www.academic-clinic.com is really helpful

by guevarrafaye21 on Acadclinic @ Twitter

UPCAT Tip: What is the University Predicted Grade

By now, you’re probably already aware of the fact that the University of the Philippines considers many factors when admitting students.  One of these is the University Predicted Grade (UPG).  But what exactly is the UPG and how much of it really gets factored into your UPCAT grade? Let’s find out.

Strictly speaking, the UPG is a composite score—it is a combination of the applicant’s High School Weighted Average (HWSA) and the UPCAT score.  Between the two, the UPCAT score carries the bigger: sixty percent of the UPG.  The HSWA makes up the remaining forty percent.

The History Behind the UPG

Interestingly enough, the UPG never existed prior to 1976.  In fact, the practice from 1925 up to 1970 was to simply use either the senior high school grades or ranks or the UPCAT scores as the quantitative criteria for admissions.

The year 1970 saw a change in the admission system.  A resolution, approved by the University Council, provided for a new system.  This was put into effect during the 1971-1972 academic year.  Basically, it called for a combination of the applicant’s scores from the College Admissions Test and an average based on three years-worth of high school.

The ratio was something out of Pareto’s Principle:  the total rating combined eighty percent of the applicant’s UPCAT score with twenty percent of the applicant’s high school rating.  It wasn’t exactly the UPG yet, yet it was effectively the UPG’s precursor.

Thing is, this new system had some unfortunate results.  For one thing, students had an even harder time getting into the university.  The institution sought to refine its admission system further, so in 1976, a venerable mathematics professor by the name of Romeo L. Manlapaz came up with a solution to the problem.

The UPG Formula

Professor Manlapaz employed a highfaluting technique known as multiple regression analysis to come up with this new system. Like the previous system, it was a combination score.  Unlike the previous one, however, this one added a predictive ability factor known as regression weights. The professor dubbed the resulting number the UPG.

Being a mathematics professor, you’d expect the good professor to come up with a formula for his brainchild.  Well, you’re right.  The formula for the UPG is as follows:

UPG = K – W1 x S Engl

– W2 x S HSWA

– W3 x S Math

– W4 x S Read

–        W5 x S Engl x S Sci x S HSWA

In case you’re wondering, K is the constant in the equation.  The terms S Engl, S HSWA, S Math and S Read stand for the standard UPCAT scores in English, HSWA, Math and Reading Comprehension, respectively.

The S HSWA is a mini-formula in itself. It’s computed by multiplying the HSWA by 85 and then dividing the resulting value by five. The applicant’s grades from his or her first three high school years make up the HSWA.

Finally, the five Ws in the formula above are the regression weights mentioned earlier.

A Final Word

Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?  Maybe it is, but the computation shouldn’t really be your concern.  Leave that to the university. Your job is to make sure that you do well enough in high school and pass the UPCAT as well.  As to how you can do the latter, that my friends, is best discussed in another article…

UPCAT on August 1 and 2

The UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) will be held tomorrow (Saturday) and the following day (Sunday) or from August 1 and 2, 2009.  God bless to all UPCAT takers.  Those who would like to be included in the UPCAT mass should go to Academic-Clinic.com’s Twitter account then tweet @acadclinic plus the hash tag (#) plus UPCATmass then the name/names of people to be included.  Example:

@acadclinic #UPCATmass Rochelle P.

The UPCAT Mass will be held on August 1 and 2, 2009 at  L’Istituto Sacro Cuore in Italy, and it will be attended by the nuns there.

Managing Pre-UPCAT Anxiety

upcat anxietyIf you’re gunning for the UPCAT, chances are you’ll feel at least a little bit nervous as the big day approaches.  Don’t worry, as anyone who wants to do well is bound to feel the same way.

The trick is to manage your nervousness so that it stays at acceptable levels.  Jitter management leads to optimal performance; having no anxiety at all leads to complacency, and the latter leads to a lot of stupid mistakes.


The Basics

The first thing you need to do is to get your physical needs in order.  The body and the mind are connected, so if you are lacking in the sleep or nutrition department, you’ll feel more jittery than normal.

