How to be legit UP student even if you didn’t pass UPCAT



Did you pass the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) 2020? If yes, congratulations because you will soon become a true Iskolar ng Bayan!

The University of the Philippines (UP) has confirmed that the results of the UPCAT held last October 2019 have been released on May 30, 2020! This means you can now check the much-awaited UPCAT results for students of the incoming academic year 2020-2021.

The UPCAT 2020 results were originally planned to be released last March 30, 2020 but the COVID-19 pandemic and implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon caused a reduction in UP’s manpower that was supposed to validate results. As a consequence, the release date of the UPCAT list of passers had to be delayed.

UPDATE (May 30, 2020): View the results by logging in to the UPCAT Results website using the email address you use during registration. Take note that it may take some time for the website to load since other applicants are likely checking the results as well. We hope you’ll get this same congratulatory message when you log in. Congrats new Iskolar ng Bayan!

Congratulations letter to UPCAT passers

Text of the congratulatory letter from UP to 2020 UPCAT passers:

Thank you for your participation in the UPCAT 2020 held in October last year with more than 100,000 applicants. We would like to inform you that your application has complied with requirements for entry to the University of the Philippines.

We are pleased to offer you admission as a Freshman to the following

Your UP unit, Your Course / Degree Program

First Semester, SY 2020-2021

The University of the Philippines is known for its strong commitment to academic excellence and highly competitive admissions process. To be part of the UP community, please reply to this offer STARTING JUNE 3, 2020 UNTIL JUNE 30, 2020. Go to the REPLY TO OFFER button for instructions on how to accept this offer.

We look forward to welcoming you to UP this coming year!

UPDATE (May 5, 2020): Here’s the announcement from the UP System Office of Admissions regarding release of UPCAT results:

The Office of Admissions, like all other units and offices in the University of the Philippines, has had to adapt by operating with only a tiny fraction of its workforce to complete the necessary validation procedures and the final computations of results for over 100,000 UPCAT examinees.

We understand your concern about the pending release of UPCAT 2020 results, but rest assured that the Office of Admissions continues to do its utmost despite severe limitations and challenges. The results are targeted for release within the month of May.

Source: Official Facebook page of UP System Office of Admission

Are you excited to know the UPCAT results? Regardless of the official results, check out our informative UPCAT and UP guide to familiarize yourself with your soon-to-be university.

UPCAT Passing Rate

Historically, the UPCAT passing rate is around 12-16%, which means only 12 to 16 students out of every 100 applicants get to become a UP student.

For UPCAT results 2020, UP announced that “more than 100,000 high school students took the UPCAT in October 2019… with 12,000 qualifiers offered slots to enter the national university.” (Source: Official UP website) This means the passing rate of around 12% is even lower compared to previous years.

This low admission rate goes to show that the UP selection process is very stringent and indeed limited only to the best and brightest high school students in the country. Take a look below at the number of UPCAT qualifiers versus the total number of applicants in previous years.

UPCAT Applicants vs. Number of Passers

YearNo. of UPCAT PassersNo. of ApplicantsUPCAT Passing Rate
202012,000+100,000+12%
2019For confirmation167,000For confirmation
201814,354103,00013.9%
20171,5916,02026.4%
20161,5585,04630.9%
201514,99888,55416.9%
Source: UP System Office of Admissions and Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs
UP Diliman List of UPCAT Passers
The UP Oblation, regarded as an iconic symbol of the University of the Philippines, depicts a naked man facing upward with arms outstretched, symbolizing selfless offering of oneself to the world. (Image credits: Philippine Star)

The table above is interesting for a number of reasons.

One, the total number of applicants last academic year 2019-2020 was the highest ever in the history of UP.

167,000 total UPCAT applicants

According to UP Vice President for Public Affairs Dr. Jose Dalisay, Jr., applications rose from 103,000 in 2018 to a jaw-dropping 167,000 UPCAT applicants in 2019 — a whopping 62% increase.

