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What Does the MAT (Miller Analogies Test) Measure?

The Miller Analogies Test is marketed as a measure of two main things: your cultural literacy and your reasoning ability. In other words, the MAT claims to measure how much you know about subjects like art, history, science, and math, as well as your ability to make connections between concepts from those subjects. The MAT is also marketed as a good predictor of how you’ll do in graduate school.

The MAT’s way of measuring your ability is to see how many questions you answer correctly on the test and then compare you to other test takers — in particular, by comparing you to people with your intended major. This data gives graduate programs, or an employer, concrete data with which to help with decisions.

Keep in mind that the MAT isn’t an IQ test, nor is it a predictor of your future success. At the end of the day, your MAT score is an important part of your graduate school application — but it’s not the only part.

The MAT vs. the GRE

The graduate program you’re interested in may accept a GRE score instead of a MAT score. The GRE test is much different from the MAT. Here’s a comparison of the two exams’ major differences.

MAT GRE
60 minutes long About 4 hours long
1 question type: analogies 2 types of vocabulary questions, several reading comprehension question types, and several types of math questions
Tests cultural knowledge Doesn’t test cultural knowledge
No essays 2 types of essays

If you have a strong vocabulary, you’re a skilled reader and writer, and/or you’re good at tricky math questions, you may do better on the GRE. On the other hand, if you have a solid foundation of cultural knowledge and you’re not excited about doing a lot of math or writing essays, the MAT may be better for you.

Another factor that may be important is cost: Taking the GRE is about twice as expensive as taking the MAT. And, don’t forget about how long it takes to complete each test. The MAT is a lightweight at one hour, and the GRE tips the scales at more than four hours.

Ultimately, you can take a computer practice test of each and see both which test feels more comfortable and how your scores stack up. You can purchase three official MAT computer tests on the Pearson MAT website. You can download two real computer GRE tests from the ETS GRE website.

In order to view the downloadable GRE tests, you must install the free POWERPREP II software. Unfortunately, this software is compatible only with Windows.

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