California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST)

California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST)

CCTST Family of Tests measures critical thinking skills Measure what matters: critical thinking skills and mindset 5 histograms showing distribution of scores on an Insight Assessment critical thinking skills test University Executive Director provides testimonial about Insight Assessment client services and support Report graphic of histogram showing distribution of CCTST Overall Critical Thinking score comparison percentiles Insight Assessment critical thinking tests available in Arabic, Chinese-Simplified, Chinese-Traditional, Dutch, English, Farsi, Finnish, French, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish & Vietnamese translations Brown paper background with a strip of paper torn to reveal the words PREVIEW
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The California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) is a research-based, discipline neutral assessment meant for undergraduate and graduate level students or comparable groups. 

CCTST Purpose:

The CCTST is designed for test-takers to demonstrate the critical thinking skills required in solving problems and making decisions by forming reasoned judgments. Used throughout the United States and in many countries (and languages) worldwide, the CCTST has been proven to predict proficiency in critical thinking in complex situations as well as student success in program retention and professional licensure examinations.

In educational settings, the CCTST is further recommended for evaluating program applicants, advising individual students, and in assessing learning outcomes, accreditation and research.

CCTST Overview

For over 30 years, the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) has been a valid, objective and reliable measure of the core reasoning skills required for reflective deliberation concerning what to believe or  do.  Trusted by administrators, educators, and researchers, the CCTST engages test-takers’ critical thinking, providing a clear metric of their capabilities.

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

California Critical Thinking Skills Test

Scale Scores Reported:

The CCTST provides an array of scale scores with the reports describing strengths and weaknesses in various skill areas. The CCTST returns scores on these specific scales: Overall Reasoning Skills, Analysis, Interpretation, Evaluation, Explanation, Inference, Deduction, Induction and Numeracy.

Test Administration

Tests are available, any time, any where, whether directly on your site or multiple sites, at test centers or accessed via individual devices.  Our app based assessment tools are easily administered 24/7 via our secure, encrypted, online, multi-lingual interface. Compatible with a wide array of platforms, yet offering an identical interface to mobile or non-mobile users. An in-app tutorial makes it quick and easy to administer the assessment.

Recommended Companion Assessment

Engaging problems and making decisions using critical thinking involves both critical thinking skills and habits of mind (a.k.a. lifelong learning mindset). For a complete assessment of a test taker’s critical thinking, both skills and dispositions should be measured.

Using the companion mindset assessment with the skills assessment 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

Based upon  the Delphi Expert Consensus Definition of Critical Thinking, the CCTST is not one isolated test. It is a dynamic family of critical thinking tests – with different versions for different ages, educational levels and majors in professional fields.  Some tests use questions attuned to everyday concerns and general education. Other versions focus on the interests and concerns of specific areas of study such as: health sciences, business, law and government, and military and defense. Specialized information needed to respond correctly (in a given case) is provided within the questions themselves. Insight Assessment’s client relations specialists can assist you in determining the optimal test for your objectives.

Critical Thinking Online Training

Next steps?  The CCTST reveals higher education applicants that are proficient along with those requiring further development in critical thinking skills.  The Keys & Strategies Critical Thinking Course Pack is available for students requiring intervention to gain this necessary competency for study and the future of work.  In addition to 20 modules, proven to build their critical thinking skills and their lifelong learning mindset to apply those skills, a post-course assessment is included to measure both individual and group improvement.


The CCTST returns scores on these scales: Overall Reasoning Skills, Analysis, Interpretation, Evaluation, Explanation, Inference, Deduction, Induction and Numeracy.


CCTST Scale Descriptions

Reasoning Skills Overall

The Reasoning Skills 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 thinking skills measured on this test, 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 skills are used to identify assumptions, reasons, themes, and the evidence used in making arguments or offering explanations. Analytical skills enable us to consider all the key elements in any given situation, and to determine how those elements relate to one another. People with strong analytical skills notice important patterns and details.  People use analysis to gather the most relevant information from spoken language, documents, signs, charts, graphs, and diagrams.


