Thinking Skills AS Level

This course helps you to develop your ability to understand and engage confidently in argument and reasoning – essential skills in any field of endeavour. You will also learn problem-solving techniques, using logical methods to analyse information, and appropriate techniques to find solutions.

This course is one of our new Gold Star AS levels. Find out more about them here.



Course requirements

There are no formal qualifications required to enrol on this course, but a general education up to GCSE level, or the equivalent, is advisable. For the Problem Solving part of the course you will need to be familiar with basic techniques of mathematical manipulation to junior school level. This is an online course so you will also need access to the internet.

Duration of study

It's really up to you but, as a guide, an AS level course takes about 120-150 hours plus extra time for assignment work you submit to your tutor. You will have tutor support for a period of up to 24 months from the date of enrolment. Some students allow 18-24 months to complete an AS level, but others complete the course within a year.


This course follows specification 9694 from the awarding organisation Cambridge International. Full details of the specifications can be obtained from Cambridge International's website.


Section 1 - Arguments in critical thinking
  • Critical thinking and reasoning
  • What is a reasoned argument?
  • Reasons in support of conclusions
  • Recognising implicit assumptions

Section 2 - Analysing and evaluating arguments
  • Identifying key elements of argument
  • Further elements of argument
  • Inference and deduction
  • Analysis and evaluation
  • Understanding key terms and expressions
  • Identifying appeals in reasoning
  • Identifying flaws in reasoning
  • Developing your reasoning

Section 3 - Evidence and explanation
  • Evaluating numerical evidence
  • Assessing the impact of further evidence
  • Assessing the credibility of evidence
  • Recognising plausible explanations
  • Developing your reasoning

Section 4 - Preparing for Paper 2
  • Question 1: evaluating evidence
  • Question 2: Reasoning in a scientific context
  • Question 3: Evaluating and presenting argument

Section 5 - Problem solving, Part 1
  • What is problem solving?
  • Extracting data
  • Processing data
  • Finding a procedure

Section 6 - Problem solving, Part 2
  • Searching for solutions
  • Patterns and similarities
  • Suggesting hypotheses
  • Spatial reasoning
  • Necessary and sufficient data and modelling
  • Choices and decisions

Exams and assessment

Two exams:
  • 1 hour 45 minutes, 50% of marks
  • 1 hour 45 minutes, 50% of marks

Non-exam assessment (NEA):
  • None


Assignments do not contribute towards your final grade but provide you with an opportunity to submit work to your tutor for marking and feedback. This will help you to gauge your progress as you work through the course.

This course has:
  • 1 introductory assignment
  • 6 assignments

Set texts and resources

There are no additional set texts.

Using learn@nec

Your course is delivered online through learn@nec, so it’s important that you have access to a computer and the internet. We recommend that your computer is using one of the following operating systems and browsers to improve your experience of using learn@nec:

Operating systems:
  • Windows 7 or later
  • Mac OSX 10.7 or later
  • Google Chrome OS
  • Android 4.4 or later, using the Chrome browser
  • iOS 6 or later, using the Safari browser

  • Google Chrome (latest version)
  • Mozilla Firefox (latest version)
  • Safari 6 or later
  • Internet Explorer 10 or later (excluding IE11)

learn@nec may work on other operating systems and browsers with some restrictions. You can see full details of the system requirements by clicking here.

How to enrol

There are several ways to enrol with NEC:
  • Click the ‘Enrol now’ button above.
  • Telephone us on 0800 389 2839 or +44(0)1223 400200 and speak to our course advice team.
  • Ask us to send you an enrolment form which you can complete and return by post.

Paying in instalments

It’s your choice: you can pay in full at the point of enrolment, or you can spread the cost over monthly instalments with our finance offer. To pay in instalments you will need to enrol by telephone.

Representative example:
Course fee:  
Amount of credit:  
Monthly payment:  
Duration of agreement:  
Total repayable:  
Rate of interest:  
0% APR representative.  
  6 months
  0% (fixed)

The National Extension College (NEC) is the trading name of the Open School Trust, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 676788). Finance is provided through the Deko platform by a number of lenders. You will be offered the best rate available based on your credit history and the lenders’ credit decision policies.

Deko is a trading name of Pay4Later Ltd who act as a credit intermediary. They are registered in England and Wales (company number 06447333) and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 728646). For more information please go to or visit

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