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Tackle the Timing of the Miller Analogies Test

Although you might want to have unlimited time take the Miller Analogies Test (MAT), sadly, you do have to beat the clock. The MAT consists of 120 analogies, and you have only 60 minutes to work on them.

So dividing that equally among the questions, you have only 30 seconds per question. However, unless you’re trying for a perfect score (which you shouldn’t be), you don’t need to spread those 60 minutes over all 120 questions. Depending on your score goal, you want to spread almost all your time over 90 or 100 of the questions and guess quickly on the last 20 or 30.

If you try to get all 120 questions right, you’ll be forced to work too quickly. It doesn’t make much sense to rush carelessly on a medium-level question and perhaps get it wrong just so you can get to a harder question (which you may get wrong no matter how much time you spent on it). The bottom line: Don’t rush.

Of course, you don’t want to work too slowly, either. Even the highest-scoring students can fall behind if they have to double-check everything to make sure it’s right. This style of test taking isn’t necessary and has the unfortunate side effect of hurting your confidence and slowing you down. The best approach is to work carefully but confidently. Your confidence will grow in proportion to your practice quality and quantity.

Time each question on the MAT

To determine about how much time you want to spend per question, it’s important to know your goal score. Let’s say, for example, that your goal is to get 100 out of 120 questions correct, based on your practice results.

That score translates into about 35 seconds per question, keeping in mind that you want to save a couple minutes at the end of the test to randomly guess on the questions you don’t have time to analyze. Remember, any unanswered questions are automatically scored as incorrect; you may as well take a guess, even if it’s a random one.

Don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to bubble in those random guesses! Err on the side of caution. When you notice 2 or 3 minutes remaining on the clock, abandon your analogy-solving mentality and just start guessing.

Even a random guess gives you a 1-in-4 chance of answering a MAT question correctly. Leaving it blank give you a 0% chance. There’s no penalty for guessing, so give it a shot.

When randomly guessing, pick the same letter for every guess. The test makers usually vary the correct answer letters so that test takers don’t get weirded out by seeing the same letter come up several times in a row. It doesn’t really matter that much, but picking the same letter when guessing may save some time and slightly increase your odds of getting a few of those problems right.

Develop smart pacing for the MAT

If you know how much time you can allot per question, you can better determine your pacing. Say that, again, you’re shooting to work on 100 of the 120 questions. So you can spend 36 seconds on each question, but round down to 35 seconds here, to leave some extra time for random guesses.

However, the clock shows minutes, not seconds, so you have to think in terms of minutes for your pacing goals. At the minimum, set a halfway goal. For a goal of 100 questions, you want to be on question 50 by the time the clock shows 30 minutes left.

You may also want to think about goals in smaller increments: You want to be on question 25 by the time the clock shows 45 minutes, and you want to be on question 75 when the clock shows about 15 minutes.

Don’t look at the clock too much, and don’t dwell on the time. You need all your mental energy for the analogy in front of you. Staring at the clock can’t help you solve it, and it may make you anxious.

Studying under timed conditions helps you develop an efficient pace that’s right for you. Try looking at the clock after completing every 10 questions.

Recover when you’ve fallen behind during the MAT

So what do you do if things don’t quite go according to plan and you get behind schedule? Let’s say that, in the previous scenario, you notice that there’s 30 minutes left on the clock, but you’re only on question 45 when you’d hoped to be on question 50?

Well, first of all, that’s not too far off your goal, so don’t panic. At this point, you need to start sacrificing questions. The next time a question comes up in a subject area you’re weak in, don’t think — just randomly guess. Guess what? You just bought yourself some time, and all it cost you was a question you may have gotten wrong anyway.

Depending on how far behind schedule you are, you may have to sacrifice a few questions. But wait until you know that it’s a hard question for you — there’s no sense sacrificing easier questions.

For example, say you know that you’re weaker in questions that test math or science. As soon as you see a question with numbers or scientific terms, randomly guess. Do this until you feel like you’re close to your desired pace.

Spending much time working on a difficult question is never a great idea. Unfortunately, many test takers sink a lot of time into these questions when they should be doing the opposite. Use your time where it has the highest probability of earning you points: on easy or medium questions.

In terms of order of difficulty, keep two things in mind. One, how late in the test is the question? The later it appears, the harder it is. Second, what are your weaknesses? If math is difficult for you, even an earlier math question may be challenging and, therefore, not worth much of your time.

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