How to Continue to Stimulate Critical Thinking Outside of School

Surprisingly to most people, I was not a stellar student back in my day. Sure, I had mostly a 4.0 GPA and was top 15% of my graduating class, but something I was always insecure about were my SAT and ACT scores. I was never a great test taker, especially for standardized tests like those that had a significant impact for application review, let alone an acceptance.

I always knew this about myself, that I had an extremely high EQ (emotional intelligence) compared to what we are essentially tested on–our IQ. Truthfully, I simply did not have the same strong critical thinking skills that most of my peers had that were getting SAT scores over 2100 and ACT scores over 32.

For that reason, I’ve always wanted to become a better critical thinker. While maybe it did not come naturally to me, I genuinely believed that it could be trained and built like any muscle in our body.

Over the past two years, I felt a natural inclination to stimulate my brain outside of the norm. In fact, so outside the norm that most people I shared this with, often responded with, “Lol, what the fuck? Why are you doing that?”

Over a year ago, I started becoming interested in attending law school–Georgetown Law to be exact. While I wasn’t sure if it was really going to be a path I would eventually take, I still decided to buy a LSAT prep book and practice the questions in my free time.

A year later, I’ve learned that I’ll likely never attend law school, simply because I don’t see it as my long-term path…but, I noticed how my willingness and determination to prepare for the LSAT to have the best score (above a 168) set a strong foundation in my work ethic and thinking. My favorite questions on the LSAT are the logic games; because there can simply be only one answer. And that shit…makes you really fucking think hard.

So maybe practicing LSAT questions is not your jam…I still highly recommend giving it a fun try one night. That test is purely about critical reading, logical and analytical reasoning, and etc., which are such vital skills to have in not only being a lawyer, but truthfully any field, especially business. The stronger these skills are for you, the better thinker, speaker, and decision maker you will be.

Another activity I do to practice stimulating my mind is learning a new language on my own through the Thinking Method. During the beginning and peak of the COVID quarantine, I had more time to indulge in TV and ended up binge watching the show Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime. My biggest takeaway from the two seasons is how vital it was for the main character to be able to speak multiple languages, as his ability to speak and understand specific languages ended up saving thousands of lives when he came head to head with the enemies.

Despite the show being fiction, it inspired me to learn another language and strengthen my current ones already; Vietnamese and Spanish. Since I am an avid Europe traveler and have many European friends that speak German, I decided I would take on learning this language during my quarantine free-time.

Instead of using Duolingo or the common apps used for language learning, I decided to use the Thinking Method, as this is basically the same way as learning a language in that country or as a child speaking with a native speaker.

Additionally, instead of only learning it during a sit-down session at home, I’ve also recently taken my German learning sessions out on my morning walks when I start my day. I simply listen to the teacher in my earphones and practice speaking it during the lesson while also getting a light workout in. This method has been ideal for me because the only items my brain needs to focus on is the German lesson and walking; whereas my mind can be more distracted when I’m just sitting at home.

What are your thoughts on improving critical thinking and stimulating your brain? Let me know what activities you practice and try to implement in your life for continuous improvement! 


Emily Duong

Born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania, but currently residing in Orange County, California. Emily Elizabeth is an entrepreneur, athlete, and lifestyle blogger sharing her everyday lifestyle and healthy mindset.



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