photo courtesy of Resty

How Not to Be Amnesia Boy/Girl in a Major, Major Exam

This is a Glee-inspired “mash-up” article on My Amnesia Girl and the second board exam tip post. Believe it or not they are linked somehow, at least for my brain, which likes to make connections even out of the most unlikely things of life.

Because I had to go on overtime today for my baby manuscripts Peewee and Britzky Spears, I missed Nanay Blessie‘s invitation to meet up at MOA (sniffs!). But, but, but, I got to meet my two favorite buddies from the board exam, Engrs. Joseph Morales (Visayas State University) and Engr. Machele Felicen (UP Diliman). Those were hard earned titles and I give it to them by calling them the engineers that they are. I believe Joseph has become the Piolo Pascual of the construction industry; a male topnotcher in the engineering field is given that much opportunities here and abroad.

You can get a top slot as a lady engineer but they will not hire you that easily because when married you get pregnant and when single naman, you distract the construction workers or whatever. We have been faced with that reality in hard core engineering companies; it’s still a man’s world, really. I did not even try to apply to construction sites after the board exams. As if I’d want to. LOL. My skin is alabaster from the aircon, I am in love with words and I’m not giving that up, even for the adventure of going out of the office all the time.

The My Amnesia Girl movie is super memorable for me. I never expected it to be that good. I did not really know what the Post Its were for, but after watching the movie, that Post Its scene was one of the things that blew me away… I was encouraged to watch it after reading Mommy Dine’s post about it. The catchy scripts were a lot too tempting to miss, since I am a sucker for witty dialogues.

During the entire movie, the word AMNESIA was at the back of my head. And I remembered my bestfriend Fairy , who dreamt twice during review that she had amnesia during the board exam. It was so funny, because she was top 8, the complete opposite of what she dreamt. Here is my bestfriend Fairy:

But not everyone is as lucky. There are really people who go on mental blank and amnesia state in such a situation of duress. Let us try to avoid that, future board exam taker, passer and (if you follow my advice and devise your own effective ways) topnotcher!

Can I make a confession? I did not have amnesia during the board exam. But I had L.B.M. The worst wet, and wild type, at that. All my stress went to the toilet bowl. Every subject was punctuated with a trip to the bathroom (we had FIVE subjects, by the way). I lost around 5 pounds in two days. My classmates could not find me after each exam to chat or rant or whatever. I was just sh*tting in a nearby hotel CR, literally. Sosyal, right, hotel CR pa. But it’s still shit, and it was a major exam!

That. Was. H-I-D-E-O-U-S. I was dehydrated by the third exam of the first day. To think I prepared so hard for that exam. The jitters were that bad. I am telling you, the jitters of a board exam are never to be underestimated. It is best to go to battle prepared. There are people who like to BRAG that they are smart, did not get nervous, blah blah. That’s plain B.S., if you ask me.

Walang hindi kinabahan sa amin nun. Super mayabang lang talaga yung iba kaya ayaw umamin.

You will not earn it without hard work of some sort, if not during the review sessions, at least in the last 4 or 5 years of your college life you were trying so hard to make the grade and master everything. Or even in the last 2 weeks of the preparation, where you were not able to talk to anybody else because you are cramming everything in.

But we avoid cramming because it’s not dignified and it’s not kind to one’s body. It’s the worst harrassment you can possibly inflict on yourself: to cram your ass out, especially during the board exam. Some people find it effective, and I respect that. But my recommendation for long preparation is a tried and tested thing.

Give it your all. Do it right the first time. Baka mag-double or triple take ka pa, sayang naman yung oras mo. The chances of passing the exam diminish each time you fail it because it lowers your morale more and more.

Even with early planning, you still run the risk of being so nervous. Physical conditioning will have to come in last in our series of tips here. What I will discuss now is more important, if you are at the 6 months before or more stage of your preparation.

Let’s cut to the chase, how do we not have amnesia on an exam?

Dhax Sensei (see first series post on Dhax Sensei for backgrounder) has put the best tip succinctly:

Kulitin mo yung sarili mo dun sa concepts and formula

(if you have a Math-intensive exam like ours).

And if I may add: … kulitin hanggang halos isuka mo na yung concepts.

In a nutshell and in more dignified-sounding words: Formula, terms, concepts, strategies and other important things in the board exam field of study MUST, SHOULD, WILL be familiarized.

It’s not really the movie that is related to the post. It’s the two buddies I went to the movies with. I get a lot of WOW reactions when people find out I’m top two.