Do everything to lessen your chances of not making it to the UPCAT passer’s list.  Take review classes, review on your own, read more about the application process and how UP chooses its passers, learn about the other factors that will increase your chances of making it to UP.  The better your preparations are, the less jittery you will usually feel.  Also, don’t forget to surround yourself with optimistic and proactive people.  This will help you a lot in getting into the right frame of mind for the UPCAT.

Do not review on the day before (or if you can help it, the week before) the exam anymore!  Relax, let your hair down, do something that you enjoy.  Practice breathing deeply from your diaphragm.  During the UPCAT, take a few seconds every so often to breathe and clear your head.

Reprogramming Your Mind

On another article of mine, I shared this technique called “fake it till you make it.”  Regardless of how you actually feel about the UPCAT, stand in front of the mirror every day before the test, look yourself in the eye, and tell yourself that you will pass the UPCAT with flying colors.  It may feel like a lie at first, but do it regularly enough and you’ll not only believe it—you’ll make it happen, too.

Finally, pray before the exam for guidance and clear thinking.  Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being nervous.  A little amount of helpful anxiety makes you want to do your best, and that’s exactly what you need to do.

Maximizing your UPCAT Review Classes

maximizeupcatreviewWith this year’s UPCAT not too far away, it’s not surprising to see student hopefuls cracking their books.  Everyone seems ready to shed blood, sweat and tears for the sake of passing that exam.

Unfortunately, merely reviewing hard for the UPCAT isn’t enough—smart reviewing is the key.

Tricks of the Trade

One effective way to review is to take advantage of the time when your mind is at its freshest.  For example, I tend to review best before dawn, while others may prefer late evenings.  It doesn’t really matter when you do it, so long as you stick to that time.

Keep Pareto’s Principle (the 80/20 rule) in mind.  This means that twenty percent of what you need to review will constitute eighty percent of the UPCAT content (and eventually, your grade as well).  Find that all-important twenty percent and know it by heart.

One method that can help you do that is SQRRR—Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review.  First, scan through the material you need to study and formulate questions about it.  Read your notes and locate the answers to your questions.  Recite them out loud to yourself, and then go back and review the questions and their answers again.

When attending UPCAT review classes, BE in the room.  Don’t waste your time making googoo eyes with that cute guy in the back row.  Take some notes, summarize key lessons, recite in class, invite your classmates to form a study group, make little cue cards and carry them in your pocket at all times, anything that will help you maximize your time and energy.

Take the time to review the results of your simulation exams.  Find out why some of your answers were wrong and more importantly how to arrive at the correct answer.  Sit at the front row, the better for asking questions about things you didnt understand about the lessons.  Don’t be meek or shy!  remember that your parents are paying good money for your review and to understand lessons you didnt get before is precisely the purpose of the review.

Miscellaneous Tactics

Also, do whatever it takes to get you focused and in the mood, no matter how unusual it may be.  My mother used to spray lavender aromatherapy scents in my room to help me focus.  One person I know listened to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto while studying.

Finally, it helps to think of the UPCAT as a brainteaser that requires a strategic, puzzle-solving approach.  People tend to learn best when they’re having fun, so turn your UPCAT review into a game and ace that exam!

How Hard is the UPCAT?

With this year’s UPCAT already looming on the horizon, one of the most common questions getting thrown around is this:  just how hard is the UPCAT?  It’s almost as if knowing how difficult it is makes it a “reassuring” part of the preparation process.

Let’s take a closer look at that intriguing question.

Skirting the Real Issue

Some say that the exam’s difficulty isn’t really all that important—it’s the ranking (how your UPCAT results compare to every other test taker’s results) that ultimately matters.  Given a situation where you have seventy thousand potential students all vying for coveted U.P. slots, only around ten thousand of them will make it.  A ratio of one in seven makes for an interesting challenge, indeed.