This was the first time ever in the history of the university that they received this massive number of applications. According to VP Dalisay, this is likely due to the “Free Tuition” policy now implemented in UP. This means the affordable cost of education in UP has likely become a big come-on to graduating high school students and their parents.

Two, because of the overwhelming number of UPCAT takers in 2018, with UP likely still admitting the regular number of 15,000+ students as in previous years, the 2019 UPCAT passing rate most probably went down. We forecast the UPCAT passing rate in 2019 fell below 10% — much lower from its normal average of 16%. Unfortunately, UP did not make an official announcement about the number of admitted students that year, so we cannot verify this info.

The Carillon Tower of UP Diliman
The Carillon Tower in UP Diliman consists of 36 bells that play automatically every hour signifying the time of the day and also play songs, old and modern alike, for one hour at 5:00 PM everyday. (Image credits: Wikimedia)

Only 1,500 UPCAT examinees passed

Three, UP had two years of erratic number of applicants, passers, and passing rates during the years 2016 and 2017. From the table above, UP received a total of 5,000 to 6,000 applications during those two years — sharp declines from the 88,554 applications just a year before, in 2015.

The number of qualifiers were also small — only 1,558 in 2016 and 1,591 in 2017 — way, way below the historical average of 15,000 admitted students every year. With a small number of admitted students divided by the much, much smaller number of applications, the UPCAT passing rate in 2016 and 2017 rose to 30.9% and 26.4%, respectively — clearly an aberration from the usual average of 15-16%.

These erratic years were a product of the K-12 senior high school transition implemented by the Department of Education (DepEd), which saw UPCAT applicants come only from a handful of schools that were previously given approval by the DepEd to implement K-12 transition programs.

Because of this K-12 transition policy, thousands of secondary schools, including most public high schools in the country, had to retain their students for two additional years, in 2016 and in 2017, so that students can take Grade 11 and Grade 12 prior to high school graduation.

Because of this, a staggering 99% of UPCAT passers in 2016 came exclusively from private schools, as reported by ABS-CBN. Out of the 1,558 applicants who passed the UPCAT, only seven (7) — yes, just seven! — were from public high schools in the Philippines. The rest of UPCAT passers, totaling 1,551, were graduates of private high schools.

Graduation rites of UP students
Graduating students wear the “sablay,” a garment that bears the initials of UP written in Alibata, the ancient Philippine alphabet. During the graduation ceremony, all graduating students simultaneously transfer the sablay from the right shoulder to the left, signifying the culmination of a UP student’s college life. (Image credits: UP Diliman’s official website)

No. 1 course choice in UP: BSBAA

Another trivia question: Which course is constantly the top choice among UPCAT applicants?

Data shows that in the past years, the top two (2) degree programs of choice — meaning, the courses with the most number of UPCAT applicants — are:

  1. BS Business Administration & Accountancy (BSBAA)
  2. BS Business Administration (BSBA)

For several years now, the number 1 course in UP chosen by thousands of UPCAT applicants nationwide is the BSBAA program offered by the College of Business Administration (now called Virata School of Business) — with more than 9,000 applicants every year, consisting of 7,000+ 1st Choice applicants and 2,000+ 2nd Choice applicants.

BSBAA is a five-year quota degree program, combining Business Administration and Accountancy, which admits only 100 students every year. With only 100 students admitted to the program, from more than 7,000 applicants, this means the passing rate in BSBAA is a very low 1.4%! Only 1 out of 100 applicants successfully gets admitted into the BSBAA program. So congrats if you’ll be part of this cream of the crop!

More females pass UPCAT than males

Another interesting trivia about the UPCAT results: every year, female high school graduates outnumber males in terms of passing the UPCAT.

This was based on a study published by Thinking Machines, which shows that “for the past seven years, women have consistently outnumbered men three to one among UPCAT passers.”

See below this interesting gender disparity among UPCAT passers.

