No More UPCAT for 80,000 Public High School Students? Really?

I was shocked when I saw this headline: Why new law exempts 80,000 students from taking UPCAT. According to this article:

More than 80,000 graduating public high school students will be exempt from taking college entrance examinations in state universities and colleges (SUCs), including the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT), Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said Tuesday.


“The scholars do not have to take the competitive entrance tests of state universities, including […] UPCAT. All that they have to do is apply for admission, and they will be allowed in, as long as they choose the campus in their home region, and provided that the school’s quota for the Iskolar ng Bayan is still not full,” Romulo said.

I didn’t want to comment at first, because everyone knows we are in the UPCAT review business. One might think I’m grumbling because we will lose students. That’s true, we might lose students. But so what? That shouldn’t stop me from asking the following questions:

1. UP only accepts a total of more or less 12,000 students every year. That’s nationwide. And yet 80,000 are exempted from taking the UPCAT?!?

2. If still only a certain percentage of these 80,000 get admitted to UP, what exactly would the parameters be to determine who are and who are not eligible? School grades? Uh-oh, there’s more reason to cry, “Favoritism!” (Remember the salutatorian who ranted during her speech? Many sided with her at first but upon learning that the valedictorian passed the UPCAT but the grumbling salutatorian did not, the valedictorian was vindicated). Connections? Relatives? Hmmmm! Without any unbiased exam, this isn’t farfetched!

3. Does this mean almost all of the UP students would come from public schools already? Imagine that’s 80,000 clamoring for more or less 12,000 slots. How many slots would be left for private school students, then?

4. Hate me for saying this, but face it: there are a lot of “running for valedictorian” students from several public (and private!!!) schools who are less smart than the worst students of other schools.

5. OK, so UP will be more “pangmasa” because majority of the students will come from public high schools. But because of the this law don’t you think that public high schools will start swarming with rich kids? You know, those who graduated from good (and expectedly, expensive) elementary schools will choose to go to a public school because they’ll have greater chances of going to UP. Don’t you think that would be worse? High school pa lang, nawawalan na ng slots ang mahihirap—the private elementary school students will top the public high school entrance exams and take the “pilot section” slots where the Top 10 would of course come from.


6. When exactly would the students know whether they would get qualified? Do they apply at the start of the schoolyear? If at the start of the schoolyear they belong to the Top 10 but later on they fall behind, are they still eligible? If they apply after they graduate but do not get accepted to UP because of their grades, would they not have wished they had taken the UPCAT instead? Would they have blown their chances of going to other schools (and getting scholarships) like La Salle or Ateneo or aother prestigious universities thinking they’ll go to UP anyway?

7. Will there still be UP Oblation Scholars? I think it’s fine even if there is none. However, how would UP choose the INTARMED Candidates? Would a Top 10 student of Philippine Science High School who did not take the UPCAT not be qualified to be an INTARMED Candidate?

If at the end of it all the top 10 graduating students of public high schools still need to take the UPCAT to help them guarantee a slot in UP, then what is this all for?


Disclaimer:  I’m just reacting from article I read.  Yes, my view is myopic and my knowledge is limited, as this is just a blog post written to let off some steam, not a well-researched investigative journalism article.  Feel free to enlighten me.  Thanks!


UPDATE: A reader/friend on Facebook just posted this on my Timeline:

SEC. 4. Admission in SUCs. – Any public high school student who belongs to the top ten (10) bracket of the graduating class shall be entitled to the scholarship grant provided under this Act in any SUC of choice upon compliance with the following conditions:

(a) The student has graduated from any public high school in the country within two (2) years prior to the academic year being applied for in the SUC;

(b) The student has complied with the application requirements of the SUC;

(c) The student’s rank is reported by the public high school principal or administrator in a certificate bearing the name of the school and its location, the number of students, the rank of the student applicant in the graduating class, and other relevant information; and

(d) After taking the entrance examination in the chosen SUC, the student has obtained a rating which has been designated by the SUC as the minimum rating for a student to be able to qualify for the scholarship program.

