DESPITE criticisms that the University of Santo Tomas Entance Test (Ustet) is easier compared with exams given by other leading universities, admission officials are confident of the test’s quality, and think there’s no need to revise it.

However, students interviewed by the Varsitarian said they had an easier time taking the Ustet compared with other admission tests, like the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (Upcat) and the Ateneo College Entrance Test (Acet).

“I guess you could say that Ustet was easier because the test focused on the fundamentals of what we learned in high school unlike in Upcat and Acet which covered advanced topics,” said incoming Marketing junior Michael Miranda.

Incoming Information Technology sophomore Jeremiah Soan said: “Ustet is the easiest, compared with other leading universities.”

Christine Santillan, an incoming Accounting Management junior, said the exams of UP and Ateneo required more effort.

“[Upcat and Acet] were very lengthy and [challenging]. They were probably not meant to be finished by average students,” Santillan said. “Meanwhile, I found Ustet to be generally easy because the topics and questions were easy and familiar.”

A teacher at tutorial school MSA Institute, Kendy Angue, believes the UST test is the easiest among the four “major” college admission exams, based on the testimonials of clients who had passed the Ustet.

“Although the difficulty is still present in Ustet, the level of challenge is still different compared with Ateneo and UP’s [entrance exams],” Angue said.

However, according to Office for Admissions (Ofad) director Mecheline Zonia Manalastas, there was no need to administer “overly difficult” exams to applicants just to match the difficulty level required by other universities.

Students on 'Q'

“Every school has its own way of giving chances to its applicants,” Manalastas said.

College of Architecture secretary Warren Maneja said he found the Ustet difficult when he took it in 1996. Three years later, he became an exam proctor and saw how the test had evolved.

“Every year, the type of exam is changing, so it is never that easy,” he said.

Manalastas said the main objective of Ustet is to find out whether applicants have retained the knowledge they had acquired in high school, and “not to punish them.”

For Arvi Bernarte, external affairs officer of Academic One Tutorial and Review Center in Manila, Ustet is generally easier if you look at its “competitive nature.”

“The number of applicants versus the number of students admitted in UST makes Ustet seem less difficult to pass,” Bernarte said.

Bernarte compared the batting average of applicants at UST and the University of the Philippines. “Out of approximately 65,000 hopefuls, only 16 percent get to pass [the UP] exam,” he said.

On the other hand, Manalastas estimated that 40,000 to 42,000 students take the Ustet every year, and only about 35 percent pass their first choice of program.

“What sets these two exams apart is the level of competitiveness. The difference in the percentage of qualifiers makes [the UST exam] seem easier to pass,” Bernarte said.

Data from Ofad showed that the Ustet passing rate for first-choice programs decreased to 33 percent this year from last year’s 38 percent.

“I don’t attribute it (the decline of the passing rate) to the type of test; it’s more on the students who are taking it,” Manalastas said.

Thomasian designers open Philippine Fashion Week 2011

Former Ofad chief and now Guidance and Counseling Department director Lucila Bance echoed Manalastas, saying that Ustet is still capable of gauging students’ intellectual abilities.

“I am very confident that the test we give really measures what it intends to measure,” Bance said.

Bance said that if Ustet requires no sweat, then no one should be failing it.

The University’s entrance test

Ustet constitutes math, science, English, and I.Q. tests compiled mostly by high school teachers and some college instructors who are experts in their respective fields.

The process of devising the exam is called “test development,” Bance said.

According to the University’s student handbook, Ofad must “perform regular upgrading of the Ustet for validity, reliability, and relevance.”

While there was no increase in difficulty, Manalastas said Ofad updates the exam based on assessments and feedback.

“For example, if there is a need to revise a certain portion of the test, we will assess it,” she said. “Sometimes we have a different way of emphasizing a certain subject for this year or the next,” she said.

Meanwhile, passing Ustet is not enough for four colleges who want applicants to submit other requirements besides good test results. Applicants at the colleges of Nursing and Tourism and Hospitality Management undergo interviews before being admitted, said Manalastas.

