Higher Level Thinking Questions for Reading

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: How to Improve Study Skills

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 What are High-Level…
  • 1:01 Using Higher-Order…
  • 2:19 Higher-Order Thinking…
  • 3:45 Higher-Order Thinking…
  • 5:20 Create, Evaluate, Analyze
  • 6:13 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Educational trends encourage the process of metacognition, or understanding one's own thinking. This requires a teacher to develop higher-level thinking questions. This lesson will help educators reach fluency in developing these kinds of questions.

What Are High-Level Thinking Questions?

High-level thinking questions give students a chance to use and apply skills they already know. Take a moment to consider lower-order thinking skills, such as memorization or recall. Although these skills take practice, they don't require the learner to engage in analytical thought. High-level thinking comes into play when students are asked to take their knowledge and use it in specific ways, like comparing, inferring, categorizing, connecting or debating. In this way, using high-order thinking questions gives teachers a chance to challenge student understanding.

A useful tool when developing high-order thinking questions is Blooms Taxonomy, a chart devised to categorize levels of thought. Refer to the chart when creating high-level thinking questions; focus on going beyond remembering and understanding, the lower two levels, and asking questions requiring students to apply, analyze, evaluate and create.

Using Higher-Order Thinking Questions When Reading

As readers, we all begin by trying to make sense of letter-sound relationships. Eventually, we understand phonics and develop a hefty set of sight word vocabulary. With that complete, we can begin reading text that requires us to understand the complexities of plot and other elements. To do this well, we need to implement new strategies in order to comprehend what we read.

Employing high-order thinking skills when reading fiction encompasses several primary areas. Obviously the reader thinks about about surface elements within a story, such as who's doing what; however, the student also engages in metacognition, which can be defined as thinking about one's own thinking. Metacognitive questions include:

  • Why is this character doing that?
  • How does this text make me feel?
  • Do I agree or disagree with this text?

In regard to nonfiction text, readers need to not only remember and understand important concepts, such as names and dates, but also how these facts relate to the larger picture. For example, in addition to knowing Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865, a reader using higher-order skills will be able to communicate the impact of the event in differing ways. Let's take a look at more specific strands for fiction and nonfiction texts.

Higher-Order Thinking for Fictional Text

Using higher-order questions for reading means you're asking students to understand what they read in several ways: retelling facts, inferring meaning and evaluating intentions. As a teacher, asking your reader to move beyond simple recall prompts a deeper connection to characters and plot, reinforcing skills that allow the reader to engage with the text on a deeper level. Consider some of the following typical high-order thinking questions for fiction.

Questions within the text are questions like:

  • What was the problem in the story?
  • How was the problem solved?
  • What did the characters in the story enjoy?

Questions beyond the text include:

  • Why did the character make this choice?
  • How did the character's feelings change?
  • What was surprising about the end of the story?
  • What does this story remind you of?

Finally, we come to questions about the text. These questions are often more involved and can include questions such as:

  • What did the main character learn?
  • What was the most important part of the story?
  • Why did the author choose the title?
  • Do you agree with how the author chose to end the story?

Notice the questions become more complex as students look outside the story. Although it appears the questions build upon each other, try not to ask them in a sequential order. Instead, ask questions from each category equally to support understanding of how each level relies on the other.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account