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Principles and analogies | Quick guide

Which choice is analogous?

One way to demonstrate an understanding of an argument presented in a passage is by recognizing another argument as structurally similar. We call questions that test this ability discovering principles and analogies questions. These questions will direct you to something specific in the text and ask you to find something similar to it among the choices.


The two subtypes of this question type are principles and analogies. Analogy questions ask you to identify a situation that is analogous to the one described in the passage. Principle questions ask you to identify the principle that is at work.



  • “Which one of the following situations is most analogous to the one introduced in the second sentence of the passage?”
  • “Which one of the following hypothetical situations is most analogous to the description in the passage of _____?”


  • “The rationale for _____ as it is described in the passage is most consistent with which one of the following principles?”


Put it in your own words: It’s important to sum up the plan, idea, argument or principle in question in simple, broad terms before you try to find an analogous example.
Disprove the choices: Once you feel like you have a good handle on the idea itself, then head to the choices. It’s always easier to disprove wrong choices one-by-one than to search for the correct one, and that’s especially true for principles and analogies questions.
For each choice, ask yourself: why isn’t this analogous? Or, why doesn’t this match the principle from the passage? Does it make a logical leap that isn’t found in the passage? Do the mechanics of the argument work differently? The correct choice will be the one you can’t disprove.

Common wrong choice types

Wrong choices for this question type don’t really fall into buckets—they simply won’t be analogous or won’t reflect the principle at work in the passage.

Comparative Reading variants

On paired passages, you’ll sometimes encounter a discovering principles and analogies question that asks you to identify a pair of passages with a relationship that is analogous to the relationship between passage A and B:
  • The relationship between passage A and passage B is most analogous to the relationship between the two television programs described in which one of the following?
On analogy questions such as this, it can be helpful to describe the original situation in general terms before considering the choices. What is the essential nature of the relationship between the passages?
For example, let’s say passage A contrasts Eudora Welty’s life and her writing, while Passage B discusses Welty’s photography, especially as it relates to her writing. More generally, we might say that one passage compares an artist’s life with their approach to an artform, and the other discusses the artist’s approach to a second artform, especially as it relates to the first.
Use this simplified, more general version to find the most analogous pair from the choices.

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