SEC. 5. Limitation in the Acceptance of Top Public High School Graduates by SUCs. – All SUCs shall provide scholarships to qualified public high school graduates under this Act: Provided, That the applicants have successfully passed the entrance examination and have complied with the admission requirements of the SUCs.

According to him, “parang mali naman yung ‘NO UPCAT’ report ng media.  

Thank you Kuya Mark Nas for clarifying!



Another update, DMed to me by a former student:

As posted by the UPLB USC Chairperson Ronald Gem Celestial in the UPLB Batch 2015 group:

  • “Points of Clarification on the Implementation of theIskolar ngBayan Act in UP: Only 5% of the incoming freshman population will be allotted to theIskolar ngBayan Program. Top ten HS graduates who took theUPCAT would be prioritized over those top ten HS graduates who did not took theUPCAT. Why? Since only 5% is allotted to the incoming freshmen, theUPAI scores (not the HS grades) will be used to rank all thoseINB applicants todetermine who qualifies for the limited slots. Fornon-UPCAT takers, they are automatically admitted to the university but this is not tantamount to qualifying for their degree program of choice. The university shalldetermine its priority programs and these are the only programs wherenon-UPCAT takers shall have automatic admission, provided that there are available slots. Also, in order for you to have automatic admission, you should come from the region where the UP campus is situated.Diliman and Manila for NCR, Baguio for CAR, Pampanga for Region III, LosBanos forCALABARZON,Miagao and Iloilo for WesternVisayas, Cebu for CentralVisayas, Tacloban for EasternVisayas, Mindanao for Davao Region and Open University for all regions. Therefore, in UP, graduating as one of the top ten in your HS does not guarantee you automatic admission. These points were clarified yesterday (21 July 2015) at the University Committee for Scholarships and Financial Assistance where I was theUPLB Student Representative.”
    Thank you, Romel Amboy for sending me that!
    So I guess…may UPCAT pa rin talaga?

My UPCAT Experience 2: Engr. Pau Perez’s and More!

Part Two of My UPCAT Experience

Hello hello!!!  Gravity, two days to go before Day 1 of THE DAY!!!

Anyway, you nervous UPCAT takers are in for another treat, because three other successful UPCAT takers have been so generous with their time to encourage you with your upcoming endeavor.

Let’s begin with Engr. Jeffrey Paulo Perez’s (who insists on being called “Jeffrey” from now on, because mas tutyal daw pakinggan ang “Jeffrey”, bilang papunta na siyang Belgium in a month..Huhuhu!) UPCAT experience.

Engr. Jeffrey Paulo “Jeffrey” Perez

(took the UPCAT inbasta a not-so-long time ago; graduated cum laude from UP Los Banos with a degree in Chemical Engineering despite:

1. being president of three student organizations

2. and moments like telling the jeepney driver “Para!” prematurely just to give another Chem Eng student lascivious looks while the latter was playing volleyball at DL Umali Freedom Park, and of wearing eyeshadow to class)


I only had one dream in high school—to get into UP. Back then, I believed that being an Iskolar ng  Bayan will be an affirmation of my insatiable hunger for knowledge, a validation that I am meant for greater things, and, most importantly, a proof that all of our family’s sacrifices have finally paid off.

Just days before UPCAT 2014, let’s see how terrorific I was during that fateful day.

My UPCAT schedule was set on a Sunday at 6:30 AM. I did not have that much sleep the night before.  I was very anxious even though I have prepared myself academically.  I was assigned [to take the test] at the CEM Function Hall, which I decided to visit a day before just to make sure that I won’t get lost.

