Tips on Simulating Your Board Exam during Review

After what seemed like 48 years of not blogging informative stuff, I finally came out of this offline workaholic cave to give this new post as part of my board exam tips series. To see previous board exam tip posts, you can click on the related posts featured after this article or go to the Sitemap above and click on the tags labelled board exam. It is already the end of the first half of the year, and God knows where my board exam subscribers are by now. I hope and pray they are fine, wherever they are, and ehem, still open to learning more tips from yours truly. In this post, I invite you to take a trip down memory lane with me when I was still pining for the much coveted and occasionally Recto-faked PRC ID.

When I was reviewing for the board exam, I was completely immersed in the task. Obsessed may even be an understatement. Even my bedroom wall was full of posted reviewers:

One would think I’d be very confident after having read, viewed, and listened to all these tools. But when exam time came, I was still a nervous wreck and I even had LBM on the first day of my board exam. It was THAT bad. But then, I will be posting about that some other time. For now, I am going to give some tips on how you can recreate the board exam experience without having to take it twice or more. You can also check out my previous board exam tips, because I won’t be repeating the same tips I have already given in my previous posts.

What is the importance of simulating the board exam? It is a simple mind over matter thing, really. We humans are creatures of habit. If you are able to condition yourself to something, you become more easily attuned to it. And in a challenging exam with time pressure, you need all the conditioning you can get. I shall not dilly dally any further because word economy is a must these busy days. I will share how I simulated my board exam, and I hope I can help you simulate yours.

I am really a person who loves books. But even if I had that inclination, there was actually a point in my life I already hated looking at these two reviewing “Bibles” of geodetic engineering:

That image of the “true size and shape of the earth” that we geodetic engineers are supposed to be known for haunted me in my dreams and in the pockets of leisure time I forced myself to have then. Even on my self-imposed zero review day Sundays, I imagined the various astronomic coordinate systems during the Mass in San Roque Cathedral because they had this dome-like detail in the ceiling that is shaped like half of a sphere. One time, while I was aboard a jeep going to my rented room near UP Campus, I saw a building that had “Parole” inscribed in it. But because of excessive reading of legal property laws, I actually read that word as “Parcel”. I had to blink twice and look at it again after a minute to see the correct spelling.

Once you get into that type of review mode, it is a little hard to get out. But it’s okay. You can go the extra mile. Because what separates the ordinary passers from the extraordinary passers are the little extras that we have been discussing so far.

First, I found it most useful when I was answering sample problems and questions using a simulated answer sheet. I don’t know how you will do this, but mine looked something like this:

What did I know then? I knew that the exam was multiple choice, and we will be tasked to mark an X or shade the real answer sheet during the real board exam. So why spend time placing answers to multiple choice questions on a notebook or on the sides of the reviewers, as most students are prone to do? I did my very best to simulate the answer sheet by photocopying and binding a set of sheets. This idea was a superb tip given by Dhax Sensei, by the way.

For one, when you use a simulated answer sheet, you will find that your books will be free of ugly markings and you can be the kind senior who can lend the future review students some old materials once you pass the board exam. The other tools for answering must also be taken into consideration. If you will be using pencil during the board exam, use pencil for shading or crossing your simulated answer sheet. I knowwww, it may be hard to part ways with that cute pen that you are used to on ordinary days. But if you will be using pencil for the exam, start loving those pencils more until you get your license, at least.

Some of you may laugh at the absurdity of these suggestions. You might say: ang OA mo naman, Helen, talagang kinarir mo yung board exam mo. But you know what? When you are already in that air conditioned room and sweating profusely as you answer those board exam questions, the last thing you need is a lack of adjustment in using the Mongol No. 2 pencil or the lack of manual dexterity to shade the correct number corresponding to the item in the questionnaire. There may be right minus wrong portions and zero erasure policies that you might want to take seriously. And imagine the horrors of already answering half of the exam, only to realize around 30 minutes before the time that you missed shading a number and all the things you shaded were wrong. Horrors! Panic! These things can happen and they have happened to many others. Do not let yourself be another casualty or unnamed statistic hiding under the PRC’s record logs. It will be hard to tell your parents, your barangay captain, and your other supporters at home that you failed the exam because of technical problems like that.

Moreover, I economized in the use of scratch papers. When I answered sample problems on my simulated answer sheet book, I was also just using the back of the simulated paper for solutions.

And it has paid me well, not to mention allowed me to give some love to the environment. But then, you will still need some yellow notebooks and yellow notepads for notes, important terms, and concepts.

Another little thing that will help you simulate the actual board exam is to abide your problem solving sessions in line with the board exam’s actual schedule or time. (thanks again, Dhax sensei) What time is your board exam? If it is from 8am to 6pm, what the heck are you doing solving Math problems until 2am? Solve it from 8am to 6pm, and you will have heaps of advantage at having conditioned yourself so well. This is a tried and tested thing that has worked for me and my review buddies, who were also topnotchers.

