1 Open mind
Skilled analytical thinking – in the exam hall and the workplace – requires you to methodically break down problems, ideas or arguments into their constituent parts, in order to explain why they are ‘the way they are’. Whether you agree with what’s being suggested isn’t the point. Analytical thinking demands an unprejudiced and unbiased approach – including accepting the possibility that you may be wrong. Considering every viewpoint helps to achieve balance of thought.
2 Good reason
Objectivity is key. You must present reliable evidence, hard facts, and logical conclusions to convince an examiner (or the reader of your business report) that you have properly evaluated a given situation. Inconsistent, missing, unsupported, or irrelevant information – as well as plain untruths – will indicate poor judgement on your part, and may even raise suspicions of vested interest or dubious motivation. Rationality is an essential tool for developing reasoned arguments.
3 Quiz show
Ask questions relentlessly: who, what, when, where, why, how? Look beneath the surface. Establish the validity of any assumptions surrounding the main issues. Even investigate the credibility of those advancing certain arguments if required. Are emotional or subjective factors at play? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the points of view being expressed? Would these apply in all situations and if not, what allowances would have to be made? Leave no stone unturned.