On exam day, I arrived at the assigned room 30 minutes before the examination starts so that I will have time to calm my nerves.  There were already a lot of students when I got there.  I felt so out-of-place because everyone had someone to talk to (or someone to panic with).  They also crammed extra topics that they think will be essential for UPCAT.  I had to plug-in my earphones and blast some feel-good music so that I won’t feel nervous and distracted.

Then, a few minutes before 6:30 AM, the examiner asked us to enter the room and proceed into our assigned seats.  My seat assignment was near a tower-type air conditioning unit.  Fortunately, I brought a jacket with me because I heard there was this kid who peed in his pants while in the lecture hall.  The first subtest administered was Science. In our batch, most of the questions came from General Science and Physics, a few from Chemistry and a little bit on Biology.  Of course I was very happy with the question mix since it was like competing once again in Science and Chemistry Olympiads.  Furthermore, there were questions on optics and sound, my two favorite topics on Physics.  Nevertheless, I was very confident with the first subtest.  There were a few items which I was not really familiar with so I had to use my powers of deduction (Naaaaaaks! In short, hinulaan ko.).

I was aware of the “Right Minus 1⁄4 Wrong” rule, but I still decided to guess the answer for the other questions.  Why, you ask?  Statistically speaking, there is a very high chance of getting the answers correctly if you can eliminate other choices.  While reviewing for UPCAT, I noticed that most of the choices in college reviewers can be narrowed down into two – leaving you with a 50:50 chance of getting a correct answer.  As one of my colleagues in Brain Train, Sir Jhabs, pointed out, the deductions we would incur will be trivial if we “scientifically” guess the answers.  I am not saying that you guess the answer for every blank item.  I think it would be better if there are SOME questions that you choose to answer. If you feel guilty because you guessed “too many” items, most probably the others did the same thing.  Remember that your UPCAT scores are in percentile so guessing MAY increase your rank.

The next subtest was Mathematics. Now, this one is a tricky subtest. Many questions were from Algebra and Geometry (especially the shaded areas). I think the subtest was constructed so that many students won’t be able to finish. I, for one, finished just in time, meaning I had no time to review some of my answers. So you better be fast and not think twice if you want to finish the exam in time! Just remember all the shortcuts and techniques we taught you so that you won’t be MA-BA-GAL (Hi Sir Mark!).  And, yes, that’s the Brain Train Advantage!

For Language Proficiency and Reading Comprehension, they were a combination of English and Filipino questions and passages.  Also, there were some editorial cartoons and caricatures that were asked to be interpreted. I can say that the difficulty of the last two remaining subtest during our batch was moderate, not too easy but not too difficult.

I did not bring food during the exam because I know I won’t have time to eat. Just like what I did in my Philippine Science High School Entrance Test, I brought a chocolate bar and bottled water, in case I got hungry. I also did not eat heavy breakfast so that I won’t feel drowsy or go the comfort room to do some “dirty business”.  After the most grueling five hours of my life, I emerged feeling victorious in the depths of that highly academic lair. I felt like a winner because I know I just conquered one of the most difficult college entrance exams in the country. And, most of all, I felt satisfied because I know I am already one step onward to a bright future, no way but UP!

20140624_234719Engr. Perez with the object of his lascivious glances

[Read more…]

My UPCAT Experience

Hello students (and parents)!  I’m sure you are anticipating this coming weekend with dread.  Those who are well-prepared are eager to take “THE” UPCAT to get it over and done with, while those who aren’t spend more time getting scared than doing actual studyingam I right or am I left-handed?  (Well, I’m both!  Hehe)

I hope you were able to read the UPCAT tips I gave.  I actually wrote it some years ago, but I believe the tips are still very much applicable.

