Saturday, March 20, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions


Here are some of the questions that I frequently get asked in the comments page. Note that although I researched the answers the best I can, you should not, and cannot hold me against what I've written here. These things are merely to give you an idea of information that must always be verified with the proper bodies/organizations. So there, enough of the disclaimer. :)

What is NMAT?

The National Medical Admission Test (NMAT) is a mandatory exam for anyone who wants to study medicine in the Philippines. It is administered by the Center for Educational Measurement, and is held every April and December.

How do I apply and how much is the fee?

The application period is usually a month or so before the designated testing months. For Manila residents, you may apply at their office at 24th Floor Cityland Pasong Tamo Tower, 2210 Chino Roces Ave. Makati City (It is near Don Bosco Makati). For those outside Manila, CEM usually holds satellite application and testing centers in key areas within the country. Inquire from their office where you could take the exam. As of April 2009, total exam fee and practice set will amount to 1,500 pesos.

Is there a med school that does not require you to take this exam?

The NMAT is prerequisite mandated by law, so finding a med school that doesn't require this is almost nil. However, due to the decline of enrollees to medicine, some students can negotiate a 'to follow' NMAT result for their application (note that this only happens with SOME med schools, most of the reputable schools wont accept your application without your NMAT result). Even if you do get accepted without taking the NMAT, you would have to sign a sort of contract with CHED that you would take the exam before you graduate. So there, no escape out of this one.

Why do schools have a cut off score? What is the cut off score for this and that school?

Back in the day before Nursing was fashionable and business for med schools thrived, applicants had to compete for limited slots. Needless to say cut off scores were set to select the creme de la creme from 'multitides' of aspiring students. However, with the current topsy turvying of situation, where doctors are becoming nurses and medicine is exposed for the non lucrative profession it really is (that is for the workhorses of this field aka GPs), applications to med schools have trimmed down and have continued to dwindle. Thus cut off scores have also spiralled in response to the situation.

Each school sets its own cut off score. As to what these scores are, it would be best if you call the med schools you're interested in yourself. Most med schools adjust the bar every now and then, so it would be more accurate to check with them. UPCM sets the cut off at 90.

I'm not happy with my score, can I retake this exam?

You may retake the exam as many times as you like.

How is this exam scored anyway?

I'm not an expert on statistics and the intricacies of how this exam graded. However to put it in more understandable terms, I will attempt to explain it according to how I understand it.

The number on the exam result, which med schools and other people will really care about, is your percentile rank. Percentile rank is not how many answers you got correct, (that would be the raw score) but how you fared among all the people who took the exam for that certain period. For example, if you get 74, that means you belong to the upper 26 percent of those who took the exam, and 74 percent scored lower than you. If you get 98 out of 100 items correct, but everyone else got 99, your percentile rank would still be 1 percent.

I do think the scoring is kind of unfair, as you are not judged strictly by how well you answer but how smarter or not others are compared to you. There is a running notion that the December NMAT is valued more than the April exam, as it is deemed that smarter people opt to take the test later in the year. I think the reasoning is crap. There is no mandate that directs 'smart' examinees to take the December exam or vice versa. It would be more blunt to belive that a certain month is more attractive to a certain group. If one scores 90+, it is still a 90+, no matter when he/she took it.

Unless CEM releases a paper about this matter I would not be bound to believe this hollow notion.

I want to get a 90+, how do I review?
I have written much about reviewing for the NMAT. Click on the related links for such posts.

I think I have answered most of the questions. If you have further queries, post them as comments, and I will try to answer them the best I can.

Further Disclaimer: I am not in any way associated with CEM or any particular medical school.


  1. +angelica aubrey morla can you please tell me that is there any negative marking in the NMAT exam?

  2. +angelica aubrey morla can you please tell me that is there any negative marking in the NMAT exam?