i‑Learner Education Centre

Student Work

Applying Critical Thinking

We have recently started a new course here at i-Learner called Applied Critical Thinking. This course is for students who are in S3 and above, and who want to start preparing for applying to top universities. In the course, students are challenged to think critically about difficult questions from the fields of law, medicine and politics. These are all areas in which difficult decisions need to be made which factor in many different variables. At the start of this course, we have even been looking critically at questions themselves, specifically the famously difficult questions which are asked at the interviews at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

In a lesson this term, students had to read some of the statements made about the tutors at these universities about what they are looking for in interviewees. Then the students needed to compile a single complete answer, which gave examples of these types of question, and also made reference to the higher order questions which we had also been studying.

This great answer is from Chi Ka Wong, an S4 student:

“In Oxbridge interviews, tutors ask higher order questions on topics that sometimes candidates have never thought of or have no idea about. Although this seems challenging, in fact, what the tutors expect are not perfect answers, but to observe how a candidate tackles an unknown problem, either to break the problem into several smaller pieces or to find the core part of the question (i.e. what type of answer is expected). Candidates are expected to also demonstrate their logical deduction skills, being able to think further into a question without step by step guidance, and to support their views on facts (e.g. using theories) or to explain their point of view (e.g. why the death penalty for parking on double yellow lines might not be just). Also, turning subjective statements into measurable criteria would also be important. After all, the tutors ask questions not for testing how much a candidate knows, but to know how the candidate learns and thinks as school is exactly the place to learn new things!”