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California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST)

California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST)

CCTST Family of Tests measures critical thinking skills

The California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) is the premier critical thinking skills test in the world today. The CCTST has been used in the USA and in authorized translations worldwide with graduate student populations, executive level adult populations, and undergraduate students in all fields. It is a discipline-neutral measure of reasoning skills.

CCTST Purpose:

The CCTST is designed to permit test-takers to demonstrate the critical thinking skills required to succeed in educational or workplace settings where solving problems and making decisions by forming reasoned judgments are important. Used throughout the United States and in many countries and languages around the world, the CCTST has been proven to predict strength in critical thinking in authentic problem situations and success on professional licensure examinations.

In educational settings the CCTST is recommended for evaluating program applicants, advising individual students, learning outcomes assessment, program evaluation, accreditation and research

CCTST Overview

The California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) is an objective measure of the core reasoning skills needed for reflective decision making concerning what to believe or what to do.The CCTST is designed to engage the test-taker's reasoning skills.

  • Multiple choice items use everyday scenarios, appropriate to the intended test-taker group. Each item requires that the test-taker make an accurate and complete interpretation of the question.  Any specialized information needed to respond correctly is provided in the question itself.
  • The test items range in difficulty and complexity. Different questions progressively invite test-takers to analyze or to interpret information presented in text, charts, or images; to draw accurate and warranted inferences; to evaluate inferences and explain why they represent strong reasoning or weak reasoning; or to explain why a given evaluation of an inference is strong or weak.
  • The instrument is typically administered in 45-50 minutes; the length of the instrument is set to permit maximum performance within the range of possible effort for the intended test-taker group.

Scale Scores Reported:

The CCTST provides an array of scale scores describing strengths and weaknesses in various skill areas. 

  • All forms and versions of the California Critical Thinking Skills Test return scores on these scales: Analysis, Evaluation, Inference, Deduction, Induction and Overall Reasoning Skills.
  • The seven scale version of the CCTST (available online) presents scale scores in all of the individual core critical thinking skills listed above plus scores for Interpretation and Explanation; this more refined presentation supports undergraduate learning outcomes goals by enabling  each of the skills to be examined by assessors and addressed by educators.   
  • The online CCTST-Numeracy also includes a measure of Quantitative Reasoning (Numeracy).  

Test Administration

Insight Assessment offers a full service assessment solution, providing the industry’s most complete and cost-effective array of flexible testing options including app based, browser based, LMS online administration as well as the traditional paper and pencil method. Secure, encrypted online testing is available 24x7x365 on all our multilingual delivery options.  An in-app tutorial makes navigation easy. Tests are available directly at your site or multiple sites, at test centers or to individuals. Clients are able to select and offer their test takers one or more of the testing methods which are suitable for their specific test environments and needs. Insight Assessment testing specialists will work directly with your in-house technology representative during set-up to ensure a smooth solution.

Recommended Companion Assessment

Engaging problems and making decisions using critical thinking involves both skills and habits of mind. For a complete assessment of a test taker's critical thinking, it is recommended that both skills and dispositions be measured. Using companion assessments results in a comprehensive measurement of whether a test taker is ‘willing and able’ to think well.

We recommend that the CCTST be taken in conjunction with the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory ( CCTDI ).

CCTST Family of Critical Thinking Skills Tests

The CCTST is not one test. It is a dynamic family of tests - different versions for different age levels or professional fields. The instruments in the CCTST family of critical thinking tests are designed for use with persons at different educational levels -- elementary school through doctoral degree holders. Some versions use question content attuned to everyday concerns and general education. Other versions focus question content on the interests and concerns of specific professional fields, e.g. health sciences, business, law and government, or military and defense. Specialized information needed to respond correctly in a given case is provided within the questions themselves.The CCTST is based on the Delphi Expert Consensus Definition of Critical Thinking.  


Critical Thinking Scales Measured by the CCTST

CCTST Family of Tests measures critical thinking skills

All forms and versions of the California Critical Thinking Skills Test return scores on these scales: Analysis, Evaluation, Inference, Deduction, Induction and Overall Reasoning Skills.

CCTST Scale Descriptions


The reasoning OVERALL  Score describes overall strength in using reasoning to form reflective judgments about what to believe or what to do. To score well overall, the test-taker must excel in the sustained, focused and integrated application of core reasoning skills including analysis, interpretation, inference, evaluation, explanation, induction and deduction. The OVERALL score predicts the capacity for success in educational or workplace settings which demand reasoned decision making and thoughtful problem solving.


