Ten Tips for Taking the MAT Exam
Here are some tips for what to do – and what not to do – in the final weeks and days before you take on the MAT (Miller Analogies Test).
You'll need to do more than hit the books to get into grad school; getting physically and mentally prepared and feeling organized on test day can go a long way toward your success with the MAT.
Exercise your body, not just your brain
Our bodies often function best when in motion, and exercising the day of the test, or the night before, can relieve pent-up stress, increase blood flow to the brain, and in general, make your body and mind function better.
Do something you’re used to – now is not the time to try a totally new exercise routine. Even a 20-minute jog will get your heart rate up enough to give you benefits that will last during the duration of the test. Stretching or yoga can be a great way to relieve stress as well.
Be sure you get enough sleep
Sleep is crucial for your body and mind to perform at their best. But a common misconception is that it’s important to get a good night’s sleep the night before the test. First, this can be difficult to do. If you’re nervous and excited, you might not sleep well, and there’s no magic trick to falling asleep in that condition.
A better idea is to make sure you allow yourself enough time to sleep during the week leading up to the test. That way, the overall quantity of sleep you get will help compensate if you can’t sleep well the night of the test.
Get organized the night before the MAT
Having to rush, even a little bit, to get to your MAT testing center can really affect your mood. One of the easiest ways you can prepare to have a smooth test day is to prepare everything the evening beforehand.
Make sure you have your directions, identification, and anything else you might need for the day of the test. Doing this will decrease your stress, and anything you can do to reduce your stress on the day of the test is worthwhile!
Be well fed
Even though the MAT is not a long test, it’s a good idea to eat something before you leave the house. If you get hungry during the test, it can be a minor or even a major distraction. Also, if your blood sugar is low from not eating, you may find it more difficult to think clearly. Don’t forget, the MAT will demand a lot of mental energy.
If you have a morning test appointment and you don’t normally eat breakfast, you may want to get used to eating something small over the week leading up to the test, so eating is not a shock to your system on the day of the test. Watch out for foods that your body can process extremely quickly, like processed carbohydrates – these can lead to an energy crash if you don’t combine them with foods containing fiber, protein, and/or fat.
On test day, don’t study
You’ll have enough to worry about on test day without adding studying to the mix. Even if you’re worried about your performance, studying on test-day usually doesn’t accomplish much.
Make sure you plan ahead enough to get your game plan down so that you don’t have to worry about remembering it on test day. Studying the day of the test is also a great way to needlessly stress yourself out, so try not to do it.
The purpose of warming up, just like when you warm up before you exercise, is to get things moving before you face your first real MAT question. A good way to warm up is to review some practice questions you’ve already done and answered correctly.
Go through the motions, identifying the analogy types, making sentences, and choosing choices. This should help you hit the ground running. If you’re a slow starter in the morning or you tend to struggle with initial questions on practice tests, warming up can be a great idea.
On the day of the test, make sure you rise early enough to allow yourself plenty of time for your morning routine, as well as time to get to the MAT testing center.
Checking in can take time, especially on a weekend test date — and you don’t want to have to worry about being turned away because you’re late for your appointment. Getting to the center early will also give you some time to chill out and relax instead of having to hustle into the test room without any time to collect yourself.
Review how many questions you can skip
Unless you’re a super-genius and you’re legitimately trying for a perfect score on the MAT, you probably will not be spending time on every question. Yes, you have to answer each question, but in order to pick up the maximum number of points that you possibly can, you need to know about how many questions you can skip.
To figure this out, you’ll need to review your practice tests and determine the average number of wrong answers on the last two or three. That number is, more or less, the number of questions you’ll be either skipping or spending a minimal amount of time on during the real MAT. This strategy is designed to employ your time where it will earn you the most points. The questions you’ll be skipping should be ones you’ve identified as weak content areas of yours, and will be more likely to appear later in the test (because the order of difficulty increases as the test progresses).
Write it down
During the real MAT, you may be tempted to forgo writing down your analogy structures and sentences because you’re worried about timing. However, what’s more important to you – finishing the test on time or getting the questions you work on right?
To ensure that you accurately answer MAT questions that you’re capable of answering correctly, it’s well worth it to write down the analogy’s structural type and your sentence describing the presented relationship (assuming you can identify these things). It only takes a few extra seconds, and actually buys you more time in the long run because the analogy will now be easier and quicker to think about.
Don’t rush or second guess
On the day of the test, many test-takers either rush or second guess themselves to one degree or another. If you do a question quickly, then get scared you made a mistake and go back and redo it, you’re probably wasting valuable time. Or, if you’re taking technique shortcuts and continually checking the time, you may be rushing and getting questions wrong that you could be getting right. Work carefully, but trust yourself.