As a student, there was one four-letter I particularly disliked: M-A-T-H. I preferred to work with words and ideas, rather than cold, hard numbers and logic. You can imagine what it must’ve been like for me during entrance exams.
Like it or not, you’ll need to deal with mathematics anyway when it comes to the University of the Philippines’ College Admissions Test (UPCAT). It may look like a formidable challenge, but fear not. There are strategies that you can employ to help you not only pass, but pass well.
Tips and Strategies
Expect a lot of stuff drawn from your high school math classes: algebra, geometry, trigonometry and what not. You may come across questions on ratio and proportion, polynomial factoring and length calculation. For example, you may be asked to calculate the length of a side of a triangle given the lengths of the other two sides.
Make sure to bring a watch with you, too. While this is not the “unfinishable” ACET, you will still have to deal with a fair amount of time pressure. In your mind, divide the math portion into four-phases: the easy questions phase, the hard questions phase, the “absolutely clueless” questions phase and the review phase.
Budget your time and answer questions in that ascending order of difficulty. That way, you’ll get build up points as well as much-needed morale early on for the harder questions down the road.
To Skip or not to Skip
The UPCAT reportedly employs a scoring system wherein twenty-five percent of your wrong answers are subtracted from your right answers. Opinions vary regarding the best way to handle this. Some say it’s better to take an educated guess; others say that it’s better to just skip the tricky questions.
Unfortunately, this is an arbitrary matter, and the best course of action will depend on who you are, where you are at that moment and how you’re doing. That’s why I make it a point to pray for wisdom and guidance before exams. You may wish to do the same thing.
If you’ve been keeping your math skills up to snuff since your freshman high school year, you should be well equipped to deal with the UPCAT math section. If not, start preparing as soon as you can. Look for a tutor, a review book, study group or review center that can help you. Chances are you’ll learn better when you’re in the company of others with similar goals, so seek those edifying people out.
To help you get started, here are a few resources you can check out. Conrad Miguel has some good tips and strategies on taking multiple choice exams on this site: http://conradmiguel.com/tips-on-taking-multiple-choice-standardized-exams
For a general review on math, you may also want to practice with available online reviewers such as these:
There is also a wealth of practice exam booklets available in National Bookstore and other places of learning. With these and other tools at your disposal, the math portion of the UPCAT can be whittled down to something that’s a lot more manageable than it initially appears to be.