How to Write a Critical Thinking Essay: Examples & Outline

Critical thinking is the process of evaluating and analyzing information. People who use it in everyday life are open to different opinions. They rely on reason and logic when making conclusions about certain issues.

A critical thinking essay shows how your thoughts change as you research your topic. This type of assignment encourages you to learn rather than prove what you already know. In this article, our custom writing team will:

  • explain how to write an excellent critical essay;
  • introduce 30 great essay topics;
  • provide a critical thinking essay example in MLA format.

🤔 What Is a Critical Thinking Essay?

A critical thinking essay is a paper that analyses an issue and reflects on it in order to develop an action plan. Unlike other essay types, it starts with a question instead of a thesis. It helps you develop a broader perspective on a specific issue. Critical writing aims at improving your analytical skills and encourages asking questions.

The picture shows the functions of critical thinking in writing.

Critical Thinking in Writing: Importance

When we talk about critical thinking and writing, the word “critical” doesn’t have any negative connotation. It simply implies thorough investigation, evaluation, and analysis of information. Critical thinking allows students to make objective conclusions and present their ideas logically. It also helps them avoid errors in reasoning.

The Basics: 8 Steps of Critical Thinking Psychology

Did you know that the critical thinking process consists of 8 steps? We’ve listed them below. You can try to implement them in your everyday life:

Reflection Identify the issue and describe it.
Analysis Decide what you want to do about the problem.
Gathering of information Find sources, analyze them, and draw necessary conclusions.
Creativity Come up with creative arguments using the information you’ve gathered and your imagination.
Structuring arguments Arrange your ideas in a logical order.
Decision making Evaluate your options and alternatives and choose the one you prefer.
Commitment Think of how you can express your ideas to others.
Debate Defend your point of view.

It’s possible that fallacies will occur during the process of critical thinking. Fallacies are errors in reasoning that fail to provide a reasonable conclusion. Here are some common types of fallacies:

  1. Generalization. It happens when you apply generally factual statements to a specific case.
  2. Ambiguity. It occurs when the arguments are not clear and are not supported by evidence.
  3. Appeal to authority. This mistake happens when you claim the statement is valid only because a respected person made it.
  4. Appeal to emotion. It occurs when you use highly emotive language to convince the audience. Try to stay sensible and rely on the evidence.
  5. Bifurcation. This mistake occurs when you choose only between two alternatives when more than two exist.
  6. False analogy. It happens when the examples are poorly connected.

If you want to avoid these mistakes, do the following:

  • try not to draw conclusions too quickly,
  • be attentive,
  • carefully read through all the sources,
  • avoid generalizations.

How to Demonstrate Your Critical Thinking in Writing

Critical thinking encourages you to go beyond what you know and study new perspectives. When it comes to demonstrating your critical thinking skills in writing, you can try these strategies:

  1. Read. Before you start writing an essay, read everything you can find on the subject you are about to cover. Focus on the critical points of your assignment.
  2. Research. Look up several scholarly sources and study the information in-depth.
  3. Evaluate. Analyze the sources and the information you’ve gathered. See whether you can disagree with the authors.
  4. Prove. Explain why you agree or disagree with the authors’ conclusions. Back it up with evidence.

According to Purdue University, logical essay writing is essential when you deal with academic essays. It helps you demonstrate and prove the arguments. Make sure that your paper reaches a logical conclusion.

There are several main concepts related to logic:

✔️ Premise A statement that is used as evidence in an argument.
✔️ Conclusion A claim that follows logically from the premises.
✔️ Syllogism A conclusion that follows from two other premises.
✔️ Argument A statement based on logical premises.

If you want your essay to be logical, it’s better to avoid syllogistic fallacies, which happen with certain invalid deductions. If syllogisms are used carelessly, they can lead to false statements and ruin the credibility of your paper.

đź’ˇ Critical Thinking Topics & Questions

An excellent critical thinking essay starts with a question. But how do you formulate it properly? Keep reading to find out.

How to Write Critical Thinking Questions: Examples with Answers

Asking the right questions is at the core of critical thinking. They challenge our beliefs and encourage our interest to learn more.

Here are some examples of model questions that prompt critical thinking:

  1. What does… mean?
  2. What would happen if…?
  3. What are the principles of…?
  4. Why is… important?
  5. How does… affect…?
  6. What do you think causes…?
  7. How are… and… similar/different?
  8. How do you explain….?
  9. What are the implications of…?
  10. What do we already know about…?

Now, let’s look at some critical thinking questions with the answers. You can use these as a model for your own questions:

Example:

Question: What would happen if people with higher income paid more taxes?

  • Answer: It would help society to prosper and function better. It would also help people out of poverty. This way, everyone can contribute to the economy.

Example:

Question: How does eating healthy benefit you?

  • Answer: Healthy eating affects people’s lives in many positive ways. It reduces cancer risk, improves your mood and memory, helps with weight loss and diabetes management, and improves your night sleep.

