Ten Things You Did Not Know About The UPCAT And Getting Into UP

The UPCAT is the most popular college entrance exam in the country, attracting over 70,000 applicants every year from all over the Philippines. For those who are dreaming of getting into the prestigious universities that are part of the University of the Philippines college system, here are a few things you might want to know.

(Want to win free UPCAT review sessions from Excel Reviews? Scroll down to the bottom of this post to find out how.)

1. The average UPCAT passing rate is 16%. Only about 1 out of every 6 applicants gets admitted into the University of the Philippines.

UPCAT Results

Photo taken from newsinfo.inquirer.net.

2. A majority of those who pass the UPCAT are female. About 65%, as a matter of fact. I largely attribute this to the fact that, as a general proposition, women graduate with higher grades in high school than men.

3. The UPCAT adjusts for equity considerations. The University Predicted Grade is computed as 60% UPCAT score and 40% average high school grade as a general rule, but the province you’re from, your cultural background, and your family income figures into your chances of getting admitted into UP. The fact that your province is generally under-represented in UP campuses, or you’re from an under-represented cultural minority, or even just the fact that you’re poor, can help you get admitted to UP. This is because UP is a heavily subsidized educational institution, and must balance scholastic ability with equity considerations.


UPCAT Takers in 2012. Photo taken from abscbnnews.tumblr.com.

4. 35% of those who pass the UPCAT do not enroll. So if you’re waitlisted, you still have a good fighting chance of being admitted. Just make sure you file your request for reconsideration early.

5. Guessing your answers in the UPCAT makes for a small but still positive contribution on your UPCAT score. Your test score is computed based on the following formula:  number of your right answers minus 25% of your number of wrong answers. There’s a computation here (which I won’t get into) but basically, assuming you do nothing but guess your answers, you’ll statistically get one point for every sixteen random guesses you make. So leave no blanks then!


Photo taken from ph.news.yahoo.com.

6.Nursing and business administration topped the list of courses with the highest demand in 2004-2005. Most likely, the demand for nursing has now tapered off after most graduates had a hard time getting jobs, but I’m betting Business Administration remains a top choice for applicants, especially now that the Philippine economy is Asia’s diamond.

7. After NCR, Southern Luzon tops the list of regions with the most passers. In 2001-2002, NCR accounted for 40% of UP enrollees while Southern Tagalog accounted for 20% of enrollments.

8. Applying for an unpopular course helps waitlisted students get into UP. They then just apply for a reconsideration at the earliest possible time so they can get in.

9. A small penalty is given to students who are non-residents in UP campus areas. This is done to prioritize local students in the surrounding communities of campuses like UP Los Banos, UP Visayas or UP Mindanao.


Photo taken from www.interaksyon.com.

10. You don’t need to take the UPCAT to get into UP if you have real sports, music or art skills. Students may apply for the Varsity Application Program of the College of Human Kinetics or take the Talent Determination Test of UP colleges such as the College of Fine Arts and Music and still get into UP without taking or passing the UPCAT.

This is a guest post from Mark Canlas. Mark has almost ten years of experience as an economist and has worked with the National Economic Development Authority, the Senate of the Philippines, and the British Embassy of the Philippines. He currently works in one of the top three biggest banks in the country.

He also owns Excel Reviews, a chain of  UPCAT and college review centers, and is a popular lecturer.


Excel Reviews is giving five deserving students free UPCAT review sessions this summer in the location of their choice. It’s open to all 3rd year high school students. To be eligible, students are required to submit PowerPoint presentations, comic strips, paintings, digital art, essays, poems, songs or videos on the following topics:

1. How studying in UP can help me accomplish my dreams and what I will do to ensure that you pass the UPCAT
2. My anxieties about taking the UPCAT
3. How Excel Tutorials’ UPCAT tips will work for me to pass the UPCAT (tips available here.)
4. My expectations about moving to Manila to study in UP

For more details, check out the full guidelines here.