Solving an analogy on the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) is hard enough, but what should you do when you don’t recognize all of the terms involved? Unfortunately, the most common problem you’ll most likely face on the MAT is encountering an analogy with a word — or multiple words — that you don’t recognize or can’t quite define.
The word you don’t know may affect your ability to recognize whether the analogy is 1:2,3:4 or 1:3,2:4. It may affect your ability to build a sentence that defines the relationship between the known terms. Regardless, when you don’t recognize one or more words used in an analogy, you should be the most careful! Don’t make decisions based on information you don’t know.
Unless you’re sure or pretty sure what an analogy term means, don’t use its meaning to help figure out a sentence or even an analogy’s structural type.
Instead, here are a few techniques to use when you don’t know one or more terms in a MAT analogy.
Apply the process of elimination to the MAT analogy
Process of elimination is a must-have technique when taking the MAT. You don’t have to recognize why the right answer is right if you can figure out why the other three choices are wrong. Don’t be afraid to pick a word you don’t know if you’ve eliminated everything else!
Here’s an example of using process of elimination to get a question right.
BALL : ROUND :: EGG : _________________
Choice (A) is “mystery term” so there is at least one word you don’t know. First notice that the analogy is 1:2,3:4; a clear relationship exists between ball and round (and no clear relationship exists between ball and egg).
Next, build a sentence: “A ball is round.” Looking at the answer choices, you can start eliminating some.
Is an egg square? Is it triangular? Acute? No, no, and no. Therefore, the answer must be Choice (A) because you eliminated every other possibility.
You can use process of elimination on most MAT questions to help pick the correct answer, so be sure to give it a try.
Make an educated guess
When all else fails with a MAT analogy and you’re ready to guess and move on, one last strategy is worth trying, to possibly improve your odds. First, consider difficulty level. If the question is early in the test, go with your first instinct and pick the choice with the strongest connection that you recognize. After all, most people before you got the question right.
If the analogy appears later in the MAT test, consider your first instinct or what makes the most sense — and then don’t pick that choice. Pick anything else. After all, most students got the question wrong for a reason!