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How To Enter UP Without Taking the UPCAT

How To Enter UP Without Taking the UPCAT

Taking the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) is the primary way of admission to the University of the Philippines. Every year, nearly a hundred thousand applicants from all over the Philippines apply for the UPCAT, hoping to enter their dream university.

Unfortunately, only less than 15% of the applicants are successful. If you’re one of the many aspiring applicants who dream of studying at UP, you must do all you can for the UPCAT and prepare ahead. 

Reviewing for the UPCAT? Check out our Ultimate UPCAT Reviewer

However, knowing the UPCAT is not the only way you can get into UP may also be helpful. You can study at UP even without taking the UPCAT. 

Sounds interesting? Here are the different ways you can get into UP without taking the UPCAT.

Table of Contents


1. Iskolar ng Bayan Program

a. What is the Iskolar ng Bayan Program?

The Iskolar ng Bayan Program is a scholarship program introduced under the Republic Act No. 10648 (also known as the “Iskolar ng Bayan Act”) in 2014 to provide accessible and quality education for underprivileged yet deserving students. 

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

Scholars of this program gain freshman automatic admission (no need to take the UPCAT) into UP and are waived their tuition fees and other school fees during their first year in the college.

Note: The Iskolar ng Bayan Program is not exclusive to UP and applies to all state universities and colleges (SUCs). 

b. Qualifications

To qualify as a scholar of the Iskolar ng Bayan Program, the applicant must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Must be a Filipino citizen
  • Must be a graduate from a public high school in the Philippines within two years before the year of application
  • Must be in the Top Ten of their graduating batch in high school (with proof of achievement from your high school, which the school principal must duly sign.)
  • Must not have enrolled in any college before application
  • Must choose to enroll in a UP campus belonging to the same region as their high school

Besides the requirements listed above, applicants will also be screened based on their socioeconomic status, academic status, and geographic location.

c. How to apply

Step 1. Prepare the necessary documents for the application.

You will need the following:

  • Certified True Copy of Grades (TCG) or Transcript of Records (ToR)
  • Certificate showing proof of belonging in the Top Ten of the graduating batch with the school principal’s signature
  • High school diploma (not required, but just in case)

Step 2. Fill out the application form.

You can find copies of the application form in the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) or Office of Scholarships and Student Services (OSSS) of the UP campus to which you will apply. You can also check the official websites of the offices and print out your copy.

Step 3. Submission of application.

Depending on the UP campus, you may have to submit the documents directly to the OSA or OSSS or through online submission. Wait for the announcements regarding the Iskolar ng Bayan scholarship on the UP constituent university’s website or official social media accounts.

d. Important things to consider

  • In addition to the requirements above, you must comply with other university admissions requirements. To know more about this, check out the official websites of the UP campus you are applying for. You may also contact the respective UP campus OSA or OSSS.
  • There are limited slots per UP campus
  • It is still recommended that you take the UPCAT along with your application for the Iskolar ng Bayan Program to get a higher chance of admission.

2. Talent Determination Test

a. What is the Talent Determination Test?

The Talent Determination Test (TDT) assesses an applicant for admission based on knowledge, creativity, and skill.

Applicants who plan to pursue a degree program in the UP College of Fine Arts (UP CFA) or UP College of Music (UPCMu) must take the TDT regardless of their UPCAT results.

Note: You can only enroll for a Certificate in Fine Arts if you are a UPCAT Non-Qualifier. If you are a UPCAT Qualifier/second-degree taker, you can enroll for a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. Enrollees in the Certificate in Fine Arts program are not allowed to shift and must finish the 3-year program. If the enrollee can maintain the minimum required grade average, they may opt for another year to obtain a Bachelor’s degree.

b. UP College of Fine Arts Talent Determination Test


Anyone can apply to take the UP CFA TDT if they provide the necessary requirements. This applies to incoming freshmen, transfer students from other UP college units/other universities, or second-degree takers.

How to apply

The UP CFA TDT opens the application process after the UPCAT results (usually around March or April). You can monitor the TDT schedules on the official UP CFA website.

The application process differs depending on the type of applicant. To know what you will need, go to the UP CFA website and download the application forms about your application type. You can also download the schedules and requirements form there as well.

What to expect

Past UP CFA TDT takers recommend you go into the TDT blindly and experience it yourself. It’s frowned upon by alumni to do research beforehand on what will happen in the TDT.

