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Essay writing is an integral academic exercise for students in higher educational institutions. As an example of different paper types, a critical thinking essay requires students to employ analytical and reflective writing skills. In essence, these skills underscore essential features of a critical thinking essay: analysis of information, reflection on key findings, a review of the relevance of the information, and an identification of any conclusions made by the author(s) or other scholars. Hence, a critical thinking essay is a specific type of writing that requires learners to read documents and make interpretations from their points of view. In turn, writers need to learn how to write a critical thinking essay to master their analytical, creative, and reflective skills.

General Guidelines for Writing a Critical Thinking Essay

Critical thinking is an essential skill, particularly for students who need to analyze and interpret data. In this case, the essence of this skill is that learners confront issues every day that require them to make prompt decisions. Moreover, critical thinking is the mechanism by which individuals arrive at these decisions. Therefore, a critical thinking essay is a document that allows students to address an issue holistically. Then, it means addressing issues in an essay format by using critical thinking skills from different perspectives, highlighting possible alternatives, and making well-thought-out decisions. To the audience, such a text makes it easy to understand the writer’s message and either agree or disagree with it. Besides, the decision to agree or disagree is based on the writer’s information regarding an issue in question. Hence, this is why authors of critical thinking essays need to provide details that make their arguments stronger and more palatable to the audience.

How to write a critical thinking essay with examples

1. Defining Characteristics of a Critical Thinking Essay

When writing a critical thinking essay, students should address several essential features. Firstly, writers need to reflect on what they have read, meaning taking time to consider the relevance of the information. In this case, such an attitude helps them to make strong arguments in defense of their points of view. Secondly, learners need to analyze how the information is presented and state whether it is sufficient or needs improvement. Thirdly, writers need to review the information based on previous knowledge. Here, they should say whether the information advances a concept or theory or contradicts existing knowledge. Finally, scholars need to identify the conclusion reached by the author(s) of the information and support or challenge it.

2. How to Identify a Critical Thinking Essay

Based on the essential features described above, students can tell whether an essay that they are writing is a critical thinking paper. Ideally, learners can know that their papers are critical thinking essays if prompt requirements require them to read and analyze a text. Basically, the analysis process includes reflecting on the text, commenting on how information is presented and its relation to previous knowledge, and supporting or challenging the conclusion made. In principle, these requirements reflect the defining features of a critical thinking essay.

3. How Does a Critical Thinking Essay Differ From Other Papers

A critical thinking essay differs fundamentally from other types of essays because it requires a student to read a text, such as a book or a poem, and analyze it using the writer’s perspective. Moreover, some instructions need students to analyze a film. In other words, writing a critical thinking essay emphasizes the students’ understanding of information and the meaning of what they have read, watched, or heard. Indeed, it is a central point of difference from other types of papers that require students to refrain from personal viewpoints. Then, this feature means that instructors grade a critical thinking essay based on the writer’s ability to develop a coherent argument and use essential writing skills. In this light, one can argue that a critical thinking essay is a form of an argumentative essay.

Free Examples of 20 Topics for Writing a Critical Thinking Essay

1. Identify Communication Differences Between Men and Women

Under this topic, the students’ task is to read texts that talk about how men and women communicate and identify the differences. In this case, writers should analyze what they have read and summarize it via concise statements or arguments.

2. Discuss Drug Use in Sports

Under this topic, the students’ task is to research texts, such as research journal articles and government reports, that address the problem of drug use in sports and summarize their findings.

3. Explore the Anti-Meth Campaign

Under this topic, the students’ task is to read widely about anti-meth campaigns and provide an in-depth analysis of their impacts. By reading a critical thinking essay, the audience should understand whether specific campaigns have been effective or ineffective.

4. Discuss Homelessness and Its Social Impacts

Under this topic, the students’ task is to read texts about homelessness, such as journal articles and reports by governments and other humanitarian organizations, and explain the root causes and social implications of homelessness.

5. Discuss the History of College Football in the United States

Under this topic, the students’ task is to read documents, such as books and media articles, narrating college football history in the US. After writing a critical thinking essay, the audience should identify specific challenges that college football has faced in its development in the country.