So exactly how hard is the UPCAT?  The answer is:  it depends.  Some people swear that the right minus one-fourth wrong system, the time pressure and the sheer amount of competition will break you; others note that prayer, adequate preparation and an excellent High School Weighted Average can tip the odds in your favor.

The Heart of the Matter

Fortunately, the point doesn’t lie in how easy or how difficult the exam really is.  The heart of the matter ultimately lies in doing the best you can with whatever you’ve got.  Focus on how hard it might be, and chances are that’s exactly what you’ll get—a difficult exam.

Flee the temptation to play the comparison game.  Instead, pray for guidance; invest your energy in giving it your best shot.  That’s the best anyone can ask of you, anyway.

UPCAT Tips: A Test Day Survival Guide

Pressure usually peaks on your UPCAT testing date itself, when you have to go up and see if all that reviewing was worth it. Many take this aspect of the test for granted, often preferring to just look at the all-exalted review process. But what you do on the day itself can have as big an effect on your performance as all the reviewing you’ve already done.

The UPCAT-Day Diet

A good number of test-takers find out too late that what and how you eat for test day can factor into your performance on the UPCAT. Eating too little will have you hungry and impatient during the test, while being too full will have you groggy and sleepy, wasting those all-important test minutes.

  • Eat a good breakfast. A lot of test takers don’t bother with breakfast due to nerves or stress. Ignore all those reasons and have a hearty (and hopefully balanced) meal in the morning. Breakfast jolts all your body systems awake, and will improve your performance over the course of the day.
  • Take something before taking the test. Remember, that test is hours long, and you won’t be able to leave at any time during the test except to go to the washroom. Having a small meal (or a big snack) up to half an hour before the test will keep those hunger pangs from disturbing your focus halfway through.
  • Bring chocolates and water. Test takers are allowed to bring snacks into the room so you should make the most of the concession. Bring along a few pieces of easy-to-open chocolate and a bottle of water. Chocolate is easy to nibble and can give your brain a good wake-up call, especially when you’re in the home stretch.
  • Junk food and coffee are a no-no. Many make the mistake of bringing junk food and coffee into the testing room, in an effort to keep themselves awake. Junk food has carbohydrates that lull you to sleep when you’re not in motion, while coffee is a diuretic that will make you pee like crazy during the test.

Plan all these out at least a couple of days before the test. You’ll have much more pressing things to worry about on your testing date, and you really don’t want to waste time over a pack of chocolates.

An UPCAT Strategy

Countless people through the years have gotten by the UPCAT simply with a good test-taking strategy – even though their review was less than optimal. Truth of the matter is, a good approach to tackling the questions can get you through much of the UPCAT. It’s a skill you’ll have to master if you’re serious about making the cut.

  • Make a first run on the easy items. The questions in the UPCAT aren’t arranged by difficulty; easy and hard questions are scattered all over the place. Go through the entire test one time, answering all the items that you can recall immediately. Should you run into trouble somewhere else in the test, you already have those initial items to give you some semblance of a score.
  • Don’t fuss the difficult ones. No matter how hard you reviewed, you’ll probably come across a trigonometric identity you forgot or an element you can’t recall. Just leave it blank and move on. Worrying about it wastes precious minutes.
  • Review, review, review. It’s not just about checking if you answered all the items. Some of the items are interrelated – they use the same formula, for example – and answering one will give you a clue on how to answer another.
  • Got time? Guess. But that doesn’t give you license to do eeny-miney-moe. Pick the answer that seems to make the most sense to you. Remember, though, that each incorrect answer costs you ¼ of a point. If you’re absolutely clueless about an item, you may want to just leave it blank instead.

None of these strategies will work unless you have sufficient review time to back them all up. Don’t expect to be able to pull through the UPCAT with just a test-taking strategy and none of the topics that you were supposed to review in the last few months.

Psyching Yourself for the UPCAT

As much as the UPCAT measures your academic ability and achievement, it’s also a test of how well you can handle pressure. And no day is more pressuring than test day itself. Learn to deal with pressures – both from you and from others – and you’ve already got a big part of the battle down.

