic context You’re researching a paper on the impact wireless technology has had on developing countries that previously did not have large-scale communications infrastructure. You read an article that seems to confirm your hypothesis: the impact is mainly positive. Rather than evaluating the research methodology, you accept the findings uncritically.

Nonacademic examples

However, you decide to compare this review article with consumer reviews on a different site. You find that these reviews are not as positive. Some customers have had problems installing the alarm, and some have noted that it activates for no apparent reason.

You revisit the original review article. You notice that the words “sponsored content” appear in small print under the article title. Based on this, you conclude that the review is advertising and is therefore not an unbiased source. Example: Poor critical thinking in a nonacademic context You support a candidate in an upcoming election. You visit an online news site affiliated with their political party and read an article that criticizes their opponent. The article claims that the opponent is inexperienced in politics. You accept this without evidence, because it fits your preconceptions about the opponent.

There is no single way to think critically. How you engage with information will depend on the type of source you’re using and the information you need.

However, you can engage with sources in a systematic and critical way by asking certain questions when you encounter information. Like the CRAAP test , these questions focus on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.

When encountering information, ask:

  • Who is the author? Are they an expert in their field?
  • What do they say? Is their argument clear? Can you summarize it?
  • When did they say this? Is the source current?
  • Where is the information published? Is it an academic article? Is it peer-reviewed ?
  • Why did the author publish it? What is their motivation?
  • How do they make their argument? Is it backed up by evidence? Does it rely on opinion, speculation, or appeals to emotion ? Do they address alternative arguments?

Critical thinking also involves being aware of your own biases, not only those of others. When you make an argument or draw your own conclusions, you can ask similar questions about your own writing:

  • Am I only considering evidence that supports my preconceptions?
  • Is my argument expressed clearly and backed up with credible sources?
  • Would I be convinced by this argument coming from someone else?

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • ChatGPT vs human editor
  • ChatGPT citations
  • Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Chicago style
  • Paraphrasing


  • Types of plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Academic integrity
  • Consequences of plagiarism
  • Common knowledge

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

Critical thinking skills include the ability to:

You can assess information and arguments critically by asking certain questions about the source. You can use the CRAAP test , focusing on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.

Ask questions such as:

  • Who is the author? Are they an expert?
  • How do they make their argument? Is it backed up by evidence?

A credible source should pass the CRAAP test  and follow these guidelines:

  • The information should be up to date and current.
  • The author and publication should be a trusted authority on the subject you are researching.
  • The sources the author cited should be easy to find, clear, and unbiased.
  • For a web source, the URL and layout should signify that it is trustworthy.

Information literacy refers to a broad range of skills, including the ability to find, evaluate, and use sources of information effectively.

Being information literate means that you:

  • Know how to find credible sources
  • Use relevant sources to inform your research
  • Understand what constitutes plagiarism
  • Know how to cite your sources correctly

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search, interpret, and recall information in a way that aligns with our pre-existing values, opinions, or beliefs. It refers to the ability to recollect information best when it amplifies what we already believe. Relatedly, we tend to forget information that contradicts our opinions.

Although selective recall is a component of confirmation bias, it should not be confused with recall bias.

On the other hand, recall bias refers to the differences in the ability between study participants to recall past events when self-reporting is used. This difference in accuracy or completeness of recollection is not related to beliefs or opinions. Rather, recall bias relates to other factors, such as the length of the recall period, age, and the characteristics of the disease under investigation.

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How to Encourage Critical Thinking Skills While Reading: Effective Strategies

reading for critical thinking

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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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!

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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


  • 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.


  • 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!


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 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 !

reading for critical thinking


I primarily focus on  integrating multiple disciplines and subjects. The goal is to make teaching simplified and effective!

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What Is Critical Reading? A Definition For Learning

Critical reading is reading with the purpose of critical examination of the text and its implicit and explicit themes and ideas.

What Is Critical Reading

The Definition Of Critical Reading

by Terry Heick

Critical reading is reading with the purpose of critical examination of the text and its ideas.

