Page 1 - Semantic Relationships Study Guide for the MAT
First, An Introduction to the Miller Analogies Test® (MAT®)
The following is a brief review of the analogy concept and a broader explanation of how analogies are approached on the MAT® test. We don’t know which study guide you’ll be reading first, so there will be a link to this information in our other four study guides for the MAT®.
What Is an Analogy?
An analogy is a set of two pairs of words. The words in each pair are related in the same way as the words in the other pair. An analogy can be compared to a proportion in math and is often stated as “
____ is to
____ is to
A very simple analogy is:
bird is to fly as fish is to swim
In MAT® format, this would be written:
BIRD : FLY :: FISH : SWIM
Colons and double colons replace the connecting words.
On the MAT® test, the analogies are a little more varied and can be more complicated than the example above.
The simplest test presentation of the analogy above would be:
BIRD : FLY :: FISH :
To answer, you would simply choose the word swim from the answer choices. Answer choices on the MAT® are presented right in the question. The above question would actually look similar to this:
BIRD : FLY :: FISH : (a. frog, b. swim, c. fin, d. water)
You would choose b. for the answer.
But MAT® analogies are not always organized like this one. Instead of the first and second terms and third and fourth terms being related, the first and third terms and the second and fourth terms could be related. If the above analogy was reorganized this way, it would look like this:
BIRD : FISH :: FLY : SWIM
An additional difference in MAT® analogies is that the term you need to find is not always the last one. The missing term may be in any one of the four positions in the analogy. In other words, on the MAT®, the above analogy could be presented in any one of the following ways:
BIRD : FISH :: FLY :
BIRD : FISH ::
____ : SWIM
____ :: FLY : SWIM
____ : FISH :: FLY : SWIM
Of course, on the test, there will not be a blank, but rather lettered answer choices.
This brings us to the first and most important step in solving a MAT® analogy: Determine which of the two given words have a relationship and the nature of that relationship.
Continue reading this study guide to learn more about how you can solve one of the types of analogies seen on the MAT® test. You’ll find each of the types of relationships in one section of our MAT® preparation materials.
When you are addressing a question on the MAT® test, one of the four word relationships you might find is semantic in nature. This simply means that two words are paired because of something related to their meanings. The meanings may be very similar or nearly opposite. Two words may represent gradients in time, degree, or size or, when combined, may form a longer word or phrase. Read to find out more about these types of analogy relationships and learn how to spot them on the test.
The relationship between two words within an analogy paired due to a similarity in meaning is usually based either on a connection by definition, or by a connection stemming from a shared concept.
If the connection within a word pair is based on a shared concept, the pair will often consist of synonyms. The synonyms can either be two different words that name the same thing, or two words that have identical or nearly identical meanings.
DETROIT : MOTOR CITY :: NEW ORLEANS : (a. Little Vienna , b. Tiger Town , c. The Big Easy , d. Sheltered Bay )
Among the three given words, you can identify a semantic relationship between the first and the second: DETROIT and MOTOR CITY are two different names for the same thing (the same location) with the second being a nickname. The missing word must therefore be the nickname for NEW ORLEANS. So, the correct answer is “The Big Easy.”
INGENUOUS : (a. innocent , b. extravagant , c. devious , d. besotted ) :: OSTENTATIOUS : PRETENTIOUS
Among the three words given here, you can identify a semantic relationship between the last two: OSTENTATIOUS and PRETENTIOUS are synonyms that convey the same concept, since both can be used to communicate the idea of displaying one’s self conspicuously. So, the missing term must be a synonym for INGENUOUS. The answer is therefore “innocent.”
When the semantic relationship between two words in an analogy is based on a definition, the connection linking the two will usually consist of one word defining the other.
PASSIONATE : VEHEMENT :: (a. fastidious , b. exclusionary , c. extemporaneous , d. extraordinary ) : PRODIGIOUS
Among the three given words, you can identify a semantic relationship between the first two: The word VEHEMENT can be defined as meaning PASSIONATE. The missing term must therefore give the meaning of the word PRODIGIOUS. So, the correct answer is “extraordinary.”
(a. settled , b. misguided , c. rejected , d. spineless ) : INVETERATE :: ERASE : EXPUNGE
Among the three given words in this analogy, you can find a semantic relationship between the words ERASE and EXPUNGE, since the first is the definition of the second. The missing word must therefore be the definition of INVETERATE, which means settled, confirmed or established. So, the correct answer is “settled.”
The relationship between two words within an analogy that are paired due to some type of contrast in meaning usually involves a connection based on opposing concepts or on concepts that differ greatly.
When the relationship is based on meanings that are clearly the opposite, the pair most likely consists of antonyms—words that convey opposing ideas.
(a. heinous , b. buoyant , c. minuscule , d. lethargic ) : GARGANTUAN :: FRIVOLOUS : MOMENTOUS
Among the final three words in this analogy, you can identify a semantic relationship between the last two since they convey opposing concepts: Something that is FRIVOLOUS is very unimportant, whereas something that is MOMENTOUS is extremely important. So, the missing term must be an antonym for GARGANTUAN. The correct answer is therefore “minuscule.”
