2013 Essay Entry #9: So You Want to Enroll in a Review Center, huh?

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So You Want to Enroll in a Review Center, huh?

by Paolo Miguel Bartolo


Summer is fast approaching. For many, it is a time of freedom; a well-deserved break from the bewildering conundrum that is high school. Yet for students aiming to pass the upcoming University of the Philippines College Admission Exam, popularly known as the UPCAT, summer is a time of self-development, of training and preparation. There are many ways of preparing for the UPCAT, and one of them is by enrolling in a good review center. Many students pick this path of preparation, but with a plethora of review and tutorial centers to choose from, one can get easily confused as to where to invest their hard-earned cash. Fortunately, there are some factors that can help you choose a review center that meets your needs and even surpasses them.

By the way, the most important thing to remember is that you should use your intelligence and reason in making this decision. Don’t just rely on what their brochure says. Advertisements usually show only the positive aspects of a review center. To be able to judge accurately, you need a lot more information than that. Don’t hesitate to contact the review center directly. Think critically. You need to know exactly what the review center has to offer, as well as its limitations.

Don’t rely too much on recommendations by friends. Different review centers satisfy different individuals, and what may have been effective for some might be inadequate for others. Instead, ask previous participants about their experience inside the review center, being careful to adjust for any biased opinions, then make the decision yourself.

Consider how the review center conducts their review. A good review center should offer a reasonable schedule, one that is not time-consuming yet still offers ample time for studying. Review sessions should be conducted by competent teachers who are both efficient and sociable. Teachers, aside from being knowledgeable, should also know how to relate and communicate well with their students. If possible, inquire about the review sessions and classes themselves. Small to medium class sizes are preferable since individual concerns can be more easily addressed by the teacher, although class size in general is just a small factor in analysing the effectiveness of a review center. Ideally, quizzes should also be given before and after the session starts in order to help the students remember more of their lessons.

Aside from review sessions, a good review center should also offer diagnostic and simulated exams. A diagnostic exam is a valuable tool in assessing your strengths and weaknesses. Then you will be able to focus more on those subjects that you find difficult or challenging. A simulated exam, on the other hand, tries to imitate actual exam conditions. Complete with time constraints similar to those used in the UPCAT, it is a good way of experiencing how an actual college entrance exam feels like. If given at the end of the review program, they can also be a way to gauge the amount of knowledge you have gained during your reviews. Refresher courses, usually held shortly before the actual examinations, can also be useful in helping you remember all the things you learned during your reviews.

Most review centers will advertise the percentage or number of their students that passed the UPCAT. Don’t rely too much on this piece of information. There are just too many factors involved that can affect their passing rate. Instead, rely more on what the review center can actually give you. Does it cover the subjects relevant to the UPCAT? Does it offer a fun yet challenging learning experience?

Finally, consider the venue and pricing. A review center needs resources in order to be able to provide a high-quality review program, yet you must remember that high prices don’t guarantee effectiveness. Pick a reasonably priced review center. Preferably, try to minimize the distance that you need to travel by picking a review center that is close to where you live. Balance your need to pick the best review center with your need to pick the most convenient review center.

A good review center can help you reach your dream of passing the UPCAT and entering one of the most prestigious colleges in the country, but remember that it is not enough. A student also needs skill, passion, and determination in order to obtain what all test takers of the UPCAT dream of: success.


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