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How to Pass UPCAT Without Review Center: Best Tips from But how EXACTLY do you become an UPCAT

become an UPCAT Qualifier?


UP Students and Alumni Qualifiers are determined by the University Predicted Grade
Are you anxious to know how to pass UPCAT? or UPG. The UPG adds up your UPCAT score (60%) and your
final grades from the last three years of high school (40%).
Students have different reasons why they’re pressured to ace
Just so you know, the state university reserves 70% of the
University of the Philippines’ entrance exam.
slots for those with the highest UPGs. The rest of the slots
are reserved for the best of the underrepresented minorities,
It could be family, school, or simply the prestige of being one like cultural groups.
of the select few to become a Iskolar ng Bayan.
U.P. has always been home to Philippines’ crème de la Looking at the UPG, you can see now that putting in all that
crème. Declared a National University in 2008, it has hard work in high school actually counts for something.
produced 7 out of 14 Philippine presidents; 12 Chief Justices However, if you have less than stellar grades, it is all the more
of the Supreme Court; 30 out of 31 National Scientists; and 34 reason to get the highest possible scores in the UPCAT to
out of 57 National Artists. bring your UPG up.
It is also ranked as the top university in the country by the QS
World and Asian University Rankings with the Ateneo de Here are tips and tricks on how to ace your UPCAT exams:
Manila and the University of Santo Tomas following behind.

Start reviewing early.


Also Read: 30 Things You Didn’t Know About University of
the Philippines
However, what makes the University of the Philippines a
Preparation for UPCAT started the moment you first entered
magnet for student hopefuls and their parents is the
high school.
affordable cost of tuition fees.

Just like other college entrance examinations, UPCAT gauges


U.P. is partly subsidized by the state and makes use of STFAP
not just the amount of information you’ve learned over the
or Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program to
years but how effective your learning strategies are in
determine a student’s enrollment fees.
retaining that information.

Students in a lesser income bracket pay less than students in


UPCAT is comprised of four subtests:
higher income brackets.
 Language Proficiency (in English and Filipino).
 Reading Comprehension (in English and Filipino).
Related Article: The Ultimate Civil Service Exam Guide for  Science.
Filipinos  Mathematics.
For example, a student who has an annual family income of If you studied well in high school and understand the
more than P1,000,000 will pay the full cost of tuition, while a concepts by heart, you have great chances of passing UPCAT.
student with an annual family income of P135,000 gets free After all, it’s a culmination of everything you’ve learned so
tuition, miscellaneous, and laboratory fees. far.

For poverty-stricken families, UPCAT is a chance to provide However, it doesn’t mean you should be complacent.
an excellent college education for their children. Students who graduated at the top of their class but failed
UPCAT aren’t unheard of. Regardless if your high school
However, out of the thousands who take UPCAT every year, performance was brilliant or lackluster, reviewing as early as
only 15-17% make the cut. This proves that passing this 6-9 months before the exam should give you a headstart.
entrance exam is an achievement in itself. Spend at least 30 minutes to an hour a day to refresh your
memories on the lessons you think you’ve forgotten.
In this guide, we’ll enumerate some of the best tips and tricks
shared by past and present UP students, the majority of While signing up for a review center is an option, the most
which got in without enrolling in a review center. that they can provide are tips and tricks on how to pass
UPCAT. At the end of the day, months (or years) of Pythagorean theorem, circle formulas, and volume of a
preparation always beat the limited time you spend in a rectangle, among others.
review center.  Answer as many math problems as you can. The mistakes and
wrong answers can teach you more lessons than those you
answered correctly. Remember, every wrong answer is an
opportunity to improve your problem-solving skills.
 Don’t just rely on your Math teachers. Watch YouTube
Work on your weaknesses. tutorials to understand confusing math concepts better.
Language Proficiency.
It’s impossible to squeeze everything you’ve learned in high  Establish a good reading habit. A student who loves to read
school into the limited time you have to review for UPCAT. has a wider vocabulary that the one who only reads when the
school requires it. Look for the meanings of unfamiliar words
Use your time wisely. Instead of spending equal hours on all and practice using them for better retention.
subjects, allocate more review time on areas you’re  Review the correct spellings of common misspellings in the
struggling the most. English language (e.g., occasion, exaggerated, etc.).
 Learn how to derive the meaning of unknown words. In an
Since you’re almost done with high school, you probably have exam, you may encounter words that you do not
an idea what your weaknesses are. If not, you can use the understand. These words may appear in the directions, the
results of your mock exam to see the subjects where you got test questions, or the answer choices. Unless you have
the lowest scores. superpower abilities to memorize the entire dictionary, you
can learn how to derive the meaning of unknown words by
studying prefixes, suffixes, and root words. You can also get a
Most students find Science and Math difficult. The bulk of
working knowledge of etymology.
UPCAT questions come from these subjects so make sure to
 Dedicate equal amount of time to studying and reviewing the
concentrate on them especially if you didn’t take the STEM
Filipino language. Note that both local and foreign UPCAT
track in high school.
takers will encounter test questions written in Filipino or
related to the Filipino language.
Remember the following study tips for each subject area:  Know the Tagalog translation of basic science and math terms
like shapes.
Science.  Brush up on Filipino orthography or the correct spelling of
 Use mnemonics to remember basic formulas and concepts in Filipinized foreign words like heograpiya for geography, etc.
Physics, Chemistry, etc. It’s not enough that you memorize Reading comprehension.
them, you also have to know how to apply them in real-life  Practice speed reading in both English and Filipino. Two of
scenarios. the best speed reading strategies are skimming and scanning.
 Be ready to encounter UPCAT questions that are research- The former is the process of reading a text quickly to get an
related and ones that contain graphs. They may look idea what it’s all about. Scanning, on the other hand, is a
intimidating but with simple analysis, you can break them reading technique you can use to find specific information
down into simpler concepts. without reading the whole text.
 Get a good grasp of the fundamental concepts in biology,  Instead of reading the full text which can eat up a lot of time,
chemistry, and general science. Physics-related questions are read the questions first and then use the keywords in these
relatively fewer but this may vary from year to year. questions to find the answers in the story using the scanning
Mathematics. technique.
 As with science, no need to take advanced Math classes to Know the test composition and time allotments.
get an edge. As long as you understand fundamental While it is possible for the below information to change, the
concepts and know how to apply them to solve word general structure should be as follows:
problems and equations, you’re good to go.
 Revisit your math lessons from grades 7 to 12. Review basic
concepts in geometry, algebra, and syllogism. To help you
retain the information better, you can draw or download
figures of basic geometry formulas such as triangles in circles,
Practice answering questions under pressure.
Time
Allotment
Nowadays, you don’t need to go to your UPCAT exam not
Number in
knowing what to expect. School-sponsored reviews, book
Subtests of Items Minutes
reviewers, and college review centers will tell you what type
of tests will most likely appear in the exam.

