The prospect of taking an entrance test can be one of the most trying experiences for an incoming college freshman, particularly if that test is called the ACET. Add in the reputation of the entrance exam being “unfinishable” and you have a good recipe for burnout.
The good news is that there are strategies you can employ to help you not only survive the pressure, but thrive in the midst of it as well. Take it from one who’s been there, done that.
An entrance test usually contains a number of standard issue topics, and the ACET is no different in this respect. Expect to see questions related to mathematics (geometry and trigonometry), reading comprehension, language proficiency and abstract and logical reasoning.
In case you’re wondering what the difference is between the last two sections, the former has to do with discerning patterns among shapes and other squiggly things. The latter has more to do with spotting fallacies and loopholes in arguments.
Unlike its entrance test brethren, the ACET contains no separate science section. Instead, it makes up for it by adding a General Information section (aka the facts section) to the mix. It would be wise to update your current events databank for this.
Remember how you had to write an essay when you applied at the Ateneo? Well, you’ll have to write another one for the language proficiency section, besides correcting grammatical errors and completing sentences, that is.
The Write Stuff
In other articles, I mentioned the importance of time-budgeting, answering easy questions first, reviewing, solving practice tests, etc. All of those guidelines apply to the ACET as well. Another thing you need to sharpen, however, is your essay-writing ability, and the only way to really get good at it is to do it yourself.
Here’s a suggestion: go to a bookstore or library or surf the Web for some good essays. Study them to get a feel of what writing an essay is like, and then write an essay of your own in response to what you’ve just read.
I highly recommend constructing an outline first, especially if you’re not used to writing essays under time pressure. If you have, say, fifteen minutes to write the essay, spend about three minutes organizing your ideas into a coherent outline, seven to eight minutes writing the actual text, and four minutes reviewing and correcting everything.
Make your time limit challenging but reasonable at the start. Once you’ve mastered writing the essay within that specific period of time, up the ante by subtracting a minute or so from the timer and do it again. Repeat the process over and over, in incrementally shorter time limits to improve your speed. Better yet, grab a friend and have him or her time you and give you feedback.
Not Finishing Doesn’t Mean Failure
In the end, you may be wondering if you need to finish the ACET in order to pass. The answer is a resounding NO. At the time that I took it, I remember having left so many questions blank that I wondered if I’d ever make it into the Ateneo. Thankfully, I did.
Remember: the ACET will test your knowledge of academics, but it will test your psychological mettle even more. Finishing the test isn’t necessary to pass; competing with and transcending yourself is. That is something that teachers and school officials will be looking at as you spend the rest of your college life in the Jesuit University.