I can hardly believe that it has been six years since I took the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT). How fast time flies, indeed. I had the exam at the School of Labor and Industrial Relations (SOLAIR). Aside from taking the UPCAT there, I don’t think I’ve ever visited SOLAIR again during my undergraduate years.
On the day of the admission text, I and my Mama had a hard time finding where SOLAIR is. It’s not really easy to find. We had to walk quite a distance from the University Avenue checkpoint to get there. (Lesson: If possible, make sure you know where you’ll be taking the UPCAT even before the U-day.) I passed it (much to my surprise) and I’ve since earned a Journalism degree (cum laude) and began my graduate studies in History (sorry for bragging :-)).
This August 6 and 7, tens of thousands of high school seniors from across the nation will vie for admission to the country’s premier national university. By this time, they must be jittery already. Here are some random thoughts for you:
1. Spending thousands of pesos to enroll in UPCAT review centers does not guarantee anything.
2. Having astronomical grades during high school does not guarantee admission in UP, either.
3. Coming from a science high school does not give you a “free ticket” to UP.
4. Those belonging to your high school batch’s top ten might not even pass the UPCAT. (I should know.)
5. Students who are not in cream-of-the-crop sections can actually make it to UP.
6. Think long-term. Taking an engineering course might sound glamorous, but if you do not have a sufficient foundation in advanced math and calculus during high school, forget about it.
7. If your only goal is to set foot in UP at all cost, then check the list of non-quota courses. To be frank, there are courses in UP that is just being used by some to enter UP. I won’t be discussing that at length here, but I have a reminder to those who plans to do this: for your own sake, take a course that is related to the program you really intend to pursue.
Regarding the exams
1. UPCAT has four parts: math, science, language proficiency, and reading comprehension (not in particular order). Strive hard to do well in the subjects where you know you can hit it big. For example, I did my best to really get a high score in the last two areas because those were my strengths.
2. The right-minus-wrong system is used in UPCAT scoring. More accurately, it is right minus a fraction of the wrong answer (said to be 25%, though I haven’t confirmed it).
Accordingly, blank items are not counted as wrongs. With that in mind, I did not answer items I am not sure about. If memory serves me right, I left as much as half of Math items unanswered. While I’m not sure if my strategy worked, I passed the UPCAT.
The best of luck to all UPCAT examinees this weekend! Passing the exam is something you will never ever regret. 🙂