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The USTET and UST Application Process

ustet101It’s that time of the year when a young student’s fancy turns to thoughts of…exams.  Accept it:  tests are about as unavoidable as death and taxes.

While they all share a common purpose—namely to gauge your competence as a student—variations do exist between entrance exams.  Some exams seem just plain unfinishable (cough*ACET*cough*), while others are a little more forgiving.

Last January 12 was a particularly important day for potential Thomasians, as the UST (University of Santo Tomas, not the University of Science and Technology) released the results of the institution’s latest entrance exam online.  This article will help shed a little more light on that specific exam, commonly known as the UST Entrance Test (USTET).

USTET Basics

In a nutshell, the USTET is the Dominican institution’s written means of checking whether you’ve been paying attention in class for the past few years.  It’s one of several criteria for entrance into the university, the others being your high school grades and an interview.  The unofficial word these days, though, is that UST currently tends to look less on your high school grades as much as it did in days past.

The exam is held in testing centers in Manila, the provinces and even abroad.  In the event that you’re living in Bahrain, Kuwait, Al-Khobar, Jeddah, Riyadh, Doha Abu Dhabi or Dubai, you can still take the USTET in the designated testing centers there..

The big question that’s probably on people’s minds is, “Can I take the exam?”  The answer is, “Why not?”  Anyone who has intentions of studying at the university and who has gone through high school may take the test.  Before you get all excited, however, be sure to send in the requirements first.

USTET Requirements

These are standard fare as far as most universities go.  UST will ask you for the following:  an original copy of your high school report card (otherwise known as Form 138), two certificates of good moral character (talk to your high school class adviser, guidance counselor and/or principal for these) and two pictures of size 2 x 2

If you’re a resident or immigrant alien in the Philippines, the school will also ask you for an original copy of your Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR)—duly verified, of course.  Non-resident alien types will need show their passport or student visa.

Unfortunately, lunches aren’t free in this world, and neither are entrance exams.  UST charges a non-refundable five thousand peso reservation fee (payable via cash or via your little plastic card) for the privilege.  The good news is that the school will deduct that amount from your tuition fee when you enroll—all the more reason for you to pass and get into the course of your choice.

Once you have submitted all these requirements, the institution will then give you an information brochure and your USTET permit.  Don’t take the test without it!

A Final Note

If you’ve turned in all the requirements, then congratulations, you’re all set to take the next step toward college life.  All you have to do now is to check the university’s official website for the schedule of exams and to make the necessary preparations.

Actually making it into the university (as well as staying in the university) is another story, but that’s best left for another article.

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.

Increasing your Chances of Passing the USTET

increase your chances of passing the ustetThere’s word going around that the University of Santo Tomas Entrance Test is relatively easier when compared to certain other entrance exams out there.  That may or may not be the case depending on who you ask.  One thing’s for sure, though:  you’ll still be up against hundreds of thousands of other applicants vying for slots, regardless, so it’s never a good idea to rest get complacent.

As with other things, it pays to not only work hard, but to work smart as well.  Here are a few guidelines to help you pass that exam with flying colors and increase your chances of landing that much-coveted university slot.

Preparing for USTET


Repeat after me one hundred times:  I will not cram a few days before the exam.  Seriously, winging it a day before the big event will get you nowhere.  The real preparation time for the test starts months – even years – before the USTET day.  If need be, and if you have the budget for it, you may wish to consult a review or testing center.  There’s no shame in for asking for assistance whenever and wherever it’s warranted.

Start adding stuff to your stock knowledge as early as possible, as the test draws primarily upon that.  You may want to review a few weeks before the testing day, just to keep things fresh.  The only time I’d advise you not to review would be the day before the big day, and there’s actually a very good reason for that.

The Law of the Lid states that even when you do your best, there’s an absolute limit to how much you can accomplish on your own within a specific time span.  There will come a point wherein feeding cramming every available bit of into your brain won’t help.

Instead, take it more slowly and get the things you’ll need in order:  a couple of Number 2 Mongol pencils, an eraser, a watch, and your test permit (a jacket is optional for testing rooms with temperatures below zero.).  You’re allowed to nibble on something while you’re taking the exam, so pack water and some brain-boosting snacks like fruits or nuts to keep you in the game.

Once those are out of the way, take the time to do a relaxing activity.  Meditate, watch some inspiring movies, play games – do whatever it takes to get you into that optimal mental state for the following day.  Finally, pray for wisdom and get a good night’s sleep so that your brain will be primed and ready.


Make sure you stock up on fuel adequately before the exam.  Depending on the time of your test, though, you may wish to avoid wolfing your meal down (save that for afterward).  Pigging out before an afternoon exam isn’t recommended, as the blood your brain needs will sink to your stomach.  If it’s in the morning, however, a good breakfast will go a long way.

If you want to get the worm (figuratively, that is), leave early to avoid the rush.  It’s never a good idea to get caught in a sea of human traffic or otherwise en route to the testing center.  Time your departure so that you can arrive about an hour before the test and psych yourself up.

Now get ready:  the tricky part is just up ahead.

The key to successfully completing the exam is to answer the questions as quickly as you can without sacrificing carefulness in the process – that’s why your watch is there to help you budget your time.  Immediately go for the questions you feel most confident about answering.

Once you’ve breezed through them, go back and answer the ones you’re not quite sure of.  If need be, take your best guess.  Do your best to set aside time to review your answers and stick with that.  Chances are you’ll probably change a wrong answer into a correct one.

The Aftermath


Congratulations.  You made it!  Stretch and breathe a prayer of thanks to your Maker.  Since you’ve run the gauntlet, take the time to relax.  And whatever you do, don’t worry about the results.  If you’ve seen the movie “The Secret”, then you understand why this is important.

In case you haven’t seen the film, its basic premise states that what you visualize and focus on in your mind eventually manifests itself in reality.  If you’ve done your best to prepare for the test, and you’ve done your best during the test, and you believe that you have done well, that is exactly what will happen.

Now go out there and conquer that exam!