To add a bit more to that definition, we might say, “Critical reading is reading with the purpose of critical examination of the text and its implicit and explicit themes and ideas.”

What is Critical Reading? To expand on the simple definition above, critical reading is the close, careful reading of a text that is undertaken in order to understand it fully and assess its merits. It is not simply a matter of skimming a text or reading for plot points; rather, critical reading requires that you read attentively and thoughtfully, taking into account the text’s structure, purpose, and audience, among other characteristics (e.g., tone, mood, diction, etc.)

Critical reading is the process of reading texts with the purpose to understand them fully. It involves asking questions about the author’s intention, the text’s structure and purpose, and the meanings of individual words and phrases. Critical readers also consider the context in which a text was written and how it might be interpreted by different audiences.

What is a critical reading strategy? A critical reading strategy is anything the reader does that helps them critically evaluate a text.

See also Creating A Culture Of Reading In Your Classroom

What are some examples of critical reading strategies?

Critical Reading Strategies

Inferring ( ‘Reading between the lines’ is the act of identifying and examining implicit messages and biases.)

Claim/Counter-Claim (itemizing each and how they work/don’t work together in a specific text; concept mapping can be useful here)

Journaling (while or after reading to reflect both on the text and the process of evaluating that text)

Marking The Text

Adjusting Reading Rate

Monitoring Understanding

SPQ: Stop, Paraphrase, and Question

The Contrarian (viewing the text from a specific perspective other than your own–often the opposite of your beliefs, opinion, or perspective)

Critical Lenses (reading a text while ‘seeing’ that text through a specific concept or category–including socioeconomic, historical, gender, race, sexuality, and other ‘concepts’ or realities; this can help uncover bias, create new meaning previously inaccessible to the reader and, perhaps most importantly, help the reader understand the subjectivity of reading and how much of an impact our own biases have on our understanding of both texts we read and the world around us).

See also How To Help Your Students See Quality

Why is Critical Reading Important?

Critical reading is important because it allows you to read and analyze a text critically, breaking it down into its component parts and assessing its strengths and weaknesses. It also helps you understand the author’s purpose in writing the text and how it relates to your own life.

As the process of reading texts with a focus on understanding and evaluating the arguments and evidence presented, critical reading involves asking questions about the text, making connections to other texts, and thinking critically about the author’s argument. Critical reading is necessary for success in school and in life because it allows you to assess information critically and make informed decisions.

How To Read Critically

To read critically, you only need to read with the purpose of identifying and evaluating the ‘quality’ of a text.

Quality can mean different things depending on the purpose and context of a text. Note, the quality here is different than the ‘quality’ of literature or film, or other fiction. In these cases, specific hallmarks of quality certainly exist but they relate to the ability to convey a compelling fiction (e.g., tell a ‘good story’). The use of dialogue to establish characters, the use of setting to ground conflicts, and the weaving of a unifying narrative through the course of dozens of small events, each done with the purpose of helping the reader slowly uncover some truth about themselves or the world around them–these are the kinds of practices that help determine the quality of fiction.

In non-fiction form–essays, for example–quality is concerned more with the clarity and relevance of a specific claim and the author’s ability to demonstrate the importance and truth of that claim.

Wikipedia offers up a strong example of the need for critical reading: “The psychologist Cyril Burt is known for his studies on the effect of heredity on intelligence. Shortly after he died, his studies of inheritance and intelligence came into disrepute after evidence emerged indicating he had falsified research data. A 1994 paper by William H. Tucker is illuminative on both how “critical reading” was performed in the discovery of the falsified data as well as in many famous psychologists’ “non-critical reading” of Burt’s papers. Tucker shows that the recognized experts within the field of intelligence research blindly accepted Cyril Burt’s research even though it was without scientific value and probably directly faked: They wanted to believe that IQ is hereditary and considered uncritically empirical claims supporting this view. This paper thus demonstrates how critical reading (and the opposite) may be related to beliefs as well as to interests and power structures.”

Types Of Questions To Ask While Critical Reading

Critical reading is the process of analyzing a text to understand its meaning and to assess its argument. When you critically read a text, you ask yourself questions about the author’s purpose, the evidence they provide, and the logic of their argument.

