How to Survive College Entrance Tests in the Philippines (ACET + DCAT)

P.S. I wrote this introduction until the ACET portion a few days after the ACET 🙂

College education is one of the best means to a successful career in life. Here in the Philippines, college entrance tests are a big deal, that the exams of prestigious universities even get trending topics on Twitter. I was able to have the opportunity to take up two entrance tests for the school year 2015-2016, namely the Ateneo College Entrance Test (ACET) and the De La Salle University College Entrance Test (DLSUCET). I decided to share with you a very detailed run-through on how each test went for me and some tips that I have used during the test! (Remember, this is how my test went, and the universities can change the content of the test if they want to.)

Ateneo College Entrance Test

Your worst enemy in the ACET is time pressure. Do not be clouded by pre-judgement that ACET questions are hard that is why very few get to pass it. In fact, the questions are actually easy and if you reviewed basic English and Math, you would know how to answer the items. Time management is key.

In my test, the ACET consisted of two parts: the proficiency test and the aptitude test. The profiency test identifies how much you know on certain topics, specifically Language Proficiency, Writing and Mathematics. The proficiency part composed of the following:

  1. Language Proficiency Test – This is a 100-item test that has to be answered in 30 minutes. Questions focused mainly on grammar usage, sentence completion and finding errors. In the last part, there is a long passage with blanks wherein you have to select the phrase or word that best completes the thought of the passage. Tip #1: Only read the sentences of the passage with blanks to save time.
  2. Essay – You are given an essay prompt (In my case, I was asked to write an essay about “Pride”), then you have to construct an essay with at least one paragraph in a span of 25 minutes. Tip #2: Read the essay prompt before beginning the language proficiency test since the prompt and the question booklet are given at the same time. Make a mental outline, and make sure you have constructed your thought really well before writing your essay because you are required to use a pen for this portion! Then review your grammar, spelling, capitalization and punctuation! After you finish your essay, you can review your answers in the language proficiency part!
  3. Math Proficiency – 60 items to be answered in 60 minutes. The sub-test focused mainly on arithmetic, algebra, and a little bit of geometry and trigonometry. Tip #3: Time management. When you are stuck on a number, write the number on your scratch paper, leave space for future solution, and mark an asterisk on it. If time is up and you have some blank answers, use the power of C!

Tip #4: When skipping an item, make an intelligent guess (or just pick C), and mark the circle with a tick. When you run out of time, you can easily find the number you skipped and shade the circle!

Next part is the Aptitude Test! This enables Ateneo to know how fast you can answer items correctly. It is composed of 6 sub-tests with around 25-30 items each, that have to be answered in a span of 5 to 25 minutes, depending on the sub-test.

  1. Abstract Reasoning – 30 items to be answered in 10 minutes. The patterns are quite tricky so you have to be critical on this!
  2. Reading Comprehension – 30 items to be answered in 25 minutes. You will be asked to read 4 texts that are 1-2 pages long! Tip #5: Read the questions first, then look for the answer in the text. Some questions indicate which paragraph you can find the answer so be on the lookout for those!
  3. Vocabulary – 25 items in 5 minutes. The words are used in sentences, so practice context clues!
  4. Analogies – 25 items in 5 minutes. Some relationships are science-related, so be stuffed with some knowledge on science, especially animals!
  5. Logical Reasoning – 25 items in 10 minutes. This consists of identifying if the conclusion based from the given is definitely true, probably true, probably false, or definitely false (e.g. If the given is ‘He lives in Manila and Manila is in NCR.’ while the conclusion is ‘He lives in NCR’ then you would answer ‘Definitely True”) and identifying a conclusion based from a given premise. (e.g If the premise is ‘All males are not females’ then your conclusion would be ‘All females are not males’.) A little bit tricky but you can get the answer in no time! Just use logic and base everything ONLY from the given.
  6. Numerical Ability – 25 items in around 20 minutes. This tests mostly the practical application of math, such as money, purchases, work and distances.

Tip for the Aptitude Test: When answering a number, do not shade the circle yet, instead mark it with a check. Shading consumes time, and when the proctor says stop, you really have to stop and move to the next test. So answer all items with a tick, then in the last 2 minutes or so, shade all the circles with check marks!

