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by Jude Cirujales Banania on www.facebook.com

An ACET Sample Essay and Some Tips


Perhaps the thing that Ateneo applicants dread the most, next to Mathematics, is the prospect of writing an essay.  Unfortunately, if you’re interested in an Ateneo education, you’ll be eating essays for breakfast lunch and dinner.  The time to start preparing for that is right now—before you even take the Ateneo College Entrance Test (ACET).

To help out, I’ve included a sample ACET essay for you, coupled with some notes and guidelines for study.  Please note that you do not have to write your essay in exactly this way; this is just a reference to help you get started.  You will naturally have your own writing style and approach to things.

The Sample Essay

The following sample is a treatise on the topic of frustration—something you’re likely to experience at least once when you’re interacting with peers from all walks of like in an academic institution known for its high standards.  I’ve also included some footnotes on points I felt I needed to emphasize:

Coping Effectively with the “F” Word[1]

A wise person once told me that oftentimes, it’s not the big problems that trip us up the most, but the many, many little annoyances that come in battalions.[2] It’s because of the fact that they’re “little” that they often escape our immediate notice—at least until they pile up and grate on our patience.

Fortunately, I’ve experienced frustration enough times that I’ve learned to deal with it more effectively than before, or to at least minimize its damaging effects.  Perhaps the following guidelines may help you, too.

The Three-Minute Rule[3]

Chances are, the first thing that pops into your head when you’re frustrated is not the right thing to do or say.  That’s why it’s very important to take some time off for what is known as the “Three-Minute Rule.”[4]

The rule basically dictates that when you start to feel frustrated, back off or at least three minutes to get some much needed perspective on the situation.  Take the time to pray and to seek guidance and wisdom.

Note that three minutes is an arbitrary span time.  It may be three minutes, three hours, or three days.  The important thing is to let your emotions cool down sufficiently to the point where you can think clearly again, and then act.

Look for the Unorthodox Alternative

A story is told of Alexander the Great undertaking the challenge of untying the Gordian Knot.[5] The knot was said to have been tied in such a complex manner that no one was able to untie it.

The shrewd Alexander, however, simply drew his sword and cut the knot, effectively untying it.  Since then, the expression “cutting the Gordian Knot” has come to mean solving a complex problem using unique and ingenious means.

Like Alexander, see if you can find another way to solve your problem instead of pursuing a course of action that just doesn’t work.[6] For example, if you can’t get through an obstacle, perhaps you can go around it somehow.

The Need to Let Go

One question that inspirational speakers and writers like to ask themselves is if something will still be worth fussing over ten, fifty, or even one hundred years from now.  Chances are, the thing that’s causing you so much frustration right now may not even be important next year.  If so, are you perhaps giving it more attention than it is really worth?

One lesson that the late inspirational writer Richard Carlson[7] left me is the choice of being right or being happy.  We mistakenly think that we will only be happy if we prove ourselves right and everyone else wrong, or if we nail that difficult problem and show everyone what we’ve accomplished.

Some things are simply not worth your peace of mind.  Sometimes, it’s better to swallow your pride and to make a strategic withdrawal instead of forcing the issue at the time.  As Dr. Harold Sala once quipped, “Any bear can easily whip a skunk, but it’s just not worth it.”[8]


A Final Word

The essay I’ve included above is just one example of many.  You can find more examples and guidelines online if ever you need more reference material.  Here is a short list to help you get started:

Xavier School High 4 – This blog contains a sample essay and some excellent pointers

Ateneo Tribute Essays – While not exactly application essays, it may also help to study the essays on the Ateneo site.  The ones here deal with the passing of former President Cory Aquino.

A Winning Contest Essay – Here’s the essay that won the “Rizal na, Europa Pa,” essay contest for Mr. Joaquin Carlos de Jesus.

Peer Papers – If you have some money to invest, try reading the essays on this site. You’ll notice the names of some famous Ateneans here, too.

Finally, remember that essay-writing is an applied skill—like all skills, it may be developed through constant practice.  The good news is that the more you practice creating essays, the more you’ll be able to refine your technique and develop a unique style and a voice all your own.


