Read what a teacher says about this activity:

‘Ranking is a great activity for learners to develop their critical thinking skills. They need to think about and justify the choices they make. It’s also a good way for them to practise communication. I often write short prompts on the board to help them during the discussion phase.’ 

Stage 1: Preparation 

Either write the following list on the board or dictate it to the learners: 

  • kind 
  • honest 
  • funny 
  • reliable 
  • generous 
  • helpful 
  • clever 
  • good looking.  

Check that they understand all the adjectives. 

Stage 2: Individual 

Say: ‘Which of these adjectives is most important in a friend? Rank these adjectives in the order of importance. 1 is the most important; 8 is the least important. You have two minutes.’  

Stage 3: Share useful phrases 

On the board write some useful phrases for giving opinions, agreeing and disagreeing. For example: 

  • I think … 
  • In my opinion … 
  • I agree/disagree because … 
  • So do I. 
  • I can see your point, but … 

Stage 4: Discuss in pairs 

Put the learners in pairs and say: ‘Compare your choices and try to come to an agreement. Use the phrases to help you. You have four minutes.’ 

Monitor and help where necessary. 

Stage 5: Share 

Ask a few pairs to share their ranking and give reasons for their choices. Note that there is no ‘correct’ answer to this activity. 

You can use this ranking activity for lots of different content areas. For example, dangerous animals, useful items when lost, solutions to pollution, best school subjects, fun hobbies, etc. 


Critical thinking: A thought process of evaluating information and solving problems. 

Monitor: The way a teacher watches to see how well an individual, group or class is doing a particular task. 

Prompt: When you encourage a learner by giving a clue or sharing some language to help them give an answer.