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7 fall sick from stress in Diliman on last day of UPCAT

Six high school seniors taking the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) at the Diliman campus had to put the grueling exam on hold for a few hours on Sunday to receive medical assistance after they suddenly got sick, while another passed out after finishing the test.

According to Dr. Olivia Basuel, medical specialist at the University Health Service and physician on duty for the second day of the UPCAT, one of the examinees fainted due to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), two had high fever and one vomited.

Two students also complained of stomachache while another suffered from a profuse nosebleed as a result of high blood pressure.

The six examinees eventually returned to their testing locations to finish the UPCAT, Basuel said.

The time extension they were granted to finish the test corresponded to the number of minutes they spent receiving medical attention.

The UPCAT is considered one of the most competitive college entrance exams in the Philippines, with only around 11,400 out of an estimated 88,000 examinees expected to be admitted into the country’s premier national university.

Some 30,000 students took the entrance exam at UP Diliman on Saturday and Sunday.

The test runs for five hours and covers the following subjects: Language Proficiency, Science, Mathematics and Reading Comprehension.

Stress can trigger sickness

Basuel said it is not uncommon for students to become sick all of a sudden when they are under stress, especially one caused by a major exam.

“When you’re under stress, may epekto sa health ‘yun. You can have gastritis or hyperacidity. Some even experience loose bowel movement (LBM),” she said.

Should a medical emergency arise while the UPCAT is ongoing, the doctor and nurse on duty will be transported to the examination venue to check the patient’s condition.

Based on their assessment, the student may be given medicine or brought to the UP infirmary to receive further treatment.

While most of the examinees who fall ill during the UPCAT go back to finish the exam, some have had to discontinue answering it altogether either because of the doctor’s advice or of their own choice.

“May mga [examinees] na pinapauwi na rin kasi hindi na nila kayang ipagpatuloy ‘yung exam.‘Yung ibang parents, nagde-decide na hindi na kaya ng anak nila, o ‘yung student mismo ang ayaw nang bumalik. Kaya lang, sayang ‘yung chance nila,” she said.

No make up exam is given for those who miss or discontinue answering the UPCAT. A person may only take the test once.

Rest and relax

Aside from mentally preparing for the college entrance tests, Basuel said it is important for students to take care of their bodies in the run-up to the examination.

The doctor recommends completely relaxing a day before the exam, getting enough sleep and eating well prior to taking the test.

It will also be good for students to visit their testing location a week before the exam to become familiar with the layout of the campus and testing room, Basuel said.

“‘Yung thought pa lang na nawawala ka na at magsisimula na ‘yung exam in a few minutes, nakakakaba na. And then as these things build up, next thing you know, nagha-hyperventilate ka na, masakit na ulo mo,” she said.

As simple as these recommendations may seem, following them will go a long way to minimize a student’s risk of becoming stressed and falling ill on the exam date.

“Sayang naman ang pinaghandaan nila [students] ng ilang buwan tapos magkakasakit sila on the day of the exam. The causes of stress, if not prevented, may make or break the student’s chances of acing the exam,” Basuel said. — JDS, GMA News