- A. Introduction and Basic Strategy
- B. Summary of general strategy for solving analogy problems
- C. Common relationships
- D. Practice section
- E. Additional hints for solving analogy problems
A. Introduction and Basic Strategy
The analogy section tests not only your vocabulary skills, but also your ability to identify the relationship between words. You are given a pair of words that have a certain logical relationship to each other. You then must choose a pair of words that has the same logical relationship as the original pair. You are given five pairs of words from which to choose. Let’s look at an extremely simple example.
1. KITTEN : CAT ::
A) bird : flock
B) duck : goose
C) puppy : dog
D) mare : horse
E) child : adult
What are we asked to do? To tackle analogy questions, first read the initial pair of words, substituting words for the colons. The first colon (:) is translated “is to” and the two colons (::) are translated “as”. So for this example, we read the question as “kitten is to cat as…” Next, we need to define the relationship between this pair of words. What is the relationship between kitten and cat? A kitten is a young cat. So, the relationship between the words is that the first word of the pair is the name for the young of the second word. Because analogy problems require us to look for a pair of words that have the same relationship has the initial two words, we are looking for a pair in which the first word of the pair is the name for the young of the second word. Once you have determined the relationship between the given pair of words and state it in your mind in sentence form (a kitten is a young cat), read through the answer choices substituting the possible pairs into the same sentence you have created to describe the initial pair. Let’s work through the answer choices. Is a bird a young flock? No, this does not make sense. The relationship for this pair is that of a group of birds are called a flock. Is a duck a young goose? No, these are different animals. Is a puppy a young dog? Yes, this makes sense, but let’s still look at the remaining choices to be sure. Is a mare a young horse? No, a mare is a female horse, young or old. Is a child a young adult? Now this one may seem a little tricky, because a child will eventually age to become an adult, but we are not looking for the relationship of young to old, we are instead looking for the relationship of young of some kind of animal to that animal. If instead the answer choice was child : human, then this relationship would be similar to that of kitten : cat, since child is the young of humans, and we would need to consider this choice further. In this case, however, the pair of words that exhibits the most similar logical relationship is choice C, giving us the completed analogy, kitten is to cat as puppy is to dog.
Note: it is extremely important to substitute the pairs of words into your sentence in the same order in which they are given. For example, if the answer choice was dog : puppy, we would substitute this into our original sentence as a dog is a young puppy, and this would not make sense. Maintaining the same order for the two words in a pair when substituting into your sentence describing the relationship is a very critical point to remember when solving these problems.
The logical relationship between the given pair of words is sometimes obvious, but other times it may be more obscure, requiring you to be able to discern subtleties of meaning. Even with the most difficult analogies, your strategy should be to create a sentence that defines the logical relationship between the given pair of words. The best sentence will explain the relationship explicitly and precisely. The more precise your sentence, the easier it will be to select the answer choice with the two words that have the most similar logical relationship. If your sentence is too general, it is possible that more than one of the answer choices would fit into that sentence. If more than one answer choice fits into your sentence, read through the original pair of words again and make your sentence more specific. Let’s look at an example.
2. CARPENTER : HAMMER ::
A. painter : paint
B. pilot : airplane
C. philosopher : books
D. plumber : wrench
E. chef : apron
We are trying to create a sentence that describes a relationship between the words carpenter and hammer. Let’s say we use the sentence, “A carpenter uses a hammer.” Now let’s look at the answer choices. Does a painter use paint? Yes. Does a pilot use an airplane? Well, a pilot flies an airplane, so maybe this could be thought of as a type of use. Does a philosopher use books? Well, a philosopher might read books, so this might be a use. Does a plumber use a wrench? Yes. Does a chef use an apron? Again, yes. You see that by using an imprecise sentence to describe our original pair of words, we have not been very successful in eliminating incorrect word pairs. If we go back to the original word pair, we can make our sentence more precise as, “A carpenter uses a hammer as a tool.” Now if we work through the answer choices substituting each word pair into our new sentence, we see that the only pair that can be substituted is choice D, a plumber uses a wrench as a tool. Thus, our analogy becomes carpenter is to hammer as plumber is to wrench.
B. Summary of general strategy for solving analogy problems
Read the initial pair of words, substituting words for the colons. The first colon (:) is translated “is to” and the two colons (::) are translated “as”.
Define the relationship between the pair of words.
Once you have determined the relationship between the given pair of words, state it in your mind in sentence form.
Read through the answer choices substituting the possible pairs into the same sentence you have created to describe the initial pair.
If you cannot eliminate answer choices, or more than one answer choice seems to fit into the sentence you have created, make your sentence describing the relationship between the two words more precise and work through the answer choices again.