6. Explore Health Effects of Obesity

Under this topic, the students’ task is to read research studies and medical reports discussing obesity. In turn, a critical thinking essay should explain the specific causes of obesity and the risks that obese individuals face.

7. Discuss the Significance of Street Art and Graffiti

Under this topic, the students’ task is to read texts discussing the evolution of street art and graffiti and make compelling arguments as to why they are essential features of modern art.

8. Sports On Television: Is It Necessary?

Under this topic, the students’ task is to explain why television has become a critical platform for sports and how it undermines or helps advance its social and cultural significance.

9. What Is the Essence of Multicultural Identity?

Under this topic, the students’ task is to explore the phenomenon of multiculturalism that has become notable and acceptable in modern society and explain its significance.

10. The Relevance of Body Size in Modeling

Under this topic, the students’ task is to explore the modeling profession and explain why body size matters. In other words, a critical thinking essay should make a case as to why a model should have a particular body size.

11. Understanding Multicultural Families

Under this topic, the students’ task is to explore multicultural families by reading texts that address the issue from a research or commentary perspective and summarize the leading arguments.

12. Changing Gender Roles: What It Means for Traditionalists

Under this topic, the student’s task is to explore gender roles from a historical and present perspective and discuss how it threatens or cements traditional views about the roles of men and women.

13. What Is Ethnic Music, and Does It Matter in a Multicultural Society?

Under this topic, the students’ task is to study multiculturalism and identify how ethnic music is a significant characteristic.

14. American Society and the Latino Influence

Under this topic, the students’ task is to study contemporary American society’s characteristics and indicate the extent to which Latinos and their culture (Latin American) have become a significant part of the American identity.

15. Challenges of Single-Parent Households

Under this topic, the students’ task is to read research studies on single parenthood and identify its challenges.

16. What Are the Features of a Good Movie?

Under this topic, the students’ task is to watch movies they consider “good” and provide an analysis of what makes them so.

17. Describe a Poem With a First-Person Point of View

Under this topic, the students’ task is to select a poem, examine it, and describe its outstanding features, such as literary devices.

18. The Dynamics of Adoption in a Multicultural Society

Under this topic, the students’ task is to examine the aspect of adoption within the context of a multicultural society.

19. What Store Strategies Influence Consumers?

Under this topic, the students’ task is to study the phenomenon of retail stores and give an analysis of specific factors that lead to their growth or shut down.

20. Euthanasia: The Questions of Ethics, Morals, and Legality

Under this topic, the students’ task is to examine the aspect of euthanasia (mercy or assisted killing) and give an opinion on whether society should address it from a perspective of ethics, morals, or law.

How Students Can Understand if They Need to Write a Critical Thinking Essay by Looking at a Topic

When it comes to essay writing, the department’s requirements provide direction about a critical thinking topic. By reading such a topic, students get an idea of what kind of paper they are supposed to write. Regarding a critical thinking essay, a topic should require students to research a specific theme, reflect on what they have read, and comment on how the author(s) have presented information, the relevance of the information to existing knowledge, and the significance of the author’s conclusion. In turn, these five tasks underscore the essential features of a critical thinking essay.

Structure of a Critical Thinking Essay

When it comes to an essay structure, a critical thinking essay comprises three main sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. When writing each of these sections, students should capture essential features. Firstly, the introduction should provide a hook to capture the readers’ attention and formulate a thesis statement to guide the paper’s arguments and ideas. In the body, writers should use topic sentences to introduce paragraphs. Besides, students should follow a sandwich rule, where they make a claim, provide supporting facts, and explain the significance of cited evidence to the paper’s thesis. In the conclusion part, authors should restate a thesis statement, summarize the main body points, and make a concluding remark. Finally, other essential features that learners should use in the main text are transitions to give a critical thinking paper a natural and logical flow of ideas and arguments.

Sample Outline Template for Writing a Critical Thinking Essay

I. Introduction

A. Start with a hook sentence that makes a critical thinking essay interesting.
B. Cover brief information about a theme discussed in body paragraphs.
C. End with a thesis statement of a critical thinking essay.

II. Body

A. Background Information:

  • introduce an issue for readers;
  • provide examples that support this issue;
  • explain how examples correlate with a theme;
  • finish with defining an issue for readers.

