Practice Problems
Practice Problems
Okay, it’s time to apply what you’ve learned to an Analogies practice set. If your vocabulary is smokin’ and you can power through these using only Steps 1–3 of our step method, fantastic. If you need some of the extra ammunition we’ve provided to get you through, that’s fine too—whatever gets the point. Don’t forget to thoroughly review the explanations that follow the set.

Directions: In each of the following questions, a related pair of words or phrases is followed by five pairs of words or phrases. Select the pair that best expresses a relationship similar to that expressed in the original pair.

(A) tailor : robe
(B) sycophant : passion
(C) pariah : friendship
(D) anarchist : government
(E) firefighter : safety
(A) frenetic : fascination
(B) money : compensation
(C) data : dossier
(D) cabbage : vegetable
(E) burning : sensation
(A) passive : forward
(B) sociable : affable
(C) causal : remorseful
(D) taciturn : auspicious
(E) outmoded : contemporary
(A) charlatan : hoax
(B) traitor : fidelity
(C) platoon : squad
(D) savant : gumption
(E) coward : courage
(A) sermon : morality
(B) existentialism : philosophy
(C) newspaper : editorial
(D) desiccant : moisture
(E) institution : assignment
Guided Explanations
1. D
Step 1: Connect the Dots. An iconoclast is a person who attacks traditional ideas, so we have an Action relationship in this pair: An iconoclast opposes convention. Notice that we could term this an Attribute analogy, in the sense that defying convention is inherent in being an iconoclast. Don’t get hung up on the terminology—the Analogy types we discussed are meant to make it easier to recognize the patterns that show up on the test, and they may overlap in some cases.
Step 2: Create a Template. “X opposes Y” is a straightforward generalization of the connection we uncovered.
Step 3: Make the Match. A tailor may create or modify a robe but wouldn’t oppose one, so eliminate A. Sycophant is a hard word, so let’s keep B on the table while we see what else we have to work with. A pariah is a recluse or an outsider, but not necessarily by choice. It therefore doesn’t work to say that a pariah opposes friendship in the same way that an iconoclast opposes convention, so we can cross off C as close but no cigar. D matches perfectly, however: An anarchist opposes government as part of his or her nature in the same way as the iconoclast’s nature is to oppose convention. As for E, firefighter and safety are too closely related to fit our template.
You should feel confident enough about D to select it and move on, without even worrying about the choice we skipped. It’s actually nice to not have to worry about a difficult word like sycophant in B. Having confidence in a choice that works is another way to get around difficult vocabulary words, both in Analogy and Antonym questions. In case you were wondering, a sycophant is a person who tries to win favor through flattery, so the relationship between that word and passion is fairly ambiguous. If you did know the meaning of sycophant, you could have chopped B from the get-go as a weak link.
2. E
Step 1: Connect the Dots. This one may not seem too difficult at first glance, but sometimes the seeming simplicity of a relationship between the words of the original pair may cause you to jump at a connection that’s too broad. Anguish is a type of emotion, so that may have been the gist of the connection you formed.
Step 2: Create a Template. We saw in Step 1 that the words fall into the Category type, so you may have settled on “X is a type of Y” for your template.
Step 3: Make the Match. We can quickly chop A as a Weak Link choice, since there’s no strong or obvious connection between frenetic (“chaotic,” “hectic”) and fascination. And our template helps us axe C, since data may be contained in a dossier (“report,” “database”) but can’t be said to be a type of dossier. But that’s where we run into trouble, since B, D, and E all fit our template perfectly. That means we’ll have to move on to Step 4—which is, after all, why it’s there.
Step 4: Narrow the Connection. We know the connection we formed in Step 1 and generalized in Step 2 is too broad because it encompasses three different choices. We’ll therefore need to get more specific. Anguish is not just any old kind of emotion; it’s an intense and unpleasant type of emotion. Does that help? You bet: While some people—children especially—might argue that cabbage is an intense and unpleasant type of vegetable, the GRE test makers would never go with such a loose connection for the right answer to an Analogy question, so D is incorrect. And of course there’s a better choice that’s spot on anyway: Burning is an intense and unpleasant sensation in the same way that anguish is an intense and unpleasant emotion. Money, for most people, is a pleasant form of compensation, so B doesn’t fit our narrowed parameters. All it took was narrowing the connection a bit to find the right answer. Select E and move on.
3. B
Step 1: Connect the Dots. To demonstrate some of the other strategies presented in this chapter, let’s assume that you have some trouble with the words in this question. If you don’t know the meaning of covert and/or surreptitious, you can’t very well form a connection, can you? But as we’ve demonstrated, all is not lost, so let’s see how we might sneak around this temporary setback.
Step 2: Create a Template. Since we’re assuming we don’t know the words, we have nothing to form a template, so we’ll get right to Step 3.
