by Jonah Bongcayao on www.facebook.com/academic.clinic

ACET Review Guide

There are people who seem to thrive under pressure, and there are people who wouldn’t dare touch it with a ten-foot pole.  Regardless of which type of person you are, pressure is something you’ll need to deal with anyway when you face the Ateneo College Entrance Test (ACET).

With its reputation as one of the most notorious “pressure cooker” entrance exams available today, the ACET serves as a source of anxiety for potential test-takers.  Let’s see why this is so and what we can do about it.

ACET Coverage

The ACET may strike you as a strange test—strange in the sense that it has no specific Science section to speak of, unlike its contemporaries.  Instead, you’ll get a smattering of general science questions here and there.

The Mathematics and Language Proficiency sub-sections are mainstays, and you’ll also get some Logical and Abstract Reasoning, plus General Information (current events and factoids) to make up for the lack of Science questions.

Like its classic rival, the ACET also has an essay portion.  Unlike its classic rival, the ACET’s essay is only in English.  Its topics can be anything under the sun—you may be asked about the upcoming elections or whether you think the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight will push through.

ACET Review:  Solo or with Friends

The ACET is a demanding exam, but adequate preparation can make it more manageable.  You can do the lone ranger impression, organize a study group or sign up with a review center.  Each one has its pros and cons, and the “best” method for you will depend entirely on your individual needs, preferences and resources.

Besides going back to your high school material, you’ll also want to polish up on your English essay-writing skills (This is where friends can prove most helpful.).  There are many resources on the Internet with suggestions and even practice exercises to help you tweak your writing savvy.  This article is one such resource, as is this one.

Aside from reviewing, there are other not-necessarily-academically-related ways of preparing for it.  Have a look at some of the helpful suggestions in this article.

Centering the ACET Centers

There are times when you absolutely must seek out more specialized help.  Review centers provide good alternatives, so long as you know what you want and what the center you’re targeting actually offers.

For instance, some centers may drill you more on the core academic subjects, while others may offer helpful extras like diagnostic evaluation and career assessment.  Some may offer essay training (Keep your eyes peeled for these.) while others actually provide tours of the school in question.

I’ll take a closer look at review centers in another article, but for now, you may also wish to read this one.  Even if it’s geared toward applicants of another school, it still contains many practical guidelines for sniffing out the right review center for you.

The ACET Secret

I’ll let you in on a little secret I picked up from my past experience:  mind games are very much a part of Jesuit education, and the ACET is one fine example of that.  In other words, you may think that you’re being tested on academics alone, but in reality, your future Jesuit instructors are also checking for certain good qualities in you:  fluency, assertiveness, tenacity, calmness under pressure and what not.

Keep this principle in mind when preparing for the ACET, and it will help you during testing day and beyond.

ACET Coverage

The Ateneo bears the distinction of being one of the country’s premier universities.  Consequently, it also has a reputation for having one of the country’s most difficult entrance exams.  The ACET’s pressure cooker approach is precisely what leaves applicants feeling blue in more ways than one.

There is good news, however.  If you think of the test as a training exercise or as a battle, then you can significantly increase your chances of doing well on it if you know what to expect ahead of time.  Here are some of the things you can anticipate.

Standard Issue and Then Some

As an entrance test, the ACET has a lot of questions we’ve come to expect from exams of its type:  math, abstract reasoning, logical reasoning, English (subdivided into language proficiency and reading comprehension) and then some.  It’s the “and then some” that concerns a lot of students.  I’ll get to that in a moment.

Now pause a while, backtrack a bit and take a look at the list of subjects covered above.  Do you notice anything subject that’s missing?  That’s right.  The ACET doesn’t have a science section.  Don’t worry, though:  you’ll be too busy answering the other sections to even miss it.

The Defining Characteristics

Every university’s entrance test possesses at least one characteristic that sets it apart from most other exams of its kind.  In the Ateneo’s case, that would be the General Information section and the essay section under the English category.

The General Information occupies the space normally occupied by the science section.  It’s precisely, that:  a section with questions based on facts and current events.  It’s nothing that a fairly good knowledge of today’s news can’t fix.

Recall how the Ateneo asked you to write an essay when you first applied.  That was just a foretaste of things to come.  Test takers will be asked to do that yet again, and this time, they’ll have to do it under more exacting time pressure.

Preparation and Self-expression

Prepare as you normally would for the standard issue sections of the ACET.  Review your high school lessons in math and English.  Search for free logical and abstract reasoning exercises on the Internet and practice answering them.

Keep tabs on the major events of the major dailies.  This serves a dual purpose:  one, it will help you store away knowledge for the General Information section; two, it will also get you thinking and reflecting about what you’ll eventually express in the essay section.  Ateneo is all about reflection and writing, so the sooner you can start on it, the better.

Speaking of which, the essay portion will require a tad more preparation.  There’s nothing quite as effective as writing your own essays beforehand, preferably with a friend to help offer you advice on how you can improve.  Here are some tips you can read to prepare for this part of the exam.

The Blue Verdict

In closing, one veteran ACET-taker recommends showing that you are a person for others—whether it’s in writing or in person.  This is a critical point that the university will persistently hammer into you when you get accepted, so you may as well start this early and show the powers-that-be that you’ve already got what it takes.