MANILA, Philippines – In order to give more aspiring Iskolar ng Bayan (state scholars) a chance to get quality state education, the University of the Philippine (UP) will offer by 2015 an online review of its College Admission Test (UPCAT).
"This is a radical move that we’re going to make...because when I first came to UP, I already proposed this and there was very strong resistance. I think now, we’ll have to push it because there are empirical evidence...[that] show that UPCAT review helps,” UP President Alfredo Pascual said in a media gathering on September 3.
University data shows that the percentage of UPCAT qualifiers from lower income families have decreased over the years, although the good news is that more of them actually enroll in UP as compared to higher income qualifiers. (READ: An UPCAT story: Why UP?)
UPCAT is considered one of the most competitive college entrance exams in the country. Last August, more than 88,000 senior high school students took the exam for admission to academic school year 2015-2016. (READ: UP improves UPCAT application process)
“What do we need to do? This will not be addressed by tuition. [Tuition] is not the barrier for access to UP,” Pascual noted. For him, it begins by getting more children from poor families to take the test.
In one district in Cagayan de Oro for example, Pascual shared that when they started UPCAT review classes for top graduating students from public high schools, their “passing grade” for 2014 almost doubled the national average.
In another instance, when one high school in Sagada stopped sending students to take the UPCAT because "none can make it anyway,” a friend of Pascual brought a tutor to the school to give the review.
Five students from the school qualified.
The UP president said the lack of familiarization to the types of questions usually asked in the UPCAT puts a bright student at a disadvantage. (READ: Tried and tested: Entrance exam strategies)
"If you have not taken the UPCAT review and you are naturally good, there is still a barrier because when you get to the testing center and [are] faced with the types of questions included in UPCAT, sometimes you’ll need a few more minutes than others to understand what the question is all about,” he explained.
Pascual is confident this proposal can help “level the playing field.”
If there’s anything that their experience with the Socialized Tuition Scheme (STS) online applications showed, it’s that even students from very poor families and remote areas in the country actually have access to the Internet. (READ: UP admin: More students benefit from new scholarship program)
Aside from the online UPCAT review, Pascual said they will also review the test itself and the questions.
“It will be less achievement-based and more aptitude-based to identify geniuses from all walks of life...the bright students from poor families,” he added. – Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.