How to study for the Miller Analogies Test.
[stay tuned – I will be putting my thoughts here later today]
EDIT (Jan. 12, 2011): See comment below, my ideas are there. Good luck!
A penny for your thoughts, sir?
I’ve got some ideas. But I don’t want to go off half-cocked. My thinking is based along exactly what the heck the MAT is supposed to test – specifically, analogies (duh!). But there have to be activities, games, etc. that would help one get the hang of starting to work with analogies. Okay, look, I know that the MAT doesn’t just test your AHA! level, it tests all the mental, analytical skills that you’ve spent all your years up to the moment of taking the test working on. When you think about what an analogy does, it (1) makes demands on your working memory capacity and your vocabulary; (2) it taxes your ability to hold two competing ideas in your head at the same time, which you have to do to compare one analogy (A:B) to another (C:D), so you can figure out any part of A:B::C:D.; (3) it measures your ability to actually analyze and solve the analogy.
Now I know that the Barron’s MAT review book just throws a whole bunch of analogies tests at you, and you practice those, and that’s good. BUT – and here’s the kicker – it’s just a test of your analytical skills NOW. It doesn’t IMPROVE your skills any, really, although it does give you an idea of what to expect on the test, and thus, by making you calm right before the test (or “calmer”, I should say), you’ll definitely score higher.
What kinds of games can one do to improve one’s analogies skills? What comes to mind is a long-term practice schedule, say, over four to six months. Like practicing for a marathon. Although, really, the BEST thing to be is an intelligent individual who has a college degree, and did well in school. And if you weren’t, why are you bothering with taking an exam whose purpose is to gain entrance to graduate school? You think grad school will be any easier than college? Really?
Here are some “games” that might help one “sharpen” their skills. And these crazy suggestions are based on trying to match the kind of thinking that would be required/tasked on the actual MAT exam. And, no more than 15 – 20 minutes a day on a single one of these. You’re just sharpening your analytical skills to get a bit of extra edge – you won’t be able to magically go from IQ 100 to IQ 200! That is NOT going to happen. But every little “edge” counts, and you don’t get penalized for working out your “brain muscles”. Here goes:
(1) New York Times weekday crossword puzzles. Monday’s is easiest, Friday’s is hardest. Forget the weekends, weekends are for having fun. Maximum time on each puzzle: 15 – 20 minutes, TOPS. Do NOT waste your time trying to be perfect and finish it all, no one is perfect, few people can finish an entire puzzle. (Although back in the day, I got to where I could hop on the train to work and finish one in 15 minutes.)
(2) Vocabulary study. The best thing would be to bone up on SAT-type vocabulary words. Better yet (and you will laugh/shudder when I suggest this): Get a copy of Webster’s Third (or currently Fourth) New World College dictionary, and READ A PAGE, chosen at random, every day. Read the words, their definitions, savor them mentally, surprise yourself on now knowing the definition of a word you thought you knew well, but didn’t. But don’t try to go mental and memorize the whole dictionary. You won’t. If the dictionary people could create an app that would give you word after word, at random, along with their definitions, that would be best.
(3) A game like “Memory”, where you flip over two cards, if they are the same, you remove them from the table (or PC screen), if not, you turn them back over and try two more. Versions of “Memory” can probably be downloaded for free off the Web.
(4) Read more. ANYTHING. Just read. Become addicted to reading. Ever lament the fact that you never read “Moby Dick” or “Of Mice and Men” or “David Copperfield” in high school? Here’s your chance.
(5) Write, if you’re still in school. Maybe just a paragraph or two on a topic you’ve had to study. Take a writing seminar, they have those now in college, I think they’re called “Little Red Schoolhouse”, or some such nonsense.
The MAT isn’t a test you can really “game” or cheat. It is the culmination of a student’s entire life in school, all those years in high school and college, learning this and that, reading this and that, writing papers, etc. And the MAT also has a slight bias in that it does pull, on a few questions, on one’s knowledge of Western civilization (famous musicians, artists, leaders, historical events, etc.) But you can, I believe, “get an edge” by practicing your brain muscles, Monday through Friday, 15 – 20 minutes a day, for 4 to 6 months before the exam.
Such are my crazy thoughts. Take them with a grain of salt, consult a medical doctor before attempting, you assume the risk, I was never here, yadda yadda yadda.
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