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Academic Curriculum

Commitment to critical thinking

From the Director of Learning, Elizabeth Watson

Waverley’s commitment is “to develop critical thinkers who are ready to engage with their world.”

This month NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) invited NSW schools to participate in the trial Critical Thinking Test. Waverley accepted this offer and fifty of our Year 11 students took part in this initiative.

The trial test assessed critical thinking skills associated with analytical and quantitative reasoning. The test will provide the basis of research NESA is undertaking into improving the critical thinking capabilities of senior secondary students in order to better prepare them for university and the workforce.

NESA research indicates that universities and employers consider the ability to think critically as essential for success, and would welcome a formal indication of a student’s skill levels in the areas of analysis, inference, interpretation, problem solving and evaluation.

Critical thinking is one of the five learning beliefs in the college Learning Statement which supports our commitment to liberating the potential of every learner.

“To develop critical thinkers who are ready to engage with their world the College will:

  • Establish clear connections between classroom learning and the world outside
  • Provide experiences that promote independent study, creatively and higher-order thinking
  • Create opportunities for students to express their ideas and develop solutions to local, national and international issues
  • Synthesise learning themes across subjects that assist students to develop their social conscious by connecting with addressing inequality”

What sort of questions were asked in the trial critical thinking test?

The trial critical thinking test asked students 60 questions covering qualitative and quantitative analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning. The questions tested:

  • analytical reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical interpretation, evaluation and problem solving with respect to applied mathematics and science
  •  critical interpretation, evaluation and problem solving in typical humanities areas
  •  identification of plausible inferences from situations, rules and information
  •  critical interpretation and evaluation of purpose, ideas, information and relationships
  •  identification of plausible solutions to problems based on complex and potentially ambiguous situations.


How did students benefit from sitting the trial Critical Thinking Test?

The test will provide:

  •  formative feedback as to a student’s strengths and weaknesses in the domains of analytical and logical reasoning, which should improve their performance in the HSC and beyond
  •  an indication of a student’s critical thinking capabilities that is not affected by external issues that can impact upon the HSC – for example, long-term illness or social disadvantage
  •  practise in online tests, which students will be increasingly required to do in university
  •  an additional report of a student’s capabilities that can be shown to potential employers.
  •  teachers with feedback on student performance. This information will inform their understanding of student capability and help them to provide meaningful support.

Interested in seeing how you would perform?

Take the demonstration test. There are four questions in the demonstration test, and it only takes a few minutes.

To access the demonstration test, click here.

Click on “Demonstration Test”.