What does it take to pass the UPCAT? What are the skills that you should have and improve? Here are the things that you need to master to pass the most competitive entrance exam in the country.
1. Multiple choice test-taking skills
With 86,000 students who will take the UPCAT, only the multiple choice type of exam is feasible for UP. Even a simple, 5 sentence essay would be impossible to check. With this come opportunities for students to take advantage of.
In multiple choice type questions, always remember: The correct answer is among the choices.
This concept works well with problem solving as you can use the choices that fit the question rather than spending time to systematically solve the question. Wording analysis and item elimination are also techniques to answer questions you don’t know how to answer.
Some people would argue that using these techniques to find the correct answer defeats the purpose of testing the knowledge of a student. But then again UP is looking for the best and brightest students in the country; and effectively breaking down an exam is a clear sign of intelligence.
2. Effective Use of Time
There are only 2 types of students who do not run out of time in the UPCAT.
The first one is the geniuses who by all means should qualify for UP. They usually become the Oblation Awardees and Intarmed Candidates. They take the exam, finish before the time is up, and simply have nothing else to do but wait for the time to finish so they can answer the next subtest.
The other type is students who have simply given up on the UPCAT.
If you are one of the former, then good for you, I just hope you’re not one of the latter.
For the rest of you, speed and time management is the key.
Never spend too much time in a single question and skip the more difficult ones. This way, you’ll be able to answer more questions in the time given. If you finish early, then review until you run up the time.
We have developed a technique for students to manage their time effectively in the UPCAT, as well as an entire system to prepare a couple of days before the UPCAT.
3. Knowledge on Math, Science, Language Proficiency, Reading Comprehension
Tricks and tips for passing an exam are there for you to help you recall information that you already have.
Even if you master the art of test taking, I doubt that you’ll be able to pass an Engineering Board Exam right now because you’re not yet equipped with the knowledge for taking the board exam.
The good news is that you are equipped with the knowledge that you learned throughout high school. What you need to do is to refresh this knowledge by putting in review time. The tips and tricks will help you recall that knowledge during the exam.
4. Mental toughness
Some students seem naturally confident in taking an exam while others seem to easily be rattled when they encounter a difficult question.
Mental toughness is important in an exam because it can affect your ability to recall information. The good news is that mental toughness can be trained.
Preparation is your first defense, when you enter an exam fully prepared and confident, you’ll feel that the UPCAT will be a breeze. When you encounter a difficult question, simply skip that question and go back to it later. Losing composure on a difficult question is not worth missing out on the easier questions. And as vice versa, gaining composure when you answer easy questions would help build the confidence you will need when you tackle the more difficult items.
5. Physical and mental endurance
Exams are tiring.
The UPCAT even more so.
Very few students have the mental endurance to focus for more than an hour. The UPCAT is 3 hours of concentrated effort. I think the mental endurance needed for taking the UPCAT is a test in itself as UP students need phenomenal mental endurance to survive in UP.
Surprisingly, most people don’t associate mental endurance with physical endurance.
Well, they are connected.
Building up physical endurance also builds up your mental endurance. And in the same manner that physical endurance is built through consistent practice; mental endurance can also be developed in as short as a week.
My tip: Simply, focus in class for an entire week.
The mental endurance developed will be more than enough to help you get through the UPCAT. As with most things, this is easier said than done, but when done properly, this will greatly help your concentration during the UPCAT or any major exam.
6. Management of external factors
You cannot really do anything with external factors while taking the UPCAT.
Factors such as temperature, noise, or a smelly seatmate (yes, believe me, there is such a situation) are things you have to accept might happen.
Though uncontrollable, there are a few things that you can do to manage these external factors. Simple things like visiting the exam room prior to the UPCAT would prepare you for the possible temperature or noise you may encounter during your UPCAT. Allergens could be held at bay; bad smells during the UPCAT, a simple handkerchief would solve it. The simplest actions could manage external factors from affecting your exam rather than being rattled by it.
I have a saying during exams: “You’re only distracted when you can’t answer the exam not the other way around.”
Being the University of the Philippines, you should expect that the UPCAT has Filipino questions.
Some students cry foul with the inclusion of Filipino questions.
Instead of wasting your effort complaining, polish up on your Filipino instead.
The Filipino questions are easy enough that all you need to do is read well written Filipino literature and refresh your grammar. As with all the tips here, the underlying tip is PRACTICE.
The exam is not just about what you know. It is a combination of knowledge, conditioning, technique and practice. Mastering the skills mentioned above will surely give you the edge to pass your entrance test.
My team at Review Masters conducts a yearly workshop on how your can conquer the UPCAT and other college entrance test. Click here for the details.