[1] The title is the first thing your readers will look at, so try to make it catchy and hook them in with it.

[2] It helps to start off your essay with something attention-grabbing. In my case, I opted for “a saying of the wise.”

[3] If your essay is fairly long, using captions or headings to break it up into segments helps.

[4] Whenever you mention something that may be unfamiliar to your reader, take the time to explain it. Don’t leave your readers scratching their heads in confusion.

[5] Stories are great for getting your point across in an engaging manner. Besides, people love them.

[6] If you’re going to tell a story, choose one that’s somehow related to the message you’re trying to communicate. That way, it’s easier to link your story to your point.

[7] Quoting, paraphrasing or simply drawing stuff from famous personalities can help lend credence to your essay.

[8] If you start your essay with a bang, end it with a bang as well. Audiences tend to recall the beginning and the end of your presentation most clearly, so save your best for first and last.

ACET Schedule and Important Dates

Studying at the Ateneo de Manila University requires no small amount of discipline and organization, particularly when the hell weeks come along.  In fact, new students will quickly realize that the need to develop these traits comes way before they’re even accepted into the college.

To help, the university’s Office of Admission and Aid has released the latest application schedule for the year.  Let’s take a closer look at it and get organized.

The ACET Application Period

June 15, 2009 – August 14, 2009:  for incoming Metro Manila freshmen, school year 2010 – 2011

June 22, 2009 – August 14, 2009:  for incoming provincial freshmen, school year 2010 – 2011

June 15, 2009 – December 16, 2009:  application form issuance for transfer applicants for school year 2010-2011

November 16 – December 16, 2009:  registration for transfer applicants for school year 2010-2011

If the early bird gets the worm, then the early applicant gets the first crack at a much-coveted slot in the university.  Ateneo has a bit of a head start over other universities in this respect.

Regardless of whether you’ll be coming from Metro Manila or the province, keep in mind that the deadliest deadline for sending in your completed application forms is at 5:00 p.m.

ACET Testing Dates

September 19 and 20, 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m./ 1:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.:

for Metro Manila incoming freshmen, school year 2010-2011

September 19, 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.:  for Metro Manila incoming freshmen, school year 2010-2011

January 16, 2009, 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.:  for provincial transfer applicants, 2010-2011

January 17, 2009, 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.:  for Metro Manila transfer applicants, 2010-2011

The ACET schedule is a little different from other universities’ entrance exam schedules in the sense that you only get one weekend for it this year.  Please note that the applicable provincial testing centers are the ones in Zamboanga City, Naga, Iloilo, Davao, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro.  For more information on other testing centers, kindly visit this site.

As is the case with the application period, the transfer students get a different schedule.  Depending on where they’ll be going, they’ll be taking on either January 16 or January 17, instead.

Releasing of Results

My contacts at the Loyola Schools Office of Admission and Aid have told me that the release date for the ACET results will be around the second week of January 2010.  Since the transfer applicants get to take the test a bit later, they’ll get wind of their results sometime in May of the same year.

As of the time of this article’s writing, no specific release dates have been given, so feel free to check with the nice folks at the said office.  You may get in touch with them in a number of different ways.

If you’d rather drop by in person, the Metro Manila campus is located along Katipunan Avenue in Loyola Heights, Quezon City.  Alternatively, you may call them at 426-6001. It’s a trunk line that connects to all school departments, so just press the appropriate number or ask the operator to connect you to the College Office of Admission and Aid.

Ateneo de Manila University: Acceptance Procedures for Students of Dual Citizenship

If you have dual citizenship – that is, a Filipino AND a Something-Else citizen – you will need to do the following after you received the letter informing you of your acceptance to the Ateneo de Manila University:

1. Confirm your slot

The decision letter from the ADMU will tell you how to do this.  Be sure to follow the instructions to the letter and submit all the required forms by the designated deadline.  The slots in each course or program are given away on a first-come, first-served basis; if you don’t immediately confirm your slot, you may lose your place in the course of your choice and you will thus have to settle for a spot in a different course.  This course may not be as ideal as your original course, in which case you will have to file for a request to change course or wait until after your first year to shift courses.

