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Now that UPCAT’s canceled, can we have a more inclusive screening?


[Trigger warning: This article mentions suicide.]

Kids, looks like we’ve entered Thatera: College entrance exams are a thing of the past. Next in line on 2020’s cancel train? UPCAT 2021. 

Today, Nov. 10, the University of the Philippines announced its latest verdict for Academic Year. 2021-2022. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the eight campuses of the UP System have unanimously decided to cancel UP’s College Admission Test (UPCAT), one of the most awaited college entrance exams in the country. As expected, the cancellation involves logistical issues in the paper-and-pencil exam of about 100,000 freshman applicants.

The University Councils however did not consider an online examination. The state of online classes right now—with unending calls for donations to help more students get access to gadgets and internet connection, and even suicide cases among students—proves how unfair and difficult this platform is. Administering the battery of tests online would further make it exclusive, favoring only those with ample resources.

So what happens to UPCAT now? The UP Office of Admissions is currently modifying the admissions system for next year, and is planning to use “big data analytics to arrive at a UP admission score model.” An additional layer of screening for particular programs, if necessary, may also be developed. 

Freshman hopefuls are still required to submit UPCAT application Form 1 (personal data sheet) and Form 2 (high school records), although they’ve been modified for stricter data privacy, efficiency, and health and safety risks. While UP encourages online submission, it will also accept manually accomplished forms.

Since the news broke out, students have taken to Twitter to air their heartbreak over the cancellation. Money spent on review centers, months of reviewing and prolonged exam anxiety are among the frustrations they shared on social media, revealing how difficult it was to prepare for their dream school’s rite of passage.

Others meanwhile expressed puzzlement over the UP system’s probable bigger dependence on high school grades. Each school’s grading system is different and could place applicants in unfair starting points, they pointed out. 

Though the structure and system of entrance exams are far from perfect, we hope that the new alternative would be more inclusive and would reach out to poverty-stricken students and hopefuls from far-flung areas. 

(Whatever happens, we still look to that day when dream schools aren’t the end-all be-all of every parent and high school graduate.)

Read more:
Stop beating yourself up if you’re not in your dream school
Is DepEd discouraging students to protest and to think critically?
Are online classes still a “victory” when hashtags like #FEUHSKalma exist?

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