MAT Test Breakdown

MAT is based on knowledge gained through education coupled with skills of cognition. Taking this examination shall not only help you in admission but also enrich your experience in testing. Since the exam is based on analogies, it does not require memorizing complex concepts. However, understanding the test breakdown shall help you understand how to handle the exam and score well in it.

What do Analogies Measure?

MAT analogies measure two basic abilities
Cognitive Skills: These are required to recognize the existing relationships between the terms given.
Knowledge: The content knowledge gained through years of education, reading and experience is put to test. Analogies are not restricted to any one subject and thus test vocabulary developed over years of education.

What is the Need of Testing for Analogies?

When a student has to take up a course, he has to show his capabilities and go through a series of tests. Different tests measure your capabilities in English language, quantitative techniques, logical thinking, writing etc. It measures your cognitive thinking skills. These skills help in the following, which are important for any educational course to be completed successfully.

  • Problem solving
  • Reasoning
  • Argumentation

Analogies are helpful to measure the capabilities of students related with reasoning, analysis and inference. According to psychologist Robert Sternberg, solving analogies involves the following components of inductive reasoning

    • Encoding
    • Inference
    • Mapping
    • Application
    • Comparison
    • Justification
    • Response

Moreover, analogical thinking is applied in almost every field of work.

  • Education: To draw similarities among things to explain unfamiliar things to students.
  • Science: To understand, assess and extend scientific theories.
  • Law: To form logical and relevant arguments.
  • Politics: To draw comparisons between present and past situations for taking actions.
  • Philosophy: To explain nature of information, truth or human experience.

MAT Analogy Structure

An analogy contains two pairs of terms, each pair based on the same relationship. The terms are represented as A:B::C:D signifying that A is related to B as C is related to D. The terms are typically words but can be numbers, symbols or word parts as well. One term in a test analogy is missing and it has to be selected form the four given answer options.
The two pairs of terms come from the same subject area, but exceptions do exist, depending on the type of relationships among the terms.

What are Analogy Questions based on?

The kind of relationship that exists between the two given terms is the basis of the relationship between the incomplete pair of terms. Understanding the association in the given pair is basic to solving analogy questions. In most cases, this relationship is obvious at a glance; however, at times one has to analyze deeply to understand the connection.
There exist four basic types of relationships among terms in the analogies

  • Semantic: These are based on meanings of words and definitions of terms. They can be from any part of speech. These questions are further classified into four.
    • Synonym or definition: The terms have similar meanings and show same concepts.
    • Antonyms or contrast: The terms have opposite meanings and explain unlike concepts.
    • Intensity: The terms show different levels/sizes/greatness of the same concept.
    • Meaning: One term shows the meaning of the other.
  • Association: These are based on the connection between different ideas. Nouns are generally used in such questions.
    • Object/Characteristic: The two terms are related on the basis of source, location or attribute.
    • Order: The two terms have reciprocal or sequential relationship. One term can even be the grammatical alteration of the other.
    • Cause/Object: One term causes, uses, requires, creates or depends on the other.
  • Classification: These questions are based on compartmentalization of terms. They can be hierarchically related; one term could be the general category the other belongs to.
    • Group: One term belongs to a group and the other belongs to its subgroup.
    • Membership: Both terms belong to the same group.
    • Whole-Part/Part-Whole: One term is a constituent of the other.
  • Logical: The terms are connected logically. The relation can be of two types
    • Mathematical: One term is mathematically related to the other.
    • Non-semantic: The terms are related on the basis of parts of speech/word parts and letters/sounds.

Content Areas Covered in Analogy Questions

The content areas covered in analogy questions are

    • General Knowledge: The questions are based on life experience, society, work etc.
    • Mathematics: The questions are based on algebra, arithmetic, money, geometry, numbers, probability and statistics. Numbers, symbols, words and their combinations are used as terms. Transformation, order, object/characteristic relationships are the types of relationships used. Some amount of calculations might be required to establish the relationship between the terms given.
    • Humanities: The questions are based on literature, philosophy and fine arts covering authors and their works, philosophers and their ideas and performing arts, visual arts and other fine arts. The types of relationships represented in these questions are basically creator/creation and whole/part.
    • Natural Sciences: Questions are based on biological sciences, physical sciences, history of science. The types of relationships are member/group, agent/object and classification.
    • Language: Questions are based on rhetoric, grammar, word meanings and connotations, word parts, pronunciation and sounds. Three types of relationships are covered under these questions: antonym, synonym and intensity.
  • Social Sciences: Questions are based on economics, geography, political science, psychology and sociology. Many different types of relationships are represented in these questions.

How to Solve Analogies

Following are some tips that help solve analogy questions asked in the test.

    • Do not ignore any answer option. Go through all the answer options. There shall be one or two answer options that can be rejected straightaway, as they are clearly wrong. Generally, two answer options are very close and confusing. Select the best answer option according to the relationship described by the given pair.
    • Concentrate on all the possible meanings of the given words. At times, we tend to stick to the meanings of words as we commonly use them. Keep in mind alternative meanings of each of the given words to understand the relationships being described.
    • In order to better establish the relationships between the given pair, you might have to rearrange them to form a proper sentence.
    • Try to recognize the part of speech that the words belong to. The answer option should be the same part of speech as the corresponding word in the analogy structure.
    • Eliminate the obviously wrong answer choices. This can be done on the basis of the part of speech, the meaning conveyed, obviously weak logic etc.
  • Answer all the questions and deal with the difficult ones later on. All questions carry equal weight and hence there is no point in spending too much time on difficult ones.

Some Noteworthy Points

There are some points that one understands from the test breakdown of MAT.

    • It is a timed test and hence you need to keep a check on your speed. On an average, you shall have to solve each question in 30 seconds. Time management is hence crucial.
    • There is no penalty for wrong answers. Thus, you can afford to make guesses. You should resort to guesses towards the end of the exam when little time is left for you to study the remaining questions.
  • Understanding the relationships on which the test items are based can have a remarkable impact on your performance. Dealing with the questions technically shall be of great help.


It is not necessary that a poor vocabulary shall hamper your chances of success in the test. Though it is important for you to have knowledge of words used in different subject areas, your cognitive abilities are of a greater consequence in the exam. Practice, thus, can smoothen your rough edges and make you score well in MAT.