2. Present the following documents at the Office of the Registrar.

You will need to go to the Office of the Registrar and present the following so you may be enlisted as a Filipino student:

  • Philippine Passport (photocopy)

You must submit a photocopy of your Philippine passport and keep the original passport handy for verification purposes.

  • Foreign Passport (photocopy)

Since you are a dual citizen, you will also need to show the Office of the Registrar a photocopy of your foreign passport.  Of course, you’ll need to have the original with you for verification purposes.

3. Enroll for your first semester in the university.

Do this and let your ADMU student life begin!

Ateneo de Manila University: Acceptance Procedures for International Students

If you are a foreigner who has been accepted to the Ateneo de Manila University, you will need to do the following:

1. Confirm your slot

The decision letter from the Ateneo de Manila University contains information on how to confirm your slot in the university.  Follow it to the letter, please.

Important Note: If you have been accepted for the first semester of Academic Year 2009-2010 (begins this June 2009), you have only until April 10, 2009 to secure your slot and confirm your intention to enroll in the Ateneo de Manila University, so be quick about it.

2. Fulfill Pre-Registration Requirements

After you have confirmed your slot, you will need to go to the Office of the Registrar to submit the following pre-registration requirements:

  • Foreign Passport (photocopy)

You must turn in a photocopy of your foreign passport (again, you need to bring along your original passport needs for verification).

  • Student Visa or any other Valid Visa

After you have been accepted to the Ateneo de Manila University, you must visit the Philippine embassy or consulate nearest you to obtain your visa.  Generally speaking, you need a Student Visa to study in the Philippines.  However, any other valid visa (that is, a visa that puts no restriction upon you to study in the Philippines) will be accepted.

  • Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) I-Card

The ACR I-Card is an alien identification card that looks pretty much like a credit card.  Embedded in it is a microchip with your biometric information.

The ACR I-Card is simply the card-version of your paper Alien Certificate of Registration.  This card version, however, has formally replaced your paper ACR and you will need to present it for transactions where your alien registration status needs to be confirmed.  To get the ACR card, you will need to go to the Bureau of Immigration.

Important Note: If you have been accepted for the first semester of Academic Year 2009-2010 (begins this June 2009), you have only until April 30, 2009 to submit all pre-registration requirements.  If you fail to do this, you will not be allowed to enroll.

  • Certificate of Residence for Temporary Status (CRTS)

This should be valid for the semester or term of your enrollment.

3. Enroll for your courses/classes.

At the designated enrollment date, enlist for your desired or prescribed courses.  Remember that international students are required to enroll in 3 Filipino language courses.

You will also need to pay a Foreign or Non-Resident Student Fee of PhP 27,825.00 (around 580 USD at the current rates of exchange) apart from your tuition and other enrollment dues every enrollment.  Note that the Foreign or Non-Resident Student Fee may vary slightly from year to year.

You will not be charged this fee if you are one of the following:

  • A resident alien (as defined by the Philippine Immigration laws)
  • Part of a special exchange program
  • A non-degree student

If you are one of the following, you may be granted an exemption from the Foreign or Non-Resident Student Fee:

  • The child of OFWs
  • The child of Filipino expats
  • A missionary or part of a religious mission

To find out if you are exempted from the Foreign or Non-Resident student fee, you will need to submit the following:

  • Letter of Request for Exemption from the Foreign or Non-Resident Student Fee
  • Documents to support your claim for exemption

Note:  There will be a much more detailed article on the Ateneo de Manila University’s application for admission and registration procedures for international students, so be sure to check Academic-Clinic.com from time to time.

Ateneo de Manila University: Procedures for Accepted Applicants

This article will tell you the steps you need to accomplish after you receive the decision letter informing you that you have been accepted as a student in the Ateneo de Manila University.

Congratulations!  You have received the decision letter from the Ateneo de Manila University informing you that you have been one of the chosen few to be accepted as a new student in the university.  What do you need to do next?

  1. Answer this question please:  do you wish to enroll in the Ateneo de Manila University?

YES: Good for you.  Move on to the next step, please.

