Creative Thinking

by Jayne Cormie

Test your creativity

The key to creativity is the ability to make many associations and connections (see Your creative brain). The following test is based on the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, which measures how divergent your thinking is. In other words, how good you are at being able to use your brain’s associative powers to think creatively.

The Torrance Test of Creative Thinking measures four key creative thinking abilities that are characteristic of highly creative people.


This concerns the ability to generate a large number of ideas and the speed at which you create them. In other words, how many ideas did you come up with and how quickly?


This is the ability to generate ideas in different categories. For example, if you were thinking of different types of uses for a tin can, you might have come up with the categories of container, toy, communication device, musical instrument and so on.


This is the ability to produce unusual and unique ideas. For example, any ideas which are associated with typical uses for a tin can would receive zero points. However, a musical instrument would receive two points.


This is the ability to build on an idea by developing it, expanding it, embroidering it and elaborating the original thought. For example, if your idea required your tin can to be melted, painted, ground up or combined with another can, you would receive more points.


Test your creativity – part one

In one minute, think of all the things you can use a paperclip for.

How many ideas did you come up with? The table below shows that the global average for this test is three to four ideas. If you thought of eight uses for a paperclip, you are considered to be a good brainstormer. And if you came up with 12 or more ideas, you are considered to be a creative genius!

To challenge your creative thinking skills even more, complete the exercise below.


Test your creativity – part two

In one minute, think of all the things you cannot use a paperclip for. Write them down and then challenge each one.

If you did this exercise correctly, you will have found that by challenging your assumptions about what you originally thought you couldn’t use a paperclip for, your brain was able to find a way! For example: you can’t use a paperclip to drink liquid. Really??!! What if you straightened out the paperclip and drilled a thin whole through the middle so you could use it as a straw... The technique of challenging your assumptions is one of the best creative thinking tools to facilitate your creativity. Read about how to use this tool in the page on The tools to think creatively.

For each of the ideas you came up with for parts one and two of the creativity test, give yourself a score for fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration.