What are GRE&Reg; Analogies?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 March 2020
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GRE® analogies are a type of multiple choice question that appear on the Graduate Record Exam® or GRE®. Taking this test may be required as part of the application process for some graduate schools. To correctly answer GRE® analogies, a person needs to have a good understanding of vocabulary and an ability to analogize the relationship between a given pair of words with a second pair from a list of options.

GRE® analogies follow a basic pattern. The question consists of an analogy, such as “LIGHT BULB: ELECTRICITY”. The test-taker must analyze the relationship between these two words; in this particular instance, it is that a light bulb runs on electricity. After determining the relationship, the test-taker must then examine the five multiple choice answers to see which one shares the same relationship. A possible correct answer for this analogy might be “CAR: GAS” since a car runs on gasoline.

If all GRE® analogies were as simple as the above example, most people would ace the test without problems. Unfortunately, several factors contribute to make the analogy section of the test a stumbling block for many people, even those who are proficient writers and readers. Some of the issues that can make this type of question problematic include not understanding the vocabulary, being unable to deduce the relationship from the initial pair of words, and over-analyzing the possible answers.


Good vocabulary is essential to correctly answer GRE® analogies. If a person doesn't understand what a word in either the initial pair or the possible answers means, he or she may not be able to determine the relationship between the words. For instance, in the initial pair “SUPERCILIOUS: DISDAINFUL,” it is important to know that “supercilious” is a synonym for “disdainful.” Without knowing the definition of both words, there is no way to understand the relationship between them.


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