ABSTEMIOUS : ABERRANT :: UNRESTRAINED : (a. normal , b. recent , c. enlarged , d. amusing )
Among the three given words here, you can identify a semantic relationship between the first and the third, since the two of them are antonyms: ABSTEMIOUS, which conveys the idea of moderation, means the opposite of UNRESTRAINED. So, the missing word must be an antonym of ABERRANT. The answer is therefore “normal.”
Sometimes the relationship within a word pair is based solely on contrary ideas and nothing more. In these situations, the words might not technically qualify as antonyms, but will still evidence a large enough contrast in meaning to establish a clear divergence of thought.
ACCURATE : CARELESS :: ACQUAINTANCE : (a. familiarity , b. ignorance , c. indifference , d. aversion )
Among the three given words, there appears to be a semantic relationship between ACCURATE and CARELESS. Even though the idea that CARELESS communicates is not the exact opposite of what is meant by ACCURATE, the two words nonetheless convey markedly contrasting ideas. So, the missing term must be one that largely contrasts with the concept of ACQUAINTANCE. The correct answer is therefore “ignorance.”
RESUSCITATION : ABEYANCE :: (a. detestable , b. regarded , c. enjoyable , d. ignored ) : ABHORRENT
Among the three words given here, there appears to be a semantic relationship between RESUSCITATION and ABEYANCE. Again, though the two words might not be exact antonyms, the contrast between their meanings (i.e., revive vs. suspend) is nonetheless plain enough to clearly establish a contrary relationship. So, the missing term must be a word whose meaning contrasts with the concept of ABHORRENT. The answer is therefore “enjoyable.”
When the relationship between two words within an analogy consists of a connection related to intensity, one word is usually a more extreme version of the other. This might be in terms of size, degree, magnitude or extent.
Size is perhaps the most straightforward of all the intensity analogies, given that it usually has to do with the physical dimensions of something that is tangible.
GALLON : (a. ton , b. glob , c. kilogram , d. cup ) :: HOGSHEAD : QUINTAL
Among the given words in the above analogy, you can find a relationship between GALLON and HOGSHEAD. Both are unit measures of capacity. However, a GALLON is much smaller (63 or 64 times smaller) than a HOGSHEAD. Since a QUINTAL is a unit measure of weight, the missing term must also be a unit measure of weight, but one that is much smaller than a QUINTAL. So, the correct answer is “kilogram.”
Intensity analogies involving degree, extent, or magnitude are all very similar, almost to the point of being interchangeable. Nonetheless, there do exist subtle distinctions involving slightly different shades of meaning so that it is still possible to differentiate between them. For example, degree has more to do with a progression of successive stages than do extent and magnitude. Here is an example to illustrate.
(a. desquamate , b. inaugurated , c. felicitate , d. forbidden ) : DISCOURAGED :: SHUNNED : UNWELCOME
Among the given words in this analogy, you can find a relationship between the last two. Both have to do with being out of favor. But though being UNWELCOME is unpleasant enough, being SHUNNED suggests circumstances have been ratcheted up to what is probably a final stage along the same continuum. So, given the meaning of DISCOURAGED, the missing term must constitute a possible final stage along the continuum of being dissuaded. The correct answer is, therefore “forbidden.”
Intensity analogies based on magnitude have more to do with the scope conveyed by a given word than do analogies based on degree or extent. Magnitude hints at the quality of greatness or of how impactful the consequences stemming from a given term’s effect might be.
BREEZE : GALE :: (a. quake , b. disturbance , c. action , d. event ) : CATACLYSM
Among the given words in this analogy, you can find a relationship between the first and the second. Both involve the wind, but the magnitude of a BREEZE is much less than that of a GALE. Since a CATACLYSM involves some type of upheaval, the missing term must do the same, but on a somewhat smaller scale. So, the correct answer is “disturbance.”
Intensity analogies based on extent might be thought of as having more to do with how far or to what length a given idea might stretch than is the case with degree or magnitude. It is more related to the breadth of the concept’s reach, or to the extensiveness of its application.
SOCIETY : HUMANITY :: GENERALLY : (a. universally , b. objectively , c. predominantly , d. permanently )
Among the first three words in this analogy, you can once again find a relationship between the first and second terms: SOCIETY refers to a group of people, whereas HUMANITY refers to all people. Since the word GENERALLY involves only a portion of what it references, to maintain the relationship established by the first word pair, the missing term must involve all of what it references. So, the correct answer is “universally.”
Meaning of Word Part
You are probably aware that knowledge of word parts (e.g., root words, prefixes and suffixes) can help you decipher unfamiliar terms. But what is even better is that sometimes the MAT® actually includes analogies formed with pairs consisting of a word part—such as a prefix or suffix—linked to a term that gives the corresponding meaning.
URB- : (a. peri- , b. eu- , c. pur- , d. ob- ) :: CITY : PURIFY
Among the given parts of the above analogy, you can find a relationship between URB- and CITY, seeing as how the latter half of the pair gives the meaning of the first half (as illustrated in the word suburbanite). The missing part of the analogy must therefore be a prefix whose meaning is PURIFY. So, the correct answer is “pur-” (as illustrated in the word purify).