The math part was easy, something a reasonably good student could ace, but then the science part was killer; reading was high pressure and confusing. Looking back however, it doing well could end up meaning nothing at all, as will doing badly. What will make the difference this year is the record competition for admission: over 80,000 applicants and what will probably amount to a 5% acceptance rate for UP Diliman. That's even worse than Harvard's rate, which stands at 5.9%.
The 2013 UPCAT has also provided us a means to further improve our tests. Expect major changes to the new editions for next year's round like the following:
1. An easier Language Proficiency section
UPCAT 2013 was not very heavy on grammar rules. Takers did not need to know what subjunctives, idioms or all that jazz at all. For the most part a good ear for what is correct was good enough, so the next editions will be toned down much more.
2. Easier Mathematics Proficiency section
The math was mostly rudimentary, filled with topics you should have tackled in high school. There were still the occasional tie-breakers within like logarithms, synthetic division and complex probability, but these were few and far in between.
3. More challenging Science section.
Notice that UPCAT science was not very direct in its science questions. It used diagrams and anecdotes wherever possible and called for a higher level of understanding and analysis geared for science high school students.
A lot of non-standard topics like geology, currents and complicated chemistry was used so if you don't study in a school with an extra-special science curriculum, do a lot of brushing up on the other topics.
4. Weird Reading section. More short stories.
The reading section on our UPCAT 1.7 practice test was full of text-heavy passages more akin to other tests, but the real UPCAT test had short, quick-fire passages that required almost instant comprehension given how limited the time was.
Then the topics. UPCAT 1.7 used more cosmopolitan topics like Tolstoy and the like, but the UPCAT 2013 was content with puzzling you with weird short stories that nobody would ever think of putting in an admissions test.
I gave them my own titles so you'd (UPCAT 2013 takers) understand:
Don't Be Pretentious: Have Only One Ice Cream Cone
Guy in a Palace
Sun-Tzu: Isang Pagsasalin
Bakit ang mga Pisiko ay Puwede maging mga Makata
Overall, I still believe our UPCAT 1.7 test was able to provide good practice for students, particularly in Math and English, but UP, as always, is unpredictable with these kinds of things.
Next year's batch could get something entirely different, so the best approach will be to do well in high school and gain solid foundations in the core subjects, which can more or less be measured by the tests we have available.