BEFORE GETTING inside the den of the tigers and the home of age-old traditions, Thomasians must pass the University of Santo Tomas Entrance Test (USTET).
Due to mobility restrictions during the pandemic, it was suspended, and UST Admission Rating (USTAR) was implemented for two years.
With the return of USTET, The Flame asked six Artlets to share pointers that can help aspiring Thomasians prepare for it.
- Plan a study schedule
Preparing for the USTET starts by setting the mind never to underestimate it. History senior Emil Martin Bautista recalled when people were making jokes about the USTET, labeling it “the easiest among the big four exams.”
Bautista said that that was not the case.
Preparations for the exams are a crucial element before the college journey. Economics senior Marian Runes said she enrolled in a review center to prepare for the exam.
Shania Rodriguez of behavioral science recommended taking mock exams. “Although these exams aren’t necessary nor accurate to the USTET itself, I feel like it helps with keeping your time in check so that you can finish the exam efficiently,” she said.
Bautista mentioned that having a proper study schedule, such as taking the time to review daily, could make a difference.
“Save yourself from the stress of being in a rush or cramming, considering you’ll experience much of that in college,” Isabelle Calzado, another senior history major, added.
- Secure your starter pack: documents, essentials, and even your travel route
“Always have a photocopy of all documents that are needed for the USTET and keep them in a brown envelope,” Rodriguez said. This is to keep the files organized and prepared.
On the examination day, it is important to wear comfortable clothes—legal management junior Bianca Susi suggested this to avoid unnecessary distractions.
Having breakfast and bringing snacks and refreshments is also a must.
“You’ll spend almost the whole day in a classroom taking a test, it’s going to physically and mentally drain you,” Runes said.
She also suggested not to bring anything messy and consider what can be eaten with one hand.
Bautista reminded the examinees to bring their jackets if their exam rooms got too cold. This could help in having better concentration.
In addition, Susi encourages the exam takers to invest in good pencils and erasers. “The Mongol Pencil XL 2 and the Faber-Castell Special Eraser for Examination are great mini investments,” she said. The pencil has a larger coverage for faster shading, while the eraser “removes pencil marks smoothly.”
It is also helpful to establish a travel route. Runes reminded USTET-takers to avoid parking in UST and to consider the heavy traffic that comes with the examination dates.
“UST is worse than EDSA traffic after USTET,” Runes said.
On the day before the exam, trust what you have studied. Bautista suggested not to open reviewers anymore. Susi also reminded examinees to get enough sleep the night before.
- Devise exam strategies
After studying and preparing for the USTET, it is time to face the test. A tip from Calzado is to “skip the hard questions” and only return to them after answering the easy ones since USTET is a timed test.
As her rule of thumb, Runes suggested not to “spend more than a minute in solving a problem or answering a question.”
Another tip is to reduce the choices. Bautista called it as the “odd one out.”
“As a HUMSS (Humanities and Social Sciences) graduate, I found the math and science parts difficult. However, it’s important not to lose your ‘momentum’ during the exam.” she said.
Before passing the exam sheets, Susi advised not to leave any blank items.
- Take a deep breath
While taking a timed exam, applicants might dread beating the clock. Bautista reminded test-takers to relax and unwind before the exam dates. This counteracts the urge to cram on the days before the exam.
Rodriguez said, “Do anything that could help you keep a calm mind in order to answer the questions efficiently.”
When feeling stuffy or pressured while taking the exam, Runes suggested: “make use of CR breaks.”
According to her, this is to allot time for quick breathers. It can help increase productivity during the exam.
- Capture the right motivation
Whether you are still answering items, fretting over options, or already waiting for the results, shrug off those negative thoughts.
“Cheesy, but it’s true that you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself [..] Cut that ‘t’ from ‘I can’t,’ ” Calzado said as she explained that an applicant’s mind might be preoccupied with various concerns even after taking the exam.
Regarding doubts and challenges, Rodriguez said to remember one’s reason for taking the USTET in the first place.
Being reminded of it helped her stay rooted. She found it important to “always keep your inspirations and motivations close.”
6. Set a quiet time to pray
Taking exams or even being accepted as an applicant is sometimes taken for granted. In times of uncertainty when health could be at more risk and reaching test venues could become a hurdle, mark a moment for gratitude.
“A visit to UST would not be complete if one were to forget visiting its church [Santisimo Rosario Parish], which, though simple and solemn, has an energizing and surreal feeling to it,” philosophy student and member of AB Pax Romana Joshua Raphael Arcilla said.
Along with finding support from good friends and mentors, he stressed that “cultivating a good spiritual life” is a safety net from the fears the freshmen year can bring.
Finding an identity has been among the struggles of students. “If we do not cling onto something that’s greater than us, our identities will be lost in the waves of numerous voices, personalities, and ideologies in college,” Arcilla said.
According to him, college is a process of rediscovery. It is an “opportunity to grow, not only in maturity or practical knowledge but also in our faith.”
Belonging in the Thomasian community at present, the seniors reminisced about the day they were about to check the results. They shared that it instilled feelings of relief, calmness, shock, excitement, and joy.
When asked about what it takes to pass the USTET, Arcilla said, “At the end of the day, [placing the] USTET results aside, intelligence can only get you so far; [but] character —good character— is what truly makes a Thomasian.” F