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Decisions: GRE or MAT?

What if I told you that there was an alternative to the GRE that included no essays, almost no math, was administered in less than one-third of the time and offered for less than half of the cost? If you’re a liberal arts grad like me, you’d probably be rather excited about this incredible entrance requirement alternative! Well, this exam already exists. It’s called the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) and it is accepted by hundreds of graduate schools across the country, primarily for acceptance to programs with focuses in the humanities and social sciences.

The MAT is a 60-minute computer-administered exam consisting of 120 four-part analogy questions, where applicants must select one of four choices that best complete the proposed analogy. These analogies test a number of subjects including vocabulary, social sciences, mathematics, natural sciences, arts, literature, and music among other topics. Due to this minimalist format, the exam eschews long-form problem solving or writing skills in favor of rewarding esoteric logic, quick thinking, and broad cultural knowledge.


Do Your Target Schools Accept the MAT?
This is the first and most important consideration, when deciding whether to take the MAT. Obviously, most prospective graduate students have specific programs they are targeting and those schools may or may not accept this lesser-known exam.

Let’s begin by discussing programs that generally won’t accept the MAT for their standardized testing requirement. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degree programs most often will not accept the MAT due to its lack of mathematics content. Of course, if you were a STEM major in college, it’s unlikely that the GRE Quantitative section represents a major challenge that you are looking to avoid. However for post-graduate degrees that do not have a mathematics component, the MAT is gaining some acceptance as an alternative test. So, if you are experiencing anxiety about completing the GRE with any degree of success, especially the Quantitative section, it is well worth emailing or calling your target schools’ admissions offices to see if the MAT is a viable option.

How to Prepare for the MAT

Because the MAT is such a basic exam, preparation usually takes less time than what is ideal for the GRE. In general, an 8-12 week prep plan is the minimum recommended amount of time needed to prepare for the GRE, but that can often be halved for the MAT for a couple of reasons. First, the question format requires less process-based instruction since there is only one question type to prepare for. Second, the exam content is generally learned over time by rote memorization of certain abstract facts, which often can only be retained for a finite period. In short, the MAT is, quite possibly, the only grad school exam you can cram. There are, of course, even helpful apps, like this MAT prep solution from Pocket Prep, to help you do that.

That said, the format is not simply a straightforward A is to B as C is to D analogy, and there are traps that can be identified with some practice. MyGuru offers in-person and online MAT tutoring to assist students in preparing for this unique test by utilizing official practice tests from Pearson and our extensive experience in helping students understand, identify, and break down analogies. If you want a less strenuous testing experience, and your school accepts the exam, consider the Miller Analogies Test!

About the Author

Stefan Maisnier is the Director of Online Tutoring at MyGuru and MyGuru’s top Miller Analogies Test tutor. He has been tutoring graduate school candidates for more than a decade since even before he earned his Masters of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University.