Instead, here are some general advice from successful TDT takers:

  • Know your forte. You will be asked to bring your art mediums for the exam. Bring the ones you are most comfortable working with.
  • Use your time wisely. The TDT also tests you under time pressure. Manage your time well and work fast but intelligent.
  • Eat and sleep well the night before. Your skill isn’t the only thing being assessed. You will also be assessed based on your mental ability (through an art history exam) and portfolio.
  • Prep your portfolio. As mentioned above, your portfolio will also be considered for admission. Choose at most 10-15 of your best works to feature.

c. UP College of Music Auditions and Talent Determination Test


Like the UP CFA TDT, anyone can apply as long as they can provide the requirements– incoming freshmen, transfer students from other UP college units/universities, or second-degree takers.

How to apply

Go to the official UPCMu website and download the application form. Fill out the form and take note of the required documents depending on what type of applicant you are.

You will then have to submit scanned copies or clear pictures, your application form, and the required documents to the UPCMu Office of the College Secretary’s (OCS) email. Wait for a reply from the OCS acknowledging your application.

Note: Foreign applicants and second-degree takers must pay the application fee of Php 500. To know more about the payment details, contact the OCS.

What to expect

Current application procedures require UPCMu TDT applicants to go through 3 qualifying rounds:

  1. Music Theory Exam (+ a Trial Music Theory Exam beforehand)
  2. Solfege Exam
  3. Audition

Accepted applicants will be chosen once the review of the audition videos is completed. The admission requirements will then be emailed to you by the OCS.


3. International Qualifications (For FOREIGN applicants only)

a. Qualifications

To be eligible for freshman automatic admission through international qualifications, an applicant must satisfy the following:

  • Must be a foreign or Filipino applicant residing in another country
  • Must have graduated or are graduating from a secondary school in another country
  • Must not have enrolled in any college before application

Note: Filipino applicants from Philippine high schools in the Middle East are also eligible.

b. How to apply

Here are the requirements for foreign applicants:

  • Proof of completion of a high school/secondary school program in their country of residence (must be authenticated by the school principal)
  • Certified official results of any of the following national or international foreign-administered examinations. Here are the minimum required scores that the applicant must obtain for the following exams::

For Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT):

Minimum SAT scoresOld SATRedesigned SAT
Critical Reading600
Evidenced-based writing + Critical Reading650

Note: Scores must not have been taken more than four years before application.

For General Certificate of Education (GCE): 2 ordinary (O) level passes and 3 advanced (A) level passes

For International Baccalaureate (IB): must have an IB Diploma

For other equivalent examinations approved by UP, contact the UP Office of Admissions.

  • Certified official results of the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a minimum score of 500 (if paper-based exam) or 173 (if computer-based exam)

If you can satisfy the requirements above, send an email inquiry to the UP Office of Admissions to receive additional instructions for application.


4. Varsity Athletic Admission System

a. What is the Varsity Athletic Admission System (VAAS program)?

The Varsity Athletic Admission System is a qualifying program administered by the College of Human Kinetics (UP CHK) that awards academic slots to exceptional athletes and dancers who may not have taken or passed the UPCAT.

b. Qualifications

If you are an athlete or dancer with considerable skills and achievements, you may apply for the tryouts in your respective sport or reach out to UP coaches. You may view the schedule for the tryouts on the official UP CHK website.

c. How to apply

Once you determine the schedule for the tryouts, you must submit the following requirements to your prospective coach before or on the day of the tryouts:

  • Accomplished information sheet (if already recognized by coach)
  • Original copy of Transcript of Records or Certified True Copy of Grades of high school grades (Weighted grade average must be at least 85%)
  • Certificate(s) of athletic/dance achievements duly noted by former coach
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Signed Varsity Athletic Admissions System Contract stating that you are willing to submit to the conditions written in the contract

If you get accepted into the team, your coach will contact you regarding the admission requirements.

d. What to expect

If accepted, you must be an active regular member of your respective varsity sports team or dance group for four (4) years. In line with UP’s “Honor and Excellence” motto, you must also maintain a particular grade, 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 semester.

You must do this while attending training, representing UP in competitions, and more.

This may all sound daunting, but as they say in sports, “No pain, no gain!


Tips and Warnings

  • Don’t fret about the UPCAT. Although we have provided you with ways to get into UP without the UPCAT, we still encourage you to take it. Doing so will increase your chances of being admitted into the university.
  • Ask some alumni. If you are planning to apply using the methods above, it may help you to ask for valuable insight from UP alumni or current UP students who’ve gone through the same way. You will be more prepared and be able to avoid pitfalls or hold-ups they might’ve experienced during the process.
  • Don’t hesitate to send an email. Even though we’ve provided you with a comprehensive guide, always contact the involved offices beforehand to ensure no major changes to the application process.

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.

Browse all articles written by Ruth Raganit

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