More females pass the UPCAT than males

Every year from 2012 to 2015, around 60% of UPCAT passers were females, while only around 40% were males. The gap only narrowed in 2016 and 2017 during the irregular K-12 transition years, but in 2018, the gender gap returned to “normal”.

With the exception of the 2016 and 2017 transition years, the trend has been generally the same. More than half, around 60% in fact, of UPCAT passers are females.

Year% of Male UPCAT Passers% of Female UPCAT Passers
201841%59%
201747%53%
201648%52%
201540%60%
201440%60%
201339%61%
201237%63%
Source: UP System Office of Admissions

How to be a legit UP student if you did not pass UPCAT

Without a doubt, there is a tough and rigorous competition for admission in UP. Very, very few applicants are thus given a chance to study in UP.

As mentioned earlier, the average UPCAT passing rate is just around 16% every year. This means only 16 out of 100 high school graduates get to be admitted to a UP constituent university (CU). In highly-competitive courses such as the BSBAA, the admission rate even falls to a low 1.4%. Thousands of high school graduates, therefore, will unfortunately have to contend with the fact that they won’t be admitted to their desired UP campus, or worse, won’t get a chance to study in UP at all.

But fret not, because there are other valid methods for admission. Yes, you can enroll in a Master’s or postgraduate program in UP and officially call yourself a UP student. But if you want to take your undergraduate degree in UP without the need to take the UPCAT, yes there’s a way!

Actually, there are seven (7) alternative ways that will enable a UP hopeful to enter the University of the Philippines as a legitimate undergraduate student. Even if you failed to take the UPCAT or unfortunately did not pass this entrance exam, there are still several valid methods that you can consider.

Check out these seven (7) legit ways for you to become an official UP student without having to pass the UPCAT!

How to be a legit UP student even if you failed the UPCAT

1. Be a UP student via “Iskolar ng Bayan” Law

Thanks to Republic Act No. 10648 (RA 10648), also known as the “Iskolar ng Bayan Act of 2014”, several public high school students will gain automatic admission to a UP university in the region where they reside.

Specifically, the Top 10 graduates of public high schools are automatically admitted to a UP campus located in the same region as their high school. In fact, there is no need for them to take the UPCAT anymore. Take note that this rule applies only to top 10 graduates of public high schools; graduates of private schools do not have this privilege.

At the same time, the rule of automatic admission under the “Iskolar ng Bayan” law allows qualified students to enroll only in a UP campus in the same region as their high school.

For example, a public high school student, who graduated No. 3 in a public high school in Davao City (located in Region XI in Mindanao), will be allowed automatic admission only to UP Mindanao — the UP campus located near Region XI in Mindanao. The student will not be granted automatic admission to any other campus (UP Diliman, UP Manila, or UPLB, etc.). Students, of course, may still apply for admission but they must take and pass the UPCAT to be able to enroll in any of those campuses.

Here’s how to avail of automatic admission under the “Iskolar ng Bayan” law. The primary qualifications to avail the automatic admission privilege under RA 10648 (Iskolar ng Bayan program) are as follows:

  • 1. a Filipino citizen;
  • 2. enrolling for the first time in college and has no credited previous college work;
  • 3. has completed Grade 12 and graduated from any public high school in the country within two years prior to 2018-2019;
  • 4. must provide a certification from the public high school, duly signed by the school principal that the student belongs to the Top 10 of the graduating class; and
  • 5. must choose the UP campus located in the region where the student resides or where the high school is located.

2. Be a UP student by filing a Letter of Appeal

Very few applicants know this, but even if you failed the UPCAT, it is still possible to get in to the University of the Philippines by filing an appeal or by submitting a request for reconsideration.

Many of the UPCAT qualifiers eventually decide not to enroll, which means their slots open up and are made available to other applicants. If you failed to be admitted to the course or degree program of your choice, you may file an appeal to the UP Office of the University Registrar (OUR).

If your UPG (University Predicted Grade) is within the cut-off UPG of the campus and your desired course has available slots, you may luckily be admitted. The UPG is the grade computed by UP which you received based on your UPCAT score and other factors such as High School grades, school performance in previous UPCAT exams, etc. Whether you passed or did not pass the UPCAT, you will find your UPG in the UPCAT results that you received.

If your UPG is higher than the cut-off UPG of a UP campus, you may appeal to be admitted to this UP campus. I personally know dozens of UP students and graduates who entered UP via this route. For UPCAT results 2020, UP announced the official UPG cut-off which applicants may use as guide if they are qualified to file an appeal letter.

Here’s the official University Predicted Grade (UPG) cut-off in all UP campuses, as announced by UP in its official UPCAT Facebook page.

UP CampusUPG Cut-off Grade
UP Baguio2.421
UP Cebu2.700
UP Los Banos2.800
UP Manila2.580
UP Mindanao2.800
UP Pampanga2.525
UP Visayas2.700
UP Open University2.800
UP DilimanNot Accepting Appeals
Source: UPCAT – UP System Official Facebook page

To submit an appeal, you must visit the Registrar’s Office of the UP campus and present your “Non-Qualifier’s Slip” which you received via postal mail. Be warned, though, because there is no guarantee of acceptance since the admission decision will depend on:

  • (1) your University Predicted Grade (UPG);
  • (2) the cut-off admission UPG of the campus; and
  • (3) availability of slots in the program.

You will have to wait until after the appeals deadline before you can know if your admission appeal is granted.

Submission of UPCAT Application
Hundreds of applicants line up to submit their UPCAT application. (Image credits: Philippine Star)

3. Be a UP student by being part of the “Waiting List”

All UPCAT applicants are force-ranked using the University Predicted Grade (UPG) in the degree program of their choice. For example, if a quota course such as the BS Business Administration and Accountancy (BSBAA) only accepts 100 students, the UP Office of Admissions will rank all applicants, based on UPG, and admit the top 100 students with the highest UPG who chose BSBAA program as their first choice.

Some of the qualifiers, however, will not enroll in UP probably because they have decided to study in another university or that they will pursue studies abroad. As a consequence, the student quota won’t get filled up. The college, in some cases, will decide to admit “waitlisted” students in order to meet the program quota. If this happens, they will contact those applicants in the “wait list” — that is, students ranked No. 101 or 102 or 103 and so on — and offer them a slot.

There is nothing you can do, unfortunately, but to simply wait since this is solely dependent on the decision of the college. But you may follow up with the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) to inquire if the college you applied to is accommodating and processing waitlisted students.

4. Be a UP student as a Varsity player

Are you a top-notch athlete, dancer, or cheerleader?

If so, you may be eligible to become a UP student even if you did not take or did not pass the UPCAT via the Varsity Athletic Admission System or VAAS program of UP Diliman’s College of Human Kinetics.

This Varsity program aims to recruit “exemplary athletes, Filipiniana dancers, and pep squad members” who will have an obligation to represent the university in national or international sports competition. The VAAS tryouts follow a tough and selective admission, so make sure that you’ll stand out and will prove to be one of the best. Varsity applicants undergo several rigorous tryouts which may last for weeks.

UPMBT Fighting Maroons Men's Basketball Team
If you’re a topnotch athlete, dancer, or cheerleader, you may become a UP student even if you did not take the UPCAT via the Varsity Athletic Admission System or VAAS program of UP Diliman. (Image credits: ABS-CBN News)

To apply, you must submit these requirements to the assigned team coach prior to the scheduled tryouts:

  • 1. Original copy of your UPCAT result (must have obtained UPG grade of 2.80 or better);
  • 2. Photocopy of Grade 12 report card;
  • 3. Personal Information sheet (if you are already accepted by the coach)
  • 4. If you did not take the UPCAT, submit Certified True Copy of Grades during your entire stay in high school. Your weighted average should be at least 85%.
  • 5. Certificate of athletic/dance achievements from your former coach, if any;
  • 6. Photocopy of birth certificate;
  • 7. Contract to be submitted (3 copies) to the Sports Program Office, if you are already accepted by the coach
  • 8. For transferees from other universities: Submit Transcript of Records from your current university and all other requirements above, except for the Grade 12 report card. You must have completed 33 units, with a weighted average of 2.5, in your current university to apply.

