How To Apply for UPCAT: An Ultimate Guide

For a lot of graduating senior high school students, passing the UPCAT and getting into the University of the Philippines (UP) is one of their primary goals.

Reviewing for UPCAT? Check out our Ultimate UPCAT Reviewer

Because of this, it’s no wonder that hundreds of thousands of aspiring Iskolar ng Bayan take the exam every year. Out of the vast sea of applicants, only a handful are selected to enter the prestigious university. 

If you’re one of those aspiring applicants, the first step in getting into your dream university is overcoming the UPCAT. If you’re ready to take on the challenge, read on and check out our comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about the UPCAT.

UPDATE: According to the UP Office of Admissions, UPCAT 2021 is still being studied and planned carefully, taking into consideration the pandemic situation. The application schedule will be announced soon. For more information, check out the official UPCAT website.


Who Is Qualified To Take the UPCAT?

Anyone, regardless of age, gender, or religion, can apply for the UPCAT as long as they satisfy the following requirements:

  • Individual must have graduated high school or earlier and have not taken any college courses; OR
  • Individual must be a graduating student from a DepEd-recognized senior high school or an accredited high school abroad; AND 
  • Individual must be able to submit final grades from the last three years (from grade 9 to 11) before the year of graduation; AND
  • The individual has not taken the UPCAT yet.

What Are the Requirements for UPCAT?

Before applying, make sure you have these documents on-hand. Failure to submit the required documents will not get your test permits processed.

For ALL applicantsFour (4) recent 2×2 photographs (must be IDENTICAL)
Fully accomplished UPCAT Forms:
1. Personal Data Sheet (Form 1)
2. Secondary School Record (Form 2)
IF high school graduateHigh school diploma (original and photocopy)
IF graduating senior high school student from local high schoolDepEd Certificate of Recognition OR Permit to Operate
ONLY IF transferee (i.e. applicant took subjects from another high school)Certified clear photocopy of the Permanent Secondary School Record (Form 137) from the other school with all the grades earned within
FOR Foreign Applicants OnlyProof of payment of UPCAT application fee

How To Apply for UPCAT in 3 Steps

1. Prepare the requirements

a. UPCAT Application Form (Form 1)

You can fill out the UPCAT Application Form (Form 1) in two ways: MANUALLY or through ONLINE

Applying manually

Manual applications are only available in selected regions. To find out how to file your application manually, contact your school registrar or principal for more information. If you have already graduated high school, you may send an inquiry to the UP Office of Admissions to know more.

Only get the application forms from the official UPCAT website to ensure you get the latest ones. Here are what the application forms look like:

how to apply upcat 1

Applying through online

Everything is going digital nowadays, and this includes the application process for the UPCAT. This is the most recommended way of application because it’s faster, easier, and more convenient for the majority of UPCAT takers. 

Step 1. Go to the UPCAT Online Application website and click on the “SIGN-UP HERE”.

Note: If you cannot find the “SIGN-UP HERE” button, the UPCAT Application process may still not be open. Check the UPCAT website to know when the application process starts.

how to apply upcat 2

Step 2. Fill out the sign-up form with all the details asked. Make sure every detail here is accurate and free of errors because once you submit your application, you can no longer edit any information afterward (except your password).

how to apply upcat 3

Take note of the email address and password you use. Make sure that you use a valid email address because updates regarding your application status will be sent here and it will also be used to access the UPCAT results later on.

After submission, wait for an email from UPCAT Online containing instructions on how to activate your application.

Step 3. Once you’ve activated your account, login at  and fill out the necessary details.

how to apply upcat 4

After you submit the form, you will be provided with a download link for the FORMS 1 and 2. Print out both forms in legal size bond paper (8.5” x 13”). 

how to apply upcat 5

Prepare four (4) 2×2 pictures and print out your name on a piece of paper and then glue it under your picture. Write your signature on top of your name, making sure that it also overlaps the picture.