Critical Thinking Essay Topics

Have you already decided what your essay will be about? If not, feel free to use these essay topic examples as titles for your paper or as inspiration. Make sure to choose a theme that interests you personally:

  1. What are the reasons for racism in healthcare?
  2. Why is accepting your appearance important?
  3. Nature and spirit in Ralf Waldo Emerson’s poetry.
  4. How does technological development affect communication in the modern world?
  5. Is the representation of children in popular fiction accurate?
  6. Domestic violence and its consequences.
  7. Why is mutual aid important in society?
  8. How do stereotypes affect the way people think?
  9. The concept of happiness in different cultures.
  10. The purpose of environmental art.
  11. Why do people have the need to fit in?
  12. How did antibiotics change medicine and its development?
  13. Is there a way to combat inequality in sports?
  14. Is gun control an effective way of crime prevention?
  15. How our understanding of love changes through time.
  16. The use of social media by the older generation.
  17. Graffiti as a form of modern art.
  18. Why are reality TV shows so popular?
  19. Why should we eat healthily?
  20. How effective and fair is the US judicial system?
  21. How can police brutality be stopped?
  22. Freedom of speech: does it exist?
  23. What makes a good movie?
  24. Analysis of your favorite book.
  25. The connection between fashion and identity.
  26. Taboo topics and how they are discussed in gothic literature.
  27. Does our lifestyle affect our mental health?
  28. The role of self-esteem in preventing eating disorders in children.
  29. Drug abuse among teenagers.

Haven’t found a suitable essay idea? Try using our topic generator!

âś… How to Write a Critical Thinking Essay Step by Step

Now, let’s focus on planning and writing your critical thinking essay. In this section, you will find an essay outline, examples of thesis statements, and a brief overview of each essay part.

Critical Thinking Essay Outline

In a critical thinking essay, there are two main things to consider: a premise and a conclusion:

  • A premise is a statement in the argument that explains the reason or supports a conclusion.
  • A conclusion indicates what the argument is trying to prove. Each argument can have only one conclusion.

When it comes to structuring, a critical thinking essay is very similar to any other type of essay. Before you start writing it, make sure you know what to include in it. An outline is very helpful when it comes to structuring a paper.

The picture enumerates the main parts of a critical essay outline: introduction, main body, conclusion.

How to Start a Critical Essay Introduction

An introduction gives readers a general idea of an essay’s contents. When you work on the introduction, imagine that you are drawing a map for the reader. It not only marks the final destination but also explains the route.

An introduction usually has 4 functions:

  • It catches the reader’s attention;
  • It states the essay’s main argument;
  • It provides some general information about the topic;
  • It shows the importance of the issue in question.

Here are some strategies that can make the introduction writing easier:

  1. Give an overview of the essay’s topic. 
  2. Express the main idea. 
  3. Define the main terms. 
  4. Outline the issues that you are going to explore or argue about. 
  5. Explain the methodology and why you used it. 
  6. Write a hook to attract the reader’s attention. 

Critical Analysis Thesis Statement & Examples

A thesis statement is an integral part of every essay. It keeps the paper organized and guides both the reader and the writer. A good thesis: 

  • expresses the conclusion or position on a topic; 
  • justifies your position or opinion with reasoning; 
  • conveys one idea; 
  • serves as the essay’s map. 

To have a clearer understanding of what a good thesis is, let’s have a look at these examples. 

Example:

Bad thesis statement example Good thesis statement example
Exercising is good for your health. All office workers should add exercising to their daily routine because it helps to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce stress levels.

The statement on the left is too general and doesn’t provide any reasoning. The one on the right narrows down the group of people to office workers and specifies the benefits of exercising.

Critical Thinking Essay Body Paragraphs: How to Write

Body paragraphs are the part of the essay where you discuss all the ideas and arguments. In a critical thinking essay, arguments are especially important. When you develop them, make sure that they:

  • reflect the key theme;
  • are supported by the sources/citations/examples.

Using counter-arguments is also effective. It shows that you acknowledge different points of view and are not easily persuaded.

In addition to your arguments, it’s essential to present the evidence. Demonstrate your critical thinking skills by analyzing each source and stating whether the author’s position is valid.

To make your essay logically flow, you may use transitions such as:

  • Currently, 
  • Meanwhile, 
  • In fact, 
  • Accordingly, 
  • For instance, 
  • Finally, 
  • Thus, 
  • On the contrary, 
  • In conclusion, 
  • Not only… but also, 
  • Undoubtedly. 

How to Write a Critical Thinking Conclusion

In a critical thinking essay, the notion of “conclusion” is tightly connected to the one used in logic. A logical conclusion is a statement that specifies the author’s point of view or what the essay argues about. Each argument can have only one logical conclusion.