Analytical reasoning skills enable people to identify assumptions, reasons and claims, and to examine how they interact in the formation of arguments.  We use analysis to gather information from charts, graphs, diagrams, spoken language and documents.  People with strong analytical skills attend to patterns and to details. They identify the elements of a situation and determine how those parts interact.  Strong interpretation skills can support high quality analysis by providing insights into the significance of what a person is saying or what something means.


Inference skills enable us to draw conclusions from reasons and evidence. We use inference when we offer thoughtful suggestions and hypotheses.   Inference skills indicate the necessary or the very probable consequences of a given set of facts and conditions.  Conclusions, hypotheses, recommendations or decisions that are based on faulty analyses, misinformation, bad data or biased evaluations can turn out to be mistaken, even if they have been reached using excellent inference skills.


Evaluative reasoning skills enable us to assess the credibility of sources of information and the claims they make.  We use these skills to determine the strength or weakness of arguments.  Applying evaluation skills we can judge the quality of analyses, interpretations, explanations, inferences, options, opinions, beliefs, ideas, proposals, and decisions.  Strong explanation skills can support high-quality evaluation by providing the evidence, reasons, methods, criteria, or assumptions behind the claims made and the conclusions reached.  


Decision making in precisely defined contexts where rules, operating conditions, core beliefs, values, policies, principles, procedures and terminology completely determine the outcome depends on strong deductive reasoning skills. Deductive reasoning moves with exacting precision from the assumed truth of a set of beliefs to a conclusion which cannot be false if those beliefs are true. Deductive validity is rigorously logical and clear-cut.  Deductive validity leaves no room for uncertainty, unless one alters the meanings of words or the grammar of the language. 


Decision making in contexts of uncertainty relies on inductive reasoning. We use inductive reasoning skills when we draw inferences about what we think is probably true based on analogies, case studies, prior experience, statistical analyses, simulations, hypotheticals, and patterns recognized in familiar objects, events, experiences and behaviors. As long as there is the possibility, however remote, that a highly probable conclusion might be mistaken even though the evidence at hand is unchanged, the reasoning is inductive. Although it does not yield certainty, inductive reasoning can provide a confident basis for solid belief in our conclusions and a reasonable basis for action.

The seven scale version of the CCTST (available online) presents scale scores in all of the individual core critical thinking skills listed above plus scores for Interpretation and Explanation; this more refined presentation supports undergraduate learning outcomes goals by enabling each of the skills to be examined by assessors and addressed by educators.



Interpretative skills are used to determine the precise meaning and significance of a message or signal, whether it is a gesture, sign, set of data, written or spoken words, diagram, icon, chart or graph. Correct interpretation depends on understanding the message in its context and in terms of who sent it, and for what purpose.  Interpretation includes clarifying what something or someone means, grouping or categorizing information, and determining the significance of a message. 


Explanatory reasoning skills, when exercised prior to making a final decision about what to believe or what to do, enable us to describe the evidence, reasons, methods, assumptions, standards or rationale for those decisions, opinions, beliefs and conclusions.  Strong explanatory skills enable people to discover, to test and to articulate the reasons for beliefs, events, actions and decisions.  

In addition to Analysis, Interpretation, Inference, Evaluation, Explanation, Induction, Deduction and Overall Reasoning Skills, the CCTST-N  provides a measure of:


Numeracy skills are used when applying knowledge of numbers, arithmetic, measures, and mathematical techniques to situations that require the interpretation or evaluation of information.  Numeracy refers to the ability to solve quantitative reasoning problems, or make judgments derived from quantitative reasoning in a variety of contexts.  More than being able to compute a solution to a mathematical equation, numeracy includes the understanding of how quantitative information is gathered, manipulated and represented visually, such as in graphs, charts, tables and diagrams.

CCTST Comparison Percentiles

CCTST Family of Tests measures critical thinking skills

Individual and group scores are provided for all Insight Assessment test takers. Different groups of test takers have very different performance levels and therefore their scores differ quite a bit on scientifically developed measures of cognitive ability. It is important to understand how your group of test takers compares to selected external comparison groups, for example, the population of comparable regional or national peer groups.

