Although educators and employers agree that it is important to assess the critical thinking skills of students and prospective employees, few assessments have been externally validated with real-world outcomes of critical thinking. The Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment (HCTA) is a reliable measure of critical thinking skills and has been validated with multiple populations and measures of academic success. This study explored whether scores on the HCTA predicted real-world outcomes in a wide range of domains, such as education, health, law, finance, and interpersonal relationships. Community adults (n = 50), state university students (n = 48), and community college students (n = 35) in the USA completed the HCTA and a behavioral inventory of life events. Overall, those with higher critical thinking scores reported fewer negative life events than those with lower critical thinking scores, r (131) = −.38, p < .001. Implications for education are discussed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.