College exam

How To Ace College Entrance Exams

Most students fail to get into good universities because they did not develop a good plan. In this article, I’m giving you a road map to follow so that you have the best possible chance of getting into the college of your dreams.

1. Review for the upcoming entrance tests over the summer.


This one should be a no-brainer, but it’s fairly common for applicants to refuse to prepare for college exams. Don’t rely on stock knowledge. Self-study is great, but I suggest you enroll in a review center. Make sure you get the actual profiles of the teachers though so you have an idea of the quality of teaching you are bound to get.

2. Get a mentor.

Find a mentor

It can be an older cousin or friend who has already gone through this stage. Review questions can be tricky, so it is important that you have someone who can help you answer some of those more difficult questions.

3. Freshen up your skills a few weeks before the exams.

Practice makes perfect

In the four years I’ve conducted reviews of applicants for the UPCAT, I observed that most of our passers are those who studied our UPCAT materials again in June and July, which is right before the exam in August. You can do this for yourself or enroll in a refresher course. Most refresher classes are on weekends.

4. Set, and strictly follow, a timeline.

Here’s our suggested timeline:

In April and May, start studying for the UPCAT.

In June, complete your application for the UP and Ateneo first since these are the schools that close applications early.

UP Manila

In July, complete your application for the University of Santo Tomas, La Salle, and any other school you want. Go over the review materials you collected in April and May.

In August, make sure you take the UPCAT. This is not just so you have a chance to get into UP, but also to allow you to practice in preparation for subsequent entrance exams. Start preparing for the other exams on weekends.

5. Let go of the mindset “UP (or any college of your choice) or nothing!”

Overconfidence will just end in disaster and you will have no one else to blame but yourself. Besides, even if you were the smartest person on the planet, what do you think would happen when you get sick on the day of the test?

Apply in other colleges. Always have a Plan B. Besides, colleges usually have particular strengths in different academic disciplines. Here’s a rough guide:

Colleges and their disciplines

So, what are you doing to prepare for college exams? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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.