Critical thinking skills have a lot to do with succeeding on standardized tests and in life. That's why many teachers keep Bloom's Taxonomy in mind when developing questions for class discussions, tests, journal prompts, and reader-response essays. Bloom's Taxonomy identifies six levels of cognitive thinking. At the basic level there's knowledge and comprehension. At the higher level, there's evaluation, synthesis, analysis and application. To help you sharpen those higher-level, critical thinking skills, keep this word list in mind as you teach and ask questions throughout the day.

Lower-Order Thinking Skills

Level 1: Knowledge

Ask questions that require students to:

  • Define
  • Describe
  • Tell
  • Identify
  • List
  • Name

Level 2: Comprehension

Ask questions that require students to:

  • Explain
  • Describe
  • Interpret
  • Discuss
  • Differentiate
  • Restate

Higher-Order Thinking Skills

Level 3: Application

Ask questions that require students to:

  • Apply
  • Classify
  • Solve
  • Demonstrate
  • Experiment
  • Determine

Level 4: Analysis

Ask questions that require students to:

  • Analyze
  • Connect
  • Infer
  • Compare
  • Contrast
  • Prioritize

Level 5: Synthesize

Ask questions that require students to:

  • Combine
  • Create
  • Invent
  • Plan
  • Formulate
  • Negotiate

Level 6: Evaluation

Ask questions that require students to:

  • Assess
  • Compare
  • Criticize
  • Justify
  • Resolve
  • Conclude

 

Read more about Bloom's Taxonomy on the Vanderbilt University: The Center for Teaching website.