Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hitting the MAT

Last month I took the Miller Analogies Test (MAT), which not only tests analogical thinking but also general knowledge and cultural literacy in such areas as history, geography, science and literature. Here are some sample questions from the test prep book that I prepared with:

SHAWM : OBOE :: REBEC : (a. trumpet, b. clarinet, c. piano, d. violin)

THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL : THE SCHOOL FOR WIVES :: (a. Sheridan, b. Beaumont, c. Wilde, d. Behan) : MOLIERE

GUNNAR MYRDAL : (a. physics, b. economics, c. medicine, d. history) :: LINUS PAULING : CHEMISTRY

WRIGHT : FALLINGWATER :: SAARINEN : (a. Museum of Modern Art, b. Gateway Arch, c. Washington Monument, d. Golden Gate Bridge)

(a. Kilimanjaro, b. Mount Everest, c. K2, d. Makalu) : KORAKARAM :: MONT BLANC : ALPS

CALVIN CYCLE : GLUCOSE :: CELLULAR RESPIRATION : (a. sucrose, b. H2O, c. carbon, d. ATP)

(a. Balboa, b. Velasquez, c. Chevrolet, d. Cabrillo) : CALIFORNIA :: CADILLAC : MICHIGAN

FREUD : LAING :: VEBLEN : (a. Barthes, b. Keynes, c. Skinner, d. Lorenz)

The questions make me wonder - is all this expected to be general knowledge? Does the average citizen really need this info to get through daily life? Probably not. And in this age of Google and Wikipedia, how much do we actually need to hold in our heads? It's probably more important to know how to search out info than to have it in instant recall. Except when playing Trivial Pursuit, of course.

The prep book had ten practice tests, and it seemed like the more I studied, the worse my score got. But I think it was all helpful, because by comparison the actual test didn't seem as tough. It didn't have as many obscure cultural/historical references as the practice tests did. And I just got my test results: a scaled score of 486, which is in the 99th percentile. Yahoo!


Rob said...

Wow! Good job, man. Always knew you were smart, but that's just crazy.

heather a. goodman said...

Just out of curiosity, why did you take the test?

L.L. Barkat said...

I had the same question as Heather. Nonetheless... congratulations.

Al Hsu said...

Thanks, all. I've applied for a grad program, but I've not been saying much about it because I won't hear if I've been accepted or not for another month or two. I'll probably post more details once I get official word. (Of course, if I don't get in, I might just quietly ignore the topic. :-)

Anonymous said...

I think it was Einstein who said something like "Never remember anything you can just look up." That's a paraphraase but I think it speaks to your point!

Aaron said...

Man I love this blog and read it often but have never commented so I thought I would. I have no idea what those questions were asking! Was it just me? If so then I will gladly say that I am dumb because it all looked like a foreign language to me.

Love your blog bro!


Al Hsu said...

Aaron - The test is asking for folks to complete the analogy; A is to B as C is to D. Here are the answers:

d. violin - a shawm is a medieval oboe, and a rebec is a medieval violin.

a. Sheridan - Richard Brinsley Sheridan wrote The School for Scandal, and Moliere wrote The School for Wives.

b. economics - Gunnar Myrdal was an economist, and Linus Pauling was a chemist.

b. Gateway Arch - Eero Saarinen was the architect that designed the Gateway Arch, and Frank Lloyd Wright was the architect that designed a house called Fallingwater.

c. K2 - K2 is a mountain in the Korakaram range, and Mont Blanc is located in the Alps.

d. ATP - The Calvin cycle produces glucose, and cellular respiration produces ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

d. Cabrillo - Cabrillo was an explorer who discovered/navigated California, and Cadillac first explored what is now Michigan.

b. Keynes - Freud and Laing are both psychologists, and Veblen and Keynes are both economists.

Aaron said...

Oh I get it! Actually I am still pretty lost but I get the concept. Thanks for the clarification.

Grace and Peace,

jentacular said...

Did your score report indicate the number you got right? I'm trying to estimate what my scaled score might be based on the 24 tests I've taken to prepare for the MAT.

Al Hsu said...

I'm afraid the score report didn't give a raw score of how many questions I got correct. If you go to this website:

you'll find a conversion chart that correlates raw scores to scaled scores. It might be a few years old, but it's the best I could find online. Seems to be pretty accurate. It was rather reassuring - taking the practice tests, I felt like I was getting so many wrong (thinking in terms of regular school grades/percentiles), but I guess on the scaled thing, you can get a lot wrong and still have a good score and percentile.

Hope that helps. Good luck on your test!

Josh said...

Great score! I am preparing to take this exam as well. I'm just curious: How did your avg. practice test scores compare to your official score? I seem to be doing 'okay' on the practice tests, but I wonder how accurate they will prove to be once I take the official exam. Thanks.

Al Hsu said...

Josh - It's been a while since I took this, so now I've forgotten what my actual practice test scores were. I think my raw scores on the prep tests were anything from 65 to 80-something out of 100, which felt like I wasn't doing very well (we're so accustomed to thinking of 90s-As, 80s-Bs, 70s-Cs, etc). But apparently on the scaled score this is pretty good.

formations said...

Hey Al,

Thanks for this post. I'll be sure to check out your blog in the future. Did you ever find out how many questions out of the 120 you got correct to get that score? I'm thinking about taking it soon.



Al Hsu said...

Will - I'm afraid I have no idea how many actual questions I scored correctly; they just gave the calculated scaled score, not the raw numbers score. This link gives the best I can find: