“WHAT is the opposite of love?”

Such question is usually the first item provided in the University of Santo Tomas Entrance Test (Ustet), which for some is a humorous way to affirm their beliefs that the exam is easy.

A careless examinee would be quick to answer “hate” but I recently learned of another and possibly more correct alternative—“apathy.” Of course at first glance the obvious answer to the question is “hate,” but then it’s also important to take note of the nature of the words “love,” “hate” and “apathy.” Love and hate are two words associated with burning feeling, as opposed to apathy which is reasonably associated with coldness.

Therefore, it is possible that the opposite of “love” is actually “apathy” and not “hate.”

The abovementioned anecdote is a fitting description of many who ridicule the University’s qualifying exams—quick to judge but also quick to fall.

I have personally heard harsh comments about UST’s entrance test. Last Sept. 1 during Ustet, I was loitering around the University when I overhead a group of high school girls chattering.

Clad in their skimpy outfits, they started sharing to each other their USTET experience. One of them: “Grabe. Ang dali ng Ustet. Walang-wala kumpara sa UPCAT. Kaya naman pala ang daming estudyante rito. Ang daling makapasok eh. Dito rin kasi nag-aaral ‘yung mga bumabagsak sa UPCAT.”

The girl was a student of a private school who looks down on students from the public schools. (Perhaps she doesn’t know UP is strictly speaking a public school.)

In online forums, the Ustet has been the favorite subject of scrutiny and criticism.

Art without the intimidation

The Ustet is the four-hour exam consisting of Science, Math, English, and most important IQ questions. An entrance exam is not the sole gauge in measuring the totality of a student’s aptitude and preparedness for college education.

In its own terms,Uster should not be compared with the entrance tests of other universities.

The contention that it is much easier than that Upcat or the Ateneo College Entrance Test is baseless.

The late Office for Admissions Director Mecheline Manalastas once said, “Every school has its own way of giving chance to its applicants.”

Likewise, each university has the discretion to pick what strategy it wants in devising examinations and admissions.

While other entrance tests usually require examinees to have a barrel of stock knowledge or a pale of advanced mathematical or scientific equations as their weapons when taking the exam, the Ustet focuses on analytical skills and intelligence quotient, which is probably why many find it relatively easier.

Some universities have formulated their tests to measure precise information while Ustet focuses more on the intelligence quotient, an indication of a student’s abilities to adapt to academic and real-life situations.

In other words, Ustet is a device that measures the potential of the student. It does not merely quantify the amount of knowledge that a person holds.

In short, Ustet measures a student’s qualifications for college, his readiness to take up higher education. Most important, since UST is a Catholic school, it tries to measure character and virtue. Take the girl I mentioned, for example: She may have the brains (or at least that’s what she claims); but with her character or lack thereof, she may not reach far.

Ika-350 taong anibersaryo ng UST


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