70 Higher-Order Thinking Questions To Challenge Your Students

50+ lower order thinking questions too!

Did the character make a good decision? Why or why not?
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Want to help your students make strong connections with the material? Ensure you’re using all six levels of cognitive thinking. This means asking lower-order thinking questions as well as higher-order thinking questions. Learn more about each here, and find plenty of examples for each.

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What are lower-order and higher-order thinking questions?

An altered form of the Bloom's Taxonomy pyramid, showing the three higher order level skills spread across the top tier together
University of Michigan

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a way of classifying cognitive thinking skills. The six main categories—remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, create—are broken into lower-order thinking skills (LOTS) and higher-order thinking skills (HOTS). LOTS includes remember, understand, and apply. HOTS covers analyze, evaluate, and create.

While both LOTS and HOTS have value, higher-order thinking questions urge students to develop deeper connections with information. They also encourage kids to think critically and develop problem-solving skills. That’s why teachers like to emphasize them in the classroom.

New to higher-order thinking? Learn all about it here. Then use these lower- and higher-order thinking questions to inspire your students to examine subject material on a variety of levels.

Remember (LOTS)

  • Who are the main characters?
  • When did the event take place?
  • What is the setting of the story?
What is the setting of the story?
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  • Where would you find _________?
  • How do you __________?
  • What is __________?
  • How do you define _________?
  • How do you spell ________?
  • What are the characteristics of _______?
  • List the _________ in proper order.
  • Name all the ____________.
  • Describe the __________.
  • Who was involved in the event or situation?
Who was involved in the event or situation?
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  • How many _________ are there?
  • What happened first? Next? Last?

Understand (LOTS)

  • Can you explain why ___________?
  • What is the difference between _________ and __________?
  • How would you rephrase __________?
  • What is the main idea?
  • Why did the character/person ____________?
Why did the character/person ____________?
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  • What’s happening in this illustration?
  • Retell the story in your own words.
  • Describe an event from start to finish.
  • What is the climax of the story?
  • Who are the protagonists and antagonists?
Who are the protagonists and antagonists?
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  • What does ___________ mean?
  • What is the relationship between __________ and ___________?
  • Provide more information about ____________.
  • Why does __________ equal ___________?
  • Explain why _________ causes __________.

Apply (LOTS)

  • How do you solve ___________?
  • What method can you use to __________?
  • What methods or approaches won’t work?
What methods or approaches won't work?
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  • Provide examples of _____________.
  • How can you demonstrate your ability to __________.
  • How would you use ___________?
  • Use what you know to __________.
  • How many ways are there to solve this problem?
  • What can you learn from ___________?
  • How can you use ________ in daily life?
  • Provide facts to prove that __________.
  • Organize the information to show __________.
Organize the information to show __________.
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  • How would this person/character react if ________?
  • Predict what would happen if __________.
  • How would you find out _________?

Analyze (HOTS)

  • What facts does the author offer to support their opinion?
  • What are some problems with the author’s point of view?
  • How does the author use symbolism in this text?
  • What common features do these characters share?
  • Compare and contrast two main characters or points of view.
  • How does the setting affect the characters and plot?
  • What was a character’s motivation for a specific action?
Compare and contrast two main characters or points of view.
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  • Discuss the pros and cons of _________.
  • How would you classify or sort ___________?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of _______?
  • How is _______ connected to __________?
  • What caused __________?
  • What are the effects of ___________?
  • How would you prioritize these facts or tasks?
  • How do you explain _______?
  • What patterns can you identify in the data, and what might they mean?
  • Which method of solving this equation is most efficient?
  • Using the information in a chart/graph, what conclusions can you draw?
  • What does the data show or fail to show?
What was a character's motivation for a specific action?
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  • What is the theme of _________?
  • Why do you think _______?
  • What is the purpose of _________?
  • What was the turning point?

Evaluate (HOTS)

  • Is _________ better or worse than _________?
  • What are the best parts of __________?
  • How will you know if __________ is successful?
  • Are the stated facts proven by evidence?
  • What are the potential drawbacks?
  • Is the source reliable?
  • Was ______________ justified in their actions and choices?
  • How does historical context affect your view of the person’s actions?
Is the source reliable?
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  • What makes a point of view valid?
  • Are any perspectives or points of view missing?
  • Did the character/person make a good decision? Why or why not?
  • Which _______ is the best, and why?
  • What biases can you identify in this text?
  • How effective are/were the laws or policies in achieving their goals?
  • What are the biases or assumptions in an argument?
  • What is the value of _________?
  • Is _________ morally or ethically acceptable?
  • Does __________ apply to all people equally?
  • How can you disprove __________?
  • Does __________ meet the specified criteria?
Does __________ meet the specified criteria?
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  • What could be improved about _________?
  • Do you agree with ___________?
  • Does the conclusion include all pertinent data?
  • Does ________ really mean ___________?

Create (HOTS)

  • How can you verify ____________?
  • Design an experiment to __________.
  • Defend your opinion on ___________.
  • How can you solve this problem?
  • Rewrite a story with a better ending.
  • Create a new character for the story, then describe their background and impact.
  • How would you turn this story into a movie? What changes would you make to the plot, and why?
Rewrite a story with a better ending.
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  • How can you persuade someone to __________?
  • Make a plan to complete a task or project.
  • How would you improve __________?
  • What changes would you make to ___________ and why?
  • How would you teach someone to _________?
  • What would happen if _________?
  • What alternative can you suggest for _________?
  • Write a new policy to solve a societal problem.
  • How would you handle an emergency situation like ____________?
  • What solutions do you recommend?
  • How would you do things differently?
How would you do things differently?
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  • What are the next steps?
  • How can you improve the efficiency of this process?
  • What factors would need to change in order for __________?
  • Invent a _________ to __________.
  • What is your theory about __________?

What are your favorite higher-order thinking questions? Come share in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, 100+ Critical Thinking Questions for Students To Ask About Anything.