UP MBA Application Part 2: Preparing for the Proficiency Exams

Note: This is Part 2 of my UP MBA Application blog series. Check out Part 1 (Applying for the UP MBA Graduate Program + the GPAT Exam) HERE.

So the challenge of getting through the rigorous GPAT is done. Now comes the hard part: The Proficiency Exams. Honestly, if you thought the GPAT was hard, wait until you get to the Proficiency Exams where your knowledge of Accounting, Algebra, Calculus, Math of Finance, and Statistics will be put to the test. If you’ve been out of school for a long time, well, good luck =)) I’ve been on the same boat, though. I didn’t even have Calculus in High school or college, so you can imagine my frustration while I was reviewing for this!

I’ll cut to the chase and give you the tips that worked for me in preparing for the GPAT exam:

  1. Find a copy of the reviewers for these subjects. Those really did help. Answer sample exams until you feel confident to take the exam.
  2. For Math of Finance, look for the Math of Finance book by Rogelio Hernandez. It’s out of stock in bookstores, so I suggest finding a friend from UP Diliman who can borrow the book for you from the Main Lib, and have it photocopied. It’s easier to study this book than looking for reviewers online.
  3. Trying to cram for Calculus is hard AF. But MathBFF on Youtube is a real angel. Watch her videos, especially on derivatives and functions to help you understand basic Calculus concepts.
  4. Even if you don’t have any idea if you’ll pass or fail, take the first Proficiency Exam anyway. Most takers fail most of the subjects in the first exam, but that’s okay. Taking it will give you a good idea of the kind of questions they ask in the exam, and will help you prepare better for the second Proficiency exam.

Should you take the workshops? 100% YES. Everything you need to pass the Proficiency exams will be taken up in the workshops. If you’re lucky enough to pass a few subjects in the first exam, but don’t know how you did it, it would be best for you to sign up for the workshops of the subjects you passed anyway. Think of it as a refresher. Proficiency of these five subjects are required when you start your MBA, which is why you don’t just need to pass these exams, you need to really understand the concepts.

As for me, I passed ⅖ subjects and decided to not take the workshops on those subjects due to financial and time constraints. Ang hirap at ang mahal kaya magcommute to UP Diliman on a daily basis huhu. Here’s what I learned from taking the workshops though, which I hope you’ll keep in mind when you take yours:


  1. Make friends. Be sociable. Try to lift your head from your phone from time to time and get to know your classmates, regardless of the degree they’ll be taking, mapa-Evening or Day or MS Finance pa sila. It won’t hurt to get to know them and to help each other out. Even if you’re the best in your class, or you have an IQ of 150, you won’t survive the program without a little help from your friends. Do remember to give and take! If you’re not as quick to pick up, try to help out with other things (like photocopying notes for the rest of the group)
  2. Attend group study sessions. This is a great way to share information. No one person has a monopoly on information and ideas, anyway.
  3. Always come to class on time to avoid missing out on important information. This is where your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) would help you most!
  4. Be active in class during workshops. Participate in class when you know the answer. This will help you with retaining more information. If you try to recite and your answer is wrong, this will help you remember the correct answer better than if you were just passively participating in class. Ask questions if you don’t understand. The profs and instructors are nice, and none of them want to see you fail. They are just as invested in you passing as you are, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are some instructors who end their sessions early if the class don’t have any clarifications or questions. Take the opportunity to ask questions then! Sulitin ang workshop fees!
  5. Bring snacks. Light snacks help keep you awake during long workshop sessions. There are lots of establishments to buy snacks from, such as the stores outside selling pancit canton, street food, and coffee, as well as the coop store on the third floor of the VSB building.
  6. Sit in front of the class. This would force you to stay awake and listen actively.
  7. Know the dining places closest to VSB. During Saturday workshop sessions, you only have an hour for lunch, which might not be enough time if you plan to eat lunch at UP Town Center. You can always baon food, too!
  8. Review your notes before going to class, so that you won’t be as lost when your prof picks up from where you left off last session
  9. Oh, and always bring a jacket! The air conditioning in Room 104 is intense.

If you did your best to prepare for the second Proficiency exam, then you have nothing to worry about! Good luck, and see you around! :) -HANA


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