  • Eat. Hopefully, you’ve got a few snacks along with you. The UPCAT takes an extremely long time to finish, and there’s no point in your getting hungry.
  • Don’t panic review. Few things are as detrimental as a panic review – that strange practice where test takers cram in as many facts as possible in the last few hours before the test. Doing so will muddle up whatever you’ve already reviewed, and distract you during the test itself.
  • Find your way. Unless you know the campus or testing center like the back of your hand, do a test run of your route at least the day before. Find out where the important rooms are. Nothing is more stressful than getting lost on UPCAT day.
  • Be early. Don’t think that just because the test starts at a particular time, you can arrive at exactly that time. There are usually a lot of instructions and corrections to be given out, and there’s an advantage to coming in at least a half hour early.

The UPCAT can be a long and stressful experience for you, so you should work to lessen your stress levels in the days and hours leading up to the test. A little preparation and a few preventive measures should help keep you focused and ready for the UPCAT. As any UPCAT passer will tell you, it’s not as hard as it looks.

UPCAT Tips: Preparing for the Test

At this point, one thing should be clear: there’s no sure-shot, magic-bullet method to pass the UPCAT. Most test passers, however, will tell you that adding a few simple steps to your test prep should help improve your chances of making the cut. It’s time to stop just preparing and start preparing smartly.

Smart Memory Work

Too many people nowadays think that memorization is the key to passing the UPCAT. While keeping a fact or two in your memory can be helpful, memorizing every factoid is way too hard to be practical. Here’s how you can optimize all that space in your head:

  • Don’t memorize, understand. When you’re going through the book or reviewer, look at the concept instead of just the facts per se. You’ll be able to answer more questions while memorizing less, especially for science-related topics.
  • Use Analogies. This is a very effective way on memorizing science concepts as well as new vocabulary.  For the layers of the earth, you can use egg as an analogy, for volcanism – your bowel movement, etc.
  • Memorize one, then derive. Math involves all sorts of long equations, but that doesn’t mean you have to be able to recite all of them from memory. In fact, you can get almost all of the formulas from just a handful of fundamental equations. Focus on that handful, and then derive as necessary on test day.
  • Practice. Many have problems with English vocabulary  words because they merely use rote memory to pair words with definitions. Try using new words in sentences or regular conversation so that their meanings come to you naturally.

In practice, you’ll do better by memorizing as few things as possible. Rote memory works only on standard questions; once you get to a tricky or more advanced item, you won’t know what to do anymore. Working with concepts, meanwhile, will keep you versatile enough to answer most anything that comes your way.

Neater Note-Taking

Once you’ve simplified how you work with your head, it’s time to clean up your act with respect to your notes. Notes are an all-important part of the test prep process because they are good last-minute resources and reviewers. Every person, though, has a different style when it comes to taking notes. But whether you work with all text or draw pictures, here are some tips that should work for you:

  • Don’t just copy. You probably work with a textbook or some other source that has information in paragraph form. Not only is it pointlessly difficult to copy all that into your notebook, but you’ll also find those notes hard to review.
  • Use imagery. Have you heard the saying about how images are worth a thousand words? They’re worth even more in your notes. Pictures and diagrams could be a little tedious to make, but they’ll make your reviews much more efficient.
  • Put everything in an outline. Bullet points and sub-points help show you how different ideas are interrelated. At the same time, you don’t have to read through all the extra words that typically go into sentence construction.

Just like with memorization, your goal with your review notes should be to minimize and to optimize. That means getting the most benefit out of the least amount of effort exerted in this area. After all, you still have your regular academics to worry about.

Scheduling Strategy

You’ll have less and less time in the weeks leading up to the UPCAT. Scheduling and time management become more important than ever during those days, as you have to get all your reviewing and regular school requirements done simultaneously.

  • Prepare a calendar. It seems like such a small thing, but having a visual reminder in front of you at all times helps you stick to the schedules you set.
  • Focus on just one area. When planning your review sessions, don’t be ambitious and clump your Math, English and Science topics in one day. You’ll have an easier time by focusing on just one or two major topics from the same subject per day.
  • Call up your friends. Studying all by your lonesome can be demoralizing. Call up some of your classmates and organize a group study session every so often. Just make sure that you have a schedule or facilitator to follow so that you don’t end up gabbing the whole session away.