Just to be sure, also write your name at the back legibly, along with your signature. Staple the 2×2 pictures on the space provided on the forms. Keep the extra 2×2 pictures as you will use these later on.

All your pictures should look like this:

how to apply upcat 6

If you need to make any changes in your application, download and fill out the Request to Revise Application Form. Manual corrections/edits on your Form 1 will lead to the rejection of your application.

b. Secondary School Record (Form 2)

Similar to Form 1, make sure to staple a signed 2×2 picture on Form 2. Do not fill up or write anything on your Form 2. Instead, submit this to your school registrar or school principal for signing. 

For those who transferred schools: you will need to submit your Permanent Record (Form 137) along with Forms 1 and 2. Contact your previous school/s to know more information on how to obtain your Form 137.

c. (For FOREIGN applicants only) Pay the UPCAT Fee

As of 2018, the UPCAT application fee is waived for all Filipino applicants.

Foreign applicants who want to take the UPCAT have to pay a non-refundable UPCAT Fee:

  • 450.00 PHP for foreigners residing and studying in the Philippines
  • $50 USD for foreign applicants residing in another country

The modes of payment for the UPCAT Fee may be found on the UPCAT website.


2. Submit all the requirements

Once you have all the necessary documents and requirements, submit this to the UP Office of Admissions located at the University of the Philippines – Diliman Campus. You may do so in different ways:

  • In person by going directly to the office
  • Through an authorized representative (your school, organization, etc.)
  • Through courier service with prepaid return pouch (so that your Test Permit can be mailed back to you)

Upon submission of requirements, you will receive email updates regarding your application status and Test Permit. You can also check this by logging on to your UPCAT Online Account.

You will also be asked how you want to claim your Test Permit upon submission. You can opt to:

  • Claim it in person by going to the UP Office of Admissions
  • Claim it through an authorized representative (must bring a letter of authorization and valid ID)
  • Claim it via prepaid return pouch

3. Claim your test permit

You will receive an email notification when your Test Permit becomes available. Once you’ve received it, it should contain the date, time, and place for your UPCAT examination.

Here’s a sample of what a Test Permit could look like:

how to apply upcat 7
Picture courtesy of an UPCAT 2020 taker

Fun fact: If you pass the UPCAT, your Identification Number becomes your Student Number which serves as your unique identity as a UP student.


Tips and Warnings

  • Be early. There are hundreds of thousands of applicants every year in the UPCAT. As such, the application process may take a very long time to accomplish. As much as possible, try to gather all of the necessary documents and requirements beforehand and process your UPCAT application as early as you can. Remember: there have been cases where applicants lose their chance to apply for the UPCAT due to missing the deadlines. You can’t be too careful.
  • Keep all your documents in one folder. When processing your application, it’s best to bring all of your documents related to the application process in one folder. You should also make photocopies of the documents and even bring extra 2×2 pictures. Sometimes, you will be asked to show a certain document or certificate. It will save you a long trip back home/to your school if you do.
  • Always check for updates. Make it a habit of checking the UPCAT website or the official UPCAT social media accounts every day. Deadlines may shift due to unforeseen circumstances, so it’s best to be prepared. 
  • Bring your own pen, stapler, and a glue stick. This is for when you are asked to fill out or affix something while applying. Not only will it be more convenient for you, but it will also save you time looking for a pen to borrow.
  • Bring an umbrella and snacks. When you opt to submit your application form directly to the Office of Admissions, be ready to face long hours in lines under the sun or rain. You can’t underestimate the time you’ll be spending in line so it’s best to bring something to ward off the potential hunger pangs.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When will be the next UPCAT?

how to apply upcat 8
Important Dates for the UPCAT 2020 (taken from UPCAT website)

Usually, the UPCAT application process starts around July and ends in August. The deadlines for applications are different depending on which category your high school falls under. The actual examination period normally takes place around October but can be postponed due to various reasons such as the UPCAT 2019 exam

2. How do I choose the degree program and UP campus to apply for?

UP offers the most number of degree programs in the Philippines, with 240 undergraduate programs and 402 graduate programs. These degree programs span across various disciplines such as the sciences, arts, law, politics, education, and more. 

