By Janina Denise H. Torralba
Because UST is one of the Philippines’ Big Four, qualifying for UST tends to be competitive. Tens of thousands of applicants take the exam every year, and only a few qualify for the university. A portion of the examinees who do not qualify apply for reconsideration, which itself is another story.
Being a prestigious event, the USTET has its own myths. Perhaps the most popular myth about the USTET (save for the one about the Arch of the Centuries, because there is absolutely no basis for believing in it) is that being in the first batch of examinees increases your chances of qualifying. Some say that taking the test in August will help you get within the quota of your chosen degree program. How true is this?
Simply put, taking the USTET in August makes no difference. It does not give you an edge over the October or December batches; if anything, it is less helpful. Think about it: by the time the first batch is due to take the USTET, classes would still only have been two months in or less. You would still be “revving up” for the rest of the year, and some topics that the USTET could cover might still not have been discussed at your school. You would be a soldier going into war unprepared. On the other hand, you would be all fired up from all your exams and school activities by the time October or December rolls around, and by then, you will have learned all the lessons you could possibly learn before taking the test.
This argument may bring up the question, “What about the UPCAT takers?” We all know that the UPCAT is only administered every August, a week or two before the first USTET schedule. These two examination schedules have dates closest to each other. Should you take one exam after the other while your mind is still fresh and in the proper condition to take a college entrance exam? Or should you take a break first after slaving over the UPCAT?
Again, the decision makes no difference. It is completely up to you if you want to use the knowledge you’ve garnered for both exams, or if you want to learn a bit more before taking the USTET. Remember, there are still other entrance exams you could possibly prepare for if you wish. Therefore, even if you don’t take the USTET right after the UPCAT, there are other entrance exams with schedules that would allow you to consolidate your review. You have other chances to kill two birds with one stone.
To put things in perspective, here are a few personal stories. I took both the UPCAT and the USTET in August 2011; I was able to pass both. A former schoolmate of mine took both the UPCAT and the USTET in separate months of 2010; she qualified for UP, but she did not qualify for UST. A classmate of mine took the UPCAT and the USTET in separate months; she qualified for UST, but she did not qualify for UP. There are many more such cases out there with varying outcomes.
As you can see, the results are inconclusive. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the first, second, or last batch of USTET takers. You will neither miss nor hit the mark of degree program quotas in UST until all the batches have taken their exams (unless of course you really do perform poorly, but I digress). It’s like a Schrödinger’s Cat situation; whatever the variables, you cannot be certain of the outcome until you see it. It is not a question of when you will be taking the USTET; it is a question of how prepared you are to take it.