What does it mean to be critical?

time to complete: 10 minutes

Sometimes students misunderstand what being critical involves. It isn’t just about being negative, but involves a variety of skills. When your lecturers set an assignment instructing you to Discuss, Comment on, Assess…, etc., they are inviting you to demonstrate your critical thinking.

Critical thinking in university work means really thinking about what you’re reading, asking questions, not always believing everything you read (or hear) is true.

Key features of critical thinking

At university you will need to demonstrate your critical thinking skills in a variety of areas:

Critical reading

When reading, you need to ask questions about the text. This will keep you focused, and help you to develop an understanding of the text.

Evaluating arguments

When reading a text containing an argument, you need to evaluate whether the writer has supported their ideas sufficiently and whether you agree with them.

Critical writing

When writing, you need to make sure that each main idea you focus on is supported with sources and that you always comment on/ develop/ evaluate sources’ ideas to help build your own argument.