Lessons from Dhax Sensei

It’s already December. If you’re an aspiring geodetic engineer, the next board exam starts in around 10 months. I decided to start this series of posts on my website because I found so few online resources for people who are trying to prepare for their board exams. Sure, I saw a lot of how-to articles. But they were general and not really that tailored to the Philippine setting. Here begins a series of posts that I hope can help future board exam takers. Just find the tag board exam tips in my blog and you will be directed to them all when I’m done writing them.

I googled board exam tips when I was a reviewee. I only got board exam results and general techniques that helped me a little. Most of the things that really, really helped me top the board exam were gotten offline. Either the topnotchers do not like to share their secrets or probably they just no longer had time to write and pay the blessing forward. I hope that this is one good search engine result that will come out for aspiring board passers and topnotchers in the future.

The quest for reviewing for the board exam started when a guy named P.M. proposed to do a strategy for me (He prefers to be low profile and so we keep all his strategies low profile too. I will just share the stuff I can.). However, prior to him fixing things up for me that time, I was already on the lookout for board exam tips. One useful support system I found was the Pinoy Money Talk forum thread on Board Exam tips, started by yours truly.

Let’s talk about the memory work for a little. (more to come in succeeding posts) Many practicing engineers hate memorizing. And that’s the tough part of having to take the board exam: you have to memorize what you don’t like to memorize. I had Memory Power classes during college and some techniques taken from good old Google that helped me memorize the stuff I needed to memorize. Repetition is key. And more tangible techniques include these:

-Cartolina and Manila Papers all over the home walls with important terms and formula

-Attaching hard terms to the familiar stuff of my life (parts of my house turned into Republic Acts and Presidential Decree numbers and many others. I even memorized the 78 sections of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Act for a week! Harhar. I can still remember some of them now. Agh.)

-Index cards to flip when riding the jeepney, bus or any form or public transport

-Audio Feeds for your earphones (This strategy was not really mine, though. My bestfriend Fairy, who is our Top 8 and with me in the featured image of this post, did this. She would not share her sleep-inducing voice as she recited the laws on her recorder. Bwahahaha. I still wonder how she sounded. Hahahaha.)

One of the things that helped me achieve my goals is making it achievable. How did I do it? Aside from praying and studying hard, I talked to the people who did top the board exam.

Three key people worth noting are Engr. Daximillian Baldonado (top 1, 2004 GE exam), Engr. Magnolia Garcia (top 4, 2009 GE exam) and Engr. Anjillyn Mae Cruz (top 10, 2007 GE exam). I totally pestered Magi and Jill the whole review through text messaging for tips. I have to thank my three orgmates from UP GE Club for helping us achieve what we had last board exam.

This is Kuya Dhax…

Here’s Jill and Me in Nueva Ecija field work:

And the lovely Magnolia with my favorite picture of her: (sorry mags, grabbed your pic.) Kiko is her happy boyfriend. Sorry boys. haha.

And Kuya Dhax totally went beyond! He taught us. For the past 5 years, he has been mentoring GE Clubbers who will be taking the board exams. Most of them get good scores after having been helped by him. We call him Dhax Sensei, for he was our teacher. We had a good review center too (Review Innovations), but I will save that part for later articles.

On our first “session” with Kuya Dhax (that means me and my 4 other topnotch orgmates: Machele (top 1), Homer (top 3), Ed Carla (top 5) and Ruby Ann (top 10)), we did not solve yet. He just asked us to HAVE A VISION. Mindsetting was the most important thing. If you cannot visualize yourself achieving your license with flying colors, you will not be able to make it.

I had one very ambitious vision for our batch at that time: for UP GE graduates to take 10 out of the top 10 slots. And 100% passing at that.

Wanna know the actual result?

We were 100% passing and we got 7 out of 10 of the top slots.

That vision and mind-setting helped a lot. We were so excited to give it as a gift for UP College of Engineering’s centennial year, because we happen to be the college’s centennial graduates. Other topnotchers had their respective motivations. A strong motivation ensures you work so hard for it even when others are already getting lazy or behind the game.

I continued to feed my study buddies’ minds that we can achieve that 10 out of 10 feat. We got 70% of that goal. Aiming for the moon makes you land in the stars, still. It’s a bit fabulous already that we were one of the three schools who were 100% passing for that particular batch. It was a national exam with a 38.5% passing rate, so that’s pretty big for us already.

So that’s the first of the many steps to passing or topping the boards. You are as huge as you can imagine yourself to become. Have a vision. Have a whiff of your techniques. And soon, your road map for passing (even topnotching!) will emerge.

I believe that’s already quite a handful to digest for now. We still have a few months left.

There will be more tips on the coming days. :mrgreen:

20 thoughts on “Lessons from Dhax Sensei

  1. It was Marky’s idea.

    Sa mga magrereview.. Matulog at kumain kayo ng tama para hindi kayo sinusugod ng bestfriend nyo sa Infirmary.

  2. Mindsetting was the most important thing. If you cannot visualize yourself achieving your license with flying colors, you will not be able to make it.
    i love it..^^

  3. “there is no such thing as mental block when you are well prepared”…magshare kpa ng tips te para sa mga aspiring engrs…^^love ur site.mwah.thumbs up

  4. eh kasi naman, di nakain ng maayos kaya nasusugod sa ospital… mayy isa pang technique si top 8 kaya, ewan ko lang kung ishshare niya yun, kakaiba eh! hahahaha =)

    nice read ulit helen!

  5. hahaha!!!… parang alam ko din yun.

    Mag-event tuwing gabi. Maglasing sa araw ng Birthday after ng review.. Gimik every Fridat night!!!

    gumamit ng kakaibang mnemonics like punong nabuntis, bahay kubo, mrt stations, at iba’t ibang parte ng bahay.

