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#ChinoyTips: For College Entrance Tests

It’s almost that season again! College entrance exams are a crucial part in every high school senior’s college application; and every year, the tests just get tougher and tougher. With the new K to 12 curriculum, some universities have also changed their exams. With the addition of new topics and alteration of test sections, you might need up-to-date CET tips and tricks. Hence, to help you ace the CETs of the big 4 universities, here are some tips from 4 Chinoy achievers.

DLSU College Admission Test (DCAT)

Source: PhilStar Global

Kelsey Cua is an incoming freshman who will be taking up a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering (Honors) – Ladderized (BSMS IE) at the De La Sa University. As one of the top performers in the 2019 DCAT, she was chosen as one of the university’s Star Scholars. Hence, she will not only be experiencing the Lasallian education, but will also be enjoying various perks and benefits brought by the school.

Being one of the best DCAT applicants last year, we asked her for some tips for the next batch of Lasallian hopefuls. Kelsey said,


First things first, DCAT is basically all your SHS topics merged into one exam. The DCAT was actually changed and adjusted based on the K-12 Program, so the topics it covers are mostly, if not all SHS topics. The subtests of the DCAT were:

Mental Ability (40 mins, 40 ques)
Reading Comprehension (30 mins, 25 ques)
Writing Skills (30 mins, 40 ques)
General Mathematics (50 mins, 45 ques)
Statistics and Probability (50 mins, 45 ques)
Science Proficiency (30 mins, 50 ques)

With this, it’s important to start reviewing your Grade 11 lessons and start advance studying Grade 12 lessons over the summer. The common misconception is that STEM students have a higher passing rate than students from other strands. But in the case of the DCAT, this is false because the questions and topics are general subjects, so all the strands were able to cover these topics when they were in SHS. 


     a) PRACTICE disciplining yourself

Studying for the CETs requires self-discipline. Take note that CETs take place during the school year. The DCAT takes place usually in October, and this is usually the month where we are usually bombarded with a lot of school work and projects. With this, it is important to discipline oneself and start preparing for the CETs as soon as summer break. If you have a chance to enroll in a review center, it would be a great help. But not being able to enroll in a review center doesn’t mean you’re at a disadvantage. There are a lot of resources online or resources that could be borrowed from others that could also be of great help.

For me, I didn’t enroll in a review center, but I was able to borrow resources from one of my friends. I started reviewing a few hours every day during the summer break until school started. Then, a month or two before the actual DCAT, I set a schedule every day when I study the lessons I studied during the summer break again as a refresher. This was actually helpful for me since the repetition of topics and lessons made me remember the lessons more. 

Also, preparing for the CETs requires you to know what study style suits you the most. [For example, people say that allotting the day before the actual CET for rest prepares you more for the exam since it calms you down. However, this doesn’t apply to me. I learned that studying the day before the exam sets the momentum for me and gives me the assurance that I’ll do better on the exam.]

     b) PRACTICE not “sitak”-ing the lessons

Whether we admit it or not, we are used to “sitak”-ing or studying our lessons without comprehension. This is a bad study habit that we should give up when preparing for CETs. The DCAT, in particular, focuses more on the process and comprehension, and not just the concepts.

One way that helped me study for the DCAT is by answering lots and lots of problem sets. I answered these problem sets using different kinds of solutions. Then, I would study and understand the purpose of each solution–like when it is most convenient to use (since answering CETs require time pressure, shortcuts are convenient). Also, if I stumbled upon a problem that I couldn’t seem to answer, it’s either I consult a friend or I look for the solution online. I actually learned that asking questions actually makes you learn so much more than studying and analyzing problems by my own.

     c) PRACTICE answering mock exams

Answering mock exams may not seem like a big deal when you’re confident that you have already studied the important lessons. However, answering mock exams will train you in working under time pressure. It also allows you to see in which areas are you the strongest and the weakest—helping you learn in which lessons you should focus and work on more. 

For me, I started answering mock exams after reviewing all the lessons that are part of the DCAT, so around one to two weeks before our actual DCAT. It is also through answering mock exams where I learned that I was focusing too much on the Math and Stats portion, when in fact I’m having a harder time answering the English and Reading Compre portion of my mock exam under time pressure. This allowed me to review and focus on my improvement on the latter sections.  


