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MAT Analogy Subcategories: Association Analogies

Previously, we covered semantic and classification analogies on the MAT. Now we are going to move into MAT association analogies. Association is the largest category on the Miller Analogies Test; it’s also where you’ll find the most diverse kinds of connections between terms. Because of this, association is capable of producing some really challenging analogies.

How to think about association

“Association” is an interesting term because, in reality, all analogies depend on associations; if the terms in an analogy didn’t relate to each other through some sort of association, you wouldn’t be able to form an analogy at all. You would just have four unrelated terms.

In a way, the association category is really the “catch-all” category. The other categories on the MAT focus on very specific associations between terms: classification, semantics, logical/mathematical. But these are just three ways in which ideas can relate to each other.

If you think about it, you’ll quickly realize that words can relate to each other in dozens, if not hundreds, of ways. Association is how the MAT categorizes analogies that wouldn’t fit neatly into the other categories.

For example–

Allegory : Moral : Apocryphal : False

Allegories often tell a story which has a moral quality. The main quality of apocryphal stories is that they are largely, or entirely, false. This type of connection is outside the other categories and is characteristic of association.

Association analogies

We’re going to dive into some examples of association analogies sub-types, but I would highly recommend also looking at the MAT official study guide for a more expansive list of possible association sub-types.

Object/Characteristic – one term is a characteristic, source, or location of another.

One term is an attribute of another:

Horse : Mane

One term as an attribute the other lacks:

Prisoner : Freedom

One term is the source of another:

Practice : Proficiency

One term gives the location or setting of another:

Tigris : Turkey

Order – The terms are in a sequential or reciprocal relationship to one another. 

The terms have a time or sequential relationship but do not cause one another:

4 : 6 (sequential composite numbers)

The terms have a reciprocal relationship so that one concept cannot exist without the other:

Father : Child

(This one needs more elaboration: A father must have a child to be a “father,” a child must have a father (biologically) to exist. They are reciprocal.)

One word is a grammatical transformation of the other:

Curriculum : Curricula

Practice Questions

I’m going to end with some practice questions, but I highly recommend anyone in the midst of studying go to the official MAT study guide and really get to know association analogies in greater depth.

  1. Snake : Porcupine :: (a. scales b. fangs c. rattle d. coils) : Quills
  2. Maladroit : (a. simulacrum b. conscious c. dexterity d. generosity) :: Servile : Pride
  3. Data : Datum : Algae : (a. alga b. algaes c. algaes d. augur)

For more practice questions, we have also released free MAT flashcards which feature 160 example analogies that are free to study.

Answers to the above question:

1. (a)

2. (c)

3. (a)



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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