Our Top Three Tips for Mastering Thinking Skills

Our Top Three Tips for Mastering Thinking Skills

Thinking Skills can be a rather difficult subject. Not only are the questions unfamiliar in comparison to the rest of the work you may have typically encountered in Primary Maths, but the questions aren’t necessarily black and white and more than one answer may seem correct. And all of this is not to mention that the questions themselves can be rather tricky in terms of how they are worded.

In saying this, Thinking Skills is still a very doable subject; it just requires time and smart study. Now that we’ve said this, here are our top three tips for mastering Thinking Skills!! 

#1: Learn the different ‘types’ of questions.

This is nothing new. The questions asked in the Thinking Skills course can be broken up into several categories:

Thinking Skills: Types of Questions

– Logical application of rules
– Argument
– Analogies
– Estimation and strategy
– Logical fallacies and the excluded middle
– Visual reasoning
– Deductive reasoning
– Syllogism
– Inductive reasoning
– False dichotomies
– Mutually and non-mutually exclusive events

Learning to master each type of question is key to performing well. To do this, we’d suggest the following:

  • Students should start their study by attempting a variety of questions under each topic area. 
  • From this, students can then identify which topic areas they are least confident in and target their revision to those topic areas specifically.
#2: Study in small groups.

Having the ability to share ideas and discuss questions in small groups will turbo-charge students’ study for a number of reasons. Firstly, students will be forced to articulate their reasoning for an answer in a particular question in a way that is easy for others to understand. The process of articulating will force students to reflect on their answers and refine their ideas, thereby testing students on how well they have understood the material to begin with. Hence why it has often been said by many that the best way to learn something is to teach it!!

Furthermore, group discussions also provide another opportunity for students to ask questions and problem-solve together. Students are far more likely to experience “a-ha! moments” when they bounce ideas off each other and critique each idea from their own unique perspectives. 

#3: Ease into completing exams under timed conditions.

The Thinking Skills exam for the selective exam is time pressed with students needing to complete 40 multiple choice questions in 40 minutes. Similarly, the OC Thinking Skills exam now requires students to attempt 30 questions in 30 minutes. Both tests come down to students having 1 minute to earn 1 mark. 

Accordingly, students will need to develop speed and precision with answering questions. This is a matter of working to “build up” to completing the full-length exams. For this, we’d suggest the following:

  1. Master the content first. This is a matter of mastering all the different question types (see the list under tip #1). 
  2. Build up to completing “half exams”. For OC, this will involve completing 15 questions in 15 minutes. For selective, this will involve 20 questions in 20 minutes. Completing “half exams” will help build up exam confidence and exam speed gradually in a way that isn’t overwhelming at first instance. 
  3. From step #2, students can gradually build up to completing a full exam. 

In sum, “build up” to completing the full exam under timed conditions and don’t try to attempt full exams from Day 1.


Let’s recap our three top tips:

  1. Learn the different ‘types’ of questions.
  2. Study in small groups.
  3. Ease into completing exams under timed conditions.

Good luck!! 

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