Association Analogies: Definition & Types

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Association analogies are the most common analogies found on tests. There are four different kinds and in this lesson, we will cover the definition and main types of association analogies.


Association analogies are common on entrance exams such as the MAT, GRE, and SAT. On the MAT, they represent the largest group of analogies presented on the exam. An analogy is a comparison and analysis between ideas or objects. In this lesson, we will cover the definition and form of an association analogy as well as the four types of association analogy that may be presented on an exam.

Association Analogy: Definition and Form

Association analogies deal directly with the relationship between two concepts. Four types of association analogies exist: object to characteristic, cause and effect, function, and sequential order. Others may exist, but these are the most common seen on exams.

An association analogy uses the traditional analogy form, which looks like this: A : B :: C : D. An analogy is read as 'A is to B as C is to D'. The connection between terms 'A and B', and 'C and D' are equivalent to one another.


Object to Characteristic

An object to characteristic analogy examines the relationship between an object and a defining quality of the object. For example, if the object is a book, the characteristic may be paper. When presented with an object to characteristic association analogy, the comparisons on both sides of the double colons have an object and a characteristic.

When evaluating this type of analogy, it is important to discern what type of characteristic is presented. The characteristic could be physical, intrinsic, or abstract, among other possibilities. For example, an association analogy may look like this:


J.K. Rowling is the author of the Harry Potter series and Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451. On an exam, one of the terms would be missing and you would have to figure out the relationship between the terms to find the best answer.

Cause and Effect

An association analogy that uses cause and effect pairs two objects or ideas together with one term leading to the formation of the other object. Here is an example:


In both cases, the first term is the reason for the second term. A tornado causes destruction and a hurricane causes flooding.


An association analogy that looks at function shows the objective or purpose of a term. For example, the function of a persuasive essay is to argue or persuade. Here is an example of an association analogy using function to connect the ideas:


To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account