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The USTET and UST Application Process

ustet101It’s that time of the year when a young student’s fancy turns to thoughts of…exams.  Accept it:  tests are about as unavoidable as death and taxes.

While they all share a common purpose—namely to gauge your competence as a student—variations do exist between entrance exams.  Some exams seem just plain unfinishable (cough*ACET*cough*), while others are a little more forgiving.

Last January 12 was a particularly important day for potential Thomasians, as the UST (University of Santo Tomas, not the University of Science and Technology) released the results of the institution’s latest entrance exam online.  This article will help shed a little more light on that specific exam, commonly known as the UST Entrance Test (USTET).

USTET Basics

In a nutshell, the USTET is the Dominican institution’s written means of checking whether you’ve been paying attention in class for the past few years.  It’s one of several criteria for entrance into the university, the others being your high school grades and an interview.  The unofficial word these days, though, is that UST currently tends to look less on your high school grades as much as it did in days past.

The exam is held in testing centers in Manila, the provinces and even abroad.  In the event that you’re living in Bahrain, Kuwait, Al-Khobar, Jeddah, Riyadh, Doha Abu Dhabi or Dubai, you can still take the USTET in the designated testing centers there..

The big question that’s probably on people’s minds is, “Can I take the exam?”  The answer is, “Why not?”  Anyone who has intentions of studying at the university and who has gone through high school may take the test.  Before you get all excited, however, be sure to send in the requirements first.

USTET Requirements

These are standard fare as far as most universities go.  UST will ask you for the following:  an original copy of your high school report card (otherwise known as Form 138), two certificates of good moral character (talk to your high school class adviser, guidance counselor and/or principal for these) and two pictures of size 2 x 2

If you’re a resident or immigrant alien in the Philippines, the school will also ask you for an original copy of your Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR)—duly verified, of course.  Non-resident alien types will need show their passport or student visa.

Unfortunately, lunches aren’t free in this world, and neither are entrance exams.  UST charges a non-refundable five thousand peso reservation fee (payable via cash or via your little plastic card) for the privilege.  The good news is that the school will deduct that amount from your tuition fee when you enroll—all the more reason for you to pass and get into the course of your choice.

Once you have submitted all these requirements, the institution will then give you an information brochure and your USTET permit.  Don’t take the test without it!

A Final Note

If you’ve turned in all the requirements, then congratulations, you’re all set to take the next step toward college life.  All you have to do now is to check the university’s official website for the schedule of exams and to make the necessary preparations.

Actually making it into the university (as well as staying in the university) is another story, but that’s best left for another article.

Why Study in UST?

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) exemplifies Dominican education at its finest.  For some this is reason enough to go through the USTET (university of Santo Tomas Entrance Test) and more to get into UST.  Others, however, will need more convincing.  If you’re a doubting Thomas (bad pun intended), read on to find out why you should consider studying in UST.

Why Study in UST

Friedrich Nietzsche once said that “he who has a strong enough why can bear almost any how.”  In plain English, that’s “he who has a strong enough motivation can do almost anything to attain his goal.”

Keep your cool.  This is not a philosophy lesson.  The point I am trying to make is this:  while the USTET and UST education aren’t exactly a burden that students must bear, it can still be a challenge.  However, if you have the Nietzsche’s “strong why”, then you can live with almost any “how.”  Which brings us to our topic:  why go through the trouble of taking the USTET and settle for four or five years of hard study at the University of Santo Tomas?

Each and every university in the Philippines has its strong points, and UST is no exception.  Let’s take a closer look at what this Dominican institution has to offer hopeful students.


One good reason why people flock to UST is that it’s one of several internationally recognized Philippine universities.  In fact, if you check the 2008 edition of the Times Higher Education Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, you’ll find UST and friends (read:  University of the Philippines, Ateneo, etc.) among other critically acclaimed universities worldwide.

This is crucial, considering that the university has ties with other good schools such as Kyoto University in Japan and Cambridge University in the UK, to name a few.  UST is also a member of various international school-based organizations such as the International Association of Universities.

Nevertheless, UST can stand on its own merits without the benefits of being included and given recognition in global surveys.  The institution still holds the distinction of being the oldest Roman Catholic-run University in the country and in Asia (it was established in 1619).  It’s also the largest university in the city of Manila, and one of the largest in the world.

The exhibits of UST’s museum of natural history have also garnered awards from expositions in various cities such as Madrid, Hanoi and Paris.  Simply put, the UST museum is the place to visit if you’re majoring in Philippine ethnology, anthropology and the natural sciences.  Be sure to check out the plethora of zoological specimens while you’re there.

Inside The Campus

If you’re looking for a university with lots of eye candy fit for a learning atmosphere (read: landmarks), then UST is a good place to go to.  The campus is a mish-mash of classic and modern architecture.  Some of the more interesting sights to see include three museums, four parks, the Fountain of Wisdom, the Botanical Garden and the Arch of the Centuries, among others.

Don’t think that pleasant sightseeing is all that UST has to offer you.  The programs it offers are nothing to sneeze at, either.  Medicine, Pharmacy, Civil Law and Ecclesiastical Studies are four of the most notable fields of study in the University of Santo Tomas.

The university also houses a formidable think tank and research center named after its patron saint:  the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex.  Think of it as a semi-centralized system where intellectuals are free to rub elbows and think aloud.

And in the event that you need something published, the institution’s very own publishing house and press can take a gander at it.  Besides student publications, UST has dished out a formidable collection of research and academic journals over the years.

The Choice Is Yours

What I’ve mentioned above is really only the tip of the proverbial iceberg – there are many more reasons why you should take the USTET to study in UST.  While everything will still ultimately depend on you and on what you’re really after, a UST education will definitely help you get a head start on a good future.