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UCAT Decision Making Syllogisms Practice Questions, Tips & Techniques

Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists

Syllogisms make up a part of the decision-making section in the UCAT. In this article I will outline how to tackle these questions.
 
Firstly, it is important to acknowledge that syllogisms are probably something you have not come across prior to UCAT preparation. They are a little abstract and require a certain type of thinking to solve them. Therefore, it may be a bit challenging in the beginning, however as with anything, the right technique and lots of practice will allow you to master the skill. 

What Are Syllogisms?

They are statements that are related, followed by conclusions. A simple example of syllogisms would be:
 
All apples are fruits. All fruits are sweet.
Therefore, we can conclude that apples are sweet. 

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How To Solve Syllogisms?

Although the example above was straight-forward, the syllogisms in the UCAT can get a bit confusing as there will be distractor words and relations that might not make sense right away. Therefore, it is really important to have a technique that you can use with any question.
 
Do not just read the statements and ponder over the words, instead use Venn diagrams to sketch a quick visual representation.
 
For the apple example above, you probably just made the link in your head but I broke it down below to show you how you can use Venn Diagrams. 

We can draw a circle for fruit and then another circle inside to represent the apples. 
Now, if we use the green circle to represent all sweet things, we can put the fruit circle inside that as all fruit are sweet. 
We can conclude that all apples are sweet because the apple circle is within the sweet circle. 
​Now I’ll show you a worked example of an actual UCAT question. Try and work it out yourself before looking at the worked solution. 
 

A club has adult members and child members. Some of the adults like football. The rest of the club are at the cinema

If the red circle is people that like football than we can draw a Venn diagram like the one above. The shaded section represents the adults that like football. ​

‘The rest of the club are at the cinema’ 

To know who is at the cinema, we need to put the entire diagram together. This is a bit tricky because we do not know if the children like football or not so there are two possibilities we must consider.  Finally, the shaded section is only “the adults that like football” we know that everything that is unshaded represents the “rest” of the club, who are at the cinema. 

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All the children are at the cinema

All of the green circle representing children is unshaded so we know all the children are at the cinema. This conclusion follows.

None of the adults are at the cinema

Some of the adult circle is unshaded meaning that some of the adults are the cinema: the adults that do not like football. So this conclusion does not follow.

If a club member likes football, they must be an adult

When we look at both the diagrams we have drawn, one possibility is that some of the children do like football. There is also a possibility that children do not like football and only adults like football, however, we do not know which is right. Therefore, we cannot say for sure: “If a club member likes football, they must be an adult”. This conclusion does not follow.

If an adult is at the cinema, they must not like football

This statement is straight forwards as it is exactly what the question stated. The question said: “Some of the adults like football. The rest of the club are at the cinema”. So, the adults at the cinema do not like football. The conclusion is correct.

None of the club members at the cinema like football

This statement does not follow because from our diagram we can see that all of the children circle is unshaded meaning they are at the cinema. We do not know if any of the children like football so this conclusion isn’t necessarily correct. Therefore, this conclusion does not follow. 

6 UCAT Syllogism Tips

1) Do not use your own knowledge
The syllogisms are designed to trick you by using concepts that you are familiar with. However, it is crucial for you to ignore any knowledge you have: just concentrate on what they have given you and use logical reasoning to deduce if a conclusion makes sense.
 
For example:
              Some vehicles have four wheels. A car is a vehicle.
 A car has four wheels.  Although, you may know cars have four wheels, this conclusion does not follow. Just from the details in the question we only know that a car is a vehicle, but we do not know if it is in the four-wheel category or not.


 
2) Be logical!
Make sure you approach the question methodically and do not miss any relevant information.

 
3) Pay attention to certain words: “all”, “few” , “none”, “some”
It may sound obvious but pay attention. If the statements in the question says “some”, they mean some not all!

 
4) Venn Diagrams are your friend
There may be a few questions you can solve without sketches, but Venn diagrams do help to make things clearer. 
 

5) Do not panic
The most important advice that I can give you for the UCAT, whatever the section, is to not panic. If you are really stuck on a question and you are spending more time than intended, flag it and move on. Do not worry about that question once you are on a different one. If you have time to come back to it, read the question with a clear head as you are likely to solve it then. Panicking doesn’t help as it only falters your concentration.
 

6) Practice, Practice, Practice
You will only get better with practice. Try and enjoy the process because it will make it so much easier. Think of decision making as a game or puzzle you are trying to solve. 

UCAT Decision Making Syllogisms Practice Questions, Tips & Techniques

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