Who is saying what to whom? That is, who is the author, what is their message, and who is that message for?

Is this true? By what standard?

Does the thesis pass the ‘So what?’ challenge. Put another way, are the claims being made compelling and significant? Worth understanding?

What is explicitly stated? What is implied? What is the relationship between the two?

What are the underlying assumptions of both the text and the claims within it?

Does the knowledge (facts, truths, information, data, etc.) in the text represent our current best understanding of things as they are today? If not, what has changed and why? And how does that change impact the strength and meaning of the text itself?

What here is fact and what is opinion?

What is the significance of this text?

What are the claims made by this text? Are these claims clear? Relevant? Compelling? New? That is, has this been said before?

What reasons are given to support those claims? Are these reasons aligned with the claims? That is, is the claim-evidence reasoning precise?

That is, is the claim-evidence reasoning accurate?

By formulating questions like these, you can not only guide your own comprehension of the text, you can also begin to learn how arguments (and the texts that contain them) are constructed. This can help students form rational, strong arguments of their own while also providing practice analyzing and evaluating the merit of arguments put forth by others (these can be formal academic arguments or informal ‘arguments’/claims made in real conversations on a day to day basis in their lives).

The Mindset Of Critical Reading

We bring ourselves to a reading and the ‘self’ we were is forever changed if only ever so slightly. Knowledge acquisition changes us and reading is a process of knowledge acquisition. The same text read five years ago has new meaning now because the meaning is not in the text but in your mind which has changed over that period of time. This kind of realization illustrates the necessity for critical reading (and critical thinking while reading).

See also Critical Thinking Is A Mindset

As human beings, we misunderstand too much and lack too much information and perspective. This leads to humility being one of the most important reading strategies of critical reading. By bringing that mindset to a text, we stand a better chance of evaluating the claim-reasoning strength of a text and, in doing so, stand a better chance of improving our own knowledge and critical reasoning skills.

In Why Students Should Read , I said, “When we read–really, really read–for a while, a normally very loud part of us grows quiet and limp while our mind begins unraveling new ideas. Then, pushing further, we look inward, turning our skin inside out to expose our pulsing, naked nerves to the text. We erect a sense of self to withstand the sheer momentum of the text, then rummage through the debris when it’s all over to see what’s left behind.”

Reading is interested in what was said, comprehending is interested in what was meant, and critical reading is interested in what is actually true .

Founder & Director of TeachThought

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1 – Critical Thinking

reading for critical thinking

Since ancient times, the concept of critical thinking has been associated with persuasive communication, usually in the form of speeches, scholarly texts, and literature.

Today, there are many vehicles for information and ideas, but the elements of critical thinking in a university context still bear strong influences from early scholarly writing and oration.

Definition of Critical Thinking

“Critical Thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”


Critical thinking may seem very abstract in  definitions such as the one above, but it is, above all,  an action . One source says critical thinking “is about being an active learner rather than a passive recipient of information” ( Skills You Need)   Most college curricula are designed to develop critical thinking.

“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 the possibility that they do not. It is more than the accumulation of facts, it is a way of thinking.”

                                                                                                                                   ( Source: Skills You Need )

In her article, “Why Are Critical Thinking Skills Necessary for Academics?,” journalist Jen Saunders  says, “universities concern the ways in which people research and write; their members are responsible for maintaining the foundational principles of truth and knowledge within the folds of scholarship, and permit scholars to grasp and comprehend academic subjects at levels of expertise.” ( )

Saunders provides this information on the specific ways that critical thinking is important in  college-level work:

  • Critical thinking supplies the foundation of high-quality academic writing.
  • Peer awareness is an element of critical thinking in that it helps students understand and communicate with those who have different experiences, opinions, and perspectives.
  • Critical thinking are necessary for passing some exams (e.g.,  essay answer, a series of multiple-choice questions to test comprehension, and especially situations where students must look for context clues or decipher word elements).
  • When students are required to defend a thesis or dissertation, they need to be able to anticipate questions and respond on the spot to those asked by committee members.