Moreover, the colleges of Fine Arts and Design and Architecture, as well as the Conservatory of Music, require special exams.

Manalastas said perceptions that Ustet is “too challenge-free” are “baseless.”

“The test is easy for those who are good,” she said. “They don’t have a basis [to say it’s easy], but I have a basis to say it’s not.” Lorenzo Luigi T. Gayya with reports from Monica N. Ladisla 


  1. May bumabagsak ng USTET hindi dahil sa mahirap ang exam kundi may quota yung course. Every year paiba nga ng paiba ang tanong sa exam pero iisa lang naman ang hirap level nung tanong wala rin. Sana maisip din nila na kailangan talaga na deserving ang mga students na pumasok sa college.

    Isa pang factor na hindi namin maintindinhang mga students, paano naatim ng admin na tumanggap pa ng mga nagpapareconsider eh sobra na sa ideal population ang isa sanang productive university. 40,000 students sa isang 21.5 hectares university, for me hindi Ideal. Magising na sana sila sa katotohanan. Itrim down na ang population, kaya habang tumatagal pakonti ng pakonti ang nagtatake ng USTET eh.

  2. I love how the article was written. It only shows that USTET is still doing its purpose.

    I don’t think lesser people are taking USTET. There are so many high school seniors who likes to consider UST for college. My sister is a secondary school teacher in a private school and after their UPCAT application, they’re planning to inquire in UST for the USTET next month. (konti lang ang nagcoconsider sa Ateneo and La Salle since most of the students came from middle to low income families.) elitist people from the so called “big 3”, they just give hope to those students na sobrang talino thats why had these image of a “high class university” . Bakit, paghindi ba sobrang talino ng estudyante eh wala na siyang karapatan mag college sa isang magandang university? May scholarships nga sa Ateneo at La Salle but mabibilang lang sa kamay, sobrang konti.

    Thats what I love about UST, giving more chance to people. You don’t need to have an Einstein like brain to get a quality college degree. Please continue to be like that in the coming years.

    Regarding overpopulation in our manila campus, once the santa rosa, Laguna and General Santos in Mindanao is operational, our manila campus will be decongested.

    In fact, DLSU Manila is experiencing overpopulation in their campus thats why they’re planning to relocate their engineering and computer studies sa DLSU Canlubang Laguna. Hindi pa naman final yun but yun yung plan nila to decongest their Taft campus.

  3. USTET is just an entrance exam. It depends on the student on how he’ll survive his academic life in UST which is the critical part to some.
    I think, UST takes not only the intelligent, gifted/talented students but also the average students to mold them as professionals with the enough knowledge and wisdom which is really good because studying in a school that offers high quality of education is a gift, a thing that many people dream/dreamed/ are dreaming of. GO USTE!!!!

  4. I guess it’s a very credible reason for students from the big 3 to say that studying in UST is easy based upon the entrance test. We can not just always say that UST is the Royal and Pontifical rather this issue should be taken in consideeration as many of these big 3 students throw UST with sarcasm that, there is only big 3, sadly no big 4. If we look closely, if we can’t beat them, join them. I based my comment on the news article for I never took the entrance exams of those big 3 thingy.

  5. may katotohanan na USTET ang easiest dahil 5 kaming magkakapatid at lahat kami sa UST nagaral dahil hindi kami pumasa dun sa Ateneo at La Salle. Ayaw namin sa UP pero sa UST lang kami pumasa.?Gayun pa man, dekalidad pa rin ang turo sa UST at ang saya saya pa lalo na kapag UAAP , sobrang nakakaexcite.

    May mga bumabagsak pa rin sa UST pero karamihan dito talaga ang pipili o 1st choice din ng iba. Pero sa batch namin ang dami pumasa sa USTET around 68 ata pero sa ADMU mga 10 ang at sa La Salle mga 16 lang din.

  6. Ok lang naman ang exam ng ust. Bakit ba masyadong mababa tingin nila… For me, sakto lang sya. me pagkamahirap at madali. Talagang matatalino lang ang mga nageexam sa ust kaya nadadalian sila. 🙂

  7. Well USTET is just the first step. However, staying in the university and finishing your course is another story. I am a 2010 Engineering grad and honestly, we are way better than ADMU, DLSU and UP, if not at par. Commonly, the only thing that they do better than us is PR, but technically, we are better. For me, USTET’s difficulty is not only the sole basis in determining who is more talented, but what one can deliver is what counts more.

    • May tanong po ako. Kung engineering graduate ka po sa ust, and pumasa ka sa ustet. ano po ang percentage para pumasa sa ustet lalo na po kung quota course yung kinuha? salamat po sa reply

  8. I don’t care kung mahirap siya o madali, but I’m concern on how many examination papers meron ang UST at kung ilang beses sila magpalit. I know mahirap gumawa ng TEST but my point is nagbabayad ang students ng examination fee tapos may matatanggap silang mga questionnaire na may mga sagot na or scribbles. I hope the USTET committee will look into this.

    But on athe topic. I like the test questions in UPCAT and USTET than in DLSUCET or ACET. They are more standardized.

  9. yes it’s true that hard entrance tests can help determine the quality of students a university accepts, but it is not a guarantee. I’m from DLSU and I admit, the entrance test there is quite difficult compared to UST, but throughout my stay there, I encountered a couple of tanga students. I had a relatively easy time passing the USTET but I never undermined the capacity of the students who chose to study in UST. There are a plethora of Thomasians who excelled in their respective professions. I think that each school has their own standards and there is no need to compare. It still boils down to the student if whether he would do good in his studies or not. Somehow, these comparisons are just brought by yabang and pangmamaliit by some people.

  10. before i replied, i have read the article and comments, i am a current student at UST, and this is my observation, at my class on highschool, almost all the intelligent student or the validictorian and etc failed UST exam, while average ones get accepted, then many people are actually saying madali lang ang exam, but if you think of it, oo nga eh madali nga, sadly, a lot of intelligent people take easy things more seriously, they are expecting too much, and instead of looking at a big picture and it’s answer, they feel like there’s more to it, thus failing to get the right answer, making the question difficult. I find the exam easy, but i am never sure about my answers, but now that i’ve read this article, i really find USTet good, because i agree that exams doesn’t have to be hard, because if students we’re passed because they lack knowledge, then we can just see that on their academic performances, luckily, professors at the UST are capable of shaping their students, making them better and better.

  11. I’m a fourth year high school student about to graduate this 2015, and I’m planning to take the USTET this coming October. I didn’t enroll at learning centers, and I also did not review during summer. I actually never thought of including UST as one of my college preferences. But my Aunts and my mom told me to try UST, and that was last month or so. I researched about UST, about the USTET too. After doing so, I really wanted to be a thomasian (or whatever UST students are called). But of course, being only one of the average students during high school, I am not confident of taking the exam, since UST is one of the top schools. But because of this Article, I felt a bit relieved. I have to admit, when I took the IQ test (I’m currently a Special Science student. When you pass the entrance exam of SSC, you have to take the IQ test first to determine what section you should be at.) before being admitted to the Special Science class when I was about to become a high school freshman, I became a student of the 1st section (freshmen ssc during my batch was divided into 2 sections) because of my IQ. I was 13th in ranking when the entrance exam results came out. Yearly, students had to take IQ tests. And when I was in 2nd and 3rd year, my IQ result was “Superior”. I was 2nd to the highest, 1st was our top 1 student. I had a hard time believing it, because I wasn’t a top student. I was actually even transferred to the 2nd section during my junior year because of my grades. But even when I was in the 2nd section, my IQ was still “Superior”, and I had the highest IQ at our section, despite still not being at the top.

    This article was really really really helpful for me, I now have more confidence in taking the test. I won’t get (or try not to be) hurt if I don’t pass the USTET though, since I just started reviewing last month. But I will be really really proud of myself if I do pass. Thank you, man (lol) who wrote this article. 🙂

    P.S. I’m not bragging. I just hope that someone would relate to my comment.


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