Step Two to Tackling an MAT Analogy: Building Sentences

To increase success on the Miller Analogies Test, it’s best to tackle the MAT analogies with a plan. Step one in this plan is to identify the structure of the MAT analogy. The next step in the analogy-solving process is building a specific, short sentence to express the relationship between the related terms in the analogy.

Keeping your sentences specific is important because, if they’re too broad, more than one of the answer choices may seem to work. Keeping your sentences short is smart because longer sentences are more cumbersome to work with and take longer to write down.

Jotting down your sentence on your scratch paper makes it easier to work with and think about because, when written, a sentence has to be concrete — it’s not just a vague concept in your mind. Feel free to use shorthand when possible to minimize the amount of writing you’ll have to do.

Consider this analogy, to practice building a sentence.

  1. MITTEN : HAND :: _________________ : HEAD

    1. (A)toupee

    2. (B)hair

    3. (C)hat

    4. (D)eyeglasses

Since the first and second terms in this analogy are given and have a strong relationship, write a sentence that expresses that relationship. Your sentence should look something like:

A mitten warms a hand.

“A mitten warms a hand” is clear and short and nicely expresses the relationship between a mitten and a hand. Now consider these examples of less effective sentences:

A mitten is worn on a hand.

Notice how “A mitten is worn on a hand” doesn’t really specify why the mitten is worn on a hand. And notice that, now, more than one answer choice seems to work: Both a toupee and a hat are worn on your head. Keeping your sentence as specific as you reasonably can helps.

Here’s another less effective sentence:

A mitten is shaped like a hand.

“A mitten is shaped like a hand” may be true, but it doesn’t really capture the function of a mitten. When in doubt, write a sentence that captures the most common and the clearest relationship between the related terms.

Here’s another analogy for practice in building a sentence:

  1. TIBIA : RADIUS :: LEG : _________________

    1. (A)hand

    2. (B)pi

    3. (C)arm

    4. (D)circle

This analogy has a 1:3,2:4 relationship, and the first and third terms are given. To express their relationship, you can write something like:

The tibia is a leg bone.

“The tibia is a leg bone” succinctly describes the major relationship between tibia and leg, and it helps you complete the final step in the process of solving an MAT analogy: checking the choices.

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