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Best ways to figure out the relationships in MAT analogies

There are a few strategies that you can rely on during the MAT. The one we are showing here is the best way to figure out the relationships in most analogies. It should be your starting point on every question. The other strategies are there more for when this one fails, so always start here.

The First Relationship

A completed analogy has four terms: 1 : 2 :: 3 : 4. In each analogy, we are concerned with two relationships. The first is the relationship between just two terms out of the four:

Rage : Anger

These two terms are clearly related and form a relationship pair. To capture this relationship so that we can think about it clearly, we will use a bridge. A “bridge” is a sentence that defines the relationship between related terms. For example:

Rage is intense Anger.

This sentence conveys what the relationship is: rage is a more intense form of anger. A relationship can be made between 1 : 2, 3 : 4, or 1 : 3, 2 : 4. A relationship will never be made between 2 : 3 or 1 : 4. The MAT Study guide covers this in depth. Once you create a relationship and a bridge between two of the given terms, you will do the same for the third term. This second relationship must match the first.

The Second Relationship

On the MAT, the actual analogy will look like this:

Rage : Anger :: Desolation : (a. __, b. __, c. __, d.__)

Our example is missing answer choices because you will not be looking at those until you have created your own “answer choice.” To do that, you need to think of a possible choice without looking at the answers. Looking at the answer choices before you create your own logical answer is, generally, a mistake. The answer choices feature trap answers that will often deceive or mislead you.

Let’s look at our analogy again:

Rage : Anger :: Desolation : __________

We know that “rage” and “anger” are related (1 : 2), and we have a bridge for them—

Rage is intense Anger.

For every analogy, both pairs relate to each other in the same way. Thus, “Desolation” must share the same bridge with a fourth term:

Desolation is intense ______

Here we need to think of our own word. “Desolation” means intense sadness or hopelessness. So we plug in one of these terms to create the full analogy—

Rage is intense Anger just as Desolation is intense Sadness.

“Desolation” and “sadness” are now related to each other the same way that “rage” and “anger” are.

Answer choices

Now we can look at the actual answer choices—

Rage : Anger :: Desolation : (a. Disdain, b. Lachrymose, c. Sadness, d. Fury)

Option “C” is closest to the answer we came up with, so that is the one we select.

Be sure to stick to your logic when you see the answer choices. You may see an answer choice that “feels” right. It may even make you want to change your choice. Do not follow this instinct! Only choose answers that you can justify logically through the relationships you’ve identified.

About Bertrand

Bertrand is a remote tutor and a MAT blogger for Magoosh. He received a B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University and studied education theory at Rutgers Graduate School of Education. He has been studying and working in education since 2010. Born and raised in New Jersey, he now resides in Philadelphia. When he isn’t helping students study or writing blogs for Magoosh, he spends his time practicing mixed martial arts and reading as much as his schedule permits.

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