How Reading Can Help Your MAT Score

reading can help your MAT score

The Miller Analogies Test is delivered primarily through words, and if any exam was ever a haven for the well-read, it is certainly this one. Reading can help your MAT score in so many ways; I recommend daily reading as part of your study preparation.

Benefits of Reading

Answering an analogy requires that you know the terms being used. “Knowing” them doesn’t guarantee you will get the right answer, but not knowing them severely reduces your chances of doing so.

The two types of terms are general or subject specific. These are just groupings for convenience. “General” terms are what we normally call vocabulary. They are words that might feature in any writing on a college level topic. In contrast, “subject-specific” terms are frequent only in writing specifically about that subject. Anyone is free to use the word “deontology,” but it is pretty much exclusive to the discussion of philosophy.

Now you could limit your studies to learning about these words in isolation. That is, you could stick to flashcards alone. But that is far less efficient than also learning them in context, as they will be presented in articles. If you learn about deontology from reading an article that mentions it, you are:

A. more likely to remember it


B. more likely to learn the terms it connects to (since those will also appear in the article).

This is very important since the words it connects to will likely be the same terms that feature in an MAT analogy using that term.

So there are a variety of reasons to read, but not all reading materials will work.

Reading for the MAT

To prepare for the MAT, you have to read material that is at a college level. I recommend articles from the following sources:

  1. The New York Times
  2. The Wall Street Journal
  3. The Economist
  4. The MIT Technology Review
  5. Art & Letters Daily
  6. The Atlantic
  7. Aeon

I want to emphasize that nothing from current news, politics, or any historical events after about 1970 will appear on the MAT, so read accordingly.

I would suggest picking articles that relate to the humanities or to the “soft” sciences: psychology, economics, history, philosophy, etc. Any sort of professional criticism of the arts will also work: literature reviews, play reviews, movie reviews, etc. All of these tend to use a very high level of vocabulary.

If science is your thing, stick to things that take a broad semi-historical look at the subject. Things that maybe go from Einstein to Hawking or from Darwin to recent developments.

I’m partial to Aeon, which neatly categorizes these articles and also has writers who contribute to the Atlantic, NYT, etc.

Best of luck!