Well, WOW SOME MORE because Machele is our TOP 1! And Joseph did not do so bad, either: he was top 9!

And I shall use them as an example of how to apply this tip from Dhax Sensei.

Machele and I had sessions with Dhax Sensei, so we used the same style. The only difference was that Machele had 6 hours of sleep, and I had 8 to 9 each night. I kid you not! She studied A LOT! We had overnight sessions, just the two of us, and then I end up sleeping halfway through the Math problems. Machele will CONTINUE. We did not just solve during the review classes. We had our own additional resources. (And even when she was ninth and I was first in the pre-board exam, Fairy and I knew that she will get the top slot in that national exam because of these extra hours of making kulit herself with everything that needs to be mastered for the board exam.)

Math was one subject. But I answered three or four types of Math reviewer book on top of the ones they were giving in review classes. It all sounds so simple. But try solving calculus for an entire month. You will actually reach that point where you want to throw the books and forget about taking the exam! BUT CONTINUE! Kulit yourself to the point of brain death!

I firmly believe that this is what sets the dividing line between the passers and the topnotchers. The passers follow their feelings and only solve when they feel like it. They only aim to pass the exam, so the extra effort matters so little to them.

The top notchers are driven to top. They take a break and then get back to it as soon as possible.

Feelings did not matter for me, then. I had a calendar that says solve 50 problems in Math everyday. And spend the rest of the day dividing the four other subjects. In engineering, Math is the foundation. So we stick to the foundation.

I know not all readers are engineering board exam aspirants. There are concept-intensive subjects that you need to watch out for, too. Same principle applies. Go make kulit! Index cards with terms are useful when you are in the vehicle. Manila paper on walls containing the important terms. Read everything at least three to five times. The first time, to comprehend. The second time, to improve recall. The third time, to help you summarize. The fourth time, to help you memorize. The fifth time, to make it so much a part of you already that even without the book, you know it BY HEART.

In solving my Math problems daily, there were good days where I did 60 to 70. There were awful days I made only 30, and I cry in frustration. But what made it successful? I did it DAILY. Every frigging day, rain or shine. There was a point in time that some problems were just naturally embedded that during the actual board exam, I did not even have to solve those types of questions. I just had to look at the choices and I found the logical answer. That’s a golden time saver when you are having an exam under time pressure.

What did I do when I felt tempted to throw away the calendar of my review schedule? I have, on the other side of the bedroom wall, a giant sign. It was a letter to myself which I prepared so that I will read it when I am feeling down and discouraged and unable to solve or stick to my calendar:

Good day Topnotch Engineer Helen Mary S. Labao!

You can do this.

Go for the gold.

And I got… SILVER. hahaha. Not bad, eh?

It was just like the dental floss for Irene and Apollo in the movie My Amnesia Girl. It was the REMINDER of the things I envision myself to have even before I started the review. It was my peg that defined the mindset I cultivated the entire time. And many times during your review, you will feel so swamped, so lost and so confused kung ano ang uunahin mo.

I also wrote a bunch of sweet nothings on my bedroom wall to console myself from not having Internet for five months, from not being able to attend the parties, and from not even being able to watch all the movies I wanted to watch. From that bedroom wall of ambition and the backdrop of steady hard labor, it materialized. I had spiritual support too, but let’s save that for another time.

On the personal side, here’s a trivia about me:

(this portion only for those interested in me personally *wink*)

I cried twice in the movie. The first was when Irene (Toni Gonzaga) had to take pictures of an aged couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. And the second was when she was pouring out all her aches to Apollo (John Lloyd Cruz), the major cause of her pains.

They were such good actors, it reminded me of my own broken heart. And I cried in the bus all the way home. Boo!

So here’s one personal tip for a final kick:

Never watch a Tagalog love story like My Amnesia Girl when you just had a breakup.

But if you really have toooo, go get a lot of TISSUE! Sniff, sniff.

(I may have had my heart broken, but that can never break me for good.

Nietzsche: What does not kill me, makes me STRONGER.)

7 thoughts on “How Not to Be Amnesia Boy/Girl in a Major, Major Exam

  1. okei lang yun we have @helenmarylabao.com naman…hahaha!!! I don’t have FB narin sa office.. Sad to say I can’t switch my BB to its GPRS status.. I think naka on parin yung roaming nya kase naka GSM parin cya so up to now hindi pa ko naka BIS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *