It’s college application season again, and seniors across the Philippines are beginning to nervously fill out the application forms that will decide their future for at least the next four years. No test quite strikes fear into the hearts of these seniors like the dreaded University of the Philippines College Admission Test ( UPCAT), the test that the University of the Philippines uses to determine admission into their many campuses, together with the individual applicants’ respective high school weighted averages.

And indeed what’s not to fear? Despite being relatively easy content-wise, the UPCAT turns out to be one of the hardest tests to pass in the Philippines, if not the hardest, because of the sheer amount of competition. In 2014 alone, 83,000 of the best students from Luzon down to Mindanao applied to the university. Of that 83,000 only around 13,000 or 16% passed. The flagship campus UP Diliman meanwhile, accepted only around 3,800 students, or just below 5%, meaning only 1 of 25 applicants got into the university. Scary figures indeed.

This has led many students into believing superstitions and pre-test rituals that they believe will help them pass, but the truth is that the UPCAT is very passable, without having to resort to any out-of-this-world or absurdly expensive methods.

The standard course of action for today’s parents is to send their kids to review centres, in the hope that they could give them a leg up in the admissions race, but nothing still beats the raw determination and willpower that a student has to make it, and for those students who want it that badly, there is no shortage of methods to make attending UP possible.

University of the Philippines College Admission Test Tips

The most straightforward method is to, of course, do well in school. The weighted high school average makes up 40% of everyone’s application and what’s more, a lot of the material students cover in classes are the same things that come out in the UPCAT.

Reading widely also has many benefits in anyone’s attempt to pass an entrance test, largely because a significant portion of these tests check your ability to read and write. Reading exposes students to proper grammar, punctuation and usage while honing their critical thinking skills and ability to interpret or analyse ideas in a text.

Most importantly, UP hopefuls should try to get their hands on as many practice tests as they can so that they can hone their test-taking skills and feel comfortable on the test day itself. Practice Tests give not only experience and a good grounding in the core skills tested in all entrance tests, but also lend test-takers agility, confidence and cold-bloodlessness with the actual tests; skills that are immense valuable in setting yourself apart from the thousands of applicants also vying for a place.

There is a wide variety of practice tests available online, but a lot of them come with fees that could sometimes be excessive. Fortunately, there are free sources of UPCAT practice tests available, like at, a test prep site for Filipino students, making sure that nobody has an excuse of not having the resources to pass.

What most of us should take away from this is that admission to UP is possible for anyone, with the right attitude, resourcefulness and skills. You just have to want it enough.

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