You may be contemplating, “Why is critical thinking important on TOEFL? How are critical thinking skills evaluated in the scores? When do I need to employ logic on the test?”
On test day, TOEFL engages your critical thinking ability in different sections. It’s crucial because the way you use logic to analyze and reason in an answer will affect your results.
Writing Section: Independent Task
On the independent task of the writing section of the test, some questions require you to apply skills such as effective analyzing and reasoning. In those cases, you’ll need to think critically to develop your argument. For example, with the agree/disagree questions, your argument or opinion needs to try to persuade the audience you believe in something. To show you’ve thought through a critical response, simply express your opinion with clarity in response to the prompt.
Placement of Thesis
Where does your key argument statement need to be written? In the thesis statement. In the last sentence in your introductory paragraph, you’ll give your reasons to support your view(s.) As you continue writing the independent task essay, all your topic sentences, which start the body paragraphs are reason statements in support of your argument. The ability to create a strong argument with reasonable support leading to a conclusion shows the audience/evaluators whether or not you have skill to develop an essay.
Test Strategy: Careful Evaluation
A key strategy on other sections of the exam is to approach responses by evaluating the best answer. Why? TOEFL avoids answers that are definitely 100% (or contain words that are absolutes) as those don’t require much reasoning. TOEFL wants test-takers to consider questions carefully.
A good approach is to avoid selecting absolute answers. For instance, a typical absolute answer would be a response that has an answer with adverbs like always and never, which are absolutes of 100% definity.
Another fast tactic is to search answers for modal verbs to avoid selecting absolute answers like must. It will increase the possibility of selecting the right answer. Examples of modals are these types of helper verbs: can, could, may, might, must, ought, shall, should, will, would. Modals have varying degrees of possibility to indicate how likely something is to happen. Modals go from one extreme to the other–with absolute requisites on one end like will, must, ought, should, shall and suggestions on the other end of the scale of likelihood with can, could, may, might, would. Avoid responses that include the absolute modal verb must. If you see responses with the strongly suggestive modal verbs should and ought, consider carefully if the issue in the question is of enough importance to select that answer. On the other hand, if you see answers with the modal verbs might and could, those are potentially better answer choices as those are not absolute 100%.
Zone in on Success
Now that you understand why critical thinking is essential on the exam and how it’s assessed in responses, use your critical thinking skills and these strategies accordingly on your next exam for a higher rate of success.