NO: Why are you still here?  Kidding aside, if you have other plans, then you won’t need the information you’ll find below so move on to other sections in Academic-Clinic.com that pertain to your chosen university.  Can we interest you in the University of the Philippines?  How about the De la Salle University?  Or choose your university from among this list of universities.

  1. Confirm your acceptance or slot in the Ateneo de Manila University

It doesn’t matter if you are a Filipino student, a foreign student or a Filipino and Whatever student (Dual Citizen, in other words), you will need to confirm your slot – and you need to do it fast.

Confirmation of your slot means the university will reserve you a spot in the course you have selected.  Intake of new students per course is typically limited or restricted; the place on a course is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.  If you don’t confirm your slot immediately, you will lose your place in your desired course and will have to settle for a slot in a different course.

Important Note: If you have been accepted for the first semester of Academic Year 2009-2010 (begins this June 2009), you have only until April 10, 2009 to secure your slot and confirm your intention to enroll in the Ateneo de Manila University, so be quick about it.

What do you need to do to confirm your slot?  You will need to submit certain documents to the Ateneo de Manila University.  Note that you will find the same information in your acceptance letter.

Confirmation Requirements for accepted applicants

  • Form 138 or your Report Card (original)

First on the list of things you need to submit is your Form 138, also known as your report card from fourth year high school.

  • Birth Certificate (photocopy)

You also need to submit a photocopy of your birth certificate.  You should keep the original copy, of course, but be sure to bring it along for verification purposes.  If this is not convenient, at least bring a Certified True Copy of your birth certificate, still for verification purposes.

  • Reply Slip

Check the acceptance letter that you have received from the university and look for the Reply slip.  Fill it out completely then send it back to the university with the required attachments.

  • PhP4,000.00 Confirmation Fee

Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a free lunch; the school will charge you four thousand pesos to confirm your application.  You need to pay to secure your slot.

Again, remember to confirm your slot on or before the deadline.  One thing you will quickly learn about Ateneo is the fact that it’s deadline-driven.  Yes, most schools are probably like that, but the Blue Eagle Institution tends to go the extra mile in this area.

Take note that that applies to applications, first and foremost.  If you so far as miss the deadlines for submission of documents, you will likely have a hard time explaining yourself and getting into the university for that school year.

Special Leeway for International School graduates

If you are a graduate of an international school (whether based locally or abroad), ADMU gives you some leeway.  If your Form 138 or Report Card is not yet ready (that is, waiting for the report card will make you late confirming your slot), you can send the following in its place so your slot may be conditionally confirmed:

  • A certification of graduation from your High School Principal or School Headmaster.  This certification must indicate the exact date when the Report Card will be released.
  • A letter signed by you and your parents indicating that you have no intention of withdrawing your conditional confirmation of your slot in the university.

If your determination to enroll in the university has not flagged after taking care of all the above-outlined tasks, you need to move on to the next step.

  1. Answer this question, please:  do you like the course or program to which you have been accepted?

YES: That’s good.  Skip the next step and go on to step #5.

NO: Don’t worry, this can be easily fixed.

Determine what course you would like to pursue.  After making a decision, write a Letter of Request for Change of Course to the Ateneo de Manila University Office of Admission and Aid on or before the designated deadline.  Remember, however, that you cannot request a change of course if you haven’t confirmed your slot so be sure to do step number 2 first before you request a course change.  After confirming your slot, immediately submit your Letter of Request for Change of Course.

Important Note: If you have been accepted for the first semester of Academic Year 2009-2010 (begins this June 2009), you have only until April 13, 2009 to submit a Letter of Request for Change of Course.  The decision on your request will be released on April 17, 2009.

After submitting your course change request, move on to the next step.

  1. Answer this question:  has your request for change of course been approved?

YES: Go on, don’t be shy.  Do your little dance routine.  After that, you can go on to the next step.

NO: That’s tough but no deal breaker.  You can still apply for a course shift after your first year in the university.  Get over this minor inconvenience and move on to the next and final step.

  1. Enroll for your first semester.

I should think this section needs no elaboration.  Paste on a smile to your face and be your sweet and pleasant self when you go to the university registrar for enrollment.

