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USTET Review Guide

It’s not unusual to find forum members discussing the level of difficulty presented by the different college entrance exams.  Opinions vary as to which test is the most difficult.  On the flip side, there are those who believe that certain tests are among the easiest of the bunch.

Unfortunately, an implicit danger lies within these kinds of discussions.  The temptation to rest on your laurels and think you can breeze through the University of Santo Tomas Entrance Test (USTET) is great, yet allow me to show you what the test is about and why you shouldn’t think that way.

USTET Coverage

The USTET shares a lot of sub-sections in common with other entrance tests—you’ll find the self-explanatory Mathematics, Science and Language Proficiency (English reading and comprehension) there.  If you’re a prospective artist, you may also get some additional testing on abstract reasoning care of the College of Fine arts and Design..

Besides those, you’ll also find a sub-section that’s more uniquely UST:  the Mental Aptitude section.  It’s basically a formidable-sounding term for a general IQ test, yet it may likely be your toughest challenge in terms of time pressure.

Still, most USTET veterans claim that the exam doesn’t quite have the frenetic, pressure cooker feel of its peer tests, and that stock knowledge can help you get through it.  That may be true, but beware:  the Mental Aptitude, for example, has the shortest time limit available of all the sub-sections, while the Math section has the largest amount of items to solve.

For a more in-depth discussion of the different USTET sub-sections, please go here.

Preparing for the USTET

The first round of testing begins in August 2010, so it’s never too early to begin preparing for it.  In fact, if you’ve been studying diligently all throughout your high school tenure, then chances are, you’ve already built up your stock knowledge sufficiently for this exam.  Kindly check this article for more USTET preparation details.

There’s no harm, however, in seeking out extra help if you feel you need it.  Your friends Mr. Google and the Yellow Pages will gladly help you with respect to finding review centers and such.  Better yet, ask others who’ve attended these same centers for their feedback.

Due to the more general nature of the USTET, you don’t really need to look for “specialized” reviews.  Most review centers offer instruction in all core academic subjects, anyway, and they only really vary in terms of their approach.  Though it’s more about preparing for another entrance exam, this article here provides a checklist of general guidelines for shopping around for a review center.

Final Tips

When asking around, see if the review centers in question use Thomasian-authored textbook material in the sessions.  Exposing yourself to this material will give you an advantage, as the USTET understandably draws a lot of content from books written by alumni and alumnae.

Here’s one final reason for not slacking off:  the USTET also has a bit of a ranking system built into it, meaning that certain courses will be easier or harder to get into depending on the quotas set for them.  Regardless of how easy or hard you think the exam is, give it your best shot and you’ll have no regrets in the long run.

USTET Coverage

There are certain subjects or sections that you’ll see in almost every entrance exam out there:  mathematics, science, and what not.  Sometimes, though, you’ll come across a test that desires to act out of the box and experiment a little.

One example of this is the entrance test of the University of Santo Tomas—the USTET.  Its coverage is a tad different from other entrance exams in terms of presentation.  Allow me to explain.

Testing the (Mental) Waters

If you’re an entrance test veteran, the terms like “formulas”, “word problems” and “language proficiency” are probably household names for you already.  The USTET doesn’t really deviate from the norm in the sense that they will draw from your high school stock knowledge of science, math, English and Filipino.

Besides the sections mentioned above, the USTET has its own “specialty” Mental Aptitude section.  Don’t let its highfaluting name intimidate you—it’s basically an eighty-five item IQ test.  If you’ve answered anything even resembling an IQ test before, then you’ve got a pretty good chance of doing well on this one.

If you’d like a more detailed listing of the sub-topics the USTET questions are drawn from, kindly refer to these webpages for math, science and English, respectively.

Of Likes, Unlikes and Time Pressure

Unlike the UPCAT, the USTET does not penalize you for committing errors, so make good use of your common sense every time you come up against something you’re not entirely sure of.

Like any other entrance test, however, the USTET will apply a palpable amount of time pressure on you, so stay on your toes.  While it may not as bad as the infamous “pressure cooker” of some of the other Ivy League universities, it’s still serious enough to cause problems for the unprepared.

