CSS Scales

Measure what matters: critical thinking skills and mindset
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College Student Success (CSS) measures the core critical thinking skills and mindset attributes that predict the success of college students.

College Success Mindset assesses seven personal attributes which are predictive of academic persistence and success

Motivation to Learn

A person who is highly motivated to learn is eager to acquire the knowledge and skills required to master new subjects, processes, systems and procedures. This person is inquisitive and expects to continue learning as a means of responding to challenges and as satisfying in its own right.

Drive to Succeed

A person with the drive to succeed has goals and puts forth effort to reach those goals. The drive to succeed is a strong indicator of persistence, sustained effort, and accomplishing what one sets out to do. Whether they set their own tasks or are given tasks by others, people in whom this drive is strong feel the need to succeed.


A person with judgment seeks multiple perspectives on any given idea or issue.  This person strives to avoid taking an “all-or-nothing” approach. When a decision is needed urgently, a person with good judgment will make a decision, but when there is more time the person with good judgment will give the matter fuller consideration.  A person with good judgment is willing to reconsider decisions if new information comes to light.

Intellectual Integrity

Intellectual integrity is the discipline of striving to be thorough and honest to learn the truth or to reach the best decision possible in a given situation. A person with intellectual integrity has a driving desire to follow reasons and evidence courageously wherever they may lead. Individuals who strongly manifest intellectual integrity value objectivity, evidence-based decision making, and the courageous, fair-minded, and complete pursuit of the best possible knowledge in any given situation


Foresight is the habit of approaching problems with a view toward anticipating consequences and outcomes. A foresightful person values clarity and the accurate interpretation of complex problem situations. Individuals who strongly manifest foresight value getting the problem right, understanding the reasons pro and con, and projecting the likely outcomes of various options.


A resilient person is adaptive when they encounter changing demands. They understand the value of flexibility when change is needed, and can easily envision a change in routine as an opportunity rather than a barrier to growth.


Creativity as applied to thinking, learning, decision making, and problem solving is the tendency to approach topics, issues and ideas in an imaginative, ingenious, and original way.  The creative thinker engages problems with energy and enthusiasm, and seeks to explore new models while keeping goals in focus.

College Success Reasoning Skills measures the strength of the applicant’s critical thinking and quantitative reasoning skills:

CSRS Overall Reasoning Skills

The CSRS Overall Reasoning Skills score describes overall strength in using reasoning to analyze, interpret, evaluate, integrate and comprehend information presented in texts and with charts and graphs. High CSRS Overall scores are attained by test takers who excel in the sustained, focused and integrated application of all the reasoning skills measured on CSRS.  The CSRS Overall score is the best indicator of a person’s intellectual capacity to achieve deep learning at the baccalaureate level and beyond.

Analytical Reasoning

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.

Evaluative Reasoning

Evaluative skills are used to assess the credibility of the claims people make or post, and to assess the quality of the reasoning people display when they make arguments or give explanations.  We can also apply our evaluation skills to assess the quality of many other elements that are important for good thinking, such as analyses, interpretations, explanations, inferences, options, opinions, beliefs, hypotheses, proposals, and decisions. People with strong evaluation skills can judge the quality of arguments and the credibility of speakers and writers.

Reasoning in Uncertainty

Reasoning well in contexts of uncertainty and ambiguity is critical for college level learners.  A strong score on this scale indicates excellence in the core reasoning skill of drawing well warranted justified inferences in situations involving probabilistic inductive reasoning, comparative this-is-like-that reasoning, empirical facts-up-to-theories reasoning, and in situations requiring value judgments.  Strengths in this domain enable the problem solver to find the solution that has the strongest likelihood of success, given the information at hand.

Reasoning with Precision

Reasoning in precise, tightly defined contexts requires strong analytical and inference skills in order to determine exact logical consequences given a specified set of assumptions or conditions.  Deductive reasoning plays a critical role when reasoning in precise contexts.  Strengths in this domain enable the problem solver to see the applications and the implications of information, assumptions, directives, policies, regulations and protocols.

Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative reasoning (numeracy) refers to the ability to solve quantitative reasoning problems and to make well-reasoned judgments in a variety of quantitative contexts.  More than being able to compute a solution to a mathematical equation, numeracy includes the understanding of how quantitative information is gathered, manipulated, represented, and communicated verbally and visually, such as in texts, graphs, charts, tables and diagrams.

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