Verbal Analogy Questions

The purpose of verbal analogy tests is to assess your verbal reasoning ability. They concentrate on relationships, specifically the relationship of one word to another and therefore of one idea to another. As a result, they do not usually include difficult or problematic vocabulary words - most of the words used will be familiar to you.

Verbal analogy questions are designed so that one or two words are missing and you are given choices from which you must complete the analogy. Solving the analogy problem involves three separate processes.

  1. You have to understand the meaning of the question words.

  2. You have to determine the relationship between the words.

  3. You have to be able to complete the analogy so that each pair of words has the same relationship.

 

Verbal analogies are sometimes written in abbreviated form using symbols like those used to describe a mathematical ratio. In an analogy, a colon represents the words "is to". For example "success : passed" should be read as "success is to passed".

Similarly, two colons "::" should be read as "in the same way as", this is sometimes abbreviated to "in the same way as". For example "sail : cloth :: oar : wood" means that "sail is to cloth in the same way as oar is to wood. This is true because a sail is made of cloth and an oar is made of wood.

Verbal analogies can be classified into specific categories. For example; materials, taxonomic relationships, temporal relationships, parts of speech etc. The list is almost endless. Be sure that you understand what an analogy is before you start. Every analogy expresses a relationship between two things. It is this relationship that you must understand as you look at the options required to complete the analogy.

First try to understand the relationships expressed in the question words. Then choose your answer so that the relationship in the first pair of words is similar to the relationship in the second pair of words in terms of meaning, order and function.

Check that the parts of speech used in the two sections of analogy are consistent and follow in the same sequence. For example, if the first pair of words contains an adjective and a noun in that order, then the second pair of words must contain an adjective and a noun in the same order. Test designers are very fond of offering answer options which initially seem credible but where this golden rule is broken.

Example verbal analogy questions.

1) note : bar

A B C D
word : sentence writing : paper picture : pencil word : letter  A      B     C     D

 

In the verbal analogy question above, a (musical) note is a component of a bar (of music). Option A is correct as a word is a component of a sentence. Note that option D would be correct also if it was reversed - a letter is a component of a word but a word is not a component of a letter.

Another type of verbal analogy question assesses your ability to identify the relationship between a group of words. You can then select the word from the answer option which best fits with the group.

1) capital, arch, column

 

A B C D
pilaster edifice bridge temple

 

The fact that many words in English have multiple meanings can make these questions tricky. In this example, the word "capital" has about sixteen separate meanings, "arch" has about ten separate meanings and "column" has about seven separate meanings. However, capital, arch, column are all architectural features which can be found on buildings. Answer A is obviously the only word in the answer group which shares this characteristic.

Word Relationship

Verbal analogy questions appear in nearly all levels of verbal ability tests although the vocabulary will tend to be more extensive in tests aimed at graduate and management level. The important thing to remember is that there is often more than one possible answer but you are looking for the word which best completes the analogy or group.

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