Decision Making – techniques for Syllogisms

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August 1, 2017 by Emedica

Until the Decision Making section was I wasn’t aware of the word syllogism but it is an actual thing… with a Wikipedia page and everything!

At its very basic level a syllogism works like this:

All cats are mammals. All mammals are warm-blooded. Therefore, cats must be warm-blooded

At a slightly more advanced level something may be negatively framed to produce something which is true but which is not a logical conclusion:

                All fruit grows on trees. Apples grow on trees. Therefore, apples must be fruit.

This is correct but imagine if it were framed like this:

                All fruit grows on trees. Leaves grow on trees. Therefore, leaves must be fruit.


Syllogisms in UKCAT are slightly different and a little more complex – there are five conclusions to assess based on each statement.

Most shoes sold in UK shops are made in China including all shoes from the three biggest shoe retailers. Chinese workers used to have very poor conditions but many manufacturing companies have improved their workplace conditions a lot in recent years. This is partly due to pressure from UK (and other) consumers.

You can immediately see that there’s a lot more detail and will require more unpicking. For example – you will be asked to assess whether a conclusion such as this one logically follows:


The top three shoe retailers in the UK account for most UK shoe sales


That seems a reasonable assumption. However – it is NOT as reasonable conclusion if we are only to use the information in the text. All shoes from the biggest three shoe retailers are made in China so it’s possible that this alone accounts for the ‘most shoes are made in China’ fact. However – it is also possible that the three biggest retailers still only account for a much smaller proportion of shoes sold without it impacting at all on the fact that most shoes are made in China.

Let’s try another one:


UK consumers put pressure on Chinese businesses to improve worker conditions

This is not only a reasonable assumption but it’s explicitly stated in the text so is a logical conclusion. The pressure from UK consumers was part of the reason that worker conditions were improved.


And another:

Some small UK shoe retailers do not source any shoes from China

We know that UK bought some shoes are NOT made in China because only ‘most’ shoes are. However – it is not logical to conclude that any individual retailer sources their products entirely from outside of China.


The syllogism paragraph may be long and quite detailed or it may be short. With practice you’ll soon be able to spot the crucial words – such as most, all, many, partly – in any given text.


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