Since you jitterbug UPCAT takers lot want to read anything and everything regarding the UPCAT, I have decided to go on a trip down memory lane and recall the exam that made me a true blue and proud Iska.

wpid-254621_2037315055595_6000775_n.jpgImage lifted from

MomsterTeacher’s UPCAT Experience

During our time, I was among the first batch of UPCAT takers—that is, I took the exam in the morning of Saturday (so no chance to get a leakage from friends, hihi).  This was unfortunate because I sleep late and of course, I wake up late.  To add insult to the injury, I always have MORE trouble sleeping when I know I have to wake up early.  Knowing that, I made sure I was prepared for it the day before my exam:  before going home, I bought my snacks (Konjac Jelly—tanda ko pa!) and lunch (my favourite spiced beef meal from Shanghai Expresstoo bad sarado na ’tong SEx!).  Of course, I also brought water.   I also checked and rechecked my test kit: school ID, test permit, pencilSSSSSS, eraser, and sharpener.  So the following day, after an uneasy sleep, I woke up just in time.  I took a bath (which took away some of my grogginess), stuffed everything I needed in my bag, tried to eat a “safe” breakfast (no milk, no greasy food, no caffeine)and wore a new blouse.  Baket kamo?  Because I anticipated that there may be a cute boy in the same room as where I would take the UPCAT, hehe.  HOWEVER, that proved to be a major blunder.  First, the blouse I was talking about wasn’t really new, as in newly bought.  I’ve had it for some time but refused to wear it because it somehow showed my “baby fats” and was not made of cotton ergo it wasn’t too comfortable.  Anyway, it was a good thing I arrived at the testing site early (I made myself comfy and did not have to panic).  And if at first I tried to suck in my stomach so my bulges would be hidden, I realized that none in our room would care about my protruding belly anyway.  So I just made myself comfortable and answered the exam confidently.  Of course, I uttered prayers:  before I started the exam, during the exam, and another prayer of thanks as I finished before time was up.

Anyway, since my UPCAT Experience dates back to2010 (joke!!!), I also asked some of my former students to share with you their own UPCAT stories, so you would have an idea how theirs went.  Of course, these are all UPCAT passers.  Let’s hear their stories:

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UPCAT 2014 Results Released Two Days Before Christmas!

Alarm bells early Monday morning

Last night Randy and I slept late, as we consider Mondays our day off (we work the hardest on weekends).  More so this Monday, as we have already been bitten by the Holidays bug.  But then something roused us from our deep slumber before 5 A.M.: consecutive beeps of my mobile phone and of his iPad.  I tried to ignore it but shortly after, I heard another series of beeps.  And then Raviv, who has been waking up quite late for the past months, woke up early too.  So I had no choice but to wake up and check my cellphone.  This was what removed any trace of antok in me:

2013-12-23 18.43.44

At first I thought it was a joke, or that Arianne (the student who messaged me), was mistaken!  After all, the previous UPCAT results were released in February this year!  Way, way AFTER the release of the ACET and of the DLSUCET!  As far as I know, the earliest previous UPCAT results were released mid-January, and definitely NOT before Christmas!  But then I also saw another message:

upcat passer 2014

And then I got a notification of a “mention” on IG:

2014 upcat passer

So I checked my news feeds on Facebook and true enough, almost everyone awake was posting something about the UPCAT.

Ambivalent feelings

Like what I’ve said in the past years, I really get ambivalent feelings whenever the UPCAT results come out.  And this batch’s result is no exception.  Of course, I feel great when I receive “thank-you” messages or even when I read status posts of my students expressing their extreme elation.

upcat passer 2014 brain trainbrain train review center the best sa upcat [Read more…]

Surprise: May Essay na ang UPCAT! (What to do?)

Have you read this?

If you consider yourself UPCAT-ready, then only one thing will surprise you:

 1. For the first time, UPCAT examinees will be asked to write an essay.

The UPCAT previously consisted of multiple-choice questions in four areas: Language Proficiency, Science, Mathematics and Reading Comprehension.
Consider bringing more food for your snacks as the addition of the essay portion to the exam will make the UPCAT longer this year, bringing the actual duration of the test to four hours and 20 minutes.
 And is probably scaring you.

