Hello hello everyone!
So as everyone is aware, I still have a pending travelogue series to finish, and share some more stories about where my feet have been and the books I’ve pored over.
But before all those, I shall write about something that was due way way back July, which I never got around to finishing because it became an exhaustive long list. And now, I have the opportunity to do so.
Tomorrow, the University of the Philippines will hold the UPCAT, an admission test that determines whether you get in our out of the university.
Students all over the Philippines of different descents and mixed nationalities have slaved over the review for the exam, and tomorrow and the succeeding Sunday, they will have to prove themselves worthy by answering the multifaceted examination.
All the nights of hard work, days of reading and writing on workbooks and reviewing handwritten notes and recalling lectures made by ear will ultimately all boil done to one thing: an examination that makes up 60% of the chances into making it into one of the units of the one of the most, if not the most prestigious itself, universities in the Philippines.
And for some, it might come off as no big deal, those choosing to otherwise study in a private institution or a community college. But for some whose dream is to be dubbed an Iskolar ng Bayan (Scholar of the Nation) or leadened with his or her parents’ dream of having an offspring bound for UP, well, this means all or nothing.
And then of course there are the few that are stuck in the middle, either not confident enough to count the chances of passing the test let alone getting in the university, or some who are rooting for themselves, wanting to see their name on that list, yet not hoping enough to let their dreams crash into the ground when the worst case scenario happens.
A year ago and maybe two weeks more, I was the in-betweener. I didn’t think of myself or my abilities cut out for UP, simply because there are boundaries in high school, and how high school defined me was not someone who would make it into UP.
So I never expected, never hoped, merely dreamed and prayed that come late January, I would see that Perolino on the list, as no one had made it before.
But as I’ve learned through my duration of living on Earth, disappointments can be very costly, especially when you live on silver linings and dreams. Therefore, I chose not to hope for the best. I thought of contingencies, and to be honest, UP wasn’t even a part of the plans and contingencies. It was like a guy way out of my league—secretly pining for yet had none of the guts or abilities to approach, simply because he wasn’t in my circle and I wasn’t his.
But this story isn’t merely mine to tell, as the objective to this is to give quite a few pointers to those who are next in line how to weather the storm that is brought upon by the UPCAT—and how to stand tall even though the remains are shattered all around you. Let’s stick to some basic facts. The UPCAT is the admission test given by the University of the Philippines to senior high school students in and out of the country. It consists of four partitions: Math, Science, Language Proficiency and Reading Comprehension. If you’re a taker and is probably already breaking out in cold sweat upon reading this part of my post, don’t fret. I’ve been there, trust me, and there’s no use in panicking over what will happen tomorrow. Just sit back, relax a bit, and read this primer out. You probably are already aware of the basic facts, so I’ll skip that and move on to some pointers that I personally choose to dole out because these are the ones that helped me most. Next year, I’ll probably make this more organized but this year, let’s stick with what we have, shall we? For the day of the exam and the preceding hours, let me enumerate the ways on how to keep your cool, and still answer like a pro when you’re seated on that stiff chair with your #2 pencil in hand.
THE DAY BEFORE
- See the day not as a day before taking the excruciating exam of your life, but as a normal day. For me, it wasn’t really a normal day at the most because it was my BIRTHDAY back then, but our school had held the exams on the same day so I took it as another normal exam day. A bit stressful but nothing to worry about, as if I weren’t about to take the UPCAT the next day.
- Locate your exam hall. If you’re from Manila, this will prove to be very useful since you probably know about the traffic situation that will commence on the day of the exam. If you’re taking the exam in the province, this is also a useful tip. In my case, I took it in my alma mater but I still took it upon myself to view the library (which is my favorite part of the school) and how the seats are arranged, among other things.
- Prepare your battle gear. And by battle gear, I mean the things you need to bring for the exam day. Don’t wait for the evening. The moment you get home, clear out your pack and arrange your stuff. Encase your test permit in a hard file case, to prevent creases or any mishaps, and bring the essentials. Three #2 pencils, two sharpened and the other unsharpened, a sharpener, test eraser, extra money and maybe a fan. Don’t settle for the sunny skies, instead, bring an umbrella, because it never hurst to be prepared. Your bag shouldn’t be weighty either, it’s not easy to lug around extra stuff. I will stress this: don’t bring what YOU DON’T NEED. This is very important. You don’t need to bring a kikay kit or your tablet. As for electronic gadgets, I advise you to bring your cellphone, but not at the exam hall, as this will be collected. Just your cellphone, no other things needed. I actually left my Kindle at home, so that’s a big deal for me.
- Ditch any last minute efforts to review. Not only will it cause you more anxiety, but it will be fruitless. Have faith and confidence that your days and months of preparation will be enough.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
- Eat early. I say this, not because of a diet rule but because you need as much rest as you can get. So eating early means digesting early which means sleeping early. Trust me. This is invaluable because if you eat at around 6:00-7:00 PM, you’ll surely feel rested enough to go to bed at around 9:00-10:00 PM at the most.
- Don’t eat too much. If you usually go for two rounds at the dinner table, try to cut back to just one, and avoid springing for dessert. It’s not easy to sleep early on a heavy stomach. Just sayin’.
- Limit your use of gadgets. There is nothing easier and more regrettable than letting time slip from your fingers when you’re on Facebook or any social media platform. Even playing a mere relaxing game can take away an hour or so, so try not to watch a movie or start a book on that night. No matter how important that message on Facebook is, it will never be as important as tomorrow’s defining day.
