Wondering how to improve your analytical skills? There are many skills that would make a person a desirable candidate when it comes time to look for work, and one that’s at the top of the list is your analytical thinking skills.
Analytical thinking skills allow people to make well-thought-out decisions — and in the workplace, this is a valuable skill that can ultimately save businesses time and money. Having reliable analytical skills can also lead to a smarter life in general.
You can attain analytical thinking skills in school, or improve on analytical thinking skills you already possess.
What Are Analytical Thinking Skills?
Every day, we make hundreds of decisions, whether it’s choosing what clothes to wear to work or what we should eat for dinner. But some decisions — like those we make in school or at the workplace — are harder to make, and require a person with strong analytical thinking skills.
Analytical thinking skills are not influenced by emotion, but rather by certain abilities that when utilized, allow a person to make an educated decision.
Visualization is characterized by a person’s ability to look at something — for instance, data collected over a long period of time — to predict what the outcome will be. This could involve looking at charts, pictures, graphs, or lists.
Critical thinking is just as it sounds. It’s a person’s ability to think critically about a decision, without letting personal emotions get in the way. It involves evaluating information and thinking outside of the box in order to find the most logical solution.
A large component of a person’s analytical thinking skills comes from their ability to, well, analyze. This means that you should have some computing skills, such as being able to make calculations and work with numbers in order to inform your decision.
Analytical thinking skills are not just making decisions, but finding solutions to complicated problems. It’s taking steps using strategies like trial and error, checking your work, and taking a step back if something doesn’t work the first time around, in order to achieve a goal as efficiently as possible.
A single person may not have all the answers on their own, but good analytical thinking skills means you know how to utilize your resources as best as possible to find what you’re looking for. This could mean feeling comfortable enough to call on someone who may know about a specific topic better than you do, or knowing where to find information that’s not easily accessible.
Paying Attention to Details
A person with good analytical thinking skills is very detail-oriented. They know how to find small details that others may not notice, which can end up being very useful in solving problems or coming up with big ideas.
How Does Analytical Thinking Help You?
Analytical thinking skills may be more desirable in some careers than others, but they can really be applied to any profession. They allow you to consider an idea or make a decision based more on facts, trends, and rationale than emotions, which is an important trait to have no matter what your job is. These skills are also important in your personal life, because they allow you to make smart choices short and long term.
Analytical Skills Make You Marketable
A person with analytical skills naturally becomes more marketable in the eyes of a human resources department. These skills can set you apart from the competition, making it easier to land a job.
Analytical Skills Make You a Better Problem Solver
Instead of just getting frustrated when there’s a problem to address, analytical skills give you the ability to solve problems more effectively and efficiently, based on data, history, research, and logical thinking.
Analytical Skills Encourage Critical Thinking
A person with analytical skills is able to translate them into critical thinking capabilities, which will come in handy when you have to weigh the pros and cons and consider the risks and rewards of any given decision.
How to Gain Analytical Skills in School
Analytical thinking skills are no doubt extremely useful when you enter the workforce. There’s no better place to gain these skills than in an academic setting. Or, in other words, school. With the right academic program, you will easily be presented with opportunities to learn analytical skills.
Participate in Analysis-Based Student Projects
In school, you should take on the opportunity to gain analytical skills by participating in an analysis-based student project. Here, you’ll have a chance to not only learn the skills necessary to complete the project, you’ll put those skills to the test every step of the way. Your professor will likely guide you through this, by assigning a project that asks you to call on analytical skills to solve problems.
Focus on the Analytical Skills Relevant to the Project
With a project, you’ll be able to see which analytical skills will be the most useful in completing your goal. Will you need more computing skills or more critical thinking skills? Or will these skills help you work with a complicated team member?
Practice Your Analytical Skills Regularly
Once you’ve gained analytical skills, whether through a project or other assignments in school, don’t forget to regularly practice those skills so that you don’t lose them! Honing in those analytical skills frequently will help you fine-tune them, so you’ll be prepared to use them when another situation calls for them.
Identify Analytical Tools and Resources That Can Help
If you’re struggling to solve a problem in one of your courses, there are various analytical tools, resources, and strategies that can help. For instance, something as simple as a mind-map can help you think about how you want to approach something before jumping into it.
Find Ways to Keep Improving Your Analytical Skills
Don’t be afraid to give yourself more opportunities to continuously improve your analytical skills. Take on your own projects and try to step out of your comfort zone to ask feedback on your work, thoughts, and ideas.
How to Improve Your Analytical Skills
While taking on a comprehensive project is a good way to learn and apply analytical skills through practice, there are other ways to improve your analytical skills.
Asking questions regularly is a good way to improve your analytical thinking skills. Be curious about topics you aren’t familiar with, and look for answers by utilizing helpful resources.
Read More Frequently
Reading is a great way to improve your analytical thinking skills. No matter what genre you prefer, there are many ways to think about the characters, theme, plot, facts, or the author’s message that will sharpen your analytical skills.
Reading and writing usually go hand-in-hand in many aspects of life, and it’s no different when it comes to analytical thinking skills. Pick up a pen and a notebook and write about anything that comes to mind. It could be a story, your feelings, or a journal entry recording your activities of the day. Getting ideas on paper helps to think about things more clearly.
Listen to Podcasts
Listening to podcasts about mindfulness, analytical thinking, and other related skills can help you improve your own, especially if you don’t have time to read or write.
Play Brain Games
Playing brain games is a great way to improve your analytical thinking skills. This could be in the form of logic puzzles, crossword puzzles, word searches, sudoku, etc. There are many apps available where you can do a little mind-work every day.
Exercise Your Body
In addition to exercising your brain, you should also exercise your body. Being in good, healthy shape can keep your mind sharp, which naturally improves analytical thinking skills.
Practice Problem Solving
Even though it’s good to sometimes let problems work themselves out, forcing yourself to problem solve in any situation you can will definitely make you a better analytical thinker long-term.
Meet Others and Have Discussions
One aspect of analytical thinking is to utilize resources and seek feedback from others. By socializing, attending conferences, studying together, or simply talking to other people, you can improve your analytical thinking skills.
Take Courses, Online Courses, and Use Analytical Tools
Taking academic or hands-on courses — not just on analytical thinking, but any topic — is a good idea if you want to improve your analytical thinking skills.
If you’re looking for a more direct answer to how to improve your analytical skills, University of the People (UoPeople) may be your answer. UoPeople allows students the opportunity to take courses online, which means you can work on your own time. The university also offers potential undergraduate certificate programs that can give one’s career the right boost. Best of all, we’re tuition-free and US accredited.
Remember to extract various analytical thinking tools, resources, and strategies to help you excel in your courses.