6 UPCAT Tips Every Aspiring Isko Should Know, According to UP Students

by Raisa de los Reyes   |  May 3, 2023
Image: (LEFT TO RIGHT) Migs de los Reyes, Moira Tiongson
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While it is the ultimate dream of many to become an Iskolar ng Bayan at the University of the Philippines (UP), the competition may be too difficult to take on. Considering that the UPCAT is the main way to measure your eligibility, you may feel a lot of pressure while competing for a spot against other brilliant and qualified applicants. However, with enough motivation and diligence, you may soon embody the university’s motto: Honor and Excellence. 

ALSO READ: Planning to Apply to the University of the Philippines? Here's What You Need to Know

If you wish to study at UP, here are some tips from actual students to help you prepare for the UPCAT:

  1. Gwyneth Mendoza shifted from BS Electronics and Communications Engineering to  BS Business Economics. With regards to the UPCAT, she highly recommended that you keep your test requirements and materials in one place. Read more about her advice:

Do not lose your test permit! This piece of paper is your key in taking the UPCAT. If you lose this, you will not be allowed to answer the UPCAT. No excuses! “I remember keeping all my test requirements in a long brown envelope so that I don’t lose anything,” Gwyneth advised. There have been instances wherein some students forget or lose their test permit, so always make sure to double check your stuff before you go to your designated testing location.

  1. Migs de los Reyes graduated Magna Cum Laude from UP Diliman in 2019. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, specializing in Visual Communications. Migs recalled the two important things to take note of while taking the UPCAT:

The UPCAT is right minus wrong. This grading system makes you receive points equal to the number of correct answers minus the number of incorrect answers. To simplify, if you answer correctly, you will receive plus two points. But if you answer wrong, two points will be deducted from your score. “If you’re not sure what the correct answer is, it is best to leave it blank. It is riskier if you guess than skipping the question,” Migs said.

Some questions will be in Filipino. Don’t be surprised to suddenly find that some questions will be written in Filipino, especially during the Mathematics and Science test portions. Sharpen your vocabulary and read more materials in Filipino to improve your literacy. Migs mentioned, “It can really drain you of your energy, so it is always best to come prepared.”

Skim through the paragraphs, especially during the Reading Comprehension portion. Knowing that you will be pressured by time, it is imperative that you are able to go through all the questions in a blitz. Before reading the given text passage, look at the questions first to immediately know what is being asked for. When you reach the Reading Comprehension portion, avoid reading the text thoroughly because it will eat up a lot of your time. “The stories can be really long, so skimming really helped me answer as much as possible,” Migs said. 

  1. Moira Tiongson is a fourth-year student accomplishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology. She did an exchange program with Fulbright Philippines, wherein she was given the opportunity to study at Ball State University for Spring Semester 2022. Here are some tips that helped Moira pass the UPCAT:
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Make smart choices! Considering that the UPCAT is right minus wrong, you do not want to increase the chances of lowering your score. Moira advised, “Try eliminating choices until you have two left and choose your guess from there.” There will be instances wherein all the choices given will be so similar that you may begin to overthink if your answer is correct or not.  Spare a few moments to pause, breathe deeply and to regroup yourself before powering through the remaining questions. Disassociating from an anxious-filled environment can help you clear your judgment.

Don’t stay too long on one question. Moira said, “Pag 'di sure sa sagot, skip na lang muna and balikan later kung may time pa.” While you may want to answer carefully and correctly, you should always opt to answer as much as you can. Try whizzing through the entire test portion first then go back to all the questions you skipped. 

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