Don’t think that you can go on an academic marathon and study for three weeks straight. Experts suggest that you give yourself a day off every week or so to give you a little incentive and some time for your mind to rest from all that reviewing.

Style and Studying

Each person has his or her unique way of learning. Of course, you can still learn using other styles and methods, but using the one best suited to you will optimize the speed and effectiveness of your review.

  • Visual learners learn best through seeing. Whether it’s a printed diagram of the water cycle or a video on geology, having everything visually in front of you will help give you a better grasp of the concepts. Prepare notes in a structured outline form to help play to your learning strengths or look for instructional videos on YouTube to help you with some concept.
  • Auditory learners pick up things from hearing them. Lectures and oral reviews usually help you best if you’re an auditory learner. You may want to try reading your notes aloud, or going with a review group that does oral discussions.
  • Haptic or kinesthetic learners use touch or actions to get a literal grasp on the concepts at hand. It can be a little difficult as a kinesthetic learner because you’re often on your feet and on the go. Give yourself hand gestures to signify certain facts or equations you want to remember. Little props like a Styrofoam ball model of atoms should also improve recall.  I once taught a tutee about coplanar and collinear points by using pins and a shoebox.

One thing you should never do is force yourself to conform to a style that doesn’t suit you. If you notice that you’re not making a lot of progress with one method, switch over to another right away so that you don’t waste time. You’ll likely have to make a switch or two, but you’ll be thankful you did come UPCAT day.

You have a lot of things to do for UPCAT prep: pages of notes to dig up, books to go over and countless topics to review. In the end, those who do best with UPCAT review – and ultimately the UPCAT itself – are those who can do the most work in the least time

UPCAT Tips: What to Study

Yes, the UPCAT is supposed to measure how well you mastered your lessons in high school. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should go back and read every single shred of the notes you gathered from your freshman year. Since you’re probably dealing with your senior year academics at the same time as your UPCAT review, there’s an advantage to studying just those topics that you really need.

UPCAT Math Tips

Too many people overreact with regard to the math portion of the UPCAT. A large chunk of test takers even go through review regimens that include higher mathematics like advanced trigonometry or calculus. You could follow in their footsteps, but the edge you get from all the extra studying isn’t worth your pains.

For most of the UPCAT, all you’ll need are the more basic concepts. That includes topics like basic number theory, particularly the critical sets of numbers and their corresponding notations and properties. Basic to intermediate algebra should also be part of your review regimen, as many of the techniques involved can be used in other areas. Simply knowing how to perform certain operations can already save you a lot of trouble on the test.

Go back to your previous lessons on intermediate algebra, especially the ones that had functions. The ability to work with and manipulate different functions and equations is something that any UPCAT taker should have. At this point, your factoring skills should already have been sharpened to help make all the different procedures easier.

Some geometry is also required for the UPCAT, but restrict your review to just the basics. You’ll definitely need to know about the basic 2D and 3D shapes, as well as each of their properties. That should help you get through most of the test already.

Though it’s a considerably smaller part of the math section, practicing your trigonometry can give your UPCAT score a boost up. At the very least know the basic trigonometric values and identities so that you’re not left guessing numbers come test day. You don’t want to spend too much time here, though, as there’s not very many of these items.

Read more:  ♦UPCAT Math Coverage      ♦UPCAT Math Tips and Strategies

UPCAT Science Tips

 Unfortunately, a good number of parents also tend to overreact when it comes to this part of the test. No, you don’t have to study all the way up to subatomic physics and genetics to ace the UPCAT. Countless test takers have gotten through knowing much less.

In Biology, you’ll need to know all about classification, evolution, biological interactions and a little Anatomy. There’s little point in going any deeper to topics like biomolecules and heredity; even if those lessons are covered in the UPCAT, you’ll have to study so much to gain so few points.

