College prep? 8 entrance exam tips from university students
UP? Ateneo? La Salle? UST? These are just some of the schools that many current high school seniors in the Philippines will hope to study in once they become college students.
However, not everyone will get in the school of their choice. Slots are limited, and only the best of the best during entrance examinations will have the right to brag about getting in this university or the other.
Rappler has collected tips from different current students and alumni from some of the top universities in the Philippines to help out high school seniors as they take numerous entrance tests over the next few months.
Need more tips?
Cramming for another test? Read this: Get that A! 7 tips to study for your tests
1. When preparing, mind the basics.
Pat Acido, an honorable mention graduate from La Salle who majored in Psychology, advises students to mind the basics, like the formulas, wide vocabulary, and good writing skills.
“Review your high school subjects' notes, especially the formulas. Read up on current events to help you provide substantial answers for the essay parts. Reading in general also expands your vocabulary, and allows you to review the rules on spelling and grammar, which would aid in giving clarity and coherence in writing your essay.”
Each person’s method is different, so learn what’s best suited to you. But while you prepare through tutorials and reviews, don’t forget what you’ve learned over the years in school.
“The ACET is a measurement of everything that you’ve learned in your formative years. Preparation is key,” says Ram Cervantes, an Honorable Mention graduate from Ateneo who took up Management Economics.
“A tutorial can teach you how to answer multiple choice questions. You cannot cram the good character and experience you’ll need for the essays.”
You may want to ask your teachers for help, too. In some cases, teachers insert pockets of college review time in their classes, where they go over potential topics that might come up in the test.
One final tip? “Absolutely do not, under any circumstances, study on the day itself right before the test,” instructs Camilla Suarez, a first year BS Industrial Engineering major who passed the entrance tests of UP, ADMU, and DLSU. “You're going to get mental block.”
Key tip: Once you receive the scratch paper, write down all the formulas you think you might need (don't forget the quadratic formula!).
2. Mind the circumstances around your test
You may be focused on your exam, but don’t forget that there are other factors that may affect you on the day itself.
“Get a good night's sleep,” Pat from DLSU advises. “Eat a filling meal before the test. Go to the testing site early so that you don't stress your brain cells over the inevitable traffic. Consider the weather and dress accordingly.”
3. Subjects to focus on for the tests
Different entrance exams focus on certain fields more than others. For example, the ACET doesn’t have a science portion, while many La Salle students will always say that part of the DLSUCET is what dictates who will pass and fail.
To give more insight into the matter, along with other pretty useful tips, here are some words of advice that could come in pretty handy come test day, or, as some would like to pen it, “D-Day.”
“The [UE] test only has English, math, and science! Focus more on the science portion – general science, biology, chemistry, and physics,” mentions Andie Limpo, a freshman at University of the East taking up Dentistry.
“The test is really short compared to other entrance exams and it’s in English. The test may seem easy but it can be tricky also so avoid careless mistakes!” she adds.
“The [FEU] test is not really that hard based from my experience,” admitted Adalia Bautista, a Medical Technology major from Far Eastern University. “The math part has algebra and geometry. For science, it’s mostly chemistry and English. I can’t really remember everything but the test was kind of easy.”
Meanwhile, for Adamson University, BS Biology major Rosselle Diez says that, ”About the [Adamson] entrance exam, it’s just more about abstract reasoning.”
Key tip: Brush up where you're challenged. If logical reasoning isn't your thing, as a friend who's adept at it beforehand to share his tips and tricks.
4. Don’t underestimate time pressure
But acing entrance exams isn’t just all about being a math wiz or a Grammar Nazi. Time-management, in particular, is just as important.
“Don’t underestimate the test. It’s easy but you’re on time pressure,” reminded Michelle Falcon, a Behavioral Science major from University of Sto. Tomas.
“The goal is to answer all of the questions in the entrance exam within the specified time limit for each section; the next best thing is to answer as many questions as possible,” elaborates Pat from DLSU.
“Don't panic, as it would raise the possibilities of you having more than one mental block. Don't spend too much time trying to answer one item.”
Ram from Ateneo, on the other hand, adds a romantic twist to how he managed his clock during the ACET, while also giving some tips on how to deal with your love life.
“Parang pag-ibig lang yan (it’s just like love),” the hopeless romantic from Ateneo said about the entrance test. “If you can’t give an answer, move on first. Come back to it when you can.
But always keep in the back of your mind that you might not get the chance to go back to it if you take too long.”
Key tip: Though you're in a rush to finish, don't forget to read the tougher questions more than once. There may be clues in the question.
“Parang pag-ibig lang yan (it’s just like love). If you can’t give an answer, move on first. Come back to it when you can.”
5. Understand the scoring methods
If the university uses the right-minus-wrong scoring method, which deducts your wrong answers from your original score, you’ll want to keep your guesswork to a minimum.
Playing a guessing game will be risky especially for those taking the UPCAT, which uses a right-minus-wrong system.
If you’re not sure about the answer, pass over it, then return later.
“If you studied about it, it's highly likely you'll remember the answer or how to solve it when you're already on a later item. If you didn't study about it at all, the shotgun method is always there as a last resort,” according to Pat from DLSU.
6. Make sure to be comfortable during the test
Obviously how clean or comfortable the testing room is will not be the biggest factor in deciding which school you go to, neither is whether you’re dressed comfortably wearing a shorts and a shirt or look like you’re about to party.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t play a role. After all, isn’t it easier to get high marks when a classroom isn’t muggy or hot as a summer afternoon?
“Pagdasal mo na swerte ka sa building assignment. 'Pag sa Beato ka napunta, swerte kasi malaki yung desks dun. Comfortable mag-sagot. Ayaw ko na umalis ng UST after that,” admitted a Physical Therapy major from UST who prefers to remain anonymous.
(Just pray that you’re lucky with your building assignment. If you’re assigned to the Beato, you’re lucky because the desks are huge. Answering is comfortable. I didn’t want to leave UST after that.)
“When I took the DLSUCET, the heavy downpour outside and the airconditioning on full blast inside the silent Miguel Hall room made me regret not bringing an extra layer of clothing,” remembers Pat from DLSU.
Key tip: In the few minutes you're seated before the test starts, make yourself comfortable. Break out the jackets, extra pens, position the snacks. This will save you time later.
7. Do not underestimate the power of snacks
Camilla from UP also suggests to engage in exercising activities in between different sections to help clear your mind a bit.
“If you finish a part of the test early, get out of that classroom and walk around the floor. It's a great way to stretch your legs…Just make sure you make it back in time for the next part.”
Taking a difficult examination can also jog the brain and cause some exhaustion, so she made sure to bring some extra sustenance to help her out.
“Snacks. Snacks are love. Snacks are life. Bring snacks. Don't forget snacks. SNACKS!” she said.
8. After the test and waiting for the result
Some universities like to prolong the agony of high school seniors, while others like giving an answer right away.
Take UE, for instance, whose “Results are given on the day itself, too!” according to Andie.
But for others, they have no choice but to be patient and hopeful until judgment day arrives.
“If you believe in a higher being, pray,” notes Pat from DLSU. “Just keep calm.” – Rappler.com
Naveen Ganglani is a correspondent and writer for Rappler.com who spends a lot of his time watching movies, flicking through TV shows, and reading novels when he isn’t penning articles and covering events. On most days, he likes to watch re-runs of Friends as he hopes to master Joey Tribbiani’s “How you doin’?” pick-up line. Follow him on Twitter: @naveenganglani