Wednesday, June 07, 2006

GRE -- Tips for Analogies


A). SYNONYMS - Synonyms are words that have similar meanings. True synonyms are from the same part of speech.

However, we will also classify as synonyms words which have similar meaning but come from different parts of speech,
for example: UNRULY (adjective) : LAWLESSNESS (noun).

(A) ardent : quickness
(B) warm : temperature
(C) wealthy : scarcity
(D) rapacious : magnanimity
(E) churlish : enmity

PERSPICACIOUS and INSIGHT are synonyms, both mean "sharp, keen of mind." Similarly, CHURLISH and ENMITY are synonyms; both mean "dislike, rudeness." The answer is (E).

B). ANTONYMS - Antonyms are words that have opposite meanings. Just as there are few (if any) exact synonyms, there are few (if any) exact antonyms.

In the antonym pair EGOIST : ALTRUISM, an EGOIST is one who thinks only of himself, whereas ALTRUISM is characteristic of one who thinks of all humanity.

Often, however, the antonym pair are direct opposites as in the pair REMAIN : DEPART.

(A) naive : harmony
(B) incomparable : equal
(C) improper : vacillation
(D) eccentric : intensity
(E) random : recidivism

UNPRECEDENTED means "without PREVIOUS OCCURRENCE." Similarly, INCOMPARABLE means "without EQUAL." The answer is (B).

Note: In the other answer-pairs there is no clear relationship between the words. Hence, this problem can also be solved by elimination, without even knowing the meanings of the original pair.

C). MEMBER AND CLASS - Member and class analogies are usually easy problems (the first third of an analogy section). In this type of analogy, the first word may be an element of the class that the second word describes, or vice versa. This category can also be classified as "Type Of."

(A) dolphin : fish
(B) eagle : talon
(C) boa constrictor : backbone
(D) penguin : bird
(E) bat : insect

A SNAKE is a type of INVERTEBRATE; likewise a PENGUIN is a type of BIRD. The answer is (D).
Beware of choice (C). It's an eye-catcher. Although a BOA CONSTRICTOR is a SNAKE, it, like all snakes, does not have a BACKBONE.

D). DEGREE OF INTENSITY - The writers of the GRE consider these problems to be hard. However, once you get used to them, they can become routine. In a degree-of-intensity analogy, the two words express a similar concept, but one word is stronger, harsher, or more intense than the other.

(A) faith : caprice
(B) nonchalance : insouciance
(C) diligence : assiduity
(D) decimation : annihilation
(E) alacrity: procrastination

OBSESSION is extreme, unending INTEREST. Similarly, ANNIHILATION is complete DECIMATION. The answer is (D).

Note, DECIMATION does not mean complete destruction; it literally means the destruction of one tenth of a population. By extension, it means widespread, but not complete, destruction.

Note, the degree of intensity in the answer-pair must be the same as in the original pair. In the pair INTEREST : OBSESSION the degree of intensity is from moderate to extreme; the same is true of the pair DECIMATION: ANNIHILATION .

E). PART TO WHOLE - In this type of analogy, the first word is part of the second word. The order can also be whole to part.

Example: ACTORS : TROUPE ::
(A) plotters : cabal
(B) professors : tenure
(C) workers : bourgeoisie
(D) diplomats : government
(E) directors : cast

A TROUPE is a group of ACTORS. Similarly, a CABAL is a group of PLOTTERS. The answer is (A).

Be wary of the pair DIRECTORS : CAST it's an eye-catcher: CAST reminds one of TROUPE. In fact, a TROUPE is a CAST.

F). DEFINITION - This is probably the most common type of analogy problem. In a definitional analogy one of the words can be used to define the other.


(A) mountain : avalanche
(B) book : paper
(C) vault : trifles
(D) sanctuary : refuge
(E) sea : waves

By definition, a coffer is a container in which to store valuables. Similarly, a SANCTUARY is by definition a place of REFUGE. The answer is (D).

Sometimes the definition is only partial: stating only one of the characteristics of the word.

Example: LION : CARNIVORE ::
(A) man : vegetarian
(B) ape : ponderer
(C) lizard : mammal
(D) buffalo : omnivore
(E) shark : scavenger

A defining characteristic of a LION is that it is CARNIVOROUS, meat-eating. Similarly, a defining characteristic of a SHARK is that it is a SCAVENGER. The answer is (E).

G). LACK OF - This sub-category of the definition type of analogy is important and common enough to warrant a name. In this type of analogy one word describes the absence of the other word.

(A) enervated : ennui
(B) buoyant : effervescence
(C) amoral : ethics
(D) munificent : altruism
(E) nefarious : turpitude

DISHEARTENED means without HOPE. Likewise, AMORAL means without ETHICS. The answer is (C). Note, AMORAL does not mean immoral. If you commit an AMORAL act, you are not aware that you actions are unethical; whereas if you commit an immoral act, then you realize that your actions are wrong.

H). MANNER - This type of analogy describes the manner, way, or style by which an action is accomplished.

Example: PRATTLE : SPEAK ::
(A) accept : reject
(B) stomp : patter
(C) heed : listen
(D) promenade : walk
(E) ejaculate : shout

PRATTLE means to SPEAK in an idle, casual manner. Similarly, PROMENADE means to WALK in a casual manner. The answer is (D).

Note, the pair EJACULATE : SHOUT is an eye-catcher since both words describe a manner of speaking.

I). FUNCTION - This type of analogy describes the purpose or function of something.

(A) demonstration : manifestation
(B) pacemaker : heartbeat
(C) sanction : recall
(D) rhetoric : treatise
(E) impasse : fruition

A MNEMONIC functions to aid MEMORY. Similarly, a PACEMAKER aids in the regulation of one's HEARTBEAT. The answer is (B).

J). ACTION & SIGNIFICANCE In this type of analogy one word describes an action and the other word indicates the significance of the action.

(A) assume : disguise
(B) bestir : deferment
(C) fret : contentment
(D) forgo : diversion
(E) fidget : uneasiness

A CURTSY (bow) is a sign of REVERENCE. Similarly, FIDGETING is a sign of UNEASINESS The answer is (E).

K). PERTAINING TO - In this type of analogy, one word refers to the category or class the other word belongs to. An example will illustrate.

Example: DIDACTIC : TEACH ::

(A) specious : revile
(B) cunning : steal
(C) forensic : debate
(D) troubled : broach
(E) puissant : injure

DIDACTIC refers to the teaching process. Similarly, FORENSIC refers to the debating process. The answer is (C).

L). SYMBOL & REPRESENTATION - In this type of analogy, one word stands for or represents a concept, action, or thing. An example will illustrate.

Example: CARET : INSERT::
(A) colon : sever

(B) pie : exponentiate
(C) gun : lance
(D) period : stop
(E) scalpel : delete

A CARET (^) is an editing symbol that indicates where a word should be INSERTED. Similarly, a PERIOD is a grammatical symbol indicating a STOP. The answer is (D).

Link to GRE Analogies questions --