Fresh high school graduates are awash with thrills and jitters. Graduation is saying goodbye to the best friend, the barkada, the first love or the current squeeze or crush, the favorite teacher, the beloved campus of their youth. It is turning their backs on childhood and irresponsible ways. It is also the excitement of the senior ball, the battery of final exams, the career orientation seminar. The anticipation of yet another phase of student life: college.
As they get ready for college, there is one major challenge they have to hurdle, one that can send chills down their spines. Will they pass the college entrance tests? Will they get accepted to the universities and courses of their dreams?
How did the successful ones do it? Let’s hear it straight from the winning horses’ mouths:
How they did it
Michelle, who made it through the UPCAT and thence to the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Home Economics a few years ago, said she went through a stoic regimen worthy of military cadets. She made sure she spent at least three hours a day for her self-review. She would rise an hour earlier and go to bed two hours later than her usual waking and sleeping schedule. Saturday was the Great Review Day when she would work from break of dawn to the wee hours of morning. Sundays, however was R’n’R day – she needed that weekly break to unwind and recharge.
As Michelle was a self-reviewer, she bought review manuals from a reputable review center which she mastered with a discipline she didn’t know she had. Not content with that, she prepared detailed outlines for all subjects and exchanged notes with fellow self-reviewers – sometimes by phone, at times by Internet chat, occasionally by meeting together for a combined “group study and social” encounter.
Eric, who passed both Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and UP entrance tests but finally enrolled at ADMU, partly because he couldn’t imagine himself cheering for other than the Blue Eagles come UPAA season, believed in the minimalist approach.
He took care to study only subjects he was weak in. A constant essay-writing contest winner and an editor of their school paper, Eric felt confident he could breeze through the English grammar portion of the exam – which he did.
However, he knew Math was his waterloo. Abstract reasoning, too, was almost esoteric to him. Thus, he spent time grilling himself in numbers and abstract-thinking exercises. Weekends, he would go to his uncle’s house in Pasig City (Eric lives in Novaliches, Quezon City) and stay there overnight. The uncle would oblige with lessons Eric calls “algebra for dummies.” “He was better than my Algebra teacher,” he gushes about his uncle “he made finding those elusive X’s easy or at least doable for me even if it took me double the time it would for a regular Math whiz to get it.”
Sam thinks he may have luck on his side. He was a student of the UP Integrated School and weekly UPCAT reviews were integrated into their school calendar. He made it to the State University’s College of Architecture. He reckons that during his time, the passing rate of UP Integrated School graduates was about 70 per cent.
Michelle might have worked as hard as never before. She says her mother was also a sigurista who made her take fish oil and ginkgo bulova capsules, said to be great memory aids. She can’t say whether they worked. But look, she made it to where she wanted to be.
Sam’s mom had her own way of “loading the dice” for her son. She and the whole family stormed the heavens. They lighted candles at the shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan before the exams and went back to light some more when Sam passed. His mom finished countless rounds of novenas to the Sacred Heart before her son began to take the exams.
To each his own way of “climbing the mountain,” or "skinning the... uhrmm ... CAT."