For students who have yet to go through the “Stations of the Cross” (read: the entrance exams of the country’s top universities), the coverage might all look the same to the untrained eye. While these exams do share certain things in common, they also possess specific characteristics that distinguish them from each other.
Understanding those differences will help you prepare for the exams more effectively. Let’s take a look at the distinguishing characteristics that make each test what it is, starting with the UPCAT.
Paying the Penalty
Perhaps the most infamous thing that the UPCAT is known for is its right minus ¼ wrong penalty. Having to contend with time pressure is stressful enough; dealing with the fear of being penalized for your errors makes it doubly so.
So what do you do when you really don’t know the answer? UPCAT veterans recommend taking your best, educated guess instead of just leaving the item blank. The reason: you’ll nab a full point if you get the correct answer. If you leave it blank, you forfeit that full point; if you make a mistake, you lose only a fraction of that full point, so the odds are in favor of taking that risk.
The penalty may seem a little daunting at first, but the key to overcoming your fear of it is to polish up on your concepts and your skills. The math and science portions will test your conceptual knowledge, but the language proficiency sections will challenge your bilingual skills.
The good news is that the UPCAT will draw upon your stock knowledge gained from high school lessons. If you’ve been paying attention during your high school classes and you’ve got the notes to back you up, you’re already well armed. All that remains is to hone your mind and keep it sharp by reviewing the math and science concepts listed on this webpage and this webpage, respectively..
Here’s a trick I recently picked up from those who’ve been there, done that: you may find it more efficient to answer certain math and science questions by using the process of elimination instead of computing. If you think it will take you more than a minute and twenty seconds to solve a problem, try plugging in different multiple choice options until you arrive at the correct answer.
Note that this doesn’t work for all questions of this type, so use your discretion. As with all things, practicing beforehand helps.
Facility for Language
Unlike the ACET and the DLSUCET, there is no killer essay to accomplish at the drop of a hat, so focus more on developing critical reading and comprehension skills in both English and Filipino for those lengthy walls of text. You’ll find questions written in the vernacular interspersed between questions written in English, so prepare accordingly.
One good way to prepare for this is to read—and I mean, a lot. Reading strengthens those synaptic links and keeps the language part of your brain sharp. Learning some speed reading techniques can help, but they’re not absolutely necessary for finishing the UPCAT on time. to see the general english coverage of college entrance exams, click here.
A Final Word
The UPCAT is actually passed or failed long before the actual test date arrives. If you stock up on knowledge, pray and apply the proper strategies, you’ll have a pretty good chance of landing that much-coveted U.P. slot.