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It varies depending on the elements, but one factor is the relative stability of the product that is formed after a redox reaction. As long as the reaction is overall spontaneous, it will be favorable to occur.
From a numerical standpoint, you can look at the standard reduction potentials to determine relative reducing/oxidising strength. A lower, more negative potential means something is a stronger reducing agent and a more positive value means a stronger oxidising agent (stuff like this showed up on test 2).
To break this down, an element that has a strong reducing ability is essentially the same as the reducing reagent, the element responsible for reducing another element in a redox reaction, and to determine between a group of elements in order of increasing reducing ability, we must determine which element has the strongest oxidizing potential. We can do this by comparing the elements' standard reduction potentials with the most negative value denoting the strongest element to be oxidized, hence the element with the strongest reducing ability. The same applies for the reverse when determining the strength of a group of oxidizing agent in which the higher reduction potential equates the stronger oxidizing agent.
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