San Diego Jewish Academy
High School Humanities

What is an analogy?

a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based: the analogy between the heart and a pump

When you see an analogy on a test like the PSAT, it will look like this when it is complete:


However, you won't see it complete, you'll see it as half of a relationship puzzle that you need to solve. It will look like this:

(a) store : magazine
(b) rocket : space
(c) paper : writing
(d) chalk : sidewalk
(e) plant : green

How do you solve an analogy?

Determine the clear relationship between the given pair of words (printed in capital letters) and then select another pair of words, from among the five choices, that has exactly the same relationship.

In order to determine the relationship between the given pair of words and find the choice that best matches that relationship, you should:

1. Make a sentence that defines the relationship. It should be a simple sentence that links the two words and illustrates their meaning. For example, looking at the analogy above, we might say: "A ship travels in the ocean."

2. Plug in the choices:
(a) "A store travels in a magazine." (No. Eliminate.)
(b) "A rocket travels in space." (Yes. Could be the best match. Check the rest to make sure.)
(c) "Paper travels in writing." (No. Eliminate.)
(d) "Chalk travels in sidewalk." (No. Eliminate.)
(e) "Plant travels in green." (No. Eliminate.)

Now try the analogy below.

Further helpful hints:

  1. Your test sentence does not have to move from left to right. It could move from right to left. Just be sure you plug in the choices in the same order!
  2. Write your simple test sentence next to the analogy so that you don't forget it.
  3. Use the process of elimination. Quickly check all answers to determine the BEST one! Cross out the unrelated pairs.

(f) brick : house
(g) words : poet
(h) bust : portrait
(i) scalpel : surgeon
(j) mine : ore

information adapted from Robinson, Adam and John Katzman. The Princeton Review: Cracking the GRE, 1998 Edition. New York: Random House, 1997.

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