The Miller Analogies Test (MAT) is a standardized test normally used to assess the analytical abilities of graduate school applicants. The test is composed entirely of analogies. To do well on the MAT, it helps to understand that its analogies fall into several different categories.

MAT analogies are all about relationships, and familiarizing yourself with some of the general categories of relationships on the MAT can make it easier to identify them in questions.

The MAT officially lists four types of relationships: Semantic, Classification, Association, and Logical/Mathematical. The names for these types are not as simple and descriptive as they could be, so it helps to group the MAT analogies into these five major categories:

  • Description

  • Type

  • Parts

  • Similar/different

  • Playful

It’s a good idea to get familiar with these five major categories and how they work by studying the following examples. Then you’ll know what’s coming on the practice tests and the real MAT.

To identify description analogies, it’s helpful to understand what a verb is. A verb is a part of speech that expresses existence or action.

Description analogies are quite common on the MAT. In a description analogy, one of the terms in the analogy describes the other term in some way. The description is usually accomplished by a verb, which can be any action. For example:
  1. DOCTOR : HOSPITAL :: FARMER : _________________

    1. (A)crop

    2. (B)acre

    3. (C)labor

    4. (D)field

In this 1:2,3:4 analogy, a doctor works in a hospital, as a farmer works in a field, so the right answer is Choice (D). A hospital is a description of where a doctor works, as a field is a description of where a farmer works. The description is accomplished by the word works. Here’s another description analogy example:
  1. CHICKEN : DOLPHIN :: _________________ : CALVE

    1. (A)green

    2. (B)hop

    3. (C)hatch

    4. (D)swim

This analogy is a 1:3,2:4. A baby dolphin leaves its mother’s womb through calving, as a baby chicken leaves its protective egg by hatching. The answer is Choice (C). Calve is a description of how a dolphin is born, as hatch is a description of how a baby chicken is born. In this example, you can think of the description as being accomplished by the word born.

About This Article

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Vince Kotchian is a full-time standardized test tutor specializing in the MAT, SSAT, ISEE, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. He teaches a GRE prep course at the University of California, San Diego, and has an extensive understanding of analogies and the MAT.

Edwin Kotchian is a MAT tutor and freelance writer who has contributed to a variety of test-prep material.

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