Image courtesy of

Easier said than done, but then, DON’T PANIC.  That will only do you more harm than good, as I’ve written on my most previous post.
OK, here’s what to remember:  if you’ve done pretty well  on your language proficiency and reading comprehension subtests, there really is no need to panic.  Essay writing is an application of those:  kinarir mo ang pagiging Grammar Nazi?  E ‘di flawless ang syntax ng essay mo!  You understand passages pretty quickly?  Then chances are, your train of thought is pretty fast as well.  That also means you also have good vocabulary!  I remember our Essay Writing Contest for FREE UPCAT Review winner, Dwight de Leon…he aced the language proficiency subtest.  So there really is a connection. [Read more…]

UPDATE: Brain Train’s UPCAT Passers and Outstanding DLSU CAT, ACET, and UPCAT Passers

To all those took time to correct their names and add their names on my previous post (For the huge, yellow tarp: BRAIN TRAIN’s 2012 UPCAT Passers List), thank you!  Grabe, we thought we already had so many UPCAT passers, ‘yun pala mas marami pa!  On the first list I gave, wala pa pala dun ‘yung passers ng isang venue.  Again, thank you for getting that BRAIN TRAIN advantage!  Thank you too for remembering and praising the Dewmaine’s INUNAT Formula© (don’t forget the copyright!)  Question: ‘yung Dewmainean Theorem© hindi na ba ninyo naaalala?  Haha.  Anyway, here’s our new list.  Again, please check your names ( Brain Train’s yellow tarps are being posted right now in Los Banos and Cavite.  Expect the other tarps within the next weeks).

PS: I’d also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Brain Train‘s Outstanding UPCAT, ACET, and DLSU CAT Passers!  Here they are:


 Vaugirard Scholarship  (DLSU CAT Top 120 examinees)

  1. Kimberly Palomique
  2. David Benedict Robles
  3. Marvin Darron Santiago
  4. Francis Manuel Resma

 Star Scholar Candidates

  1. Kimberly Palomique
  2. David Benedict Robles


 San Ignacio de Loyola Merit Scholar (1 of only 10 Awardees)

  1. Aliya Luisa Dalmacio

 Director’s List (Top 2% in the ACET)

  1. Christopher Patrick Elegado
  2. Kimberly Palomique
  3. Angelo Gabriel Dionora
  4. Ria Mikhaella Panis (updated Jan. 29, 2012)


Oblation Scholars (UPCAT Top 50)

  1. Kimberly Palomique
  2. David Benedict Robles
  3. Christopher Patrick Elegado (updated Jan. 29, 2012)

 INTARMED Candidates

  1. Oscar Acopiado Jr.
  2. Zyra Krizia Arcos
  3. Kimo Anthony Bello
  4. Maika Loise Dingal (updated Jan. 29, 2012)
  5. Christopher Patrick Elegado
  6. Kimberly Palomique
  7. Ria Mikhaella Panis
  8. Francis Manuel Resma
  9. David Benedict Robles
  10. Marvin Darron Santiago

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For the huge, yellow tarp: BRAIN TRAIN’s 2012 UPCAT Passers List

For more than a decade now, BRAIN TRAIN Tutorial and Review regularly publicizes its list of UPCAT passers.  The names of UPCAT passers are placed on a huge, yellow tarpaulin and posted in every BRAIN TRAIN review venue.  What was supposed to be just an advertisement turned out to be a tourist spot!  We’ve seen several BRAIN TRAIN UPCAT passers posing beside this huge yellow tarpaulin, and even making it their profile pic on Facebook!  Sometimes, motorists even stop and stare at the list, looking for a familiar name.  Apparently, we didn’t expect that seeing their child’s name on this yellow tarp means so much to parents.  In fact, about 2-3 years ago, a father called us asking why her Brain Trainee daughter who passed UP Diliman wasn’t on the tarp.  We apologized for the oversight, but he insisted we put her daughter’s name on the tarp…dream daw nilang makita yung name ng anak nila sa yellow tarp na yun (mas importante pa sa website ng UPCAT, haha)!  So we did on the tarp that is in their municipality.  After a week, we received another call again…bakit daw wala sa tarp na nasa Calamba!  Nung dumaan daw siya, hinanap niya dun!  Haha.  We were amused, even flattered that the BRAIN TRAIN yellow tarp is a HUGE deal.  My mom told me that it indeed was a HUGE deal, and that we SHOULD add the name.  At that time, Randy and I still did not have our Raviv, so I guess we weren’t that sensitive to parents’ feelings.