Chemistry is also part of the UPCAT but, like the rest of it, there’s no need for you to go overboard with your review. Stoichiometry, the atomic model, basic chemical interactions (including neutralization and combustion), thermochemistry and a little organic chemistry can pull you through the UPCAT. Once you finish with the properties of the periodic table, it’s time for you to stop reviewing Chemistry and start doing something else.

Test takers will tell you that, although it’s still a part of the test, Physics doesn’t seem to be so big a component. As long as you know how to work with waves, forces and the kinematic equations, you’ll do fine on the UPCAT. Most of the Physics questions in the test have to do with objects in motion, though you’ll see an odd optics or thermodynamics question here and there.

Read more:  ♦UPCAT Science Coverage     ♦UPCAT Science Tips and Strategies

UPCAT Language Proficiency

 Here’s where reviewing can get a little iffy. Unlike with the sciences or Math where you have to master concepts, the Language Proficiency part requires you to have skills. When you have to do things like critical reading and abstraction, that’s a very big difference. No clear-cut routine is suggested for Language Proficiency, but that doesn’t mean you can review without any structure.

Practice your reading comprehension, particularly looking for and understanding context clues. This’ll make a large chunk of the exam easier for you, and will serve as a backup plan when you encounter vocabulary words you’ve never seen. Critical reading is also a must; learn to spot cause-and-effect pairings as well as critical events and key characters.

Speed reading isn’t really a very crucial skill to passing the UPCAT, but it has a definite plus. There’s a lot of reading to be done in the test, many of them involving big blocks of text. Knowing how to skim and speed read can save you a lot of time and give you larger leeway to carefully think about your answers or review.

Vocabulary is one part of the UPCAT that many find difficult, not in the least because of the quality of English education in the country. One thing you should never do is to just memorize every single word with a corresponding definition. Instead, find words from an UPCAT reviewer, identify their definitions yourself and then use them in conversation. You’ll have better recall that way, especially if you do it in batches of 5 or 10.

Read more:  ♦UPCAT English Coverage     ♦UPCAT English Tips and Strategies

Where to Get Review Materials

 For private and science high schools, most of the topics in the UPCAT will have been covered by late third or early fourth year. Hopefully, you still have your old notes and handouts with you so that you could go back over them. They’re a great resource for UPCAT review because they’re often already summarized for easier studying. Otherwise, you may want to look into your old books or consult your previous teachers.

♦ Download Our Free UPCAT Reviewer

When reviewing for the UPCAT, don’t make the mistake of memorizing raw facts and examples – they’ll be of little help to you. What you should study are the concepts and the ideas involved so that you can adapt your thinking to any question that comes your way.  Enrolling in a good UPCAT review center should help you a lot in organizing the things you have to study for the UPCAT exam.  To see tips on how to choose a good UPCAT review center, click here.

There’s really nothing too special or hard about preparing for the UPCAT. If anything, the process is only made difficult by the sheer volume of material you have to study. By trimming down your review topics and studying only the lessons that you have to, you should be able to pass the UPCAT – and do many more things besides.

UPCAT Help: Resources for UPCAT Test Takers

Does the prospect of taking the UPCAT make you anxious?  If so, that’s understandable.  It is, after all, one of the most challenging entrance exams around.  Add that to the fact that thousands of students are also vying for a lost in the state university, and you’ve got a bit of competition on your hands.

The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone.  There are plenty of people and things out there that can help you pass that test and land a coveted slot in the state university.

Online Assistance

Students know that one of the best ways to pass any exam is to prepare for it as a group.  Besides forming a study group with your friends or classmates, there are other helpful groups you can join online.  For starters, go to Yahoo or Google and type out “UPCAT” in the search box.  You’ll come across a plethora of support groups for that entrance exam alone.

The interesting thing to note is that some review institutions who offer review sessions in the flesh also do so online.  If you need advice from people “who’ve been there, done that,” you’ll also find a lot of resources on the Internet.  Forums like Pinoy Exchange (http://www.pinoyexchange.com) offer a lot of healthy (and not-so-healthy) discussions on the UPCAT and how to prepare for it.