If you keep your thoughts clouded with fear and doubt, you will have a harder time setting the proper mindset that you’ll pass the exam. From studying to taking the actual exam, set a positive attitude. This helps you gain confidence and concentrate more on the exam.

No matter how much you’ve worked and prepared for the exam, convince yourself that what you have prepared is more than enough. With a positive mindset comes a positive outcome.

One way that I did to motivate myself is by telling myself, “You only have one shot at this. There are no second chances on the DCAT so I have to give all my best.”

And after the exam, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. Taking the DCAT takes months and weeks of preparation, and now that you’re finished taking the exam, reward yourself. You’ve worked your hardest and if it’s meant to be, your dream to be called a “Lasallian” will soon come true.

Ateneo College Entrance Test (ACET)


Danise Sy is a junior taking up a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences at the Ateneo de Manila University. During the 2017 ACET, she was among the top 50 freshman applicants who have excelled in the said test. Hence, for about three years now, she has been enjoying the several privileges of being a merit scholar.

Rising to the top is not an easy task; hence, we asked Danise for some tips on how to be the next merit scholar. She said,


While this may be true for any college entrance exam, practice is really key to answering questions quickly and correctly as much as possible.

For the Math section, there are general problem types that you’ll see in your review classes or reviewers online and it would be best if you keep on practicing answering those questions. Usually, you would see similar questions in the ACET, only with slightly different wording and different given variables. Knowing how to solve that type of question and what kind of formula to use would help you breeze through the questions without compromising accuracy. As you answer, you’ll discover certain problem types that you may be having more difficulty with. With this, you can continue answering similar questions to practice. Additionally, practicing on math problems can also help you in memorizing the formulas you’ll need!

While practicing for the English section may be harder than the Math section, it can still be done! Learning several words each day leading up to the ACET won’t hurt and would actually improve your vocabulary. It will help you remember common root words, prefixes, and suffixes that will give you an idea about the meaning of a certain word. Additionally, you can also read books or articles. This will aid you in making sure that you read swiftly but also comprehend what you have read. It can also show you examples of good sentence structure and exercise your detection of bad grammar and faulty sentences.

It also won’t hurt to practice answering problems on logical reasoning, abstract reasoning and general information. This will help you exercise finding patterns faster and know what kind of thought process you should use when approaching these kinds of problems. Aside from that, you’ll never know, a question you might have answered for practice (or at least something similar to it) may come out in the ACET and help you get that extra point!


ACET is notorious for having short time limits for its test parts. As such, test takers really have to learn to manage their time well. The most important thing for me is to wear a watch! This is so that you can periodically check how time you have left and know how you should pace yourself in answering the next questions. For example, if you have less time left than you expected, then you’ll know that you would need to speed up in answering.

Another thing that I personally noticed was that shading took a lot of my time. With this, I found it less time-consuming if I first clearly marked the letter of all my answers before shading them all in the end. That way I don’t have to always alternate between the tasks of answering the question and shading my answer.

I think one of the parts that take up a lot of time is reading the passages in the reading comprehension section. It’s a bit of a waste of time if you try to fully read and comprehend the whole passage when you’re not actually using all of the information to answer the questions. As such, it would be better if you read the questions first before reading the passage itself. That way you’ll know what information you’re looking for and you can use your skill of scanning to go over the passage quickly and get the specific facts you’ll need to answer the questions.

It’s also important to budget your time wisely for the English section because you’ll have to answer the multiple-choice questions and write an essay on a given prompt. Personally, what I did was I answered the questions first before writing the essay. I suppose that works just as long as you leave enough time to write your essay in the end. Honestly I think I had around 15 minutes left to write the essay and wrote only around 2 paragraphs, but it still worked out for me.

Lastly, don’t spend too much time on a single item. All items are equally important, so if you’re stuck on an item, skip it first! If you take too much time answering a question, this may take time that you could have used on answering other questions, which may result to you being unable to finish a section and losing points. You can also just mark the question and come back to it later! 