The reports for each Insight Assessment test instrument provide scores that can be benchmarked against a variety of external comparison groups so that our clients are able to evaluate the scores of individual test takers or of their entire group.  If you do not see what you are specifically looking for, contact us to discuss your needs with a testing specialist.

Comparison Percentiles Available for the CCTST and the CCTST-Numeracy

  • Two Year Colleges
  • Four Year Colleges and Universities
  • Graduate Students and Professionals
  • Health Sciences Undergraduate Students
  • Health Science Graduate Students

CCTST Reports

graphic.cctst overall.categories

The CCTST has been designed to deliver high quality objective metrics on the strengths and weaknesses of key aspects of thinking. 

CCTST reports deliver individual and group results in a presentation ready format.   Each report includes a wide range of statistical and demographic information about individuals and/or test-taker groups. Test-taker scores and group summaries are presented with interpretative analysis by Insight Assessment measurement scientists.

The CCTST measures and reports on an array of reasoning skill scale scores.  Online versions of the CCTST provide an overall measure of thinking skills (Total Score) and the following individual scale scores: Analysis, Interpretation, Inference, Evaluation, Explanation, Induction and Deduction. The online CCTST-N adds a measure of Numeracy. Earlier versions of the CCTST and current paper-and-pencil versions of the CCTST provide the following scale scores: Total Score, Analysis, Inference, Evaluation, Induction and Deduction.

        The Assessment Report package includes: 

  • graphic.individual reports
    Individual test-taker analytics:
    • an overall score of thinking ability (Overall Score) 
    • a categorical interpretation of the strength of the Overall Score  and scale scores
    • a norm-referenced percentile ranking (applicable to skills assessments only)
    • scale scores to indicate which of the skills areas are particularly strong and which are weaker and require training attention.
    • test administrators control whether test-takers receive their individual results after testing
  • For customers who are testing groups:
    • descriptive statistics and presentation ready graphic representation of the average Overall score and scale scores for the group
      graphic.group report
    • descriptive graphics and representations including  size of the group, mean, median, standard deviation, standard error of the mean, lowest score, highest score, first quartile score and third quartile score. See video about interpreting group report histograms
    • descriptive statistics of the demographic characteristics of the test-taker group (if collected )
    • the average percentile of  group as compared to a pre-selected external norm group (applicable to skills assessments only). For more information on norm-referenced scores
    • Electronic data files spreadsheet with all scale scores and demographic responses
  • Test Manual which includes chapters on interpreting individual and group test-taker scores using our 4-Step Process.

Insight Assessment clients depend on the comprehensive data and analysis in a CCTST report to provide the insights needed to achieve their assessment goals.  Clients are currently using individual data for professional development, student or intern placement, hiring, advising, competency training. Group data is being used for new cohort assessment, outcomes assessment, demonstrating the quality of an educational or training program, demonstrating group proficiency, staff development, admissions and more.

Clients can customize their results package with additional analyses, graphics and interpretative text discussing your scores in relationship to your particular goals and objectives. For further information, see Insight Assessment Reports and Analytics

CCTST Preview Pack

CCTST Family of Tests measures critical thinking skills

As a qualified purchaser, if you are not familiar with the assessment instrument or the use of our online system, we offer the opportunity to purchase a preview of the assessment experience.  A preview provides you with one or more opportunities to view and experience the assessment from the perspective of the individual being assessed and to see the reporting options.  Your account representative will set up your preview to include one or more opportunities to view the instrument using our mobile app on your computer or tablet (the profile page, an example of the assessment itself, and an example of the individual report that will be provided at completion of the assessment).   

Each preview also includes a digital copy of the user manual and resource guide for the specific instrument you are viewing.  User manuals provide:

  • a brief description of each metric being assessed by the instrument  
  • a description of how to interpret both individual and group assessment results
  • a discussion of validity and reliability for the measures 
  • all necessary information about administration of the assessment
  • many additional resources that we hope you will find useful for designing your assessment project

 Contact us to order a preview now, or receive your preview when you place your first order for assessments.

CCTST Translations

CCTST Family of Tests measures critical thinking skills

Some of the current translations of the CCTST are listed below. Insight Assessment is constantly working on expanding the multilingual capabilities of our products.  If you do not see what you are specifically looking for, please contact us to determine if it is available.

  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Dutch
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Korean
  • Norwegian
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • Thai
  • Turkish
  • Vietnamese

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