Author and master teacher Michael Stratford (Demand Media), in his article, “What Are the Key Ideas for Critical Thinking Skills?”,  and the website, Skills You Need, note that someone with critical thinking skills can:

  • Interpret data – becoming aware of all of the parts of an argument, such as point of view, audience, and thesis as well as reasoning through moral dilemmas
  • Analyze and synthesize –  the ability to break down data into individual parts and reassemble them to create something original
  • Infer and answer :  the ability to explain a problem with an inference, or educated guess. This requires knowing the difference between explaining by inference or by assumptions based on previous ideas
  • Make Connections between ideas from varied sources
  • Recognize, build, and appraise arguments put forth by others and determine their importance and relevance through objective evaluation
  • Spot inconsistencies and errors in reasoning
  • Approach problems consistently and systematically
  • Reflect on the justification of one’s own assumptions, beliefs, and values ., a service for finding jobs and polishing a resume, provides the following information about critical thinking. Their website offers five types of skills are important:

Five Important Critical Thinking Skills


Observational skills are important for critical thinking because they help you to notice opportunities, problems, and solutions.  Eventually, good observers can predict  or anticipate problems or issues because their experience widens when they get in the habit of close observation. It is necessary to train yourself to pay close attention to details.

After you have spotted and identified a problem from your observation, your analytical skills become important: You must determine what part of a text or media is important and which parts are not. In other words,  gathering and evaluating sources of information that may support or depart from your text or media. This may involve a search for balanced research reports or scholarly work, and asking good questions about the text or media to make sure it is accurate and objective.

Now that you have gathered information or data, you must now interpret it and find a solution or resolution.  Even though the information you have may be incomplete, just make an “educated guess,” rather than a quick conclusion.  Look for clues (images, symbolism, data charts, or reports) that will help you analyze a situation, so you can evaluate the text or situation and come to a measured conclusion.


In the context of critical thinking, this means engaging or initiating discussions, particularly on difficult issues or questions, especially when you face an audience that you know disagrees with your position. Use your communication skills to persuade them. Active listening, remaining calm, and showing respect are very important elements of communicating with an audience.


The problem-solving part of critical thinking involves applying or executing a conclusion or solution. You will want to choose the best, so this requires a strong understanding of your topic or goal, as well as some idea of how others have handled similar situations.

Essential “Critical” Vocabulary

can be associated with  and in another context, it can describe
is the verb to “criticize.” For example,  This verb almost always refers to negative comments.

[Source:  (]

Now let’s examine the many ways the word “critical” is used in various academic contents. You might be familiar with movie reviews or customer reviews on products in which a critic offers comments.  Below are some reviews of a long-standing Chinese restaurant in Columbus, Hunan Lion:

  • The restaurant is over priced. You pay for the atmosphere. Ordered the beef and oriental veggies and to be honest it was onions and 3 pieces of broccoli. The meat was fatty and that is the worst. Typically the food is good but last night it wasn’t.
  • 35 years of incredible food. By far the best Chinese restaurant in Columbus. If you want to have a great experience, without a doubt go there, you will love it.
  • We ordered take out 10/01/2020. Food was TERRIBLE! The Crab Rangoon…well it’s not crab and I’m not sure of the texture it had going on but it was disgusting! The entire order of food after 1 bite went in the trash! I will certainly spread the word DO NOT ORDER FOOD from this restaurant! They are expensive and you are wasting your money. The girl at the cash register surpasses RUDE.
  • The food and service were fantastic! We were in on Christmas day, and despite being busy, they did a magnificent job. We will definitely be back!

These reviews were voluntary; nevertheless, the writers of them are considered “critics,” because what they are really offering is judgment.

In a professional or academic setting, critics do much more than give a strong opinion. Whether they offer positive or negative comments, they all try to do so as objectively as possible. In other words, they avoid Personal Bias, meaning they try not to rely exclusively on their personal experiences, but rather they include influences from people, environments, cultures, values, stereotypes, and beliefs.

