• Critical Thinking and Scientific Literacy Assessment

Note: The following is a rough draft of a brief critical thinking and scientific literacy assessment. Please feel free to comment with your feedback. What do you like? What don’t you like? What do you think will work better?

The aim is to produce a brief survey that requires takers to think and communicate about their habits of thought in order to assess competence in critical thinking and scientific literacy.

Finally, The Additional Resources at the bottom of the page are for your own enjoyment. The completed survey should be about as brief as the rough draft of only six questions that appears immediately below.


Critical Thinking and Scientific Literacy Assessment

This is a brief survey (six questions) for assessing competence in critical thinking (evaluating whether claims are true or false) and scientific literacy (familiarity with the methods of science). Answer questions in order and do not proceed to the next question before answering the preceding one. Answer questions according to the best of your ability–do not consult a dictionary or other reference material.

Critical Thinking

Define epistemology in your own words. Do not consult a dictionary or other reference material.


A Dutch schoolmaster, 1662.

Write a brief paragraph (5-7 sentences) describing how you regularly determine whether claims are true or false.

Are the following arguments persuasive? Why or why not? The arguments:

“Evolution is outrageous. Fish don’t transform into people anymore than people transform into fish. This much, at least, is obvious.”

“The Senator’s testimony in this hearing should be ignored–she has been accused of illegal activity by a watchdog organization that is calling for her impeachment.”

“The Bible is plainly metaphorical and not literal in many instances.  It falsely ascribes supernatural causes to natural phenomena and frequently confuses correlation with causation, ignoring self-evident underlying natural causes and effects.”


Define science in your own words. Do not consult a dictionary or other reference material.

What is the correct “order of operations” for applying the scientific method? [Experiment, Observe, Predict, Analyze, and Hypothesizeor [Observe, Hypothesize, Predict, Experiment, and Analyze] or [Hypothesize, Predict, Experiment, Observe, and Analyze]

Do you believe in the universal law of gravitation? Why or why not?

Pietro's Longhi's depiction of early basic research in the field of chemistry.

Pietro’s Longhi’s depiction of early basic research in the field of chemistry.

Additional Resources

To test your familiarity with some of the findings of science, try this short Pew Research Center study: Science and Technology Knowledge Quiz

To further test your knowledge of the scientific method, try this quiz by Richard Carrier: Test of Scientific Literacy

Finally, a lengthier third and final test–it examines both critical thinking skills and scientific literacy: Science Literacy from this site.


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