UPCAT (University of the Philippines College Admission Test)

The UPCAT or the University of the Philippines College Admission Test is a requirement for high school graduates who wish to study at the University of the Philippines, more popularly known as U.P. This year, the UPCAT for Academic Year (AY) 2015-2016 is scheduled on August 16 and 17, 2014.

Thus, if you have nothing important to do in the UP Diliman and surrounding areas on those dates, please avoid these areas as you will just be stuck in heavy traffic.

For this year's tests, the deadline for all applications to be able to take the UPCAT was last June 27, 2014. UPCAT test takers are now just counting down to the date/time assigned to them (applicants will be assigned either a morning or afternoon schedule) and crossing their fingers that they pass and become an Iskolar ng Bayan. Last year, according to the UPCAT website, more than 82,000 examinees took the UPCAT.

Last year, on August 4, 2013, we trooped to the UPCAT for my son's UPCAT sked. I can write about this now since we are proud that he made it to UP Diliman (out of more than 82,000 examinees!). He was given a morning schedule and had to be at Malcolm Hall, his testing place by 6:30am. At that time, we were of course, nervous but I made a mental note to share our experiences in time for the UPCAT this year so here it is.

I just jotted down a few things that I wanted to share so here goes:

It is better to be early than late.

You can enter through Balara (which is where we went) even if you do not have a UP sticker. I suppose all the other main entrances will be open as the whole university knows that it is UPCAT day. Since we did think that it was better to be early than late, we left the house at 4:45 am and we were able to park (this is another reason for being early so you can find parking space) by 5:15am. At this early time though, there was already some traffic at Balara and at CP Garcia and we did notice that there were a lot of taxis going into UP. We think that a morning schedule is much better than an afternoon one since you do not need to contend with traffic from people/cars on the way out. Also, since there are no examinees yet inside the testing areas, people in charge can let the morning test takers go in right away. There were a lot of parents milling around in the testing areas and some of them were getting antsy as they waited. Some seemed super stressed, making comments like: Papasukin nyo na ang mga bata, stressed na sila. (Translation: Please let our children in now. They are super stressed already.) Some just went with the flow and actually walked their kids to the entrance of the testing area that they had to be reminded by UP staff that: Bawal po ang mga parents (Translation: Parents are not allowed in this area.) The kids were let in earlier than 6:30am so if you intend to hang around the campus to wait, you can leave and just come back for them after the test.

For the morning test, the actual test papers come in only between 5:30 to 5:45 am

We were still in the area when we saw this UPCAT vehicle with the words - UPCAT vehicle - do not delay. I guess this is done to prevent any leakages/possibilities of cheating so you really do not know which sets of questions will be delivered to your testing area till just about some time before the actual start of the test.

Make sure that your child has everything he or she needs before he or she enters the testing area.

While we were there, a female test taker, by the name of Anna Beatriz, forgot her water. As her parents/guardians realized this, they frantically tried to get into the testing area where Anna Beatriz was already lining up. They talked to the UP people at the entrance who kindly took the water. They then called for Anna Beatriz in a loud voice (for they had no idea who she was and where she was already by now) and said: "Anna Beatriz. Anna Beatriz. Tubig daw para kay Anna Beatriz" (Translation: There's water here for Anna Beatriz.) So, if you do not want a good number of people to hear your name and to discover what you forgot, please check that you have all your things before you go into the actual testing area.

If you are not familiar with the UP campus where you are taking the test, please check it out before UPCAT day. This will lessen your stress.

We waited at the UP College of Business Administration's steps for a while and while waiting, we noticed about 10 groups of people who asked for directions from some UP personnel stationed near the area. This was already quite close to the call time for the tests so after you see the UP personnel motion to them, you would see them walk faster or even run to their destination.

Since my son was taking the test at Malcolm Hall and even if my husband and I are both graduates of UP Diliman and familiar with Malcolm Hall, we still checked the place out a few weekends before the test to check for parking and for my son to familiarize himself with the place. Come UPCAT day then, we were pretty relaxed since we knew what to do.

If you are taking the test in the afternoon, it is best to come earlier in the morning and wait or you may want to check in at some nearby place the night before to avoid traffic problems.

We saw some afternoon test takers who were already in the area as early as 10am as we waited for my son's tests to finish. Some parents, particularly those who live far away, considered checking in for the night to reduce the possibility of getting stuck in traffic. If you choose this option though, hopefully you are the type of person who does not have a hard time sleeping in a new place on the first night or what they call in Filipino as namamahay. Both parents and children taking the UPCAT need a good night's sleep before the UPCAT and we're not just talking about the night before.

For parents who will be waiting, it will be a more than four hour wait.

To avoid going through traffic going into UP and out of UP, you may want to just wait it out for the duration of the test. We saw a lot of parents waiting in the area and closer to noon, you will really feel the fiesta atmosphere in the campus where you have all sorts of vendors selling everything from shawarma to dirty ice cream, etc., etc. You may want to have breakfast in the area like at The Chocolate Kiss Cafe (more on this in a future blog post) or you may want to go around on the Ikot Jeep (costs P7.00 I think, if I remember correctly) or even ride the UP Pantranco jeep (P8.00.) It was funny but one of the jeepneys that we rode, gave us back our money and asked us to get off when the driver saw the traffic in the route that he was going to go through. He said as he handed us our money: "Baba na kayo. Lipat kayo ng ibang jeep. Baka mahuli kayo sa test." (Translation: You better get off here. Take another jeep. You might be late for the test.)

When all is done, hope for the best and pray...

We went back to the testing area about thirty minutes before the designated time and you will see the test takers coming out in batches. It is interesting to hear comments from all over the place. We heard a parent ask: "Anong mahirap?" (Translation: What was difficult?") To which her child replied: "Lahat mahirap! (Translation: Everything was difficult.)

In the case of my son, the UPCAT results were released relatively early sometime in December 2013. We woke up to the good news that he made it to UP Diliman.

So to all the UPCAT test takers this 2014 and in the years to come, good luck! May you make it to the school that will be best for you.

For more information on the UPCAT, you may visit the UPCAT page of the UP website.

[By Angelica Viloria | Saturday, July 12, 2014]


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