Sometimes they can be confused with premises. Remember that premises serve as a support for the conclusion. Unlike the conclusion, there can be several premises in a single argument. You can learn more about these concepts from the article on a logical consequence by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 

Keeping this in mind, have a look at these tips for finishing your essay:

  • Briefly sum up the main points. 
  • Provide a final thought on the issue. 
  • Suggest some results or consequences. 
  • Finish up with a call for action. 

đź“‘ Critical Thinking Essays Examples & Formatting Tips

Formatting is another crucial aspect of every formal paper. MLA and APA are two popular formats when it comes to academic writing. They share some similarities but overall are still two different styles. Here are critical essay format guidelines that you can use as a reference: 

APA formatMLA format
Title page
  • essay’s title in boldface centered in the upper part of the page;
  • your name;
  • the institutional affiliation;
  • the name and the number of the course;
  • the instructor’s name;
  • the date of the submission.
  • the heading at the top of the first page;
  • your full name;
  • your instructor’s name;
  • the name of course;
  • the assignment’s due date.
Abstract
  • create a new page;
  • place the word Abstract at the top of the page;
  • write the abstract is a single paragraph (around 250 words).
  • no abbreviations;
  • use italics instead of quotation marks when referencing a long work.
  • write the abstract is a single paragraph (around 250 words).
Format
  • double-spaced with 1-inch margins;
  • page header with page numbers on the flush right;
  • 10-12-point font.
  • make the paper double-spaced with 1-inch margins;
  • create a page header with page numbers flush right;
  • use an 11-12-point font.
In-text citations
  • when summarizing or paraphrasing, write the author’s name and the date of publication in brackets;
  • when quoting directly, add the number of the page;
  • if there are three or more authors, add “et al.” after the first author’s name.
  • write the author’s name in the sentence;
  • write the author’s name in the parentheses at the end of the sentence;
  • use footnotes and endnotes.
References
  • the word References in the center of a new page in bold;
  • the author’s name (in an inverted format);
  • publication year in brackets after the author’s name;
  • longer titles are italicized;
  • sources listed in alphabetical order.
  • the words Works Cited on a separate page;
  • the author’s name in an inverted format;
  • the name of the book in italics;
  • the date of publishing.

Finally, you’re welcome to check out a full critical essay sample in MLA format. Download the PDF file below:

Example:

Currently, the importance of critical thinking has grown rapidly because technological progress has led to expanded access to various content-making platforms: websites, online news agencies, and podcasts with, often, low-quality information. Fake news is used to achieve political and financial aims, targeting people with low news literacy. However, individuals can stop spreading fallacies by detecting false agendas with the help of a skeptical attitude.

The Importance of Critical Thinking in the Age of Mass Media
Download the free sample

✍️ Bonus Tips: Critical Thinking and Writing Exercises  

Critical thinking is a process different from our regular thinking. When we think in everyday life, we do it automatically. However, when we’re thinking critically, we do it deliberately.

So how do we get better at this type of thinking and make it a habit? These useful tips will help you do it:

  1. Ask basic questions. Sometimes, while we are doing research, the explanation becomes too complicated. To avoid it, always go back to your topic.
  2. Question basic assumptions. When thinking through a problem, ask yourself whether your beliefs can be wrong. Keep an open mind while researching your question.
  3. Think for yourself. Avoid getting carried away in the research and buying into other people’s opinions.
  4. Reverse things. Sometimes it seems obvious that one thing causes another, but what if it’s the other way around?
  5. Evaluate existing evidence. If you work with sources, it’s crucial to evaluate and question them.

Another way to improve your reasoning skills is to do critical thinking exercises. Here are some of them:

ExerciseTechniqueExplanation
Brainstorming Free-writing Choose a topic and write on it for 7-10 minutes straight. Don’t concern yourself with grammar.
Clustering Choose a keyword and write down the words that you associate with it. Keep doing that for 5-10 minutes.
Listing List down all the ideas that are concerning the subject you are about to explore.
Metaphor writing Write a metaphor or simile and explain why it works or what it means to you.
Journalistic questions Write questions such as “Who?” “When?” “Why?” “How?” Answer these questions in relation to your topic.
Organizing Drawing diagrams Jot down your main ideas and see if you can make a chart or form a shape depicting their relationship. 
Rewriting an idea Try briefly outlining the central idea over the course of several days and see how your thoughts change.
Solution writing Look at your idea through a problem-solving lens. Briefly describe the problem and then make a list of solutions.
Drafting Full draft writing Write a draft of a whole paper to see how you express ideas on paper.
Outlining Outline your essay to structure the ideas you have.
Writing with a timer Set a timer and write a draft within a set amount of time.
Revising Analyzing sentences Analyze your draft at the sentence level and see if your paper makes sense.
Underlying the main point Highlight the main point of your paper. Make sure it’s expressed clearly.
Outlining the draft Summarize every paragraph of your essay in one sentence.

Thanks for reading through our article! We hope that you found it helpful and learned some new information. If you liked it, feel free to share it with your friends.

Further reading:

🔍 References

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