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What types of analogical relationships should I look for on the MAT?

Every MAT question involves four terms presented in the following form:

A : B :: C : D

This general form is to be read as "A is to B as C is to D," or "term A is related to term B as term C is related to term D." So the relationship between the first two terms (A and B) should be analogous to the relationship between the second two terms (C and D). One of the four terms will be missing, and four options for that term will be provided. Your task is to select the option that best completes the analogy.

The Five Types of MAT Analogical Relationships

The key to success in analyzing any MAT analogy is to recognize the key relationship that makes one pair of terms analogous to the other pair. The test designers group MAT relationships into various types. According to the MAT designers, each MAT question falls into one of five broad categories, based on the relationship type that is key to completing the analogy:

  • Semantic — similarity or difference in meaning (synonym, antonym, intensity or degree, definition) or proper word usage

  • Classification — category/subcategory, member/group, part/whole, etc.

  • Association — object/characteristic, cause and effect, function or purpose, sequential order, etc.

  • Mathematical — equality, inequality, proportion (ratio, fraction, percent), etc.

  • Logical (non-semantic) — letter patterns, phonetics

The following MAT-style examples of the five basic relationship types and their variations will help you understand them and recognize them on your exam. (The variations listed and illustrated here cover most, but not all, of the ones you might encounter on your MAT.)

Semantic

Semantic — synonym or antonym

MILIEU : ENVIRONS :: CAPRICE : VAGARY

The words milieu and environs both refer to one's surroundings, while caprice and vagary both refer to a whimsical change of mind or behavior.

OBFUSCATE : ELUCIDATE :: EXTOL : DEPRECATE

To obfuscate is to intentionally confuse or conceal, just the opposite of elucidate (clarify). To extol is to praise, just the opposite of deprecate (denounce or condemn).

Semantic — intensity or degree

VAINGLORY : PRIDE :: DIN : NOISE

Vainglory is excessive or ostentatious pride. The word din refers to loud, continued noise.

SUGGEST : ADMONISH :: RIPEN : ROT

To admonish is to urge or strongly suggest; to rot is to overripen (ripen to an extreme).

Semantic — meaning or definition

ERSATZ : IMITATION :: CYNOSURE : CENTER

The word ersatz refers to a substitute or imitation, while cynosure refers to a center of attention.

NUMISMATIST : COIN :: PHILATELIST : STAMP

A numismatist is a person who studies or collects currency (forms of coin and paper money), while a philatelist is a person who studies or collects stamps.

Classification

Classification — category

DIXIELAND : BEBOP :: FAUVISM : CUBISM

The words dixieland and bebop refer to two different subgenres of jazz music, while fauvism and cubism refer to two subgenres of, or movements in, modern art.

LEGUME : GRAIN :: CONIFER : ANGIOSPERM

Legumes and grains are to different food categories. The words conifer and angiosperm refer to two different categories of trees.

Classification — membership or example

CROW : MURDER :: GOOSE : GAGGLE

A group of crows is referred to as a murder, while a group of geese is referred to as a gaggle.

ALBERTA : PROVINCE :: PUERTO RICO : TERRITORY

Alberta is an example of a (Canadian) province, while Puerto Rico is an example of a (U.S.) territory.

Classification — part/whole

STANZA : POEM :: ACT : PLAY

Many poems are comprised of a series of stanzas, while many plays are comprised of a series of acts.

OXYGEN : CO2 :: SODIUM : NaCl

Oxygen is one of two elements in carbon dioxide (CO2), while sodium is one of two elements in sodium chloride (NaCl), which is commonly known as table salt.

Association

Association — object/characteristic

CHAPS : LEATHER :: NEWSPRINT : PULP

Chaps (heavy seatless tousers) are made of leather, while newsprint is made of paper pulp.

JOSEPH CONRAD : DARKNESS :: CHARLES DICKENS : TWIST

Joseph Conrad is the author of Heart of Darkness, while Charles Dickens is the author of Oliver Twist.

Association — sequential order

MESOZOIC : PALEOZOIC :: RENAISSANCE : MEDEIVAL

In geologic time, the mesozoic era followed the paleozoic era. In European history, the Renaissance period followed the medieval period.

ROOSEVELT : TRUMAN :: THATCHER : MAJOR

Harry Truman was Franklin D. Roosevelt's immediate successor as U.S. president, while John Major was Margaret Thatcher's immediate successor as the United Kingdom's prime minister.

Association — cause-effect, purpose, use, or function

MEDIATION : ACCORD :: LITIGATION : JUDGMENT

The objective of mediation is to reach an agreement, or accord. The objective of litigation is to obtain a court judgment.

STREAM : ALLUVIAL FAN :: GLACIER : LAKE

A stream's movement can create a geologic feature known as an alluvial fan, while a glacier's movement can create a lake.

Mathematical

x–3 : x3 :: 1 : x6

x–3 = 1/x3. Multiplying this fraction by x6 yields the product x3.

3/5 : 150% :: 1.5 : 3.75

3/5 x 2.5 = 150%, while 1.5 x 2.5 = 3.75.

Logical (Nonsemantic)

PLUME : GROOM :: SLOUGH : ASKEW

Plume rhymes with groom, while slough rhymes with askew.

DECOR : ECOLOGY :: ANATOMY : ATOLL

The three-letter group eco begins the word ecology and is contained in the word decor. Similarly, the three-letter group ato begins the word atoll and is contained in the word anatomy.