Statue of Justice

It is worth noting that all of these influences are part of being human. Part of critical thinking, however, means acknowledging the impact your own biases may have on the questions you ask or your interpreting of material; then, learn to overcome these evaluations. You must be like a judge in a courtroom:  you have to try to be fair and leave your own feeling out of the situation.

Activity #1:, inference exercise, harper’s is the oldest general-interest monthly magazine in the u.s. it emphasizes excellent writing and unique and varied perspectives. one of its most celebrated features is the “harper’s index,” which is a collection of random statistics about  politics, business, human behavior, social trends, research findings, and so forth. the reader is left alone to make sense of a fact by using inferences and background knowledge., below are some statistics from “harper’s index.” it is up to you to decide what each statistic suggests. something surprising mysterious what could explain its significance.

Choose a few of the facts below and write a response for each in which you raise questions , offer a possible explanation , or propose a tentative theory to explain the fact, or its significance.  Consider what the statistic suggests beyond what is written. Your response should be your own opinion , without consulting any internet resources or others.

Example:    Percentage increase last year in UFO sightings nationwide:   16% Source: [ July 2021 • Source: National UFO Reporting Center (Davenport,Wash.)] Response: Is this a large or small increase? Maybe the  increase is due to the recent U.S. government’s release of a file on unidentified flying objects (UFOs), or, what they call, “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.” Maybe people feel like they can admit to seeing such phenomena since the government now acknowledges their existence? In the recent past, perhaps people would be laughed at or stigmatized if they claimed to see a UFO because the government and general public believed the idea of “alien life forms”  was ridiculous.



• Source:

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• Source: Nadine Häusler, University of Lausanne (Switzerland)

Percentage by which the unemployment rate of recently graduated U.S. physics majors exceeds that of art history majors:  60%

Source:  November 2020 • Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York


Sometimes the “Harper’s Index” features pairs of statistics.  It is up to you to decide what the pair, seen together, suggests. Select a couple of the pairs below and write down questions you may have, or possible explanations that tell why the pair might be significant.  Consider what the statistic suggests beyond what is written. What you write should be your own opinion , without consulting any internet resources or others.

Type your response below each set:

in 2020: 3,000,000 : 107,000,000 • Source:

• Source:

• Source:

• Source:


• Source: <

• Source:


• Source:


• Source:

• Source:


• Source:

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• Source:

Movie Reviews

One of the most familiar types of criticism we encounter is a movie review,  a short description of a film and the reviewer’s opinion about it. When you watch a movie on Netflix, for example, you can see the number of stars (1-5) given by those who have watched and rated the movie. Professional reviewers usually try to give a formal, balanced account of a movie, meaning they usually provide a summary and point out some positive and negative points about a film. Amateur critics, however, can write whatever they like – all positive, all negative, or a combination.

Amateur film critiques can be found in many places; the movie review site, IMDB , is one of the most popular, with a user-generated rating feature.  Another popular site is Rotten Tomatoes, which uses a unique ‘tomato meter’ to rate movies: a green tomato means fresh while red means rotten. You can also view the individual ratings given by critics. It has more than 50,000 movies in its database. And finally, another good source of movie reviews is Metacritic , which offers a collection of reviews from various sources.

Let’s look at this review by professional movie critic Roger Ebert (

In “Top Gun: Maverick,” a sequel to “ Top Gun, ” an admiral refers to navy aviator Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise)—call sign “ Maverick ”—as “the fastest man alive.” Truth be told, our fearless and ever-handsome action hero earns both appraisals and applause.  Indeed, Cruise’s consistent commitment to Hollywood showmanship deserves the same level of respect usually reserved for the fully-method actors such as Daniel Day-Lewis . Even if you somehow overlook the fact that Cruise is one of our most gifted and versatile dramatic and comedic actors with movies like “ Mission Impossible , ”  “ Born on the Fourth of July ,” “ Magnolia ,” “ Tropic Thunder ,” and “ Collateral ” on his CV, you will never forget why you show up to a Tom Cruise movie.