Interpretation is the process of discovering, determining, or assigning meaning.  Interpretation skills can be applied to anything, e.g. written messages, charts, diagrams, maps, graphs, memes, and verbal and non-verbal exchanges. People apply their interpretive skills to behaviors, events, and social interactions when deciding what they think something means in a given context.


Inference skills enable us to draw conclusions from reasons, evidence, observations, experiences, or our values and beliefs.  Using Inference, we can predict the most likely consequences of the options we may be considering. Inference enables us to see the logical consequences of the assumptions we may be making. Sound inferences rely on accurate information. People with strong inference skills draw logical or highly reliable conclusions using all forms of analogical, probabilistic, empirical, and mathematical reasoning.


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. 


Explanation is the process of justifying what we have decided to do or what we have decided to believe.  People with strong explanation skills provide the evidence, methods, and considerations they actually relied on when making their judgment. Explanations can include our assumptions, reasons, values, and beliefs. Strong explanations enable others to understand and to evaluate our decisions. 


Deductive reasoning is rigorously logical and clear cut. Deductive skills are used whenever we determine the precise logical consequences of a given set of rules, conditions, beliefs, values, policies, principles, procedures, or terminology. Deductive reasoning is deciding what to believe or what to do in precisely defined contexts that rely on strict rules and logic.  Deductive validity results in a conclusion which absolutely cannot be false, if the assumptions or premises from which we started all are true. Deductive validity leaves no room for uncertainty. That is, unless we decide to change the very meanings of our words or the grammar of our language.


Inductive reasoning relies on estimating likely outcomes. Decision making in contexts of uncertainty relies on inductive reasoning. Inductive decisions can be based on analogies, case studies, prior experience, statistical analyses, simulations, hypotheticals, trusted testimony, and the patterns we may recognize in a set of events, experiences, symptoms or behaviors. Inductive reasoning always leaves open the possibility, however remote, that a highly probable conclusion might be mistaken. Although it does not yield certainty, inductive reasoning can provide a solid basis for confidence in our conclusions and a reasonable basis for action.


Numeracy refers to the ability to make judgments based on quantitative information in a variety of contexts. People with strong numeracy can describe how quantitative information is gathered, manipulated, and represented textually, verbally, and visually in graphs, charts, tables and diagrams. Numeracy requires all the core critical thinking skills. Numeracy includes being thoughtfully reflective while interpreting the meaning of information expressed in charts, graphs, or text formats, analyzing those elements, drawing accurate inferences from that information, and explaining and evaluating how those conclusions were reached. 

High quality objective metrics

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.  CCTST reports provide an overall measure of thinking skills (Total Score) and the following individual scale scores: Analysis, Interpretation, Inference, Evaluation, Explanation, Induction, Deduction and Numeracy.

Data to achieve assessment goals

Insight Assessment clients depend on the comprehensive data and analysis in  CCTST reports 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

To see a Sample CCTST Individual Report

Why Choose Insight Assessment for Education

Insight Assessment provides world-class reasoning skills testing, thinking mindset assessment, instructor and student learning resources, and highly responsive client support services to educational clients including universities, colleges, K-12 schools, and individual researchers.

We are dedicated to supplying the very best online instrumentation, client-specific data gathering capacity, report generation options, and professional development consulting services possible so that educators can accurately assess and successfully nurture in students a positive critical thinking mindset and strengthen their students’ critical thinking skills. 

Since 1986 we have assisted thousands of educational institutions, doctoral dissertation candidates, and grant-funded scholars to gather valid and reliable data for applicant selection, student retention, student success, program evaluation, educational effectiveness, faculty development, quality-improvement plans, educational research, and accreditation self-study purposes.

