Are college review centers effective?

When I took the college entrance exams back in 1990, there were no such things as review centers. It was good — that meant everyone taking it would be competing on equal terms. I took tests in 3 universities: UP, Ateneo, and La Salle. I passed them all. Got in Broadcast Journalism in UP, Communication in Ateneo. and a similar course in La Salle (I don’t remember the name). In the end, I decided to go to Ateneo. I found their all-encompassing approach to Communication more appealing. We would tackle everything from Journalism to Advertising to PR. It was good since I hadn’t yet made up my mind on what I wanted to focus on. I believe I made the right decision.

College Review CenterNow 27 years later, it’s my son’s turn to take the college entrance exams. I had no clue what this entailed these days. We did the usual things like fill out application forms and pay testing fees. Then one day, a co-parent messaged me if I had already enrolled my son in a college review center. I was like… what’s that? Apparently virtually everyone in my son’s school was going to a college review center in order to prepare for the exams.

The top college review center choice at my son’s school was ACTS. Rumor has it that they had testing leaks and they reviewed their students based on these. I’m not saying this is true, it’s a RUMOR. ACTS supposedly has a high passing rate. Since I was clueless, by the time I called ACTS (like on the 4th day they announced review slots), there were no more slots available. We had to settle for AHEAD Tutorial & Review. I enrolled him last summer and he was there from April to May 2017.

College Review CenterWe got the Package Review covering UPCAT, ACET, and DCAT — the exams for UP, Ateneo, and La Salle. It’s 88 hours long. I was ferrying my son to their branch in Robinsons Galleria from Monday to Friday. He would attend review classes from 1pm to 5pm. AHEAD Tutorial & Review prides themselves on being in the business for over 20 years. They were also the first to set up a college review center. They have a more intensive program called Premium Review which spans 124 hours and costs a lot more. Premium Review guarantees that your child will pass at least one of the 3 top universities. If not, you get your money back. I remember paying around P17k or P18k for the Package Review.

College Review CenterYou get to take home one (1) review booklet from AHEAD. They said they have the smallest reviewer because they only include what’s necessary. No truckloads of irrelevant info, according to them. I’ve seen the other review centers’ materials and they span several booklets.

Whenever I would pick up my son from AHEAD, I would ask if he learned anything. He would say yeah, sort of. AHEAD had simulated exams for UP, Ateneo, and La Salle after some period of reviewing. My son got 50+% in all of them and I didn’t know if those grades were good enough to pass.

acet2018Fast forward to January 2018. Ateneo and La Salle have released their college entrance exam results. My son is waitlisted at Ateneo, but he got in the course of his choice at La Salle. UP has not yet released their results.

The question is, are college review centers effective? One of our nephews got in ACTS and was also waitlisted at Ateneo… so there goes the exam leakage rumor.

What college review centers actually do is “refresh” your child’s memory of lessons learned throughout high school. According to my son, they don’t really explain things in-depth for the Package Review. They just sort of run through a lot of subjects in one month. It may be different for the Premium Review though. My rationale for enrolling my son was, if everyone around him was going to a college review center and he wasn’t, then he would not be able to compete on a level playing field. There are only so many slots in each of the top colleges.

So should you enroll your child in a college review center? Even if I’m not sure it was helpful, if you have the budget for it, go. Like I keep saying, it’s all about competing on a level playing field. Though I do know some students who didn’t do college review classes but still ended up in Ateneo’s Director’s List (some of the best among ACET takers). Expect to shell out anywhere from P18k to P20+k for a month-long program, depending on which center you enroll in.

Ateneo is our university of choice and we’ve already submitted the required documents for appealing my son’s waitlisted status. All I can do now is hope for the best. Or go to La Salle… lol (yeah right, not if I can help it… but that’s for another post haha).

UPDATE as of May 28, 2018: So my son got in DLSU, had his waitlisted status change to accepted in ADMU, and well… he failed UP. So I guess AHEAD was worth it?

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  • Reply Roanne January 24, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    From what I heard Merit Scholars are the best of the best, followed by students who made it to the Director’s List.

    • Reply Rowena Wendy Lei January 24, 2018 at 6:15 pm

      Lol I only know of people in the Director’s List that didn’t go to review centers. Not sure about Merit Scholars.

  • Reply frannywanny January 25, 2018 at 12:23 am

    Congrats parin to Ken for making it to DLSU and wait listed in ADMU!

    • Reply animetric January 25, 2018 at 8:24 am

      Thanks Fran!

  • Reply Ally January 25, 2018 at 12:43 am

    I took college entrance reviews (with MSA) 20 yrs ago. I guess for me it helped since I was able to get in into my top 3 schools. I ended up int AdMU as well. Maybe your son is waitlisted because of the course he chose?

    • Reply animetric January 25, 2018 at 8:22 am

      It’s possible. He applied for courses all either beginning or ending in “Management” (i.e. Business Management, Legal Management, Management Information Systems) and from experience those are pretty hard to get into since a lot of people want them lol.

  • Reply Michi January 25, 2018 at 10:24 am

    During my time, I think my college review centers na rin pero for UP lang yata. Mahal din pala yung fee parang board review din.