Language From the table above, for example, you can already get a
70 40
Proficiency good grasp of the different subtests and the allotted time for
each. Again, UPCAT is an aptitude exam. It measures how
much you’ve learned in high school.
Identifying
Errors 20
Review centers may help condition your mind but don’t
expect them to teach every lesson you missed in high school
Analogy 10 or provide questions that will appear in the actual exam. If
anything, they’re lucrative businesses that prey on students’
lack of preparation and self-confidence.
Word
Meaning 10 Having self-confidence doesn’t mean you know all the
answers to any question hurled at you. It means you know
how to choose an answer despite not knowing the actual
Antonyms 10 answer. And in UPCAT, you will encounter unbelievably
difficult questions A LOT.
So how can you boost your self-confidence? By taking as
Sentence
many practice tests as you can.
Completion 10

Don’t just rely on one UPCAT reviewer. Buy several reviewers


Sentence in the bookstore or download ebooks online. You can also use
Improvement 10 SAT reviewers since foreigners who already took SAT usually
find UPCAT relatively easier.

Science The more questions you answer, the more efficient your test-
60 50
Proficiency taking skills become. You’ll learn how to increase your
chances of getting the correct answer through the process of
elimination and other strategies.
Mathematics
60 75
Proficiency
Simulate UPCAT by using a timer. Get used to answering
questions with a time limit so you won’t be as anxious by
Reading the time you take the actual UPCAT.
60 50
Comprehension Don’t forget to practice with questions in Filipino. Because
U.P. is the state school, some of the questions in Reading
Comprehension, Mathematics, and Science will be in Filipino.
If you are not well-versed in Filipino, you will be at a
disadvantage.
By knowing the number of items for each subtest, you will
know how much to study for each subject. At the same time,
Remember, test-taking is an art. Combine it with a reliable
you can practice answering x number of items within the
stock knowledge and you’ll surely ace the UPCAT.
allotted time.
Internalize, don’t memorize. Next, there will be at least two choices that will be the most
Rote memorization is for amateurs. You can memorize likely correct answer. Sometimes, a giveaway is when two or
formulas and concepts all you want, but they will disappear three choices are very close to each other in value or
as soon as your nerves get the better of you. meaning. Do as much analysis as you can to arrive at the
most logical choice.
Instead of memorizing your lessons word-for-word, learn to
internalize them. Look beyond the formulas, words, shapes, Manage your time wisely.
and concepts and understand the meaning behind them. Easy or difficult, test items have the same point value. And,
they’re jumbled up in the exam too. To manage your time
If you can explain lessons in your own words without relying optimally during test-taking, answer the easy questions first.
on superficial memorization, you’re on the right track.
Then, go back for the more difficult ones. Spending too much
To prime your brain for better retention, you can perform time on difficult questions might eat up your test time and
mental exercises, play educational games, or do positive self- leave you no more time to answer questions you would
talk on the days leading up to the UPCAT. normally be able to answer.