As a Varsity student, you still have academic obligations just like any other UP student. Thus, you are required to:

  • enroll in at least five (5) academic subjects every semester for two semesters per academic year; and
  • pass at least 4 out of 5 subjects every sem.

Contact UP Diliman’s College of Human Kinetics (CHK) if you’re interested to apply in the Varsity program. CHK’s contact details are as follows:

5. Be a UP student via Talent Determination Test

Do you have the “X Factor” or the makings of an “Idol Philippines”? Or perhaps you have the talent similar to our National Artists who graduated from UP, like Ryan Cayabyab (National Artist for Music), Guillermo Tolentino (National Artist for Visual Arts), or Larry Alcala (National Artist for Visual Arts)?

If you’ve got the talent, then you can use it to enter UP via the Talent Determination Test (TDT). The TDT is administered in UP Diliman by two colleges: College of Fine Arts (CFA) and College of Music.

You only need to undergo and pass auditions in order to earn a slot. Be ready, though, because the auditions will surely be highly competitive since you’ll be competing for limited slots with other highly talented applicants from around the Philippines.

UP Diliman College of Music Talent Test
You can become a student of the UP College of Music or UP College of Fine Arts by undergoing a Talent Determination Test. (Image credits: UP Diliman College of Music)

The TDT (Talent Determination Test) is usually scheduled in May every year, right before the opening of classes in August, but make sure you contact the College of Music or College of Fine Arts for the exact TDT audition schedules:

6. Be a UP student via International Qualifications

If you’re a Filipino (or a foreign citizen) who has graduated or is graduating from a secondary school in another country and has not enrolled yet in any college program, you may be admitted as a full-time UP student without having to take the UPCAT.

Automatic admission to UP is possible for international applicants who can meet the following requirements:

  • 1. Completion of a high school program in the country where s/he had secondary education (including the completion of a one- or two-year pre-university education in a country where such is a prerequisite for admission to a bachelor’s degree program); AND
  • 2. Qualifications for college admission by national or international foreign-administered examinations: the SAT, OR the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Examination, OR the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB), OR other equivalent examinations approved by UP;
  • 3. In the case of an applicant whose native language or whose medium of instruction in the secondary school is not English, a minimum score (500 if paper-based or 173 if computer-based) in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

7. Be a UP student as a Transferee from another school

Perhaps you decided to enroll instead in another school but after studying there for a year or two, you still have that burning desire to study in UP. Did you know that you can transfer to UP even if you’re already enrolled in another university?

Transfer admission, though, is possible only for students who have spent at least one year in another university in the Philippines. The specific requirement is that the applicant, at the time of application, must have already earned and completed 33 academic units in another school with a weighted average of 2.00 or better.

The 33 academic units are only the minimum requirement, though, since some colleges have stricter criteria or additional requirements. Also take note that not all colleges in UP accept transferees from other universities.

For example, UP Diliman’s Virata School of Business (formerly called College of Business Administration) only accepts applicants from CHED Level 4 schools. For now, there are only two (2) CHED Level 4 schools in the Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and De La Salle University (DLSU). If you’re not a student of these two schools, you won’t be able to apply to transfer to UP Diliman’s School of Business. Other colleges may also have additional requirements such as higher number of earned credits or minimum grade in a specific subject/s.

For more details regarding transferee application, contact the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) of the UP campus you plan on applying to.

For additional information about these alternative but legit ways to be admitted to UP, visit the UP Admissions website.

