Terms you’ll need to know:
Concepts you’ll need to master:
✓ Establishing a clear relationship between words
✓ Setting up a general relationship sentence
✓ Identifying and using relationship types
✓ Eliminating obviously incorrect answers
An analogy is a comparison of two things that seem unrelated, but are actually related or similar to each other in some respect. The Analogies section is designed to test your ability to recognize these relationships between words and successfully identify parallel relationships. Answering Analogies
Questions in this section will include a pair of words in all capital letters, followed by five lettered pairs of words. You will be required to identify the answer choice that expresses a relationship most similar to that expressed in the original pair. Following is an example of an analogy question similar to those found on the GRE General Test, along with a detailed explanation:
APPRENTICE : PLUMBER ::
(A) player : coach
(B) child : parent
(C) student : teacher
(D) author : publisher
(E) intern : doctor
The first step is to establish the relationship between the words in the original pair. An “apprentice” is typically someone who studies or trains to become a “plumber” or some other tradesperson or professional. Likewise, an “intern” trains to become a “doctor,” so answer choice E is correct.
Although a “player” could train to become a “coach” and a “student” could train to become a “teacher,” other, more plausible relationships exist between those words. Therefore, answer choices A and C are not correct. A “child” could eventually become a “parent,” but would not likely study or train to become a “parent,” so answer choice B is incorrect. Likewise, an “author” could become a “publisher,” but there is no direct, logical connection between first being an author, and then becoming a publisher.
The colons in each pair represent placeholders in an analogy phrase. For example:
“AREA : ACRE ::” can be stated as “Area is to Acre as _____ is to _____.”
Several strategies can help you to correctly answer analogy questions. Following is a description of those strategies we have found most helpful:
➤ Establish the relationship
➤ Create a general sentence
➤ Use the correct part of speech
➤ Beware of homonyms
➤ Recognize common relationship types
➤ Use the process of elimination
➤ Select the best answer
Establish the Relationship
Before you look at any of the answer choices, attempt to express the relationship between the original pair in your own words. If you can establish a precise connection between the words, you will most likely select the best answer choice.
Create a General Sentence
One successful technique is to create a sentence that expresses a specific relationship between the stem words, and then replace the original words from your sentence with the words in the answer choices. You should look for the most simple relationship first. If more than one answer choice expresses the same relationship, you might have to revise your original sentence to indicate a more explicit connection between the words. For example:
MUSICIAN : ORCHESTRA ::
(A) mechanic : car
(B) songwriter : lyrics
(C) desk : office
(D) player : team
(E) actor : screen
Ask yourself what a musician has to do with an orchestra. A musician playsin an orchestra. Or more specifically, a musician plays an instrument as one part of an orchestra as a whole.
Your general sentence becomes “A ____ does the ANALOGY uses only logically strong relationships. If you find yourself saying things like “this could be true” or “sometimes this happens,” the relationship, and thus your answer, is probably incorrect. Try for a relationship that must be true or is true all of the time. Something as one part of a ___ as a whole.”
The correct answer is D: A player participates as one part of a team as a whole. Although answer choice B includes words related to music, the exact relationship is not the same as the relationship in the question stem; a “songwriter” does not participate as one part of “lyrics” as a whole. Likewise, the remaining answer choices do not fit logically into the general sentence that you created. A “mechanic” does not do something as one part of a “car” as a whole. Although a “desk” might be considered one part of an “office,” a “desk” is an inanimate object, so it does not do something as one part of an “office” as a whole. An “actor” is portrayed on the “screen,” but an “actor” does not do something as one part of a “screen” as a whole.
Use the Correct Part of Speech
Don’t forget about other possible, secondary meanings of words. If you are having trouble creating a sentence, you might be thinking of the wrong definition or part of speech. The questions will always ask you to compare the same parts of speech. For example, if one of the words in the original pair can be used as either a noun or a verb, all of the corresponding words in the answer choices will be either nouns or verbs, but not both. You can let the answer choices guide you in this way. Consider the following example:
CORRAL : LIVESTOCK ::
(A) fence : posts
(B) capture : thieves
(C) nest : birds
(D) devise : plans
(E) fire : employees
At first glance, you might have created a general sentence such as “A corral is an enclosure for livestock.” However, none of the answer choices fits logically into that sentence. Because “corral” is also a verb that means “to take control or possession of,” you must now consider this secondary meaning. A closer look at the answer choices shows you that the first word in the pair is either a verb, or a word that can be used as a verb or a noun. Create another sentence using “corral” as a verb: “The rancher was unable to corral his livestock after they escaped.” Manipulate the sentence slightly, as follows:
“The police officer was unable to capture the thieves after they escaped.”
The remaining answer choices do not fit logically into this general sentence.
Beware of Homonyms
Be aware of homonyms, which are words that sound alike but have different meanings. For example, “mettle” is a noun meaning “courage or fortitude,” whereas “meddle” is ...