Written by Leo Laset
A lot of people say that the UPCAT is one of the most difficult entrance test. But here are 10 ways on how you can 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, nerve-racking, 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!