This is it: the moment of truth has finally arrived. You’re seated in the UPCAT testing room, anxiously awaiting the start of the UP entrance exam. The proctor hands you your UPCAT test paper. Beads of sweat trickle down your cheek as you glance at the items.
And then suddenly, your mind goes completely blank.
Fortunately, this scenario need not happen to you. Here is a multi-faceted strategy designed to help you get the most out of your testing experience.
Acing the UPCAT Means Starting Early
Seriously, the preparation for the UPCAT begins way before you even reach your senior year of high school. If you recall, forty percent of the institution’s University Predicted Grade (UPG) consists of the applicant’s High School Weighted Average (HSWA).
That’s a big chunk to consider, so start preparing as early as you can. Study well and get those good grades. That way, you’ll have an advantage when it comes to nabbing that highly-coveted slot in the University of the Philippines.
Of course, you won’t be able to do anything about your high school grades now. If you’re reading this article, chances are high that your turn at the UPCAT is just right around the corner.
While going for an UPCAT review isn’t really necessary (especially if you’ve been “reviewing” and preparing for it since freshman high school), feel free to sign up for UPCAT review classes if you think it will help boost your confidence come exam time. UPCAT reviews may also help you recall some forgotten tidbits of useful information or master some important topics covered in your UP entrance exam.
Spiritual Preparation for the UPCAT
Regardless of your religious affiliation, it always helps to implore a Higher Power to assist you before and during the actual UP entrance exam. It has a tendency to refresh both your mind and your spirit.
I once watched an episode of National Geographic that dealt with the state of the brain during times of prayer. There were a lot of highfaluting technical terms floating around, but the one thing I remember clearly about the episode was this: prayer places the brain in a more relaxed, meditative or even trance-like state. A calmer mind certainly has a better chance wrapping itself around the difficult questions in the UP entrance test.
Visualize Your UPCAT victory
Have you ever seen the film ‘The Secret’? If you haven’t, here’s the gist: whatever you continuously visualize in your mind or tell yourself eventually becomes reality. So make that work for you with regard to the UPCAT.
Here’s how you do it: days, weeks, or even months before the UP entrance exam, carve out time on your busy schedule to imagine yourself taking the UPCAT. Imagine what the room is like, what you’re wearing, what the weather outside is like, even what the proctor looks like-all these itsy-bitsy details should be fleshed out in your mind. If it helps you to do so, visit your UPCAT testing room well beforehand so you have a base image to work with.
Now, picture yourself being really confident about taking the UP entrance test. See yourself competently and expertly answering every item on the exam-even the difficult ones. Play the scene backward and forward, quickly and slowly, over and over in the movie house of your mind.
Stare at yourself in the mirror everyday and tell yourself that you can ace the UPCAT. It will seem like a lie at first, but keep it up long enough and you’ll eventually begin to believe it (and act accordingly as well).
The interesting about these UPCAT day visualization exercises is that when the time and day of the actual college entrance test finally arrives, you’ll be more than ready to face it because you’ve already conquered it in your head.
Shortly Before the UPCAT
Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before the UPCAT. Few things can make a mess of your mental preparedness than lack of sleep of can. Give your brain cells the opportunity to rest and recharge before UPCAT day.
On the morning of the test, eat a good, hearty, but healthy breakfast. Pack a snack-you’ll be allowed to take a break midway through the entrance test. Brain food like fruits, tuna or vegetable sticks will help keep you afloat. Keep in mind these UPCAT day tips too.
Make sure you have your UPCAT Test Permit, pencils, sharpener, eraser, and all your other necessary stuff with you. Be there at least thirty minutes before your scheduled exam time. That will give you enough time to relax and psych yourself up. Remember to factor in the amount of vehicular traffic you’ll encounter along the way-streets leading toward the University of the Philippines campuses during UPCAT exam days can get pretty clogged with vehicles so keep this in mind whether you’re driving to UP or taking the jeepney.
It can get be very uncomfortable and distracting to take the UP entrance test on a full bladder, so be sure to visit the little boy’s room or the little girl’s room before the UPCAT starts.
During the UPCAT Itself
It’s not enough to work hard on the UPCAT-you need to work smart as well.
The first thing you should do is to be conscious of your time. That’s what your watch is for. Note the maximum amount of time you’re allotted for each section of the UPCAT exam questionnaire and plan accordingly. If a test item seems too difficult, skip it first and move on to the next one. You can always go back to it later.
Try to answer the easier questions first. Besides giving you points, the fact that you’ve answered some questions will already give your mind a psychological pep boost and inspire you to answer more. Even if you don’t know the answers to some items, go ahead and take your best shot, anyway. Who knows? Your guesses just may help you tip the balance in your favor come UPCAT results day.
Allot a certain portion of your UPCAT time allotment toward reviewing your answers. This is especially important, as you may notice things during your second time around that you didn’t notice during your first run.
This may sound basic, but remember to read each of the UPCAT sections’ and questions’ instructions carefully. Many a test taker has fallen due to sheer carelessness. Don’t let that happen to you.
After the hell that was UPCAT
Check your nose for bleeding then give yourself a pat in the back. You’ve finished the UPCAT, and you’re still the same save for some nose bleeding! Congratulations! Now take a deep breath and let it go. You’ve done your best. All you have to do now is to wait for the UPCAT results. As before, don’t forget to pray and thank God for helping you out during your UPCAT ordeal. Then go out and chill. You’ve earned it.