The UP System consists of 8 constituent universities and 1 autonomous college scattered across the Philippines. Different UP campuses offer different degree programs, with some degree programs being only available on a specific campus.

When applying for the UPCAT, make sure to thoroughly research the course you plan to take and find out which UP campus/es offer/s it. 

To find out the course list for each UP campus, check out their official websites:

Your designated UP campus will be a huge part of your undergraduate (and maybe even postgraduate) life. That is why a lot of care and research should be conducted before you choose which campus will be right for you. 

3. What is a quota course and a non-quota course in UP?

A quota course refers to a degree program with limited slots, while a non-quota course has no limited slots. There is a popular belief that choosing a non-quota course will increase your chances of entering UP. This is false because before you are considered for a slot in a degree program, you first have to pass the cut-off UPG (University Predicted Grade) for each campus.

Here are the cut-off grades for each UP campus based on the UPCAT 2019:

UP Diliman2.174
UP Baguio2.421
UP Manila2.580
UP Cebu2.700
UP Los Baños2.800
UP Mindanao2.800
UP Open University2.800

Note: The cut-off grades for each campus differs every year. Be sure to contact the local offices of the constituent university for more information.

When applying for the UPCAT, you will be asked to indicate your first and second choices for a degree program and campus. There is no sense in choosing a non-quota course as your first choice if you don’t meet the campus cut-off grade. Therefore, you should plan out and choose your campus wisely. 

In the case where you pass the campus cut-off grade but did not get a slot in your desired course, your status will be Degree Program With Available Slot (DPWAS). This means that you qualify for that campus, but you will need to find a degree program with available slots to enroll in.

Related: How to Choose a Course in UP: A Guide to Quota and Non-Quota Courses

4. What is a UP Manila Return Service Agreement?

If you are aiming to pursue a degree in medicine in UP, you will most likely end up in UP Manila. As of 2001, UP medical science graduates are required to work in the Philippines for at least two years within five years after graduation under the Return Service Agreement (RSA). The graduates must work in their respective fields either through education/training, research, direct service, and other related professions.

The RSA applies to graduates of the following colleges:

  • College of Allied Medical Professions
  • College of Dentistry
  • College of Medicine
  • College of Nursing
  • College of Pharmacy
  • College of Public Health
  • School of Health Services

5. What is Integrated Liberal Arts and Medicine (INTARMED)?

This is a scholarship program exclusive to the Top 50 males and Top 50 females that excelled in their UPCAT. INTARMED is a 7-year accelerated medical program that allows high school graduates to immediately enroll in the UP College of Medicine. 

If you are considering a profession in the field of medicine, you may want to aim for this.

Related: 50+ Scholarship Programs in the Philippines: The Ultimate List

6. What is the UP Oblation Scholarship?

The UP Oblation Scholarship is awarded to the Top 50 students in the UPCAT yearly. Upon being designated as an Oblation scholar, you will be given free miscellaneous and laboratory fees and a monthly allowance.

This scholarship will remain for the duration of the student’s degree program as long as they are able to maintain a certain grade point average.

Related: The Ultimate UPCAT Reviewer (with Free Practice Tests and Answer Keys)

Ruth Raganit

Ruth Raganit obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from the University of the Philippines – Diliman. Her love affair with Earth sciences began when she saw a pretty rock and wondered how it came to be. She also likes playing video games, doing digital art, and reading manga.

9 thoughts on “How To Apply for UPCAT: An Ultimate Guide

  1. Hi. I am a grade 9 student wanting to study in UP. I am writing this comment because I want this to be my motivation. After 3 years, I will check this comment again. I want to remember the reason why I want to study in UP. Puhon.

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