  6. great entry! love reading the tips, very useful! I love the part about envisioning your passing, this is perfect and so right! heck, i’m even envisioning what to wear on oath-taking (too much I know)!

    things like this are really encouraging, inspiring and very helpful. Hope to read more!


  7. How did you pull that off? What are your struggles while reviewing? I’m having a hard time now to review. My board exam is 6 months from now.

    1. Hi Jinny! Kumusta? You’re 6 months away from your big day. What kind of board exam are you taking? I hope that this blog can help you with your board exam struggles. I think six months is a good time to prepare. Fulltime ka ba with your review or are you juggling with jobs? I posted some tips here in the board exam tips section (Just click the Board Exam Tips sa Navigation bar sa top ng website na to so you can see all my board exam tips.)

      I struggled with finding a quiet space to review at first. Nag-rent ako outside the house so I can quietly review because that works for me. Tapos I also struggled with information overload. Ang remedy for that is to just set aside Sunday as a day off. Strictly no reviewing on Sundays, and intense review from Monday to Saturday. For Math-related subjects, I practiced. Siguro I finished around 3-4 review books with mathematics questions. By the time I took my board exam, parang na-encounter ko na yung ibang questions and I no longer needed to solve to find the correct answer.

      Just read my other posts for more detailed tips din. Kaya naman yan. Just don’t let your nerves get the better of you Jinny. Good luck and I hope that you will successfully surmount your struggles. I can also email you if you have other questions or if you need someone to talk to about board exam jitters.

  8. Civil engineering board exam po. I have three subjects, math, geotech/hydraulics and structural engineering. Sa nov na po ang board exam. Full time po ang review ko. I have read your other posts in board exam tips. I had the same struggle so I followed some of your tips. 🙂 Paulit ulit qng binabasa ung tips so I’d feel motivated. And mga one month na po nagstart ang review, and I was trying so hard to absorb everything na tinuturo s review center. but before that, I had two months of self review for my comprehensive exam. Bale, ang gnagawa q lng po is kada turo ng topic sa RI is solve lang ng solve ng problems. I don’t know kung ilang problems ang nasosolve q sa isang araw (is it really helpful to set a daily goal like solve 50 problems even if you don’t feel like doing it? Hehe) and then I tried to solve problems of the same topic after ilang days kasi andali ko pong makalimot eh and I really hate memorizing. (Right now, I’m still wondering why I’m in engineering. Hehe.)

    1. Hi Jinny! Nung bata pa ako, I saw the benefit of practicing kahit wala sa mood. I took Kumon classes and they sent me the same amount of homework even during Sundays and my birthday. My grade in math in high school went from 86 to 95 gawa nung Kumon practice na yun. The main premise is that you need to practice to make perfect. When I was reviewing for the board, I used the same principle. I targeted 50 math problems per day. It was a very good exercise. I hardly used scratch paper during the actual board exam because I encountered the problem na during my review and then alam ko na yung sagot just by looking at the choices. That’s what practice allows you to do kasi especially if kumpleto ang tulog mo while you do it. I had 8 hours of sleep every single day and treated Sundays as a sacred rest day. Sinadya ko talaga na mag-review ng 9 months in advance at iniwan ko yung mga jobs ko para makapag-focus sa review. Kasi ayokong mag-take two; I really made sure na nakatutok ako dun sa nirereview ko para hindi ako mag-retake ng board exam. Haha apir sa wondering why we took up engineering. Even I continue to have those doubts at this day. Pero if I may suggest, do not nurse these doubts during your review. You need to be wholly convinced that you are aiming for this license. You can doubt your choice again after oath taking, hahahaha.

      I actually ended up doing something else after all the work I did for my board exam. Pero I still see a lot of geodetic engineers na nakasabay ko sa school or sa review and they are doing great after we got our licenses. I am glad that the board exam tips are helping you. I think na you also need to stay or hang out with people who are a source of good energy. It’s quite easy to find negative people kasi during your review and it’s also dragging you down. Find people na positive tsaka hindi sobrang kabado. Just keep calm and review as much as you can without burning out. I was also lucky kasi i had my bestfriends who are super positive and as determined to top the board exam and we did it together.

      Basically, I did three rounds sa entire exam coverage: one round during the formal review classes, one round during the refresher course after the formal review classes, and one additional round from my own self-study efforts when I am not in RI. That makes for three. If you have to do a fourth or a fifth, that’s great. Another technique is to make sure na your grades in each subject are EVENLY distributed. Review each subject equally or kung may weak spot ka, tutukan mo pero wag mong pabayaan yung ibang subjects mo. Ako, during our batch sa board exam, I was not the highest in the Math subject. Pero pinantay ko yung average ko for the five segments. Halos magkakadikit yung score ko na pantay na medyo mataas kaya nag-second place ako. Kasi I saw someone na super taas ng Math tapos bumagsak sa Law, then na-conditional status pa siya at nag-retake pa the following year. Sayang talaga yun.

      I hope these tips help. It’s been a really long time since I took my board exam (2010), but I am really happy that the posts continue to help people like you. <3 Good luck ha, Jinny. It's a good call you decided to review fulltime, it's really less stress for you sa long term. And stay positive!

  9. Hi Miss Helen! I am so grateful that I landed on your blog and followed some of your board exam tips! I may not be a topnotcher like you are but at least I passed the board exam for civil engineers. Haha. Establishing a good habit of studying during review days is really a must. Thank you! Thank you po talaga, Miss Helen! ??

    1. Hi Jinny. I am so happy for you. Honestly, it’s so humbling to keep reading comments like this, 7 years after I posted that series. Congratulations and I hope you find fulfillment in your engineering journey. 🙂

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