Director Joseph Kosinski allows the leading actor to be exactly what he is—a star—while upping the emotional and dramatic stakes of the first Top Gun (1986) with a healthy dose of nostalgia.  In this Top Gun sequel, we find Maverick in a role on the fringes of the US Navy, working as a test pilot. You won’t be surprised that soon enough, he gets called on a one-last-job type of mission as a teacher to a group of recent training graduates. Their assignment is just as obscure and politically cuckoo as it was in the first movie. There is an unnamed enemy—let’s called it Russia because it’s probably Russia—some targets that need to be destroyed, a flight plan that sounds nuts, and a scheme that will require all successful Top Gun recruits to fly at dangerously low altitudes. But can it be done?

In a different package, all the proud fist-shaking seen in “Top Gun: Maverick” could have been borderline insufferable, but fortunately Kosinski seems to understand exactly what kind of movie he is asked to navigate. In his hands, the tone of “Maverick” strikes a fine balance between good-humored vanity and half-serious self-deprecation, complete with plenty of emotional moments that catch one off-guard.

In some sense, what this movie takes most seriously are concepts like friendship, loyalty, romance, and okay, bromance.  Still, the action sequences are likewise the breathtaking stars of “Maverick.” Reportedly, all the flying scenes were shot in actual U.S. Navy F/A-18s, for which the cast had to be trained. Equally worthy of that big screen is the emotional strokes of “Maverick” that pack an unexpected punch. Sure, you might be prepared for a second sky-dance with “Maverick,” but perhaps not one that might require a tissue or two in its final stretch.

Available in theaters May 27th, 2022


Analyze the film review above.  Does the reviewer give the movie a strongly positive or negative review? A mildly positive or negative review? A balanced review? How can you tell?  Support your opinion by identifying words, phases, and/or comparisons that directly or indirectly are positive, negative, or neutral.


Select a movie to review. Choose one you either love or hate. (If it evokes emotions, it’s usually easier to review.) You may choose any movie, but for this assignment, don’t choose a film that might upset your target audience – your instructor and classmates. A movie review can be long or short.  Usually a simple outline of the plot and a sentence or two about the general setting in which it takes place will be sufficient, then add your opinion and analysis. The opinion section should be the main focus of your review. Don’t get too detailed. Your instructor will determine the word limit of this assignment.


Do a web search to find information about the film: is it based on real-life events or is it fiction?

Find some information about the director and his/her/their style.

Look for information about the cast, the budget, the filming location, and where the idea for the film’s story came from. In other words, why did the producers want to make the movie?

Be sure to keep notes on where you find each piece of information – its source.  Most of the facts about movies are considered common knowledge, so they don’t have to be included in your review.

Avoid reading other reviews. They might influence your opinion, and that kind of information needs to be cited in a review.

When you are watching the film make notes of important scenes or details, symbolism, or the performances of the characters. You may want to analyze these in detail later. Again, keep notes on the source of the information you find.

Don’t give away the ending! Remember, reviews help readers decide whether or not to watch the movie. No spoilers!

Suggested Steps:

Write an introduction where you include all the basic information so that the film can be easily identified. Note the name, the director, main cast, and the characters in the story, along with the year it was made. Briefly provide the main idea of the film.

Write the main body. Analyze the story, the acting, and the director’s style. Discuss anything you would have done differently, a technique that was successful, or dialogue that was important. In other words, here is where you convey your opinion and the reasons for it. You may choose to analyze in detail one scene from the film that made an impression on you, or you may focus on an actor’s performance, or the film’s setting, music, light, character development, or dialogu

Make a conclusion. Search for several reviews of the film. Include how the film was rated by others. You will need to include information about where you found the information. Then, give your own opinion and your recommendation. You can end with a reason the audience might enjoy it or a reason you do not recommend it. Include a summary of the reasons you recommend or do not recommend it.




10 Top Critical Thinking Skills (and how to improve them).(2022).

Difference between criticize, criticism, critique, critic, and critical. Espresso English :

Hansen, R.S. (n.d.).  Ways in which college is different from high school.  My .

Ideas to Action. Critical Thinking Inventories. University of Louisville:  https://

Saunders, J. (n.d.). “Why Are Critical Thinking Skills Necessary for Academics?,” Demand Media.

