Zett is a student living in the humble island of Cebu within the colorful archipelago of Philippines. He is currently pursuing his dreams.
The University of the Philippines College Admission Test, or simply known by many as UPCAT, is one of the most well-known college entrance in the Philippines. The University of the Philippines manages this exam yearly; the submission of the student application usually starts in July and ends in September (depending on what region you belong) while the exam proper is held in October. Most students are eager to take this exam as the University of the Philippines is a top university in the country and one of the top universities in the world. Of course, there are also other benefits and advantages of why students would opt to enroll in this university.
However, UPCAT is also been known for being most difficult entrance exam in the Philippines, and there are several reasons for that. Previous exam takers commented out “Kulang ang oras (The time is not enough)” and “Marami akong hindi nasagutan (There are many items that I have left unanswered)” right after taking UPCAT. These experiences would naturally make future exam takers feel the pressure of the exam. Fortunately, I made a compilation of my personal experience in the exam and some tips and guides on what to do before, during, and after the exam.
Before the Exam
1. Pass your application early.
Submitting your application early means you can prepare for the exam early. This also reduces the case of invalidation or withholding of your result due to deficiencies in your requirements. So it’s best to start gathering all your requirements and submitting them to the right personnel.
If you can submit your application personally, then it’s better to do so. Going to the UP campus lessens your likelihood to get lost especially if you’re taking the UPCAT in that campus. But if you’re having any trouble finding the place, you can also ask locals in the area or use Google Maps to ease your navigation.
(For more information regarding the UPCAT requirements, you can visit the official UPCAT website.)
2. Study for months.
Studying beforehand is your assurance to pass UPCAT. Exam takers are usually advised to study for at least a month before the exam in order to familiarize themselves with the topics and review subject lessons they had missed. Now, the hardest part of studying lies on how committed the student really is – and most UPCAT takers fail on this part.
One way to avoid missing your study time is to create a study habit. You can schedule your study time and create a rigorous routine to stimulate your brain. For example, you can allow 2-3 hours a day for your study period and take an hour each for studying and answering sample questionnaires that are available online. And in order to get rid of the boredom of repeating this routine, you can ask your friends to join or better yet ask a capable senior (a previous UPCAT taker or your teacher) to hold a UPCAT simulation. UPCAT simulations are the best way for students to get used to the UPCAT atmosphere during the actual event.
Basic and Intermediate Algebra
Real Number System, Solving Unknowns in Equations, Inequalities, Set and Set Notation, Exponents and Roots, Graphs of Linear Equations, Factoring, Basic Quadratic Equations, Functions, and Word Problems
Fundamental Counting Principle, Combination and Permutation, Probabilities, Measures of Central Tendencies, and Data Analysis
Basic Geometric Concepts, Parallel Lines, Triangle Congruence, Perimeter, Area, Volume, Theorems and Postulates, Figure Analysis Problems
Trigonometry (Rare to be Found)
Trigonometric Ratios and Basic Applications
Layers of the Earth, Theories about the Formation of the Earth, Rocks, Weather and Atmosphere
Solar System, Stars and Other Heavenly Bodies, and Other Space Related Concepts
Classification of Living Things, Evolution, Ecosystems, Basic Genetics and Heredity, Anatomy of the Human Body, Biochemistry, and Intermediate Genetics
Matter and Its Classification, Physical and Chemical Changes, Measurements, Basic Chemical Reactions (Acid-Base, Combustion, etc.), Mole Concept, Atomic Structure and Subatomic Particles, Periodic Table Trends, Thermodynamics, and Organic Chemistry
Statics and Dynamics, Motion, Work and energy, Forces, Thermodynamics, Electricity, and Wave and Optics
Vocabulary, Synonyms and Antonyms, Spelling, and Correct Usage and Grammar
For Grammar: Parts of Speech, Subject-Verb Agreement, and Parallelism
Context Clues, Getting the Main Idea, Inferences, Drawing Conclusion, and Figures of Speech
If you’re financially capable, you can enroll in UPCAT preparatory classes. These classes have been designed based on the previous UPCAT such that all the lessons taught are well-directed in answering UPCAT questions. Enrolling in these classes provides you a complete guide of topics covered in UPCAT, a formula on how to compute your UPCAT score, and UPCAT simulation to familiarize yourself with the test.
