Every year, thousands of young hopefuls bring their A-games to vie for slots in different higher education institutions. With the tight competition and limited slots, not everyone will get the chance to enter the university of their choice. Only the best and the brightest students who will pass the examination and grade requirements can proudly claim their spot. But what must aspirants have to do to get into their dream schools?
De La Salle? UP? Ateneo? UST? Here are some of the review and test-taking tips from college alumni who were once in your place. They dreamed, took the challenge, and conquered their seats in the country’s top 4 universities.
1. Be motivated to study, and actually study
Jam Pilarca, a graduate of Ateneo De Manila University who passed not just one, but all four entrance exams- UPCAT, ACET, DLSUCET and USTET- advises students to study their lessons by heart and keep your eyes on the goal.
“I was crazy motivated to study for the ACET, actually. I remember not playing games for a month and spending all my free time on studying for it. I think that kind of drive is very important especially when it comes to your dream school.”
While each student has their own different styles and learning techniques to pass exams, the best way to review is to study and understand your lessons.
“In my experience, there are two ways to study for entrance exams: number 1, you study the topics and the corresponding concepts; and number 2, you study how to take the test, how to answer in the fastest way possible and what are the tricks to finding the right answer based on the questions. While number 2 is the most efficient way to study, I would argue that it’s not the most effective because you don’t end up understanding the topics themselves. Furthermore, if the school suddenly decides to change their test structure, you will be caught off guard. The best way is to understand the concepts. When you take your practice tests, take as much time as you can to find the right answer without resorting to tricks and then you can combine these two methods to answer the questions within the time limit,” said Judge Calimbahin III, a Management Engineering graduate from ADMU.
2. Research about college courses
Still uncertain on what course to take? Worried about what college life may bring you? Setting clear goals provide you directions and help you focus on what is important. When you know what your goals are, it lets you realize your capabilities and give you confidence.
“Confidence lang. I think it’s more important to be sure of what course you’d like to get and eventually finish it. Kasi aanhin mo naman ang dream school mo, kung wala naman dun’ yung course na gusto mo. I believe it’s worse in the long run to force yourself into doing things you don’t really want to do,” said Joseph Marvin Reyes an IT graduate from the University of Santo Tomas.
3. Consider review centers
If you want to boost your preparation for your much-anticipated entrance exam, then you might want to consider enrolling in a review center.
Apo Ferrer, an alumnus from De La Salle University shares how a review center helped him enter his dream school: “Enrolling in a review center for college examinations certainly helps. Personally, it was tough to remember the lessons I had in my earlier years in high school. Enrolling in a review center enabled me to review everything I needed. Aside from the lessons, the mock exams given by the review center helped me as well. It allowed me to gauge how I will fare in the real exams.”
Apart from providing you with resource materials and strategies, these establishments can also help ease your worries. “I personally went to a review center and also did my own studying in my free time. While for sure you could self-study for all exams, I found that the review center helped me be more confident for the exam,” Jam recalled.
Bonus tip: If you don’t have financial capacity to attend a review center, you can still find practice tests online. -Kayleen Cheng, Development Studies major from DLSU.
4. Pay attention to your development areas
You are only as strong as your weakest link. During your preparation, it’s easy to lose yourself in studying your favorite subjects but make sure to keep the balance between reviewing your strong points and make time to deal with your development areas.
Apo shares, “With just a few days before the exam, I studied again with all the reviewers I had. While studying, I also thought about the program I was applying for. I emphasized studying lessons related to the program I chose and the areas where I thought I needed to improve on.”
Another tip from Judge on taking the ACET is that “it is known for having an essay portion in the entrance exams. Frankly, there’s no sure way to prepare for it other than being clear why you want to enter Ateneo. The questions typically revolve around your personal goals and why you want to enter the school, or some variation of that.”
5. Come prepared and stop overthinking
At the day of your exam, make sure you come prepared. Have a checklist of the things you have to bring like test permits, pencil, or ID. Bringing a bottle of water, a jacket (in case the room gets colder), and an extra pen is also great.
Loreine San Luis of University of the Philippines-Los Baños recalls her funny experience while taking the UPCAT, “Go to the restroom and pee before the exam! Haha. I’ve had a lot of friends who almost blew up their bladders but can’t leave the room because they are still taking the exam.”
At the end of the day, just do your best! “Study hard, but value rest as well. Do not overwork and stress yourself out. Sleep well the day before the exam and when you arrive the next day at the exam venue, relax, try to remember everything you’ve studied, and trust yourself that you will get the highest score you can,” advises Apo.