Stratford, M. (n.d. ) What are the key ideas for critical thinking skills? Demand Media .

Van Zyl, M.A., Bays, C.L., & Gilchrist, C. (2013). Assessing teaching critical thinking with validated critical thinking inventories: The learning critical thinking inventory (LCTI) and the teaching critical thinking inventory (TCTI). Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across The Discipline , 28(3), 40-50.

What is Critical Thinking? (n.d.). Skills You Need :

Write a Film Review. Academic Help: Write Better :

Critical Reading, Writing, and Thinking Copyright © 2022 by Zhenjie Weng, Josh Burlile, Karen Macbeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Critical thinking in reading comprehension: fine tuning the simple view of reading.

reading for critical thinking

1. Introduction

2. executive function, 3. critical thinking, 4. belief systems, 5. reading comprehension, 6. conceptual framework, 7. the present study, 8.1. participants, 8.2. assessments, 8.3. encoding, 8.4. vocabulary, 8.5. reading fluency, 8.6. critical thinking, 8.7. listening comprehension, 8.8. silent reading comprehension, 8.9. assessment administration, 9.1. research question 1, 9.2. research question 2, 9.3. research question 3, 10. discussion, 11. conclusions, 11.1. limitations, 11.2. future research, author contributions, institutional review board statement, informed consent statement, data availability statement, conflicts of interest.

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Click here to enlarge figure

1. CCTT 1
2. CCTT 0.369 **1
3. CCTT 0.265 **0.224 **1
4. CCTT 0.125 **0.284 **0.1011
5. CCTT 0.746 **0.714 **0.650 **0.454 **1
6. Reading comprehension0.436 **0.396 **0.199 **0.182 **0.481 **1
7. Encoding0.307 **0.295 **0.163 **0.0650.339 **0.551 **1
8. Accumaticity (WCPM)0.204 **0.238 **0.154 **0.0970.273 **0.286 **0.509 **1
9. Prosody0.121 **0.215 **0.0660.0200.170 **0.186 **0.247 **0.208 **1
10. Academic vocabulary0.322 **0.344 **0.201 **0.109 **0.391 **0.437 **0.501 **0.297 **0.0731
11. Listening comprehension0.291 **0.213 **0.0800.121 **0.279 **0.642 **0.329 **0.197 **0.132 **0.265 **1
Range (min–max)0–190–140–170–143–534–267–167–160–105–4372–108
Percentile Attainmentnananana<4th grade9thDC50thna45th45th
ItemFactor LoadingCommunalities
% of variance extracted42.64
MeghalayaAssamWest BengalTotal
VariableMean (sd)Mean (sd)Mean (sd)Mean (sd)
Reading Comprehension11.85 (3.40) ***16.02 (3.97)16.51 (3.77)15.27 (4.20)
Critical Thinking Composite25.91 (5.23) ***32.33 (6.96)31.43 (6.44)30.54 (6.87)
Accumaticity (WCPM)110.33 (22.54) *** 138.66 (25.32) *** 123.88 (26.10) *** 126.62 (26.10)
Prosody4.80 (1.11) *** 5.32 (1.27)5.57 (1.07)5.30 (1.9)
Encoding12.31 (3.18) ***16.26 (2.41)17.02 (2.62)15.66 (3.25)
Academic Vocabulary19.30 (4.85) ***25.65 (5.38)25.58 (5.22)24.19 (5.82)
Listening Comprehension89.42 (6.54) ***94.16 (5.96)93.54 (6.34)92.86 (6.35)
95% Confidence Interval
BSE BβtR LowerUpper
Model 1 0.594
    Constant−23.6912.144 −11.050 *** −27.907−19.474
    Induction0.1750.0510.1333.435 *** 0.0750.275
    Credibility0.0540.0520.0371.044 −0.0480.156
    Deduction0.1920.0630.1193.036 ** 0.0680.317
    Assumptions0.1170.0880.0471.335 −0.0550.289
    Accumaticity−0.0090.006−0.053−1.324 −0.0210.004
    Prosody0.1490.1340.0421.109 −0.1150.412
    Academic Vocabulary0.0580.0290.0811.995 * 0.0010.116
    Encoding0.3660.0590.2836.198 *** 0.2500.482
    Listening Comprehension0.3020.0240.45712.441 *** 0.2540.350
Model 2 0.593
    Constant−23.3692.079 −11.238 *** −27.459−19.280
    Induction0.1840.0500.1403.666 *** 0.0850.282
    Deduction0.2200.0610.1373.621 *** 0.1010.339
    Academic Vocabulary0.0620.0290.0862.108 * 0.0040.119
    Encoding0.3530.0520.2736.738 *** 0.2500.456
    Listening Comprehension0.3040.0240.46012.540 *** 0.2560.352
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Paige, D.; Rupley, W.H.; Ziglari, L. Critical Thinking in Reading Comprehension: Fine Tuning the Simple View of Reading. Educ. Sci. 2024 , 14 , 225.