One thing you should watch out for is the reduced amount of time you have for the Mental Aptitude section—you’ll get around one and a half hours for the Science and Language sections, around two hours for the math and only one hour for Mental Aptitude.

Horror stories have been told of who ran out of time and had to guess from the hip.  It’s very easy to forget this in the middle of answering everything, so keep that watch handy!

Final Advice

Overall, complacency will be your worst enemy during this exam.  I say this because the USTET has a general reputation of being one of the easiest exams to pass (Staying in UST, of course, is another story.).

It’s way too easy to get lulled into a false sense of security and to throw caution to the winds.  Just ask any USTET veteran who paid the price of complacency and he or she will be happy to regale you with stories of mistakes past.  Learn from the mistakes of others, then, and don’t rest on your laurels, even if you think the test is easy.

The best way to do that is to study and pay attention in your high school classes, review your lessons to keep your brain up to snuff and do your best during the USTET itself.  If you learn these good habits early on and continue to apply them throughout your college life, they will help you last—and last well.

What to Expect from the USTET

what to expect from ustetIt’s amazing what you can get from cartoons.  For example, one of the programs I remember watching as a kid was the animated version of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days.  In it, main protagonist Phileas Fogg utters the memorable line, “The motto of the wise is:  be prepared for surprises.”

I never forgot that line, and I believe it’s something that can be applied to real life as well.  Take the USTET, for instance.  If you know exactly what you’ll be getting into, facing it on exam day will hardly count as a surprise.  If that’s exactly what you want, then read on.

USTET Subtests

You may be interested to know that the USTET actually tests your stock knowledge more than anything else.  Surprised?  If you’ve been paying attention in your high school classes, chances are you’ll do pretty well.  And if not, well, there’s always time to review.

As with most entrance exams, the USTET is divided into five main portions:  Mathematics, Science, Language, Personal Information and Mental Aptitude.  Let’s take a look at each of these in turn.

Challenging the Challenge

The Personal Info section is pretty self-explanatory.  If you know your own name, your own school, and a host of other important bits of data about yourself, you should be able to clear this section in no time at all.  Unless you’ve been stricken with amnesia, this is the least of your concerns during test time.

Mental Aptitude is where things start heating up.  If you’ve taken any IQ tests in the past, this is what the section will feel like to you.  It consists of about eighty-five items worth of general stuff and lasts for approximately an hour, so don’t dilly-dally.

The one-and-a-half-hour Science section is one of the more focused aspects of the USTET, yet is still general enough to draw upon your stock knowledge.  Around sixty items will be thrown at you here.  Don’t worry, you won’t get anything like rocket science or quantum physics.  Summon your high school lessons in biology, chemistry and physics to your aid and you should do fine.

The Language portion contains the same number of items as the Science section and lasts for the same amount of time.  Have you been reading the test questions carefully so far?  If you have, then well and good.  Do so especially for this section, as reading comprehension is the in thing here.  Some of the sections will involve identifying errors, while others will consist of grammar and vocabulary.  Don’t let the nosebleed-inducing words intimidate you—keep at it!

Finally, the Mathematics section is the longest section in the entire test.  It still consists of sixty items, but the computations you’ll need to do will require additional time.  You have about two hours for this, so keep calm and keep going.  Expect questions related to algebra, geometry and basic trigonometry, among others.  Don’t worry about anything like calculus, but don’t get complacent, either.

A Final Word

If there’s one other thing you should expect with regard to the USTET, it’s the horrendous amount of vehicular and human traffic on the day of the exam.  You also, unfortunately, may end up in a room designed to freeze your socks off, so be sure to prepare accordingly.

Finally, keep those all-important testing permit and USTET brochure handy.  The former item will authorize you to take the exam (duh!) and will note your room assignment, while the latter item will tell you exactly what you need to bring on the day of the test.

Now that you know what’s coming, taking the USTET need not be scary endeavor anymore.  Ready yourself in mind, body and spirit, and then, get out there and knock ‘em dead!

Writer’s Disclaimer:  The information that follows is the most recent information that the writer was able to acquire with regard to USTET content.  It is entirely possible that the said content may have changed sometime between the time of the research and the writing of this article, so be warned.