The ACET and Ateneo Application Process

The Ateneo de Manila University is one of the premiere higher-education institutions in the Philippines.  To put it simply, this is one of the best universities in the Philippines and you will choose well if you decide to study in this university.

Of course, the decision on whether or not you will get to study in the Ateneo de Manila University is not yours alone to make.  Aside from your parents’ consent (hey, they’re going to foot your hefty bill so they should have a say!), acceptance from the Ateneo de Manila University’s Committee on Admission and Aid is also necessary.

What exactly do you need to do to get accepted to the Ateneo de Manila University as a freshman student?

1. Procure an application form and exam permit.

That’s right.  Wherever you decide to study, you will need to accomplish lots and lots of forms; so get off your high horse and begin your romance with forms, forms, and more forms.

The Freshman Application Form may be secured from the Ateneo de Manila University’s Office of Admission and Aid.  Here’s the exact address:

Office of Admission and Aid

Rm 105, Ground Floor

Kostka Hall

Ateneo de Manila University

Loyola Heights, Quezon City 1108

2. Fill out the application form and submit it to the Office of Admission and Aid

Of course, you need to fill out the application form.  What do you think of the application form – a souvenir?

Kidding aside, you should complete the form, gather all the required supporting documents (it will be indicated in your application form), and submit the application form and the required attachments to the Office of Admission and Aid before the deadline.

Remember please that the Ateneo de Manila University receives thousands of applications for admission every season.  The powers that be are not going to waste time on incomplete forms.  Therefore, make sure that your application form is fully accomplished and all the supporting documents are likewise complete.  Otherwise, your application won’t be processed.

3. Pay the application fee.

The application fee is a definite requirement.  The school naturally wants to recoup some of its expenses for giving you the chance to pay them some expensive tuition (wink!).  Local applicants – that is, graduates of local high schools – will be charged PhP 500 (applicants from high schools abroad, on the other hand, need to pay 50 USD).

You need to pay the application fee upon submission of your accomplished application form.

4. Accomplish your exam permit and submit to the Office of Admission and Aid.

Your exam permit will be your ticket to the ACET or the Ateneo College Entrance Test.  Fill it out completely and guard your copy with your life.

5. Show up for the ACET

On the designated date and time, show up at the testing center to take the ACET.  Do not forget to bring your pencils, pens and whatever it is that you are instructed (by your exam permit) to bring for the ACET.  Note that you cannot bring scratch papers, calculators, cell phones, and any electronic devices.  The testing center will provide you with all the scratch paper you’ll need.

Of course, there’s more to the exam than just showing up for the Ateneo College Entrance Test; you need to prepare for it, too.  If you love yourself and your parents, make sure you are prepared for the ACET before you sit in that chair and take it.

You can enroll in ACET review classes if you want.  Better yet, start rereading your notes – that is, if you can rely on your accuracy and diligence when you were writing down those notes – and your textbooks.  Study like there’s no tomorrow (there probably won’t be any if you fail the ACET, he he he).

Of course, ACET preparation cannot be done in one, two or even six months.  ACET review classes and refresher courses can help, certainly, but only to remind you of what you have already learned.  You can’t get into Ateneo de Manila University if you are not a conscientious student in the first place – or a genius who can absorb four years’ worth of high school education in a few months.

6. Wait for the decision.

After you have taken the Ateneo College Entrance Test, there’s nothing else that you can do except wait for the Committee on Admission and Aid’s decision on your application.

Such a decision can go three ways:  you may be accepted, waitlisted or rejected.  If your name is on that legendary Bulletin Board in Ateneo, you are either accepted or waitlisted (information to that effect will be displayed).  The decision over your application is made based on the information written down on your application form, your ACET test scores, your high school grades, and the glowing (or not-so-glowing) endorsement from your teachers (recommendation letters from teachers are some of the required attachments of your application form).

How about your prayers?  Will they help?  Praying will not help with your ACET test scores because you’ve already taken the exam; you should have prayed before you took the ACET.  Your prayers now won’t even help change your high school grades; they’ve already been made and recorded.  Your prayers, however, may still help in the sense that the members of the Committee of Admission and Aid may decide you have great potential even if your records are less than stellar – so do pray; it can still help turn the tide in your favor.