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Ready for the UPCAT?

Tips on preparing to become an Iskolar ng Bayan
07:55 AM October 14, 2017

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At this time of the year, nothing is more important to the graduating high school class than passing the college entrance test (CET) of their dream schools.


My own experience in taking the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (Upcat) was not easy. There were days when I was not motivated to study, doubting in my ability to pass. There were times when I was way too stressed that I forgot how eight hours of sleep felt like.

But it’s normal to feel pre-Upcat jitters. Here are some tips that helped me in the process to becoming an Iskolar ng Bayan.


1 – Don’t cram.

The cramming method, or studying the night before a test, may sometimes work, but it’s not advisable for Upcat—which is unlike a regular high school test. In fact, it’s advisable that you shouldn’t study at all the day before the Upcat.

Ideally, list down the topics you need to study and then set a study schedule. Though it may be hard balancing CET study and actual school work, one CET topic a day will do. That is, if you start studying at least two months before the Upcat. You don’t want to cram all that information in a week.

2 – Upcat is not difficult.

But it’s not easy either. Upcat is perceived as one of the most difficult college entrance exams. Well, it is one of the hardest to pass, with an acceptance rate of 15 to 17 percent, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the test is difficult.

Actually, the Upcat is fairly basic, just stick to your high school notes. There isn’t any calculus or quantum physics involved. Just make a cheat sheet of all the basic math and science formulas, memorize them and you’re good to go.

You don’t need to be very smart, as long as you answer smartly. How you answer the questions matters a lot.


Your biggest obstacle is time pressure. Answer the easy questions first to avoid getting stuck dealing with the difficult ones.

Also, learn how to make intelligent guesses. Sometimes, the obvious answer is already in the choices. However, choose your guess wisely because the Upcat is right minus ¼ wrong—or for every four wrong answers, there is an additional deduction of one point to your Upcat score.

3 – Studying is only half the preparation.

The actual process of the test is more complex. Before the date, try to visit the testing venue so you won’t get lost on the day itself.

Avoid being late as well. Pick the right food. Don’t bring any noisy or malodorous food that may distract others, and don’t pick messy food, too, for it may mess up your test papers.

Try conditioning yourself in the testing environment, with time pressure and in a study group. Imagine yourself taking the actual Upcat.

4 – Self-confidence is key.

Don’t underestimate the law of attraction. In philosophy, it is a belief that positive or negative thinking would attract positive or negative outcomes.

It is most likely that in preparing for the Upcat, any negative thoughts won’t attract anything positive.

Don’t waste time and energy on panicking and negative thinking. Worrying only burdens you twice. It’s inevitable that you’ll feel anxious. That’s okay, but don’t let it consume most of your time.

Whether you pass the Upcat or not, things will fall into place. The future is out there for you. Trust in the process and believe that you have a shot to become an Iskolar ng Bayan.

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TAGS: Iskolar ng Bayan, University of the Philippines, Upcat, UPCAT tips
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