There are certain subjects or sections that you’ll see in almost every entrance exam out there: mathematics, science, and what not. Sometimes, though, you’ll come across a test that desires to act out of the box and experiment a little.
One example of this is the entrance test of the University of Santo Tomas—the USTET. Its coverage is a tad different from other entrance exams in terms of presentation. Allow me to explain.
Testing the (Mental) Waters
If you’re an entrance test veteran, the terms like “formulas”, “word problems” and “language proficiency” are probably household names for you already. The USTET doesn’t really deviate from the norm in the sense that they will draw from your high school stock knowledge of science, math, English and Filipino.
Besides the sections mentioned above, the USTET has its own “specialty” Mental Aptitude section. Don’t let its highfaluting name intimidate you—it’s basically an eighty-five item IQ test. If you’ve answered anything even resembling an IQ test before, then you’ve got a pretty good chance of doing well on this one.
Of Likes, Unlikes and Time Pressure
Unlike the UPCAT, the USTET does not penalize you for committing errors, so make good use of your common sense every time you come up against something you’re not entirely sure of.
Like any other entrance test, however, the USTET will apply a palpable amount of time pressure on you, so stay on your toes. While it may not as bad as the infamous “pressure cooker” of some of the other Ivy League universities, it’s still serious enough to cause problems for the unprepared.
One thing you should watch out for is the reduced amount of time you have for the Mental Aptitude section—you’ll get around one and a half hours for the Science and Language sections, around two hours for the math and only one hour for Mental Aptitude.
Horror stories have been told of who ran out of time and had to guess from the hip. It’s very easy to forget this in the middle of answering everything, so keep that watch handy!
Overall, complacency will be your worst enemy during this exam. I say this because the USTET has a general reputation of being one of the easiest exams to pass (Staying in UST, of course, is another story.).
It’s way too easy to get lulled into a false sense of security and to throw caution to the winds. Just ask any USTET veteran who paid the price of complacency and he or she will be happy to regale you with stories of mistakes past. Learn from the mistakes of others, then, and don’t rest on your laurels, even if you think the test is easy.
The best way to do that is to study and pay attention in your high school classes, review your lessons to keep your brain up to snuff and do your best during the USTET itself. If you learn these good habits early on and continue to apply them throughout your college life, they will help you last—and last well.