Paige D, Rupley WH, Ziglari L. Critical Thinking in Reading Comprehension: Fine Tuning the Simple View of Reading. Education Sciences . 2024; 14(3):225.

Paige, David, William H. Rupley, and Leily Ziglari. 2024. "Critical Thinking in Reading Comprehension: Fine Tuning the Simple View of Reading" Education Sciences 14, no. 3: 225.

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Critical Reading vs. Critical Thinking

Critical Reading vs. Critical Thinking

In the digital age, we are presented with information from all scopes and spectrums. In order to understand the meaning behind texts, critical reading and critical thinking are two techniques important to use. But what are critical reading and critical thinking, and is there a difference?

Together we will explore the difference between critical thinking and critical reading and learn how to effectively use both strategies together to evaluate texts and form unbiased opinions about them.

Critical thinking and critical reading – is there a difference?

Critical thinking is used to evaluate ideas and information. With critical thinking skills, you decide what you accept or believe about a given topic. Critical reading, on the other hand, takes place during the act of reading. This includes several strategies for discovering what the actual information and ideas are in the text, so you infer the opinions, biases, and deeper meaning behind the author’s words.

Critical reading and critical thinking work in harmony to get a better grasp of the information we are taking in. We must remind ourselves of the merits of each text, despite our personal agreement or disagreement. We must go into reading new texts without our own biases so we can learn something new and understand different perspectives.

After we are done reading without our own opinions muddying the information, we can then use our critical thinking skills to accept or reject what the piece is dishing out. This is the only way we can understand others’ views and opinions, as well as give them respect.

What is someone who doesn’t read and think critically?

Non-critical thinkers take a passive and simplistic view of the world. If you’ve ever known someone to overly rely on the phrase, “it is what it is,” then you know someone who isn’t thinking critically! They tend to see things in black and white or good and bad rather than looking deeply into any given issue.

Critical Reading tips

To someone who is simply reading in a non-critical manner, they can understand what a text says and regurgitate the information. Critical reading is actively reading instead of simply absorbing the information presented. Also consider who the writer is, what type of text it is, and who is publishing the piece.

Non-critical readers can look at a text and tell you the general idea of what it is saying instead of telling you what the author is doing with the text. Here are some ways to better read critically:

Critical Thinking tips

Critical thinking is the next step after critical reading. Once you understand the author’s purpose, biases, and tone, it is time to insert yourself into the equation. Think about what assumptions, experiences, perspectives, and knowledge you bring to the table. At that point, you can evaluate whether the author’s point, opinion, or meaning is true and whether you agree with it.

Critical thinking also includes really difficult steps, like evaluating the evidence presented. This may require further research in order to weigh the validity of opinions. Some authors may only present one side of the evidence or use biased sources. We want to understand different people’s points of view, but we should only believe what is true.

Final thoughts

Critical reading cannot happen without critical thinking and vice versa. Critical reading and critical thinking are two techniques that allow us to get into the mind of others; what is this author trying to tell me? Why is it important to him or her? Using these strategies can help garner respect among people with opposing opinions, which is essential in bringing together a divisive world.

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