Note cards are also an excellent way to consolidate and As a rule of the thumb, don’t spend more than 2 minutes on
organize those formulas and important concepts you need to a single item. In the case of the reading comprehension
remember. Just punch a hole and use a ring binder to keep subtest, you don’t have to read the entire text or story. Doing
them together. This way, you can bring them anywhere, and so will waste a lot of time especially if you’re not adept in
flip through them as you study. speed reading.
Instead, go directly to the question and then scan the
paragraphs to find out the answer.
Make educated guesses.
The UPCAT deducts a quarter point for every mistake,
otherwise known as the “right minus ¼ wrong” penalty. The Make sure you are answering the correct numbers on your
system also does not penalize for unanswered items. answer sheets. Some poor souls have been known to
unknowingly skip a number and ruin their entire test.

However, statistically speaking, it is better to make


educated guesses than to leave blanks when you are not Another tip: Bring a wristwatch so you can keep track of the
sure of the correct answer. time.
A blank ensures a 100% incorrect score or 1-point deduction. Although the proctor will update you on how many minutes
If you take a chance and your answer turns out incorrect, are remaining, it’s better if you have your own watch so you
you’ll lose 1.25 points for the mistake. can pace yourself and finish each subtest within the allotted
time.

Now, if you make an intelligent guess, you get a 25% chance


of getting the correct answer. Your odds of answering Relax. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself.
correctly can be increased by excluding the wrong choices The more you think that taking the UPCAT is a life-or-death
right off the bat. If you’re a master in the process of situation, the more likely you are to fail.
elimination, this is a risk worth taking.
See, our minds are powerful. If you’re thinking of failing the
Note that this isn’t a foolproof technique. If you absolutely exam even before taking it, chances are the universe will
have no idea about what is being asked, it’s up to you conspire to turn your thoughts into reality.
whether to leave it blank or make the best guess.
Here is a general tip on how to eliminate answer choices: Out As the law of attraction guarantees, our thoughts become
of, say, five choices, one or two will be obvious wrong things.
answers. Mentally cross those out.
Also called the power of positive thinking and visualization,
this law states that positive thoughts bring about positive
results. Throughout your review period, focus only on Relax, do your best, and never look back.
positive thoughts. Visualize yourself passing the UPCAT.
Here are a few more quick reminders:
Using editing software, create and print pictures of yourself  Do an ocular inspection of your test building and room a few
as an Iskolar ng Bayan. Look at your photos when you wake days before the exam. Knowing how the place looks like
up and before you sleep. means less frazzled nerves. This is especially true if your test
venue is within UP Diliman. Since the campus is huge, it’s
Putting too much pressure on yourself also results in poor easy to get lost. Therefore, find the exact location of your
concentration. It happens when you regard UPCAT so much classroom in advance so getting to it on the day of the
as if your whole life depends on it. examination will be a breeze. By doing so, you can also
prepare for possible traffic congestion and determine
whether to wear a comfortable shirt or a light jacket (for air-
The truth is, UPCAT only measures your readiness for conditioned rooms).
college, not your intelligence.  Bring a jacket. In the 2013 exams in Diliman, some test
This is why there are valedictorians and salutatorians who fail takers reported that the proctors turned up the aircon
at it. It doesn’t mean they’re dumb, it’s just that they’re not REALLY high, making the room an icebox. Extreme
as ready to handle the pressures of college as those who temperatures can ruin your concentration.
passed the exam.  In case you have colds or a cough on the day of the exam,
don’t forget to take your medicinesbefore going to the
If you fail to be qualified in any of the competitive quota venue to prevent distracting yourself and other examinees.
courses like Accountancy or Business Administration, you can  Arrive at least 30 minutes before the exam so you can relax
still make an appeal. and prepare yourself mentally. Important instructions are
As long as your UPG is still high enough to be qualified in the also given prior to the start of the exam.
campus you applied for, you’ll be considered for DPWS  Bring sweets or foods that are easy (and not noisy) to eat.
(degree program with available slot). In other words, you They help keep your energy up for those long grueling hours.
can still enroll in courses with open slots.  Don’t eat or drink too much before taking the UPCAT. It’s
Even if it’s not your first choice, you can still shift to your easier to stave off hunger than to stop the urge to go to the
preferred course after a year. bathroom in the middle of the exam.
 Don’t cram the night before the exam. Spend it instead to
Another option would be to enroll in another campus with a pep-talk yourself into giving UPCAT your best shot.
lower cutoff. You can also be accepted to UP by virtue of your  Get enough sleep and rest. You can’t study everything so
talent or athletic skills. just calm your mind instead.

Other students enroll in another university, earn the required


grades, and then transfer to UP after a year.

Your options are plenty so there’s no reason to torture


yourself into passing UPCAT.

Besides, failing UPCAT isn’t a bad thing if you look at the


bigger picture.

Being a UP graduate isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be


successful in life. There are a lot of non-UP grads with stellar
careers just as there are UP grads who didn’t achieve
anything significant.
So don’t stress yourself. Who cares if you didn’t do well in
high school? You can’t change what already happened or
control things that are already out of your control.