Now that I have tackled the test content, here are the general things you can do before and during the ACET to increase your chances of passing:

  1. Review at least a week before. Buy all the review books you can get, and it is better to attend review school, or if your school will conduct review classes, listen carefully and attentively!
  2. When answering reviewers or sample test modules at home, time yourself! This will help you know how long you can answer a certain sub-test (for instance, how long you can answer a language test), and you can get the average duration you spend on a certain test item. This will certainly help you in time management on the actual test.
  3. Chill on the day before. You can review some vocabulary, but do not do heavy math computations! Clear your brain of all the stress so you would have a fresh mind on the test day itself! Don’t forget to sleep early!
  4. Prepare all your materials the night before. This includes your test permit (leave everything behind not just this delicate piece of paper please), #2 pencils, eraser, a pen, snacks and water. For girls, it is much preferable if you tie your hair during the exam to be free from distractions.
  5. Be early! Katipunan is really traffic, and Ateneo is a big campus. You would take time to find your building, and your room.
  6. Eat breakfast! Make sure you are full, but not too full as you might vomit. Make sure you take something in though, because you are not allowed to eat during the test. You are only given a 10-minute break to eat snacks and go to the bathroom.
  7. Hydrate! Drink water in between sub-tests! Do not drink too much, as you might have the urge to pee during the exam and you are not allowed to go out anymore.
  8. Do not panic! It would not help you with anything!
  9. Pray! Most importantly, ask guidance from the Lord and offer it all to Him! To God be the glory!

(I wrote these DLSUCET tips in August – 7 months after I took the DLSUCET, because I chose to study in DLSU and my classes started in September)


De La Salle University College Entrance Test (DCAT)

I am currently writing this a month before I start college in DLSU, and I’m afraid I don’t know how to construct my thoughts properly anymore haha. But I will try my best to explain what happens in the DCAT, before I actually forget about this post again.

As from what I recall, the questions in the DCAT were actually harder compared to the ACET in my opinion. Aside from this, there isn’t much time given to answer them all too so you still have to manage your time. I was able to list down in my phone’s notes the different parts of the test. Unfortunately, I think I was too drained that day so I wasn’t able to finish it. Here’s what I got though:

  1. General Knowledge – 60 items to be answered in 40 minutes. I expected this part to be actually about General Information, but it was like a bunch of basic English and Math questions jumbled all together! You may get confused a bit from shifting between English and Math topics but this part of the test was manageable.
  2. Math – 50 items to be answered in 50 minutes. It was similar to the Ateneo test, from what I recall
  3. Reading Comprehension – 40 items to be answered in 25 minutes. I think the passages in the ACET were long but there are more items in the DCAT. Just follow the  tips that I mentioned in the ACET part of this post.
  4. English – Questions on grammar, usage, verb tenses, etc. I forgot how many items this portion had but there were quite a lot. The questions were fairly easy to average so nothing to worry about. There are some tricky ones, though. All you have to do is analyze!
  5. Science – Unlike the ACET, there is a science portion in the DCAT so make sure to review on your biology, earth science, chemistry and physics! There were quite a handful of science computations during our test so make sure you know basic chemistry and physics formulas! Then most of the chemistry problems actually involved decimal digits, and since I thought that I would run out of time, I actually guessed most of the chemistry portion (If you can solve, don’t do what I did haha)
  6. Graphs – My hatest part to be honest. 40 items to be answered in 40 minutes. There were a lot of graphs and charts with corresponding questions. It was easy at first, but then there were so many data that you needed to look at. Then with having to answer an item per minute, it was really draining and my eyes were starting to get tired! My tip for this would be to not give up, because this is technically the last portion of the test, and once you are done, you are finally free HAHA
  7. Personality – 30 items in 20 minutes. This is just a simple questionnaire on what you would do in certain situations. It was actually really funny and relaxing after long hours of computing and looking at graphs. There was actually a funny question on what we would do if someone broke our heart! haha

There you have it!! Hopefully these tips and information that I listed above would help you in your exams!! Don’t forget to review, relax and pray. The best of luck to all of you!


16 thoughts on “How to Survive College Entrance Tests in the Philippines (ACET + DCAT)

  1. Ah this gif is a great reminiscence of my childhood love for Mr Bean, I remember that sketch so well and looking back on my many exams I have to do throughout my education, it reminds me of the funnier moments which perhaps weren’t so funny at the time!

  2. This is such a useful post. So often the things that go wrong in exams are from time management mistakes and not a lack of knowledge. There are some excellent tips here that can be used in any test / exam situation.

  3. Oh this post brings back memories! I took both tests all those years ago. The funniest advice I was given? If in doubt, answer B lol!

  4. I like your advice! Time limits on tests always tended to stress me out so prioritizing the amount of time spent on each question helped me a lot. I think making check marks then going back to shade them in is a good strategy.

  5. There’s nothing like getting ready for the colege entrance exams. I remember reviewing ’til I fell asleep. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. I’m sure this post will help a lot of students hoping to pass these entrance exam tests.

  6. These exams seem so hard because of the short time frame you are given to answer them. There is no room for doubt. In my country I had to pass a few very important exams in order to be admitted to college, one national one for with 3 written exams and 2 oral ones, and 2 at the uni: one written and one oral. I had a year to prepare for both.

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