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How To Pass the ACET With Flying (Blue) Colors

Alright, boys and girls, buckle up because the Ateneo College Entrance Test (ACET) is coming up. You’re probably biting your nails and pulling your hair wondering how to pass the ACET. It’s a doozy for sure—been there, done that, and passed it too.

Let’s break down how to survive the Ateneo College Entrance Test (ACET) from both ends—coverage and test-taking hacks. Let me give you some tried and tested tips—the very same ones I used—that got me into Ateneo, and even landed me in a merit English section!

What is the Ateneo College Entrance Test (ACET)?

The Ateneo College Entrance Test (ACET) is the admissions exam to get into an undergraduate program of the Ateneo de Manila University. Held usually every September, it’s one of the main college entrance tests (CETs) students prepare for every year.

These are the Requirements to get into Ateneo de Manila University.

You may also check out our Edukasyon Guide To Applying For The ACET.

What are the parts of the Ateneo College Entrance Exam?

The ACET covers three topics, namely: English, Mathematics, and General Intelligence. It all seems simple but, when broken down, it’s the ultimate test of how well you do under pressure—a.k.a. The Atenean Way. Here’s what to look out for. Note that this isn’t the testing order.

  • Mathematics (Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Arithmetic)
  • Mathematics (Problem Solving)
  • Language Proficiency
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Essay
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Abstract Reasoning
  • General Information

Pro-tip: Focus on your weak areas. But don’t neglect the others either.

Is the ACET hard?

Yes. I mean, all college entrance tests are. But you must not doubt yourself. You will get through it. Knowing what you have to review for is a huge advantage. Knowing how to answer the test, however, is the bigger obstacle.

That’s why it’ll help to enroll in a review center. They give you practice exams and simulations that get you in the zone. Plus your instructors have methods for making intelligent guesses under time pressure.

We’ve got handy articles on review centers for you to check out!

They say the ACET wasn’t designed to be finished. That’s not entirely true. Of course, there are exam portions in which you must answer 25 questions in 5 minutes. Seems impossible, yeah? However, it’s not improbable. In fact, people have finished the exam with nanoseconds to spare (myself included). You just need some time management skills and also master the art of intelligent guessing—er, answering.

How to pass the ACET secret #1: Constantly practice your math and reading

Practice your math problems. Memorize your formulas—you won’t be allowed a calculator. Target your weakest subjects.

But your practice doesn’t stop at math. The English portion, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension will hurt even a native speaker’s brain. Therefore, you must learn how to read and write—and do so quickly and concisely.

So pull those great books off your shelves. Brush up on the classics. Expose yourself to well-written works in English. Learn good sentence structure in the best way: reading.

Another note on vocabulary: While you come across hard words in your reading, take note. However, the biggest trick in the book is remembering common prefixes, root words, and suffixes. The vocabulary part of the ACET becomes easier if you break down the word. You don’t need to memorize a dictionary or draw up flash cards either. 

How to pass the ACET secret #2: Outline your essay before you write it

See if you can write about abstract topics. This is where your reading practice comes in handy—exposing yourself to good writing gives you an edge. An abstract topic will likely be your essay question. Ateneans love philosophers.

The ACET essay question usually makes you consider abstract concepts. For example, hope, maturity, talent, or even “the Ateneo.” Prompts are often phrased like, “What is ___ to you?” Or “Write an essay that defines the word ___.”

Be coherent, concise, and complete with your thoughts. In other words, don’t ramble. Make sure your essay is structured and uses proper grammar. Give your essay a proper introduction, body, and conclusion. Outline your thoughts on your scratch paper before you write. The ACET essay portion not only tests your thought process and how you work under pressure, but it also serves as a grammar and style check.

How to pass the ACET Secret #3: Mind tricks and time management hacks

Scared? Nervous? That’s alright—I was, too. Although, I did mention mind tricks, right? That’s where some calming techniques, time management hacks, plus general anxiety busters come in to get you through the Big Day.

  1. Calm yourself. Do not give in to fear. You’re allowed to bring water. Drink it when you’re about to panic.
  2. Be familiar with some breathing exercises. Meditation will save you in a panic
  3. Mark now, shade later. Time pressure is your worst enemy. You don’t want to waste precious seconds on getting that little circle perfectly shaded. Put a dot on the letter, and shade all your answers at the end when you have the time.
  4. If you have a math problem that requires solving for x, skip the solution. Just fix the formula and plug in the answers already given, since it’s multiple choice. Don’t waste your time!
  5. For vocabulary, know your prefixes and suffixes. Most difficult words come from root words so know those, too. Also rely on context clues. 
  6. Reading Comprehension is time-consuming unless you know how to proceed. Read the questions first. And then read the text. That way, you already know what information to look for when you read the passage provided.
  7. If you’re stuck on an item, skip it! Come back to it later when you have the time. Also, don’t leave anything blank. This test isn’t right minus wrong. Use intelligent guesses.
  8. Most importantly: Wear a watch.

How do I get into an advanced placement program?

Ateneo believes in pushing the boundaries of students’ learning—therefore, it gives top-performing students the opportunity to study a more skillful program. This includes advanced English, Filipino, Math, and also foreign language programs. From the ACET, you can already place in the merit English and possibly Math sections.

Your ACET score in the language section together with your essay determines whether you place in the advanced English program or not in your Ateneo undergraduate studies. Similarly, your scores in the math section determine whether you place in a Merit, Regular, or Basic section. Top 10% scorers gain admission. 

So do well, and you might just be learning under a renowned Filipino author or academic next year!

Get started on your road up the hill to Ateneo!

Ateneo de Manila University is one of the top ranking schools in the Philippines. You’ll be sure to find great education and opportunities after graduation, too! While it’s known for its business, humanities, and sociology courses, Ateneo also boasts a great Fine Arts department. Did you know it’s got the first museum of Philippine modern art on campus, too? Plus, a long list of accomplished—and super cool—alumni.

Find your future alma mater with us! Check out our College Life section on the Edukasyon.ph blog now!