  • Reply Ana Liza Benetua January 25, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    I did not get into a review center when I took the entrance exam to DLSU, which I passed and unfortunately did not end up taking because I want to take up Nursing in another school. I am regretting this immensely. My parents did not even think of sending me to a review center, and I wish they did.

  • Reply Czjai Reyes-Ocampo January 26, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    I took review classes at Brain Train for the UPRHS entrance exam (1994) and the UPCAT, four years later. Effective naman kasi I passed both, though waitlisted lang ako for the course that I wanted at UP Diliman. Okay na rin kasi I wanted to stay in LB anyway. 🙂

    Two years from now, it will be my son’s turn to take high school entrance exams and we’ve decided to enroll him at Brain Train as well. Sana pumasa rin, haha!
    Congrats to your son! 🙂

  • Reply Michele de Guia Ereño January 27, 2018 at 12:51 am

    It’s a big help going to review centers for those who are eyeing to passed and be a accepted to their choosen schools like UP, DLSU or ADMU. But for those who can’t afford “sariling sikap at tiyaga” sa pag rereview na lang if they are going to take exams in some other schools, coz the amount is not that cheap.

  • Reply Jeosen January 27, 2018 at 2:49 am

    I would honestly be curious about the ration of passers for non-reciewers and reviewers, as well as the ratio of passers and nonpassers for reviewers. I think that would be an good gauge of the effectiveness of review centers.

    • Reply Rowena Wendy Lei January 27, 2018 at 2:53 pm

      Yun nga kaso di ba if we get data from the review centers of course it is skewed in their favor tapos halos lahat ng classmates ni K eh nag-enroll kaya parang pag di ko siya pinasok baka di makalaban.

  • Reply EINz January 27, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Whoa! Ang mahal din pala… yep, wala namang College review centers dati. We are considering to transfer my son, he’s incoming grade 5, and na i-stress ako sa pagre review sa kanya. I even requested to have later schedule date to fully prepare him. Well I guess this review center would actually help him when he apply for College as well, pero my God! How much na kaya at that time?!

  • Reply Angelyn Demo January 27, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing your insights about it. It will take few more years to go before we will decide if my kids will have to take and enrol in a review center before they enter college.

  • Reply Ditas - Henry's Mom, MD January 28, 2018 at 12:55 am

    I think my brother also attended one of these review centers. I haven’t called home yet so I don’t know if he got into any of the colleges that he applied too. Praying he gets into his top choice. But with regards to review centers, I enrolled into one for the physicians licensure exam and I they played a big role for me.

  • Reply May Palacpac January 28, 2018 at 7:58 am

    Hmmm, I didn’t go to any College review center so I wouldn’t know. But it looks like those reviewers are mastery type reviewers. The type that allows a child to know the answer at one glance, even the numerical ones, just by reading the questions because in my experience of “reviewers” (they used to sell NSAT reviewers (NCEE back then haha #tanders) at bookstores, I don’t know now), they almost have the same questions as the ones in the actual tests. So if you are a highly visual learner, you can easily remember the answers without calculating for them.

    Now as with Ateneo, how do they deliberate the applicants? Do they base it on scores alone? Or are there interviews, too, and portfolios to submit? I have no idea how it all works now.

  • Reply Maan January 28, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Congratulations! I can’t say for sure since I haven’t gone to one but it’s probably helpful. I did self-study for my entrance exam for UP as I wasn’t aware of review centers – and I don’t think we had the budget for it haha!

  • Reply Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen January 29, 2018 at 8:45 am

    I didn’t go to college review centers. Wow! ang mahal pala. Ang tagal pa bago mag-college si Ykaie but at least now I have an idea na.

  • Reply Mommy Anna January 29, 2018 at 9:05 am

    I didn’t go for college review center but I passed naman UST and La Salle 🙂 Iba na kasi talaga ngayun ang trending. I agree mahal talaga siya

  • Reply Kaycee Enerva January 29, 2018 at 11:02 am

    This post is very helpful! I wish I enrolled in a college entrance exam tutorial back in the day. It really makes a difference if you’re familiar with the questions the universities are going to ask.

  • Reply Ayi January 29, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    I tried a review center before, but I don’t think it’s that effective. At the end of the day, it all boils down on the child. It’s best to go for self-study since there are tons of materials available naman. But yeah, if you have budget, go for it.

  • Reply edel January 30, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    There are review classes also for Senior High Entrance Exams. Some of my daughter’s friends enrolled in review classes last summer. For my daughter naman, she just borrowed an old version of the reviewer and enjoyed her summer holidays. She got in at DLSU, waiting for ADMU result which will be posted January 31.

  • Reply tweenselmom January 30, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    I agree with you. Review centers are important. My daughters all went to review centers for the high school entrance test not only to level the playing field but to familiarize themselves sa questions. And parang accumulated knowledge talaga para in case manghula in some items, may sense naman ang guess. Pero nasa bata pa din at the end of the day, yes. Pero kung lahat naman ng bata ay magaling, sa review nlang talaga magkakatalo. Ok ang post mo, I need it. 4 years from now irereview ko ulit itong post mo haha.

  • Reply Janet Dazo July 12, 2019 at 6:12 am

    Nakakatulong po talaga ang review center, but somehow talagang self review din po dapat, congrats to ur son Ms Ro 🙂

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