Big questions little questions online

Critical thinking skills for sixth form students from the University of Oxford



Welcome to Big questions little questions (BQLQ), presented to you by the University of Oxford for the Study Higher partnership. There are several sections that make up this resource, all of which look at how to develop and to put critical thinking skills to use. We’ll also have some worksheets, quizzes, and other fun stuff to put the theory into practice, so make sure you complete those, too!

BQLQ is aimed at sixth formers in the UK. A lot of people get confused by what ‘critical thinking’ is or how it relates to their studies and life, but it’s something that’s really important for developing how you look at your work and the world more widely. So even if you’re not going to university, it’s a really important skill to have under your belt.

First thing’s first, what is ‘critical thinking? It’s a big question that invites a long answer, but to put it in brief:

Critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement. Simply put, it’s about learning what questions to ask, and when, to reach more sound conclusions.

When you reach the end of these resources, you will have developed your understanding of approaches to asking questions and feel more confident in creating your own research questions. You’ll also look at how to develop your understanding of engaging critically with sources of information and find out about the kinds of questions that are asked in further and higher education. Finally, you’ll be able to better understand how methods of teaching and learning at school and university can be similar but at times quite different.

These resources can be completed in any order, so please select a BQLQ resource from the bottom of the page and get started!

The technical stuff

Find out about this resource, its aims, objectives, and learning outcomes


BQLQ is a programme of activities to develop academic critical thinking skills in sixth form students, to help you feel better prepared to tackle A-level study and to move on to university.  It covers how to develop a good independent research question, and how to further develop your critical skills. Our friendly university student hosts will take you through these resources, which also feature researcher profiles, interactive quizzes, and downloadable resources.


To increase your confidence in progressing to higher education by developing and enhancing academic skills in critical thinking.


• To introduce terminology and concepts of critical thinking

• To develop your confidence and skills for transition to university

• To introduce you to how research and study is done at university

Learning outcomes

By the end of these resources you should:

• Have developed your understanding of questioning approaches.

• Feel more confident in creating your own research questions.

• Have developed your understanding of how to engage critically with sources of information.

• Have found out about the sorts of questions university researchers and students ask at university.

• Better understand how university and school learning styles relate and/or differ.

Critical thinking at university

In this video, university students Zahra and Tolu chat about critical thinking in higher education, and give tips on how to think critically for students doing A-levels or thinking of university.

Choose a resource to get started