Some blogs and community sites may offer helpful advice, too, such as Mukamo (http://www.mukamo.com/tips-for-upcat-takers/), Dine Racoma’s blog (http://dine.racoma.com.ph/school/tips-for-upcat-takers-acet-too/), Friendster UP communities, and of course the very blog you’re reading right now.

Offline Assistance

The Internet isn’t the only place where you can get help.  Quite a few are offering review and tutorial services “in the flesh”.  You can look them up online or through flyers given outside your school.  Some even offer this service for free, such as StarBox Tutorials, Music and Language Institute (call Ralph at 0921-966-46-74) in Dasma.  The only catch is that your grade average must be at least 85% and you need to bring your own module.

If you’d rather gain the “home court advantage” by getting tutorials from former students, there are alumni organizations who cater to particular regional niches.  For example, the UP Ibalon Bicol Association (http://www.upibalon.com) holds seminars in Naga City and posts its resources on the Internet.

A Final Word

If you’re not sure which way is best, do a little research and ask around.  Do note that different people have different opinions regarding what the best way to prepare is, however.

For example, some say going to review centers helps boost your confidence.  Others maintain that you’re better off spending money on the NCEE booklets available at National Bookstore.

Nevertheless, it won’t hurt to learn from the experiences of others.  Who knows?  You may find a free, informal review session in your area that may be just as good, if not better, than the pricey ones out there.

Whatever you choose to do, remember that investing in these methods will only actualize what is already there.  It’s the grace of God and the mettle of the students themselves that ultimately make the difference.

UPCAT English Portion Tips and Strategies

If it’s one thing I’m grateful to my parents for, it’s the fact that they instilled the love of reading in me when I was just a little kid.  Little did I know that that would serve me in good stead, especially when I faced entrance exams like the University of the Philippines’ College Admissions Test (UPCAT).

Not everyone may be able to breeze through the English and Reading Comprehension portions of the said exam, though.  If you need help with regard to those sections, then read on.

Tips and Strategies

The content for the English and the Reading Comprehension sections is pretty straightforward.  You’ll likely face questions that will have you completing unfinished sentences, arranging mixed-up things in chronological order and correcting grammatical errors.  Be sure to mind those tricky tenses, spelling, punctuation and subject-verb agreement thingies, too.

Attacking these sections is a bit of a balancing act.  The time pressure involved makes it necessary to read through the text as quickly as you can without compromising your understanding of it.  Fortunately, there are ways to prepare for this. (more on those below).

Oh, and remember to read the instructions very well (this holds true for any section, actually).  If you understand what the question is asking for but you don’t follow the test instructions to the letter, you’re in trouble.

Great Test Takers are Great Readers

Arguably, the best way to prepare for these portions of the UPCAT is to be a voracious reader well before the test itself.  Read all the books, magazines and other publications (in both English and Tagalog) that you can get your hands on, and then after you’re done with them, read some more.

Another thing my parents taught me was to look up at least one new word in the dictionary every day.  It’s a great way to build up your vocabulary if you do it faithfully.  A word a day translates into three hundred sixty-five new words after a year.

A technique I learned from my mentors involves reading aloud.  Besides exercising your vocal chords, but there’s something about reading aloud that exercises your mind as well.  The processing and the comprehension involved seem faster and more efficient.  Try this and see.

A Final Word

If, after doing all these, you still need extra special help in polishing your English skills, there are plenty of resources available out there.

For instance, you may wish to invest in speed reading and other English classes, such as the ones being offered by the likes of Wilma Cruz Tapalla.  Feel free to check out the links here for some possible leads here.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but one of the best resources you can visit is Merriam-Webster’s site.  Besides having a handy dictionary and thesaurus, the site also offers word games and other resources that can help you keep your English skills razor sharp.

Above all, don’t forget to pray as you prepare.  By the time that UPCAT rolls around, you’d have gotten enough practice to tackle the English and Reading Comprehension sections in your sleep.