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1. Thou shall have no entrance test
in mind other than the UPCAT.
When you’re about to take the UPCAT, never
entertain the thought of failing, nor the thought of
still having other entrance tests to take, nor the
thought that there are still a lot of colleges and
universities other than UP. Your mindset should be
focused on the UPCAT, nothing else. Your attitude
should be “no other option but UP”. By doing this,
you are assured of giving your best and the desire
of passing the UPCAT would be easier to
2. Thou shall not arrive late in your
testing room.
I’ve seen a lot of UPCAT applicants lose their
composure, their confidence, and even the things
they reviewed for this tough test. Why? Simply
because they did not come on time. And because
they were late, they rushed, their hearts beat faster,
and they became more anxious especially when
they were reprimanded by the UPCAT Examiner. It is
foolish to be late in the UPCAT. You need to be in
your testing room at least thirty minutes before
your scheduled time written in your test permit.
3. Thou shall not forget to bring all
the test materials needed.
You should not forget these six most important things
that you need to bring for the UPCAT:
test permit
number 2 pencils
rubber eraser
wrist watch
There’s no need to bring any paper because you will be
provided with answer sheet and scratch paper. Never
bring your cellular phone; it’s the most useless
(sometimes harmful) thing you’ll have during the UPCAT,
if ever.
4. Thou shall fill-up the information
called for in any form completely and
At least twenty minutes of the UPCAT is
spent just for filling-up the personal
information sheet. You need to be extra
careful especially in the spelling of names,
your examinee number, and so on. Any
inconsistency or mismatch with other forms
you previously submitted may warrant
deferment on your UPCAT result.
5. Thou shall follow all the
instructions given by the Examiner.
Being alert to the instructions given to you
is a key to a smooth-sailing UPCAT testtaking. I bet you don’t want to miss a single
word uttered by the Examiner because you
don’t want to be scolded when caught
inattentive to the directions. Your listening
skill is as important as the retrieval of all the
information that you studied for the UPCAT.
6. Thou shall not write anything on
the test booklet.
UPCAT takers are not allowed to write on
the test booklet. You shall be provided
with a blank sheet for your
computational and other scratch works.
If in case your scratch paper is already
filled-up with writings, don’t be tempted
to scribble on the test booklet. Just
request for another scratch sheet from
the Proctor.
7. Thou shall not ask the Proctor.
Since the sub-tests in the UPCAT are under certain
time limits, you are not in a position to waste even
a single second. If you encounter a particular item
that you think is confusing or is stated vaguely or
that your answer does not match any of the
answer choices, then the best thing that you can
do is to use your best judgment. Never approach
the proctor to ask for clarification or debate upon
the item. By asking the proctor, not only will you
lose precious seconds, you will not also get the
answer that you would like to hear.
8. Thou shall answer easy questions
All the questions in the UPCAT, whether easy,
average or difficult, are worth the same
number of points. It is best to skip hard items
and go back to them later once all the easy
and average items are answered. By doing so,
you will maximize your score, which is, the
most important thing in the UPCAT.
Remember this: 80% of the UPCAT covers the
basics. So don’t sacrifice the easy 80%
because you allot a lot of time to the more
difficult 20%.
9. Thou shall eat your snacks while
UPCAT is a long, exhausting test – 5 grueling hours
inside the testing room. You are likened to an
offender imprisoned for almost half a day. You
won’t be given any snack break but definitely, you
are free to eat and drink anytime during the test. If
you’ve eaten your meal prior to your UPCAT
schedule, you might not feel hungry while taking
the test. I suggest you eat your snacks after the
first or second subtest so that you gain the much
needed energy and oxygen to fuel your test-taking
prowess all throughout the UPCAT.
10. Thou shall relax and enjoy the mental exercise!
UPCAT is almost always portrayed as a distressing, intimidating
college entrance test. Year after year, a lot of UPCAT aspirants
find themselves helpless, anxious, and panicking as they take
the test. This should not be the case for you. The best remedy
for this is to erase all that have something to do with the
UPCAT the night before the test. Cramming would not help
you pass the UPCAT. To avoid this, you should have reviewed
several weeks (or months) in advance. If you have done this,
then you just need to relax the day before the UPCAT. You can
go out and watch a movie, play light sports, or get together
with friends. Stay confident the following big day and enjoy
answering item by item as if you are just playing a mental
game. Majority of UPCAT qualifiers are confident test-takers.
So be counted as one of them!
10 ways to
outsmart the UPCAT
1. Prepare early.
The UPCAT is not a test you want to cram
overwhelming, tiresome, or even boring
to some, if you prepare as early as
possible and commit to doing it right,
then you will get excited when the UPCAT
result is released. Do you see why?