Unlike UPCAT, ACET does not penalize wrong answers (a.k.a. it’s not right minus wrong)! This means that leaving anything blank will be to your disadvantage because you’ll never know, your guess might just be the right answer that will score you another point. As I mentioned earlier, if you don’t know the answer to a question, you can skip it first and come back to it later. Make sure you don’t forget to come back to it to make an intelligent guess, or when all else fails, even just a random guess. Furthermore, if you don’t have the time to finish a section, don’t be afraid to guess the rest of the questions. Personally, I would choose to shade the same letter every time I guess (I think there would be higher chances that at least one of those I shaded would be the correct answer rather than randomly shading because I might miss the correct answer in all times) and choose to shade either letter B or C (because research shows that test makers are more likely to hide correct answers in middle positions; But remember, don’t take my advice at face-value! The best way to guess is to follow your intuition and make an intelligent guess!

UP College Admission Test (UPCAT)


UP is known for being one of the toughest universities to get into. During the 2017 UPCAT, only 14,000 students out of 80,000 passed the said test. Among the 17% who were qualified to be official Iskos was Janrick Cayetano, a current student at the Diliman campus taking up a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry.

These numbers may be daunting, but don’t worry because Janrick gave us some tips that might just help you in this exam. He said, 


UPCAT exam questions are mostly logic based, which challenges your mind to think of answers to different situations in every subject. You may need to decipher context clues for complicated Filipino reading comprehension questions, or determine cause and effect scenarios in some science problems. Either way, you will need to think outside the box and answer the problems with logic.  


Mock exams are a great way to gauge your knowledge and competency on the possible topics in UPCAT. Specifically take UPCAT mock exams to familiarize yourself with the structure of questions. 


Taking the UPCAT is an extremely mentally draining ordeal. From shapes and numbers to words and grammar, you will be challenged to maximize your brain power during the exam. Keeping your mind fresh will not only help you answer the UPCAT with ease, but it can also release whatever pressure and stress that is built up inside your head, so you can answer with confidence.

UST Entrance Test (USTET)

Source: Arch’t. John Carlo Sayco via, University of Santo Tomas

Therese Lo is an incoming Thomasian who will be taking up a Bachelor of Science in Basic Human Studies (LEAPMed). This relatively new program is quite competitive for only the top 200 students who took the USTET and the LEAPMed exam will be allowed to take the next step. From this, a psychological test and an interview will take place in order to determine the top 90 applicants who will be eligible to apply for the program. In short, it is a tough program to get into, but Therese conquered the process nonetheless.

Although the university recently announced that they will not administer a college entrance exam for the school year 2021-2022, Therese’s tips can still help the next batches. Hence,  she said,


Most (if not all) of the items released in the different portions of the USTET are taken from SHS subjects such as General Mathematics , Oral Communication, the Sciences, etc. It is important to be well-acquainted with these subjects to ensure a higher chance of passing and getting in the course of your choice. Fighting!!! You can do it.


The difficulty of the USTET admittedly increased as observed by the past two batches. Encountering items wherein you have no idea how to go about the question is (very) normal. It is important to not just to work hard but to work smart. That way, you would be able to efficiently make use of your time. You can temporarily skip the items that you do not know how to answer, but make sure to come back for them and make your best-est educational guess. 


Some of the test venues are pretty chilly, so make sure to bring a jacket if you are easily cold. You may adapt to whatever style you have in preparing for the big day, but remember not to overwork yourself the night before. Get an ample amount of rest and fill your stomach with just the right amount of food before entering the test room. All these are prescribed to ensure that you are in your optimum shape for the exam. Don’t forget to pray before taking the exam itself! Keep in mind that a positive attitude in taking the test (matched with the confidence formed by studying) would increase the likelihood of you getting in.

4) Additional advice for those who are applying for LEAPMed: FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE SCIENCES 

Familiarize yourself with the basics of Anatomy, Botany, Chemistry, Physics, Physiology and Zoology!!! At first glance these may seem to be daunting, but as with everything, the most difficult part of a journey is making that first move, that first step. Strive and thrive.

With the college entrance exams coming up, we wish you, high school seniors, nothing but the best. We hope that these tips and tricks can help you in one way or another, and we can’t wait to see what is ahead of you. Best of luck!


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