UPCAT Coverage

When it comes to college entrance exams in the Philippines, the UPCAT is probably, if not, the biggest and most popular of them all. But what topics are included in the test? What do you need to study for the UPCAT? Here’s a comprehensive take on the UPCAT coverage and some tips on how to go about the different subtests.

The UPCAT has four subtests: Mathematics, Science, Language Proficiency and Reading Comprehension.


The mathematics subtest is composed of questions from the following topics: basic and intermediate algebra, geometry, statistics, and in some cases, a bit of trigonometry.

The algebra part contains topics such as the real number system, solving unknowns in an equation, inequalities, set and set notation, exponents and roots, graphs of linear equations, factoring, basic quadratic equations, functions, and word problems. You may also encounter progressions, sequences and logarithms but these are rare topics that appear on the test. Focus on the basic topics.

Questions under statistics would be about the fundamental counting principle, combination and permutation, probabilities, measures of central tendencies and data analysis.

For geometry, topics would be basic geometric concepts (point, line, plane, etc.), parallel lines, triangle congruence, perimeter, area and volume. Most of the theorems and postulates are applied to solve problems and analyze figures and situations. Because the UPCAT is multiple choice, your favorite two-column proof and indirect proving will not be around to greet you. Nonetheless, you will still encounter questions that requires your deductive reasoning skills.

The rare trigonometry questions would include the trigonometric ratios and basic applications.

Calculus? Don’t bother. Again, focus on the basics.

Math subtest tips: Study and refine your basics. You should be able to do the four basic operations with ease. If you are still having a hard time with your multiplication table, then this is a good time to brush up on your skills. 8 multiplied by 7 is not a problem, right?

Difficulty with long division? Practice dividing three-to-four-digit numbers by two digit numbers.

Dealing with fractions is another skill that students need to master. You should be able to do the four operations on similar and dissimilar fractions. You should know how to express your answers in lowest terms.


The science subtest is composed of earth science and basic astronomy, biology, basic chemistry, and basic physics (take note of the keyword: basic).

The earth science includes topics such as layers of the earth, theories about the earth’s beginnings, rocks, weather and the atmosphere. Basic astronomy would include the solar system, stars and other heavenly bodies and other space-related concepts.

Biology includes classification of living things, evolution, ecosystems, basic genetics and heredity, and some anatomy of the human body. Questions about biochemistry and intermediate genetics might appear but the focus of the test is still the basics.

Chemistry would include matter and its classification, physical and chemical changes, measurements, basic chemical reactions (acid-base, combustion, etc.), mole concept, atomic structure and subatomic particles, periodic table trends, thermodynamics and a little organic chemistry.

Physics questions will fall under topics like statics and dynamics, motion, work and energy, forces, thermodynamics, and electricity. In a few instances, questions about waves and optics appear on the test.


Science subtest tips: Majority of the items in physics needs critical thinking skills. You need to analyze situations and scenarios to obtain the best answer. Some items will also require you to compute, as for the case of some chemistry and physics problems.

For biology and earth science, some will require analytical skills while some would be straight up identification. So it is best to brush up on all the topics that you have discussed in school.

Language Proficiency

The language proficiency subtest covers topics on vocabulary, synonyms and antonyms, spelling, correct usage and grammar. The grammar part would include parts of speech, subject-verb agreement, parallelism.

Here’s the thing: You have to have good grammar skills and a good command of the English language (and Filipino, too) to get a good score on this subtest.

Tips on Language Proficiency: Practice subject verb agreement. Read more professionally-written articles (broadsheets, books, magazines, journals, etc.). Communicate verbally using straight English.

Reading Comprehension

The reading comprehension subtest includes questions under context clues, getting the main idea, inferences, drawing conclusion, figures of speech. On this subtest, you are tested on how you understand what you read.

You will be asked to read articles, stories, poems, lines in plays, essays, comic strips and other types of passages. You are then asked questions about what you have read. Sometimes there are also graphs and charts that you need to analyze. You need to make inferences and conclusions based on the visual data presented.

Reading Comprehension subtest tips: Read the questions first before reading the passage. Then take into consideration the main points that you need to find in the passage.

The Hidden-in-Plain-Sight Subtest: Filipino

In the UPCAT, you only have four subtests: Math, Science, Language Proficiency and Reading Comprehension. Nevertheless, we often hear of conversations from previous takers that they had a difficulty with Filipino.

So where in the world is Filipino located in the UPCAT? Is it part of the UPCAT coverage?

The Filipino part of the test is integrated in the Language Proficiency and Reading Comprehension subtest. About 40-50% of the questions in these two subtests are Filipino questions. Technically, Filipino is the subtest with the most number of items.

The Filipino questions range from topics such as bahagi ng pananalita, wastong gamit, pagtukoy ng mali sa pangungusap, salawikain, sawikain (idyoma), atbp. Basically, the topics are similar in Language Proficiency and Reading Comprehension but in Filipino.

Tips on the Filipino part: Brush up on your Filipino vocabulary. Read passages, articles and other literary materials in Filipino. Practice speaking straight Filipino. Avoid combining English with Filipino in a sentence to sharpen your fluency.