Always remember, “daig ng maagap ang
2. Study your weak areas.
Take an assessment or diagnostic test on the
subjects covered in the UPCAT (Mathematics,
Science, Reading Comprehension and Language
Proficiency). You need to know where you need
help the most. Once you identify the areas that
need improvement, it is time to review. Get help
from your textbooks, classmates, teachers, as well
as from online resources. Be brave to admit that
you need help in those areas. Also, you need to
allot a study time for this. Remember, you cannot
buy a high score in the UPCAT, you must earn it! So
review, review, review!
3. Practice using the UPCAT
vocabulary in daily conversation.
The principle behind this is “learning by
using (or doing)”. Make a deal with your
friends or classmates to use new words
in your conversation with them. It would
be uncomfortable or difficult at first, but
once you get the hang of it, you’ll be
surprised how enriched your vocabulary
has become! Continue doing this until
you take the UPCAT.
4. Avoid using the calculator.
In the UPCAT, you are not allowed to use calculator
in the computation parts. Too much dependence
on the calculator might be detrimental in your
preparation especially for the Math subtest of the
UPCAT. Try doing the manual computations even in
your school assignments. Practice your estimation
and mental calculation. Aside from the fact that
the UPCAT involves simple computations, you need
to focus more on the analysis of worded problems.
So please keep your calculator out of sight.
5. You read well? Good! But you need to study how
the test maker in reading comprehension arrived at
the correct answer.
This is about getting the BEST answer in the
reading comprehension part. When answering this
portion of the UPCAT, you need to eliminate your
bias, your belief, or your opinion. What matters
most is how the test maker sees it. The test maker
would include three wrong answers among the
four choices, each of which has at least one word
that is obviously wrong, or at least, can be proven
wrong. So make it a habit of eliminating those
three answers no matter how plausible they are.
The best answer is the correct answer.
6. Do not underestimate the grammar
part of the UPCAT.
Nowadays, students are accustomed to writing and
reading (or even speaking) in the popular abbreviated text
messages. The problem with this is they no longer
recognize what is right or wrong in their grammar usage.
That is the reason why most students now perform poorly
in grammar and spelling tests. You can still avoid this
grammar trap by not going with the flow. Write your text
messages in complete sentences, correct spelling, and
proper subject-verb agreement. Encourage your friends
and text-mates to do the same. You can even correct
them if they commit grammatical errors in their
messages. Take this seriously because the rewards are
7. Assess your guessing abilities when you
You should know how the UPCAT is scored. The Review
Masters League is a believer of “Guess, even if it is right
minus wrong.” In the UPCAT, there is no penalty for
leaving a question blank, but an incorrect answer costs
you ¼ of a point. Some students guess really well. But you
need to understand that these students have mastered
the art of smart guessing as compared to those who
guess poorly and used to “wild guessing”. It is better if
you know whether you are a good strategist in guessing
the correct answer or not. So while reviewing for the
UPCAT, assess your guessing skill so that you will be more
confident when you need to guess in the actual test.
8. Pick the review materials written by
authentic UPCAT experts.
I have written a lot of test questions (in Geometry, by
the way) for my own materials as well as for Review
Masters League. My colleagues in Review Masters are
also expert test constructors in their respective fields.
Our being alumni (so, we had taken the UPCAT a few
years back) and former faculty members of the
University made us more aware on the style and the
coverage of the UPCAT questions. We also get
feedbacks from previous UPCAT takers so more or less
we get to construct questions close to the real thing. If
you happen to purchase an UPCAT reviewer from a
bookstore, then consider who the authors are.
9. Review relentlessly.
Diligence, persistence, determination. They all mean one
thing – “If you want it, then get it… by all means!” It is not
the number of review materials you have on your study
table. It is not your academic ranking in your batch. It is not
the school where you study. It is not the review center
where you attend review classes. It is not the online
resources you bookmarked. It is all about you – how you
discipline yourself to achieve your goal of passing the
UPCAT. You should not compromise your study time for
anything else less important – like watching movies, playing
online games, chatting, malling, or even checking your
Facebook account. These things should be put aside every
time you are scheduled to study for the UPCAT. Do this
consistently and you know that you are inching your way to
the target. Go for goal!
10. Shake, rattle and roll in the UPCAT by
applying what you’ve learned.
Taking the UPCAT is much like a one-on-one basketball
do-or-die championship match – exhausting, nerveracking, and requiring your extreme focus until the final
buzzer sounds. The test proper is close to three and a half
hours. So you need to endure the pressure, you need to
be confident and overcome test anxiety, and you need to
enjoy the gruesome mental exercise. Remember, in a
competition, those who desire the most usually win. So
you just apply whatever you learned in the review – not
only the subject content but also the techniques and
strategies in taking the UPCAT. If you follow numbers 1 to
9 above, then you are ready to rock!