Why the University of the Philippines’ UPCAT draws over 100k students

UPCAT draws 100k students
The UP community witnesses two events this weekend: UPCAT hopefuls taking the qualifying test and the UP Fighting Maroons facing their own test on the UAAP hardcourt. Credits to Glenford Lumbao via UP Diliman social media.

Thousands of UPCAT hopefuls troop to examination centers across the Philippines this Saturday and Sunday to take the qualifying test for a slot in the country’s premier state university.

The University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT) will be taken by an estimated 100-thousand examinees in the 16 regions of the country.

In 2018, over 140,000 students applied for the UPCAT, with 11,821 successfully qualifying for slots in the UP.

In 2017, over 100,000 applied with some 14,000 passing the test that covers 4 subtests: Language Proficiency (in English and Filipino), Reading Comprehension (in English and Filipino), Science, and Math.

The UP Admissions Office says the standardized scores on these subtests are combined with the weighted average of final grades in the last three years of high school to determine qualification into the University. Moreover, to implement the policy of democratization to make the U.P. studentry more representative of the nation’s population, socio-economic and geographic considerations are factored in the selection of campus qualifiers.

Established in 1908, the University of the Philippines has had to limit slots for freshman admission to each campus and to its various degree programs to maintain its high standard of education and to maximize its limited resources.

To be admitted to the UP System’s baccalaureate programs, a student needs to be one of the top 15% of the total number of examinees in the UPCAT that only allows one chance for an applicant to take the exams.

Why do students take that slim chance to get a UP education? Ask any UPCAT taker, passer, student, undergraduate, or alumni and you will get as many colorful responses.

Good News Pilipinas offers this list of possible reasons a University of the Philippines education is most sought-after in the Philippines.

1. High standard of education

The University of the Philippines is the country’s top educational institution in global university rankings. Credits to UPOVPAA social media.

As the nation’s premier state university, the University of the Philippines offers a wide range of degree programs that have been acknowledged worldwide for excellence. Just recently, UP bested top global schools Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford in health research rankings on the London-based Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE WUR).

UP education is Top 4 in Southeast Asia, Top 95 in Asia, and Top 500 among the world’s top 1000 educational institutions on THE WUR Rankings.

UP education is also in the Top 100 on the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings (QS WUR).

Enough said.

2. Iskolar ng Bayan Serve The People

At the UP you will witness and be among community members engaging in social action. Credits to the University of the Philippines.

To be clear, the UP “Iskos” and “Iskas” are scholars of the people, not the government. The funding of UP education comes from the taxes paid by each Filipino. The administration acts as the steward of the citizens’ resources. UP students know the difference and act accordingly. The UP community gives back to the nation and serves its people, not specific political offices.

At the UP you will witness and be among community members engaging in social action, such as the recent fair trade for farmers’ harvests initiatives of UP Diliman and UP Los Banos groups.

The entire UP System community has also been called upon to do public service and use their expertise in recreating Manila into a disaster-resilient city.

At the UP, excellence is not only about receiving a grade of 1.0. More significantly, it means service to the people.

3. The #UPFight Spirit

The UP Fighting Maroons, standing tall with the UP community that chants “UP Fight”, “Win or Lose, It’s UP We Choose”, and singing “UP Naming Mahal”. Credits to UP Diliman social media.

UP excellence permeates all aspects of a student’s life and that necessarily includes extra-curricular activities, including cheering for its Fighting Maroons.

The state of the university’s funding woes, especially in the face of budget cuts, is felt all the more in its sports programs that pale in comparison to that of private universities.

Enter, the volunteer network of UP alumni and supporters who came together under the banner of Nowhere To Go But UP to bring the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) – cellar-dwelling UP Men’s Basketball Team (UPMBT) to its current stellar status after only 4 years.

For the first time in 32 years, the UP Fighting Maroons was in the finals against the defending championship team of a neighboring private university in the 2018 UAAP Season 81.

Just as the UPCAT hopefuls anxiously take their exams this weekend, the UP Fighting Maroons return to the UAAP hardcourt for the second round of the games – bearing a Top 2 ranking but in a similar dramatic scenario. The UP MBT would be forced to play without the head coach who brought them to the championship series last year.

The journey has been epic and drama-laden, likened to the Never-Say-Die games of this basketball-crazy nation’s beloved Barangay Ginebra professional basketball team.

The UP Fighting Maroons, now with the addition of powerhouse players Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero, continue to be students of life and have taken on the advocacy to save Filipino farmers by buying local produce – in answer to the Peyups calling.

The hype on the UP Fighting Maroons has even resulted in no less than the Philippines’ National Artist for Music, Ryan Cayabyab, composing new UP FIght cheers for the UPMBT.

The UP Fighting Maroons, standing tall with the UP community that chants “UP Fight”, declares “Win or Lose, It’s UP We Choose”, and sings “UP Naming Mahal” with raised clenched fists of defiance – who wouldn’t want to be in that loyal circle?

The words of Nowhere To Go But UP‘s Founding Chairman Renan Dalisay during a pep talk for the team before UAAP Season 82 started, sums up the #UPFight spirit:

“People often asked us, what pushed us to volunteer to help, to give a little of our resources, to share our time. What really pushed us to action to inch closer and closer to our goal, and to our dream? And what is pushing the UP Community to come together nationwide and solidly support this team?

I say it’s because we want it most. I believed on the court as well, you want it most. WE ALL SHOULD WANT IT MOST.

The same way a less-privileged person would be hungry enough to succeed in life given a fighting chance, the same way we were hungry before to break that long losing streak, the same way we were so hungry to reach the final four and the finals last year, this time around in Season 82, we should be hungry for glory.

Gentlemen, we will have to stay hungry to surpass what we achieved last year.”

Good News Pilipinas sends well wishes to all the UPCAT hopefuls taking the exams this weekend as we repost the UP Admissions Office Infographic for your guidance.


Reminders from the UP Admissions Office

TELL US your reasons for taking the UPCAT and eyeing UP education in the comments below!

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Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.