- Do your evening rituals early. If you like to take a walk around, do it an hour or at least a quarter of an hour before you rest. Be mindful of the time too, and if you like to take a shower before slipping between the covers, do so at an earlier time.
- Which brings me to the next thing: do sleeping rituals. Drinking a glass of warm, not hot, milk and brushing your teeth after you get out of a quick shower is relaxing and soothing, and if you usually don’t do these things, I advise you to try it. At least, that’s what I did, and it didn’t bother me at all. It helped me fall asleep in record time, too. As an afterthought, avoid drinking caffeine-based drinks two hours before sleeping. You so don’t want to get wired before you sleep, as it will make you antsy and toss and turn.
- Triple-check everything. Double-checking isn’t enough. Exam permit in bag? Check. ✔️ Pencils in case? Check. ✔️ Eraser and sharpener? Check.✔️ School ID? Check. ✔️ Now would also be a good time to add your baon to your bag. I was too wired up to bring mine, so imagine my despair when in the middle of reading comprehension, my tummy started to rumble. Crackers and biscuits are primary snacks. Don’t attempt to bring rice toppings, as you won’t have an eating break and you don’t want to waste a good chunk of your answering time on just eating that braised beef bowl.
- Set your alarm. It’s productive and best to set your alarm and hour and thirty minutes before your calculated time of leaving home. Traffic can be such a bother, and you’d rather not be panting after running to the exam room, only to get there a minute shy of closing the doors.
- Before you sleep, pray. So you’re not the most religious person in the world, or you’re not faithful at all. It doesn’t hurt to sneak in a prayer, to God, to The Lord, to Allah, or whoever you worship. The most important thing is for you to pray and have faith that when you take the exam, and even after it, everything will be okay. Don’t forget to be thankful too. THE DAY ITSELF This applies both to the morning and afternoon takers. ⚫️ Wake up early. For those taking the exam in the morning, dawn might just be breaking, but it’s a good idea to get moving. Stretch a bit while your coffee is brewing, and close your eyes and pray. Today’s the day, so don’t fret. For those in the afternoon, like me, wake up an hour shy before lunch. But this applies to all: Be an early bird, and well, try not to eat any worms at breakfast.
- Eat before you go. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, whichever suits you, go forth and be energized. Ideally, this is not the time to count calories, and conversely, don’t attack that tapsilog like it’s the end of the world. Instead, eat at a medium pace, not too fast but not too slow either. You’ll learn that filling up is a nice way to start the day, and not to the extent that you’ll find it unpleasant when your gut is churning and all you can think of is puking behind the bushes. An ideal breakfast would be a cup of steamed rice, a side of protein, not too oily please, and a cup of water. Avoid sugary drinks, and don’t eat to the point of bloating.
- Dress up for comfort. This is not a style shoot. I make it a point to be presentable, and that translates to fashionista mode. But for the day, go in your most comfortable ensemble. Some even choose to go in PJs, but I chose to go in my loose shirt, shorts and flip-flops. A digital watch is an ideal choice for a sole accessory—functionality meets fashion. Don’t wear something you wouldn’t wear on a lazy day, and don’t wear flashy necklaces. Like I said, it’s an exam day, not a lookbook go-see.
- Leave the house fifteen minutes before your preferred time. Trust me, this time computation thing will help you out heaps on the actual test time.
- Pray, pray and pray. If you’re in a private vehicle, pray in silence. If you’re commuting, secure your bag before closing your eyes, and just ask for guidance for the exam that will commence.
- Upon arriving, go straight ahead near the exam hall and stay cool. Don’t jump up and down at the sight of familiar faces, and don’t be grumpy either. Acknowledge people but don’t strike up an hour-long conversation. Sit in a chair and unclench those fists, and prepare for the time when your batch will have to enter that hall.
- Choose to go to the bathroom. So you went five minutes ago. Empty your bladder still, as it helps a lot, to not distract you when you’re being asked what the sum of the square root of seventeen and eighty-one is.
- Bring out your exam permit. Place it in one hand and fall in line. As the doors open, and your heart rate accelerates, wipe your sweaty palms on your jeans. Breathe. This is it.
- Take the exam. Look at your proctor and listen well, and when you’re asked to open your test booklet, leave all thoughts of pressure and disappointments behind. This is the time you’ve been gearing up for, and your best self should be the one stepping in for you.
AFTER THE EXAM
- Breathe. Gulp in those lungfuls of air and listen to the chatter that composes test questions and viable answers. And forget. Forget the pressure and the recriminations, and head out to the outside world. The deed is done, and what follows is the agonizingly long wait to find out the results of it. It is unfathomable in every sense of the word, but after that long exam, you deserve to go out for that cup of latte or that scoop of ice cream, and as you sink your teeth into that red velvet cupcake, think of the best you can be, and if UP doesn’t take you as you are, then you may not just be suited for the system and the system not suited for awesomesauce you.
A note to those who will be taking: I am on my seventh day of school in UP. I’m a freshie now, but I should just be taking the test tomorrow, just like you, a senior high school student. Maybe it’s fate that I got to be accelerated to help out some people, but I do believe in blessings, rewards, happenstance and karma.
So good luck tomorrow. Pray hard and shade hard. And maybe we’ll see each other around the campus.
MABUHAY ANG MGA ISKOLAR NG BAYAN.
Stay nerdy x