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by Algem Cris Crusis on Academic Clinic Fanpage

UPCAT 101: Basic Facts about the UPCAT

Every year, students flock to the University of the Philippines to try their hand at the UPCAT.  What is it really, and what is the reason for all the hoopla surrounding it?  Let’s take a closer look at what it is and why students appear to be in such awe over the UPCAT.

The UPCAT in a Nutshell

The term UPCAT is actually an acronym that stands for “University of the Philippines College Admission Test.”  As its title suggests, it is the test to take if you wish to study at the country’s state university.  The fact that it’s associated with one of the best colleges in the country—and the fact that not everyone can get into the college—makes the UPCAT extremely popular. (see the statistics)

As might be expected, the best and brightest among the UP faculty members are the ones who provide the test questions.  The test creators all come from various fields of expertise, so you can expect an eclectic (and challenging!) mix of test items.  To keep things fresh and interesting, new questions are submitted every year, so don’t expect to nail it just by asking last year’s examinees.

Basic UPCAT Facts

The question almost begs itself:  who can take the UPCAT?  The good news is that any aspiring college student can take it.  (See post on the UPCAT Application process and requirements) The not so good news is that it is only one of several factors that determine whether an applicant is eligible for a UP education or not.

Besides the UPCAT score, school officials will also take a look at an applicant’s grades in high school, as well as certain “equity factors.”  For example, different UP campuses have different grade cut-offs and quotas, so things can get a bit tricky.  (See post on UPG)

To add to the confusion, the grade predictors vary across different courses as well, so screening and applicant rankings are definitely the order of the day.  The number of slots available in the target degree program also factors into the decision of whether to accept the aspiring student or not.

As with all things, clarifying things early on can be of immense help.

UPCAT Requirements

Thinking of taking the UPCAT?  Well and good, but be sure to take care of the rather annoying but necessary documentation first.

The school requires applicants to fill out a couple of forms, aptly named UP Forms 1 and 2.  Nothing to worry about here, just answer questions about your name, address, vital statistics (okay, maybe not that) and the like.

Besides the forms, the university will also ask for the standard issue recent 2 x 2 mug shots.  Don’t forget the application fee, either—it varies depending on your citizenship, your family’s gross annual income, and the location where you intend to take the UPCAT.

For example, applicants whose families earn more than one hundred thousand pesos a year will be billed 450 pesos.  This fee also applies to foreigners staying in the country.  Non-resident foreigners will be charged fifty US dollars, while aspirants in the Middle east will need to fork over one hundred US dollars.

Oh, did we mention that you can waive the fee under two conditions?  Those whose families earn one hundred thousand pesos annually at most aren’t required to pay.  The crème de la crème—top ranking students from their respective high schools—are also exempted from paying the fee.  In both cases, applicants will have to submit evidence in the form of ITRs or a ranked listing, both duly signed by the appropriate authority.

Do note that transferees, applicants who’ve earned units in another university and students who really enjoyed their high school (Read:  those who took more than four years to finish it) will need to turn in some extra documents: a list of all grades earned and a photocopy of F137, otherwise known as the Permanent Secondary School Record.

Note that answering the UPCAT Application Form optimally can increase your chances in getting into the University.  To learn more, click here.

UPCAT Alternatives

The UPCAT may be a necessary prerequisite for studying at the university, but the institution makes exceptions in certain cases.  For example, varsity athletes who play certain sports may still study at UP, even if they do not pass the UPCAT—provided that they pass another exam given by the school’s College of Human Kinetics.  This special test is part and parcel of the Varsity Athletic Admission System (VAAS).

Another special case involves that of certificate programs.  These programs do not require the applicant to take the UPCAT; as with the athletes, though, potential students will still have to take and pass talent tests.  In case you’re wondering, certificate programs usually cover more artistically-oriented programs such as Music, Creative Writing or Fine Arts.

Seems like a lot of work, doesn’t it?  It is, admittedly.  If you invest the time, effort and money in it, however, you may find the results to be well worth it.  To learn more about UPCAT Alternatives, click here.