3. Prepare what you need to bring.
Before the UPCAT starts, make sure you have already prepared what you needed to bring to avoid any hassle. You can start doing your preparation a week before the exam. Previous exam takers would highly advise you to bring the following items: pencils, eraser, sharpener, pen, snacks, and drinks (optional), and admission ticket. You can put all of the items in a small and easy to handle bag.
Extra: Wear an attire that fits any situation possible.
As an extra tip on the day of the UPCAT, you should wear clothing that adapts freely on the area you are assigned to. Commonly, these areas are air-conditioned with temperatures reaching on the extremes so it’s better to wear something long-sleeves. In my case, I've worn a jacket before going into the examination room. If you forgot to bring a jacket or any warm clothing, you should try to sit far off the air-conditioners.
During the Exam
1. Follow instructions carefully.
Always read the booklets carefully for instructions and also keep your ears keen for additional instructions from your proctors. Most of the time, exam takers fail to follow simple instructions which then lead to consuming much of their time changing their answers and sometimes infuriating the proctors. If ever there are vague instructions, you can simply raise your hand and a proctor will approach you for assistance.
2. Have your own strategy in answering questions and allotting your time.
One of the biggest problems faced in answering questions in UPCAT is the lack of time. Several of the previous UPCAT takers in 2017 always share that there is a huge time constraint, especially in the Reading Comprehension and Mathematics section. Fortunately, there are still some UPCAT takers who have used strategies in answering different questions. Below is a list of some of the strategies used by these exam takers:
Skipping means leaving the question unanswered and proceeding to the next one.
50/50 Rules denotes that if you have a trouble choosing between two answers, you can guess between the two. Only works if you are sure of the remaining two choices.
Narrow down can be done by eliminating unnecessary choices. This leads having the final answer. In some cases when two choices remains, one can use the 50/50 rule.
In the reading comprehension, one can directly read the questions before reading the context.
First-Last Sentence of Paragaph
In the reading comprehension, one can read the first and last sentence of each paragraph to get the general idea of the context.
Time Allotment Per Question
Allot a fraction of the allotted time for the sub-test per question. Do not dwell too much on one item.
3. Snacks are optional.
Always remember that eating snacks is optional. This is the reason why most of the serious exam takers won’t bring snacks inside the exam room and there are good reasons why not eating snacks during the exam are beneficial to the examinees. First, eating snacks is very time-consuming. Just imagine how much time you will lose (given that the UPCAT won’t provide you a time for a break) opening your snacks and eating it. Second, snacks are a great source of distraction for most people. Finally, some snacks can leave smudges on your booklet and answer sheet.
If ever you really want to bring snacks and eat them in the room, make sure that your snacks are finger snacks that you can readily eat while answering the exam. As for your drinks, it’s better if it’s in straw to avoid getting it spilled on your papers.
4. Review after completing everything.
After you’ve finished answering questions in each section, review your answers properly. Make sure you’re not abrupt in reading the questions back and doing your analysis and computation. This is to make sure that you’re confident with your answers and avoid careless choices. If you have not reviewed your student profile at the beginning, try to review it as well to ensure that what you’ve written and correct and precise.
Extra: If you can hold it in, then don’t go.
Likewise with not eating your snacks, going to the toilet should also be restricted unless your body cannot hold the urge to go to the comfort room. It is highly advised to go to the comfort room before or after the exam. You can still go to the comfort room during the exam (particularly after answering a section as proctors will take hold of your answer sheet) but this can cause you to miss instructions from the proctors in the time when you’re gone. So if you can hold it in, then it’s best that you don’t go.
After the Exam
1. Wait for further announcements.
After taking the exam, proctors will often give out instructions to the examinees on what to do after. These instructions mostly revolve around not leaking the UPCAT questions and a guide on how to check your UPCAT results online. It’s advised that you follow the instructions obediently and wait for your UPCAT results.
2. Treat yourself.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun and treat yourself to a good time. Eat your favorite food to shave off stress and frustrations. Hang out with your friends and go shopping or karaoke. You can even create various memes on your UPCAT experience and share them on different social media. After all, it’s good that you have survived the test and all you can do now is have fun!
The University of the Philippines College Admission test is undeniably one of the most difficult college entrance exams in the Philippines. Coupled with lacking time and hardcore questions, examinees will surely be left in confusion and frustration on what to do. But with a solid guidance and right amount of preparation, any test not just UPCAT can be passed. So strive hard and do not hesitate to reach your goals!
© 2018 Zett Noir Cromwell