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MAT Tactics

Knowing a few MAT tactics can make the all the difference in your score. Read on the learn our top three tried and true tips to help you do your best on test day!

MAT Tactics #1: Determine Which Pairs of Words are Related

Simply put, try to decide whether the first and third term and second and fourth term are related, or if the first and second term and the third and fourth term are related.

The easiest way to do this is to compare the terms on the side of the analogy with two words filled in first. If there is no apparent relationship between the two terms on the same side, then compare the relationship between the 1:3 or 2:4, depending on what term is left blank.

MAT Tactics -magoosh

MAT Tactics #2: Brush Up on Parts of Speech and Their Suffixes

This tip may seem strange for a test that is all about vocabulary and the meanings of words and the relationships between them, but that is precisely why this tip is so valuable. If you come across a word you do not know the meaning or a tough analogy where you can’t seem to determine the relationship between the terms, recognizing or simply considering alternate parts of speech could be your key.

MAN : SHIP :: _________________: POSITION

1 (A)pose

2 (B)manipulate

3 (C)move

4 (D)staff

Either a 1:2,3:4 or 1:3, 2:4 relationship between these words is not immediately recognizable, so we can turn to parts of speech. Can man, ship, or position be used as something other than nouns? Yes. Man can also be a verb (i.e. man the ship). Therefore the answer must be “d.” You can man a ship just like you can staff a position. Notice both man and staff are verbs and ship and position are nouns.

Each analogy on the MAT contains only two parts of speech and the answer must be one of the two. You can use suffixes, or endings, to determine parts of speech. For instance, words ending in -ness or –ment indicate a noun. Check out other suffixes that provide clues to parts of speech.

MAT Tactics #3: DO NOT Reverse Words

Be careful not to mix up the order and therefore the relationships between the words! You can read the general form (1 : 2 :: 3 : 4) as either:

1 is to 2 as 3 is to 4. (CORRECT)


2 is to 1 as 4 is to 3. (CORRECT)

Not as:

1 is to 2 as 4 is to 3. (WRONG)


2 is to 1 as 3 is to 4. (WRONG)

Remember, you do not lose any points for answering a question wrong. It is in your best interest to make an educated guess, so use the tactics in this article if you are unsure! Only by making a well-reasoned guess do you have any chance of gaining those precious points!

About Martine

Martine loves making life easier for Magoosh Students! She taught Test Prep Courses for five years and thoroughly enjoyed helping her students demystify standardized testing and application processes. A Catholic University of America graduate with a B.A. in Media Studies, Martine went on to pursue a certificate in Clinical Nutrition and Holistic Health. She has a never-ending sense of adventure which has led her on treks through northern Thailand, explorations of natural thermal pools in Spain, and overnight safaris in the Thar Desert. When she is not traveling, she loves to read, cook, and attend concerts.

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