BRAIN TRAIN Family (wala ako!) against the 2011 Yellow Tarpaulin

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Pending and Degree Program with Available Slots Stories

I’m reposting what I’ve posted on my earlier blog entry, “Pasa ba ang Pending? Eh ang Degree Program with Available Slot?” And Other UPCAT Results-Related Questions.  These are actually my replies to the questions posted under the comments section of that entry, based on the answers given to me by my friend and niece.  I realized that despite my assurances that those that are pending are still passers and already have slots, many are still scared (or perhaps too excited).  So to, hopefully, appease you, here are my friend’s and niece’s kwentos about their personal experiences:

Image courtesy of

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UP Waitlist/Reconsideration Process

Lulubusin ko na 🙂  Pati recon at waitlist, post ko na.

Like what is stated on the UPCAT results web pages, here’s what you need to do if your name is NOT on the passers list:


If you do not qualify to any of your campus choices, you have several options:

FIRST : You can try other UP campuses if:
1. your rating is within their posted cut-off, and
2. they still have available slots.

Present your Non-Qualifier’s Slip (which will be sent to you in the mail and which will show your admission rating) to the Registrar’s Office of the campus you want to enter. However, there is no guarantee of acceptance as each campus makes its own decisions according to its own criteria.

SECOND : If no UP campus can accommodate you, you can enroll in a college or university other than UP. After earning 33 academic units with a weighted average of 2.00 or better on the UP marking system, you can apply for transfer into a UP campus. Again, each campus has its own rules on transfer and accepts only a limited number of transfer students. Information regarding transfer to UP may be obtained from the Office of the University Registrar of the respective UP campuses.

Let’s focus on the FIRST scenario.  So what are the cut-offs of the UP campuses? Using a scale of 1.000-5.000,  with 1.000 being the highest and 5.000 being the lowest, here they are:

UP Diliman: 2.2 (no waitlist/recon)
UP Manila: 2.285 – 2.5
UP Baguio: 2.659 – 2.574
UP Tacloban: 2.7 – 2.7
UP Cebu: 2.7 – 2.7
UP Iloilo: 2.7 – 2.7
UP Mindanao: 2.75 – 2.75
UP Los Banos: 2.42 – 2.8

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“Pasa ba ang Pending? Eh ang Degree Program with Available Slot?” And Other UPCAT Results-Related Questions

The Official Seal of the University of the Phi...

Image via Wikipedia

First, congratulations to the new Iskolars ng Bayan Mabuhay kayo!  And thank you for entrusting your UPCAT review with BRAIN TRAIN.  To those who did not make it, don’t despair!  Get your UPG and see if you’d be eligible for reconsideration or waitlist.

We have been receiving plenty of phone calls and messages on Facebook regarding the 2012 UPCAT results.  To avoid redundancy, we have decided to compile your questions.  Please share this as well.

Image lifted from

Image lifted from

FAQ 1: Where can we find the list of UPCAT passers?

Ans: Go to and click the set where your LAST NAME may be included.  If you’re having trouble going to this site, you may go to its mirror sites,,, and


FAQ 2:  My name is on the UPCAT passers list, but there is no campus and course across it.  Instead, across it is **Pending Case.  Am I a passer?

[Read more…]