Step 3: Make the Match. Let’s use our “Work Backward” strategy to see if we can eliminate some choices or deduce anything about the relationship in the original pair. Casual and remorseful aren’t particularly difficult words, so perhaps you noticed that there’s no solid connection between being informal/relaxed and being sad. So we can chop C as a weak link, immediately shifting the odds in our favor. Now, perhaps you noticed something interesting about the pairs in A and E: They both contain antonyms. Being passive is the opposite of being forward, and being outmoded (“obsolete,” “out-of-date,” “passé”) is the opposite of being contemporary (“fashionable,” “current,” “modern”). Since A and E contain the same exact kind of relationship, neither can be correct since we’d have no way to choose between them. That means that we can eliminate A and E, and also tells us that the words in the original pair can’t be antonyms.
We’ve deduced that A, C, and E are all unlikely to be correct. At this point you may know the words in B and D sufficiently well to choose between them; if not, then it’s a toss-up between those as you take your best guess. Notice that even if you don’t know what covert, surreptitious, affable, taciturn, or auspicious means, you can still use a bit of strategy to give yourself a fifty-fifty chance—not bad if you crashed and burned on the vocabulary front.
In case you’re wondering, B is correct because covert and surreptitious are synonyms, both meaning “secret” or “stealthy.” Sociable and affable are synonyms as well, both meaning “friendly” or “outgoing.” As for D, taciturn means “quiet” or “introverted” and thus has no direct connection to auspicious, which means “favorable” or “promising.”
Don’t get us wrong—knowing the vocab is clearly the most effective way to go, but most test takers encounter words they don’t know at some point on Analogy questions, and it’s helpful to have a few techniques at your disposal to help you narrow the field to make an informed guess. If you found yourself baffled at some of the words in this one, then a guess between B and D would be pretty good under the circumstances.
4. E
We’ll demonstrate this one from both directions: first as if you’re good with the vocab, and then working backward from the choices in case you had some trouble.
Step 1: Connect the Dots. A glutton is someone who eats or drinks to excess, and if you knew that, you’d have little trouble connecting the dots: A glutton lacks willpower, which is a fine example of an Attribute analogy stated in the negative.
Step 2: Create a Template. “An X lacks Y” is a fine template for the connection from Step 1; so without further ado, let’s make the match.
Step 3: Make the Match. A coward lacks courage. This fits the template perfectly. The only other choice that fits the template at all is B: a traitor lacks fidelity. However, faced with these two possibilities, E is the better choice because just like the original, it speaks to a lack of a personal quality leading to the degradation of the individual lacking that quality. In contrast, the traitor lacks fidelity to another person or cause, not to himself or herself, so the match isn’t as complete. E gets the point.
Working Backward
In the best-case scenario, an Analogy question need not be any more difficult than this—if, of course, you know the meaning of the words in question. If you didn’t know the words here, then your encounter with question 4 might have gone a little something like this—
“Glutton? What’s that? Who knows . . . Wait—I do know what willpower means; that’s what I use to stop myself from eating all that chocolate. I can’t form a connection, but let me see if I can work backward from the choices . . .
This line of thinking is right on the mark, making the best of a difficult situation. Beginning with A, a charlatan perpetrates a hoax. Even if you didn’t know what glutton means, is it likely that a glutton perpetrates a willpower? Um . . . no. As for B, a traitor lacks fidelity (loyalty), and the unknown glutton could lack willpower (something many of us lack), so we’ll hold on to that one for now. Choice C serves up a Composition-type connection: A platoon is made up of squads. Can anything be made up of willpower? Doesn’t sound likely, so eliminate C. In D, a savant is a really smart person, which has nothing directly to do with gumption (“guts,” “bravery”), so we’ll chop that one as a weak link. (Remember: No choice that contains words ambiguously related to each other can be correct in an Analogy question.) That leaves E: A coward lacks courage, and we decided earlier that the unknown word could possibly lack willpower, so E could logically work. So even if you were hazy on the meaning of glutton, you could still use the strategies we’ve discussed to narrow down the choices to B and E. As we saw in our first explanation to this one, E is the choice that works best.
5. A
Step 1: Connect the Dots. It’s likely that you know the meaning of the words in the original, so let’s work forward from those. The pair is a good example of a Function relationship, as the purpose of propaganda is to influence opinion.
Step 2: Create a Template. We can replace the specifics with X and Y to form this template: “The purpose of X is to influence Y.”
Step 3: Make the Match. A fits the template, as it’s appropriate to say that the purpose of a sermon is to influence morality. But let’s check to see if anything better comes along. Existentialism is a type of philosophy, so B exhibits a different relationship than that of the original pair. Be careful of C: Newspaper and propaganda sound related in some way, as does opinion and editorial. Sometimes the test makers get tricky and try to fool you into selecting a choice with words that remind you of the words in the original, but the connection between the words in C doesn’t mimic the connection of the original pair: A newspaper may contain an editorial, but we wouldn’t say that the purpose of a newspaper is to influence editorials. D is closer, since its words do fall into the Function category: The purpose of a desiccant (“drying agent”) is to remove moisture. If instead of using the word influence in your template, your template says “the purpose of X is to do something to Y,” then D might look as good as A, and you’d need to employ Step 4 of our method to narrow the connection. But as it stands, A is right in line with the template we formed in Step 2, while D is not, so we can eliminate D as close but not a perfect match. E is easier to discard; it’s a Weak Link choice since there’s no direct connection between institution and assignment.
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