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Critical Questions for Reading

Guided Critical Thinking with Generic Questions

When reading to learn, active and engaged reading is best. Asking questions as you read, not only engages you in the text and keeps you alert, but can also help improve your understanding and critical analysis of new ideas. In addition, this kind of reading creates associations (connections) with other ideas, which helps you remember when it's exam time. You can also use these questions to create practice questions for your exam study sessions and groups.

Fill in the blanks with concepts, facts, or ideas from your course materials.

  1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of _______?
  2. What is the difference between _______ and ________?
  3. Explain why _______.  Or Explain how _______.
  4. What would happen if ______?
  5. Why is _________ happening? Or Why does ___________ happen?
  6. What is an example of ________?
  7. How could _________ be used to ___________?
  8. What are the effects or consequences of __________?
  9. What is ___________ similar to? 
  10. How is ________ different than _________?
  11. What do I already know about ___________?  
  12. How does ______ affect ______?
  13. How is __________ related to what I learned before? (in this course or others)
  14. What does _______ mean?
  15. Why is ______ important?
  16. How does _______ apply in real situations or everyday practice?
  17. What is a opposite argument for ________?
  18. What is a solution to the problem of __________?
  19. What do I think causes ______? Why?
  20. Do I agree or disagree with __________?
  21. What evidence is there to support my claim about _______?
  22. What is another way to look at _______?


From “Inquiring Minds Really Do Want To Know: Using Questioning To Teach Critical Thinking,” by A. King, 1995, Teaching of Psychology, 22, p. 14. Copyright 1992 by the American Educational Research Association.

King, A. (1995). Inquiring minds really do want to know: Using questioning to teach critical thinking. Teaching of Psychology, 22(1), 13–17.

Link to article.