Insight Assessment Solutions Set the Standard:


World- leading critical thinking assessments and educational development tools

  • Well-established, valid, reliable, culturally sensitive measures of students’ critical thinking mindset dispositions and their critical thinking skills applicable across all academic fields of study.
  • Different tools specifically tailored and calibrated for each educational level: graduate, undergraduate, community college, and K-12 students at all levels.
  • Online delivery in as many as 30 languages including English, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese. Currently available language options vary by the instrument selected for use.  
  • Engaging, self-development online critical thinking training modules and the Keys & Strategies Course Pack for high school, college, and adult learners.
  • A library of free instructional resources and research on critical thinking to support faculty development.
  • Deep discounts for non-profit educational institutions, NGOs, doctoral dissertation scholars, and researchers funded by external grants.

Relevant, immediate, and actionable score and analytics reporting

  •  Online reports package includes statistical and graphical presentations of aggregated group data and detailed “stats-ready” scores for each student assessed on each metric.
  • Client training in the use of our online report generation tool to enable authorized personnel to generate custom reports, aggregating and disaggregating data by school, discipline, classroom, or any of the custom questions that the client may have included.
  • Comprehensive group reports provide quantitative and qualitative scores on each metric assessed, applicable percentile benchmark of the overall critical thinking score, table of descriptive statistics for each metric, and presentation-ready color graphics displaying group performance on each metric.
  • Printable individual reports specify qualitative and quantitative scores, percentile score if relevant, and detailed descriptions of each metric to aid in understanding more fully the individual’s strengths and weakness in reasoning skills or dispositional mindset attributes.
  • Client’s choice of US or international comparison percentile group to rank each overall critical thinking score for organizational and individual benchmarking purposes. Available percentile benchmark selections vary by the instrument selected for use.

Superior assessment services

  •  Starting with an initial consultation to learn about your project, our experienced assessment specialists work with you on instrument selection and administration strategies that can best support your project.
  • We assist clients in adding client-specific custom questions to enable organizing, managing, and analyzing the critical thinking assessment data that they plan to collect with our secure encrypted data collection and fully customizable student profile options.
  • We demonstrate how easy it is to administer assessments even to very young students using our intuitive, browser-based, multilingual online testing system on almost any device: computer, tablet, or smartphone.
  • We assist with privacy protection strategies, including, if needed, completely anonymous double-blind assessments.
  • Preview packages enable future clients to experience the intended assessment tool in exactly the same way their students would. Preview packs include access to the full user manual.A

Training and consulting services

  • Faculty development workshops focused on effective classroom strategies used to teach for critical thinking across the full spectrum of academic subject areas. Highly experienced academic workshop leaders with a track record of presenting engaging and effective faculty workshops at national conferences and on site.  
  • Institutional effectiveness consulting to assist with preparation for accreditation and outcomes assessment projects. Senior level consultants with solid academic resumes and many years of direct experience in higher education leadership positions.   
Need to expedite your project?  We can have your first online testing assignment available for your students within 24 hours. 

Contact us today
Get started by calling 650-697-5628 and speaking with one of our assessment specialists today.

For information on how to purchase Insight Assessment solutions  

Comparison Percentiles Available for the CCTST

  • Two Year Colleges
  • Four Year Colleges and Universities
  • Graduate Students and Professionals
  • Health Sciences Undergraduate Students
  • Health Science Graduate Students
  • STEM Undergraduate Students
  • Research I Undergraduate Students
  • Globally Ranked Baccalaureate
  • Globally Ranked Graduate
  • Regional Open-Admissions Baccalaureate

Some of the current authorized translations of the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (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 Simplified

  • Chinese Traditional

  • Dutch

  • English

  • French Canadian

  • German

  • Hebrew

  • Indonesian – Bahasa

  • Italian

  • Japanese

  • Korean

  • Norwegian

  • Portuguese

  • Spanish

  • Thai

  • Turkish

  • Vietnamese

As a qualified purchaser, we offer the option of purchasing 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 of the instrument on mobile devices or on computers. The preview includes 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.


Request a price quote.

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