For Hamlet, it was “to be or not to be”. For incoming college freshmen, it may be “to attend review center or not to attend review center.” The pressure to pass the UPCAT can be so great that students (and even parents) may be tempted to invest in for that added advantage.
Still, there are others that prefer the self-study method to this day. For them, they prefer the privacy of their own review program to the hustle and bustle of the more formal review center. The fact that they can still pass the UPCAT on their own reinforces their stand.
Which option is right? Both and neither. Either one has its pros and cons.
The review center can provide quality instruction and good guidance for nervous test takers and folks who feel that they simply cannot do it on their own. Participants will get hands-on mentoring, plenty of exercises and mock exams, and maybe even a school tour on the side.
Treading the traditional review center route, however, will cost money—the exact amount will depend on the center in question. There may be times when it might feel too structured and the advantage of being in a “school” setting may also feel like a disadvantage during vacation months.
If you wish to do the studying on your own, though, you can set your cash aside for other things (like review materials and snacks). You can study your high school notes on your own time and not be bound by review schedules (unless you’re studying as a group) and rules. There’s no pressure to choose the “best” review center because you will be the review center.
Thing is, unless you’re in a group led by a responsible individual, the accountability you have with the review center (doing it because you paid for it and because you’re answerable to your facilitators) is missing from self-study. This may lead to complacency down the road. You may also experience those burning “what if” questions all the way to UPCAT day—what if I’d gone to a review center, what if I didn’t prepare enough, etc. etc.
In the end, the choice is ultimately yours to make. If you think you can hack it through self-study alone, then go for it. If you think you need help, then ask a review center or a tutor for assistance. Go for what you really need, and don’t be ashamed or afraid to do so.