B. Argument on an Issue

  • begin with an argument on an issue;
  • covers examples to support this argument;
  • explain how examples and argument are related;
  • conclude how an argument on this theme is relevant.

C. Importance of an Issue

  • state why this issue is important;
  • support this statement with examples from credible sources;
  • explain how these examples underline the importance of an issue;
  • end with a concluding sentence that supports this importance.

III. Conclusion

A. Restate a thesis claim.
B. Cover the key points discussed in body paragraphs.
C. Provide a final thought on an issue.

An Example of a Critical Thinking Essay

Topic: Roles of Critical Thinking Skills

I. Introduction Sample of a Critical Thinking Essay

Critical thinking is a requirement in higher education because it reflects the level of mental preparedness of students intending to join the labor industry. In this case, essay writing is one of the strategies that higher education institutions use to develop these critical thinking skills in students. Writing argumentative essays has profoundly shaped my critical thinking skills and made me more reflective and analytical in my texts.

II. Examples of Body Paragraphs in a Critical Thinking Essay

A. Background Information of an Issue

The advent of the Internet opened a new world of research as scholars found a platform to publish research findings. Besides scholars, public and private entities have turned to the online platform to spread information they perceive as critical and needful. Over time, I have come to see the Internet as a crucial reservoir of knowledge, and I always turn to it for personal enrichment. Moreover, Gilster (1997) perceives critical thinking as a critical skill for individuals who use online platforms for academic purposes. In this case, the author demonstrates that, since the Internet is full of falsehoods and incomplete and obsolete information, it is critical for those who depend on this technology to employ critical thinking. Hence, such thinking helps users distinguish between essential, relevant information, and what appears to be irrelevant and nonessential.

B. Argument on an Issue

On the issue of critical thinking, examining and analyzing content are fundamental exercises. In essence, critical thinking entails reading a text and interpreting it by using an analytical lens. For example, when students read novels, they can use their critical thinking skills to analyze the plot and characters and provide arguments that indicate an in-depth understanding of both (Gilster, 1997). In most cases, such ideas go beyond what is written in the novel to include the student’s interpretation of events. In my case, I use the Internet to find research and media articles on different topics, such as homelessness, substance abuse, crime, and police and law enforcement. Moreover, I use these articles to reflect on the dynamics that shape life in contemporary society, using my critical thinking skills to relate the past, present, and future. Therefore, I can state confidently that this habit has made me a strong debater on contemporary issues.

C. Importance of an Issue

By using critical thinking skills, readers make deductions, thereby showcasing their understanding levels. As the literature suggests, critical thinking serves as a basis for knowledge accumulation and advancement (Ku & Ho, 2010). In my academic journey, I have employed critical thinking to gain insight into several issues. Furthermore, one of these issues is the significance of politics to the life of ordinary citizens. Then, many documents I have read about politics have made me conclude that politicians are selfish by default and only develop consensus when their interests are accommodated. Hence, this understanding has made me have minimal expectations from local and national political figures.

III. Conclusion Sample of a Critical Thinking Essay

Critical thinking is a key skill that helps individuals to analyze and reflect on information from diverse sources. Over the years, I have used critical thinking to analyze research and media articles published on online platforms and make logical deductions. Moreover, these deductions point to my ability to take information, analyze, and interpret it. Thus, I can confidently state that my critical thinking skills have made me aware of human weaknesses and the risk of putting too much trust in people vulnerable to shortcomings.


Gilster, P. (1997). Digital literacy: The thinking and survival skills new users need to make the Internet personally and professionally meaningful. New York, NY: Wiley.

Ku, K. Y., & Ho, I. T. (2010). Metacognitive strategies that enhance critical thinking. Metacognition and Learning, 5(3), 251-267.

Summing Up on How to Write a Good Critical Thinking Essay

A critical thinking essay is a document that reflects students’ ability to use analytical and reflective skills in studying an issue. Although writing a critical thinking essay assumes following a basic structure of a standard essay, it has features that distinguish it from other papers. When writing this type of essay, students should master the following tips:

  1. read and analyze information;
  2. reflect on study findings;
  3. review the relevance of the information within the context of existing knowledge;
  4. identify any conclusions made by authors or other scholars and their significance.

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