While most schools haven’t even started online classes yet, entrance exams are already trending online.
On Aug. 13, “USTET” emerged on the list of Twitter’s trending topics after user @UPCATQuestion posted a screengrab of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Entrance Test website.
There will be no USTET for sy 2021-2021 and the UST Admission Rating will be use instead.
In short, admissions will be based only in your grades and records etc. THERE WILL BE NO EXAM. pic.twitter.com/xxUlo9WtQQ
— UPCAT QUESTIONS (@UPCATQuestion) August 13, 2020
On the screengrab is the university’s announcement regarding the upcoming entrance exams. Because of the pandemic and current quarantine measures, UST will not be holding exams for school year 2021 to 2022.
Instead, admissions will now be based on the University of Santo Tomas Admissions Rating (USTAR), which is “a score that will be computed from a number of parameters derived largely from the academic performance and records of the applicant.” Much of the text on the screengrab has now been removed from the USTET homepage.
Based on a memorandum, a preliminary discussion among UST officials was held in July to assess alternatives to the USTET, including the USTAR.
Back in 2010, UST stopped requiring applicants to submit their high school report cards, believing it’s “not a fair basis” to screen applicants with.
They eventually required it again in 2013 because “not all applicants can do well in written examinations, although they are academically competent,” then admissions office director Marie Ann Vargas told The Varsitarian.
Given the number of USTET applicants each year, face-to-face exams are going to be a social distancing nightmare. While the USTAR is probably the safest alternative right now, this also poses potential problems for students and faculty alike.
Schools have different grading systems and output requirements. To measure all of those, the USTAR would have to be fairly tailored to give weight to every aspect of the student’s academic performance.
It could eliminate the burden of taking extensive review classes, but it could also pressure students to perform better in class―to a point where grades become the only thing that matters.
Everyone’s been a student once in their life, and some of us have admittedly been dubbed “grade-conscious” at some point. Students also have different areas of intelligence and activities they excel at, some of which can’t simply be measured by numerical scores.
While it’s great that schools are preparing alternatives like this to open their doors to hopefuls, they would have to also carefully consider such measures so that their goal of keeping education accessible to all still stands.
Art by Yel Sayo