THE 10 UPCAT COMMANDMENTS 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 materialize. 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 sharpener snacks 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 accurately. 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 first. 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 answering. 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 for. Although it might sound 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 masipag”. 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 enormous. 7. Assess your guessing abilities when you review. 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!