Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

1.13. Use critical thinking skills

ryanrori January 24, 2021

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When planning your writing, you need to use critical thinking skills, such as identifying key words, underlining, brainstorming and mindmapping:

Key words and underlining

Key words are the main words in a piece of text that summarise what the text contains. It helps to underline them.

Underlining or highlighting the main points helps to create a visual memory of the words on the page. It also helps you focus on what is important information. Ignore the examples and only underline the main points.


Brainstorming is an excellent way of developing many creative solutions to a problem. It works by focusing on a problem, and then coming up with very many radical solutions to it. Ideas should deliberately be as broad and odd as possible, and should be developed as fast as possible. Brainstorming is a lateral thinking process. It is designed to help you break out of your thinking patterns into new ways of looking at things.

Brainstorming is often used as a first step in the creative process. It is rapid-fire suggestions designed to get the creative juices flowing! 

This method involves writing down all the ideas which come to mind when thinking of a topic.  If one were to brainstorm the topic “The Sea” for example, some of the main ideas that would come to mind might be the beach, swimming, ships, fish disasters etc.

Mind Mapping ( a quick review)

When you think of a topic, several thoughts immediately come to mind and generally, one idea gives rise to several others, for example, “The Sea” makes us think of the beach, swimming, surfing, ships, fish,, disasters etc These ideas can be jotted down in a web of words called a mind map:

This is an easy way to plan anything you want to write and help you focus, identify the information you want and prepare for your first draft.  

Reflect a clear point of view with sound reasons and facts

Remember that when you make a statement of “fact”, you must ensure that it is not just your opinion or a strongly held belief that you are putting forward. 

Sometimes when someone feels very strongly about some issue (the death penalty, animal rights, etc.), they can become so close to their belief — so familiar and comfortable with it — that this belief will seem utterly natural and uncontroversial to them. It will seem so obvious as to be unworthy of any further explanation and justification. This is one of the most common reasons why writers neglect to give arguments for their opinions/beliefs. They believe that many of their claims are so obvious that they don’t need to “spell it out.” But, in good, clear writing, one always needs to “spell it out.” You should never think of a particular person as the only audience for your writing, because this will lead you to cut important corners (imagining incorrectly that “oh, s/he’ll know what I mean by this”). 

Be aware of the logic and reasoning you use in your argument. An example of unsound reasoning is the following:

A recent prime time T.V. program argued that since a number of wealthy men had consulted with psychics about their investments, psychic insight caused the men’s wealth. We could just as easily and erroneously point out that these wealthy men all wore underwear, therefore underwear causes wealth.

Always write with the assumption that your reader is someone who disagrees with you, but is willing to listen to reason and possibly change his/her mind. In writing for that audience, you will avoid taking things for granted, and you will be more careful to articulate your position (or the position of an expert).