I recently took the Miller's Analogies Test. After scheduling it and before taking it, there was one question I searched many times; "Can you study for the MAT?" I had no success in finding an answer, so I intend to answer it here on my blog.
Before you read any further here is what you should know. I made a 461. I haven't received my official notification. That is the preliminary score given to me at the end of the test. I have no idea whether that is a good or bad score. I do not know where it ranks on the percentile nor do I know what is required by most grad schools. I do know that the one of the departments at the school where I took the exam requires a 381, so I was well above that. But just be warned that you may be taking advice from a moron in analogies. <update> I have received my official score. It turns out that my 461 is the 99th percentile. So you are not taking advice from an analogical moron. </ update>
Now…onto the question
Can you study for the Miller’s Analogies Test?
In short, the answer is no.
You cannot study for the exam. It is pretty much going to test your ability to think analogically.
Even though you cannot study for the test, you can prepare for it, have a strategy, and be familiar with the types of analogies and the categories that appear on the test. There are a multitude of practice exams on the web, some are good, some are not. I’ll offer what tips I can.
- Even though there are spelling errors, and annoying ads, this is the best set of practice questions I found. The timed format is very similar to the actual exam.
- It is helpful if you are somewhat of a polymath. There are math, history, science, and literature analogies on the exam. My version had analogies with simple algebraic formulas, relationships between dictators, chemical symbols, countries and capitals.
- There is no substitute for a good vocabulary. All through seminary I kept a running list of all the words I had to look up. I haven’t mixed them into my vocabulary regularly, but more than a few appeared on the exam. The difference in reading a word in a book versus reading it in an analogy is context. You have no contextual cues to tell you what inchoate means; you pretty much need to know it in order to say how it relates to nascent.
- You are allowed a piece of scratch paper, use it. Use it to remember the numbers of the analogies that stumped you, use it to work on math problems. Use it to restructure the analogies in hopes that they make sense to you.
- Do not be freaked out by the time. You have 60 minutes to complete 120 analogies. The ones you know will take you way under 30 seconds, you can use the spare time to work-out the ones you don’t.
- Don’t be freaked out. The test is hard. It’s supposed to be hard. Unless you are a genius you are not going to know them all, so relax.
- Use all your time. Unless you are confident of every answer, (in which case you don’t need to read this) you should use the remaining time to get the ones you are still unsure of
- Be alert and limit distractions. I’m sure everyone reading this already knows this, but I’m going to say it anyway. The test is nothing to be afraid of, but you should get some exercise the day before so you can sleep well through the night. Eat breakfast, and go to the bathroom before you take it. No need for distractions.
Here was my strategy. I went through the test answering the ones I knew and making a guess at the ones I didn’t. Usually even if the answer is not clear, some of the options seem obviously wrong. I made an educated guess in case I didn’t have time to get back to it. I also wrote down the number of the analogies I didn’t know so I could come back. (At one point I wrote down 7 analogies in a row. See #6 above.) When I finished my initial run-through, I had 23 minutes remaining. I used those 23 minutes to review the many questions I was unsure of. Some of them clicked for me, some of them I felt confident I was making my best guess, and a few of them I was utterly stumped. There was one about tennis that I never had a clue about.
That’s it. That is my best attempt at answering the question “can you study for the MAT?” If you find this helpful, feel free to tell me in the comments how you did.