There had been rumors that, for the first time, the University of the Philippines was going to add an essay question to its dreaded UP College Admission Test (Upcat).
The over 70,000 high school seniors who took the Upcat on Aug. 4 and 5 found out that the rumors were indeed true.
But the essay question was nothing like what they had expected. And, in the end, it was the only item that they really remembered and talked about after the grueling exam.
Anthony Ivan Geronimo of the Philippine Science High School (PSHS), who wants to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree, was asked to “write about something that you do often.”
Geronimo said he was amused by the question and immediately wrote “playing the guitar.”
“Playing the guitar has been my hobby since I was in the sixth grade and I never stopped learning since then. It has become a form of escape from the numerous demands (of) my high school life … I also said how different I would be without it; without it, I wouldn’t have been given a chance to play alongside some of my favorite OPM (original Pilipino music) bands. I was amused that this was the essay topic/question that was given to our batch because I found out that the other questions were kind of hard to answer,” he said.
The “easy” question was also quite a break after going through the “challenging” exam.
Focus and strategy
“I had to have a strategy to answer the questions. The test was a bit long but I managed to finish everything. I had to skip some of the items since merely guessing wouldn’t have been to my advantage because of the right minus one-fourth wrong point system. I found reading comprehension the hardest part of the test and math, the easiest. There were parts of the test where I had to really think since there were multiple possible answers but also, there were parts wherein I just needed to focus to get the answer,” said Geronimo.
As for Anna Katherine V. Camua, who is from the Central Luzon campus of PSHS, she was asked to “make an elaborate lie and support it with details to make it believable.”
“After reading the instructions, I was pretty shocked. It was unexpected. I thought we were going to write an essay (to) answer a what-how-and-why type of question. I never thought it would be something like this,” said Camua.
Camua also considered the math portion of the Upcat the easiest and the science subtest the hardest.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the hardest, it (science) was a 7. Well, it was not really that difficult, but relative to the other subtests, it was harder,” said Camua who hopes to enter UP Manila and take either BS Biochemistry or BS Pharmacy on her way to becoming a doctor.
A senior from Don Bosco Medical Institute, who wants to take up medical technology in UP Manila, was also asked to create an elaborate lie about himself.
“The question was kind of weird but I’m glad it was easy. I wrote that my mom was a British citizen. I guess it was the first thing that came to my mind that was a lie. Maybe also because I was thinking of the London Olympics,” said the senior who declined to be identified.
Surprise, skepticism and amusement were certainly just some of the reactions to the Upcat essay questions. Questions were raised on how relevant the topics really were and how they were supposed to help determine which lucky students—about 13,000—would enter the halls of UP campuses nationwide.
But then, the University of the Philippines has always done things its own way.
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