Sunflowers during UP graduation
Sunflowers during graduation rites in UP had become synonymous with hard-earned triumph and optimistic culmination of a student’s journey in UP. (Image credits: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

2020 UPCAT Results: List of Passers for 2019-2020

Excited to find out if you passed the UPCAT? Stay tuned as the final list of passers will be released this May 2020.

Unlike in previous years, though, UP will no longer make public the complete list of qualifiers. In compliance with the Philippines’ Data Privacy Law, all applicants are required to login to the UPCAT Admissions website using the email address they used when registering, in order to find out if they passed or not.

This is the reminder from the UP System Office of Admissions to all UPCAT examinees waiting for the results:

You will need the same email account that you used for application to view your application results. If you qualify for admission to the University, register according to the instructions provided by the college or unit to which you have been accepted.

Source: UP System Office of Admissions

Will you be part of the next batch of UP students? We hope so. Mabuhay ang mga bagong Iskolar ng Bayan!

19 thoughts on “How to be legit UP student even if you didn’t pass UPCAT”

  1. Joseph Romeo E. Alfaras

    Im a graduate already of a private university here in Iloilo.. I didnt pass a long time ago sa UPCAT exam, thats why I decided to study elsewhere aside from UP. But now im planning to pursue another degree in Music, im afraid that I will not be able to be take UPCAT exam again… Is it still possible to take UPCAT? even if 5 yrs ago I was not able to make it?

  2. May other way pa ba para makapag enrol sa fine arts kahit na hindi ako nakapasa ng TDT? Please reply, I need answers…I really want to take UP fine arts ?

  3. April Bautista

    I take an Upcat but I did not pass it. I am one of the top 10 grad in my high school and I’m from Region 4B. Am I still qualified to the Iskolar ng Bayan Program?

    1. Hi April, if you meet the eligibility conditions of the Iskolar ng Bayan Act, then you should be able to enroll in the UP unit in your region. Contact UP’s Office of the University Registrar for clarifications on how you can apply. Good luck!

  4. If ever I enrolled at UPLB, is it possible to transfer to UP Diliman right after the first year with different course? E.g. UPLB Human Ecology to UPD Psychology?

    1. Yup, this is possible. As long as you meet the minimum requirements to apply (completed 33 units, etc.), you can apply to shift to another UP campus.

      Getting admitted to your desired course, though, is another thing because this will depend on the cut-off grade requirement of the college you’re applying to.

    1. Yes, you may apply to transfer from UP Baguio to UP Diliman. The BSBAA program, though, has a lot of shifting applicants every year so to be admitted as a transferee or shiftee, you’ll need to have higher grades than the “average” applicant.

      The cut-off grade used to determine who will be accepted as shiftees varies every year so aim to have really, really, really high grades 🙂

      1. I am currently taking the IB diploma, is there a certain grade that I should achieve in order to qualify for automatic admission, or is the diploma enough?

  5. Excellent article! We are linking to this great content on our website. Keep up the great writing.

  6. What are the requirements for those in the waiting list? My son’s UPG is 2.701. Can he be in the waitlist?

  7. Hi, sir! I would like to ask po sana if there’s a chance to get into BAA thru isko ng bayan program or any other quota courses. Or INB program only offers non-quota courses? Thanks po in advance.

    1. Hi, to receive an official response, you’ll have to contact UP’s Office of the University Registrar (OUR). But take note that the BAA program is one the most sought-after, if not the most in-demand, course in the entire university so getting into BAA will certainly be tough.

  8. I wasn’t able to register for the UPCAT. I was actually planning to study at another school, in OLFU, perhaps, then transfer at UPM. Is it possible? Because I heard from other people that it was possible. I just need a clarification. Thanks!

  9. John Philip Sumido

    My Name is John Philip Sumido of Aquinas School my UPG 2.684 and I don’t know if I am part of WL. But please if you have any available slot in any course I am willing to study with even though it’s to late. My GWA is 97
    Please inform me in my gmail. Thank you.

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