101 Great Higher-Order Thinking Questions for Math

If you’re looking to improve students’ critical thinking skills in mathematics, science, or technology classes, it is beneficial to utilize higher-order thinking questions for math. 

While it’s important that students know their basic math facts and the steps for how to solve a math word problem, what’s even more important is their ability to use higher-order thinking skills.

That is what separates weak math students from strong ones, the ability to think deeply about math concepts beyond the literal.

But how can we get students to that level? The answer is by utilizing higher-order thinking questions for math. 

Higher-order thinking questions are critical thinking questions that require students to infer, apply, predict, connect, evaluate, and judge knowledge in new ways. 

The answers to these questions require prior knowledge and an expansive schema so that readers can see beyond the facts and information in front of them.

What’s more, these questions encourage the consideration of alternative explanations.

Possessing this type of critical thinking skill is essential not only in math class but in all subjects. 

Here you will find a collection of H.O.T.S higher-order thinking questions for math. Used consistently, these questions will improve students’ test scores and their confidence in math.

What’s more, students will begin to think deeper about math concepts without much prompting, become better problem-solvers, and be able to articulate their math processes more clearly.

101 Higher-Order Thinking Questions for Math

Following you will find various levels of math higher-order thinking questions categorized from “easiest” to “hardest”.


  • How would you define this word?
  • What do you remember about this math word problem?
  • Can you name_____?
  • How would you rephrase the question?
  • What is _____?
  • Who or what is this story problem about?
  • What have you heard about_____?
  • Can you list the steps for _____?
  • How would you define the term_____?
  • What is the setting of the math story problem?
  • Will you please explain why you think this?
  • How would you state this problem in your own words?
  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • So what do you know so far?
  • What information or clues are presented in the word problem?


  • What strategy do you plan to use to solve the problem? Why?
  • How would you outline the steps of _____?
  • What is the difference between these two ideas or concepts?
  • What can be inferred from_____?
  • How would you explain this to someone?
  • What knowledge do you have that is not stated in the problem?
  • How would you summarize the main idea of this chapter?
  • What is the main idea of this part?
  • What else do you understand now?
  • How can you restate what the problem is asking?
  • What can be said about_____?
  • How would you describe this shape?
  • What unanswered questions do you have?
  • How would you compare and contrast _____ and _____?
  • Could you elaborate on the steps you used to solve this problem?
  • What would happen if _____?
  • How would you differentiate between _____ and _____?
  • What illustrations, diagrams, or other visuals would aid understanding?
  • Could you clarify the part about_____?
  • What have you learned today?
  • How have you tackled similar problems in the past?
  • What information is needed to solve the problem?
  • Are you able to tell the main idea of this lesson/activity?
  • What parts confused you?
  • What can you infer from reading this part of the math textbook?
math higher-order thinking questions
math higher-order thinking questions


  • How would you illustrate_____?
  • What examples can you provide to prove this?
  • Why does this strategy work?
  • How would you classify these numbers?
  • How could this problem be presented so that it is understood by others?
  • What would be the result if _____?
  • What action steps do you need to take in order to perform this math word problem?
  • How could this be modified _____?
  • How can this math word problem be demonstrated?
  • How would you solve this problem?
  • What other way could you have solved this problem?


  • How would doing ___ change the final results?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of _____?
  • Are you able to provide an example of _____?
  • How would you classify these things?
  • Will you explain what you have done so far?
  • Which evidence from the math word problem supports your claim?
  • How would you order_____? 
  • What are the pros and cons of solving the problem this way?
  • How can these two concepts be compared?
  • What are the pros and cons of using_____?
  • Do you notice a pattern here?
  • Will you explain the method you used to solve the problem?
  • How would you explain_____?
  • What explanation do you have for_____?
  • How did you use prior knowledge to help you solve this problem?
  • How is _____ similar to_____?
  • What do you predict will be the solution?
  • How does this relate to_____?
  • Can you tell me how you came up with that answer?
  • How is math all around us?


  • Does your answer seem reasonable? Why or why not?
  • How can you justify your answer?
  • What changes could be made to revise_____?
  • What would happen if we changed this part?
  • How did you come to that conclusion?
  • What strategy could you come up with to solve_____?
  • How would you elaborate upon this?
  • What do you predict will be the final outcome?
  • Why is this strategy better to use in this situation than that one?
  • How could you disapprove this answer?
  • What prompted you to solve the problem this way?
  • How would changing this number affect the outcome?
  • What if you had executed this strategy? How would that have affected the outcome?
  • Why did you choose to use this particular strategy?
  • What made you organize your data like this?
  • Do you think there’s a better way to solve this? 
  • Have all possibilities been considered?
  • Do you agree with this? Why or why not?


  • What would have happened if _____?
  • How would you grade_____?
  • What suggestion do you have for_____?
  • Which part is the most important and why?
  • How can you determine which facts _____?
  • What is your opinion about_____?
  • How could you prove that_____?
  • What criteria would you use to assess_____?
  • How would you rank the importance of _____?
  • What information was used to evaluate the outcome?
  • Did you agree with the outcome? Why or why not?
  • What data could you use to prove your answer?

Final Thoughts On Higher-Order Thinking Questions for Math

Create confident mathematicians in your classroom by utilizing these helpful higher-order thinking questions for math. 

Using these higher-level questions, students will become better thinkers, better problem-solvers, and more self-assured in their math abilities. 

A solid math foundation is one of the keys to success in school and life beyond the classroom.

If you found these higher-order thinking questions for math helpful, you might be interested in math sentence stems.

Related: Practice math higher-order thinking using these math word problems.