In Review Innovations, the center where I reviewed last year, we students had a Pre-Board Examination that simulated the exam. But it only occurred once after the review sessions and before the refresher course. I did my very best to recreate the same experience over and over again in the comforts of my home, where I had to overcome supreme distractions (there will be a separate post on eliminating distractions next time!).

In two months’ time, there will be new topnotchers and new issued PRC ID’s in our field this year. It’s really a short-lived glory. The moment of achievement I had last October 2010 was fleeting, but it gave me enough encouragement to begin this series and empower other people as they get their licenses (photo credit for next image goes to Engr. Alan Alarcon):

On my end, I am merely taking the time (whatever is left of it) to pay all the tips forward as much as I possibly can. This is my way of showing real gratitude to the individuals who helped me top the board exam last year.

And personally, I nurture a soft spot for those who had to take the board exam again, because it need not be something that you have to go through over and over again. The pressure just multiplies each time you fail and there is greater need to mindset and manage the time and resources wisely to get that license.

I am hoping that this blog reaches through those who really need the tips to redeem themselves and get that license. And yes, don’t be selfish; share those tips to your fellow review buddies using the Share buttons below. Previous board exam passers who have additional ideas regarding simulating the board exam experience during review may also feel free to comment here and in my other board exam tip posts.

It was quite a moment in Manila Hotel’s sub-presidential table during our October 2010 oath taking:

(photo credit for this image goes to Engr. Alan Alarcon)

They said I looked like Lorna Tolentino in this shot. I was actually aiming for a, uhm, younger target market, but this will do. Hahaha!

Most of the things I did during my board exam review are available here in this blog. So you already have your college degree and these techniques to help you.

Bottom line: Goals can be within reach. If I was able to do it, so can you! 😀

A useful final quote: Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.

Much love from my PC to yours! 😉

Review Center Tips

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. 😉

I would like to apologize to the soon-to-be board exam takers who have been waiting for me to update my series of posts on board exam tips. It has been a while. I am really sorry. 🙁 Some things just… came up. Moving on to the present, I am posting here a new set of tips that will benefit those who are already preparing to enroll in review classes before their board exam. This just might aid you a little bit.

When I was reviewing for the Geodetic Engineering licensure examination, I enrolled in Review Innovations Center in Morayta:

Most of the review centers here in Manila are actually located in Morayta, so you will not have a hard time finding all of them. I leave you to find the exact location in Google Maps and I will instead focus on the tips that you may find most useful for your review.

1. Research. Go where the topnotchers of recent years went. When I say recent, I mean the last 3-5 years. Trends do change. Competition is fierce among review centers and their review styles do change and the owners of review centers either shape up or stagnate. This is what I did. R.I. is famous since schoolmates from previous batches recommended them to us. Ask the upperclassmen which review center is the best for your particular board exam.

2. If at all possible, get the topic schedule before classes begin. This is vital for your time management. I manage to get the topic schedule within the first week of our review classes and I used it as a basis for how I am going to manage my review time at home. The one advantage of enrolling in a review center is that you get to cover all the topics since they are all within the schedule.

3. Reserve early and get the best seats in the room. The best seats in a conventional classroom are illustrated in this colored grid. Red seats (first two front rows) indicate 100% retention, Pink seats come in closely with 80% and Blue seats are passable with 60%.

(I have read so many books on body language, seating psychology and whatnots that I actually forgot which book I got this from. Sorry. 🙁 )

During my review classes, I was at the center and front row. 😀 The other topnotchers were mostly on the first row, too. 😉 So do sweat the small stuff and get the best seats.

4. Socialize with your review center classmates. Synergy is power. Even Stephen Covey promotes that in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Sharing of reviewers and techniques abound when you socialize with people from other schools. There are some negatively competitive schools but just ignore them. Crab mentality is not really that conducive in such an endeavor. And yes, I have heard that some people managed to get some romantic interests at play as well.

5. Take advantage of early bird and group discounts. Some centers offer discounts when you enroll with 9 or 10 other people and done at least two months before the first day of review classes.

6. Check your foundations. Every course has a “Bible” or reference. How well do you know your course’s Bible? In my case, my foundations in some subjects were really lousy. My teachers in UP were good. But I was so lazy in some subjects in college. So I had to read our “Bible” twice from cover to cover before review classes started. That helped me get a head start. If you are a laude filled with straight A’s, you can go ahead to refining your solving speed since your foundations are already pretty strong.

7. Review and/or Refresher? Question. Some people enroll only in Review classes. Some people enroll only in the Refresher course. I enrolled on both because I like the discipline of the schedule and time. I also found long preparation to be very conducive and less stressful for me. But if you are working, strapped for cash or just wanting more time for self-review, choose the Refresher over the Review. The hidden goodies of review centers are often given during the Refresher course.

8. Topnotch Aiming tip: Do not just rely on what the review classes will be giving you. They are just supplements to what you are doing for your own personal preparations. Honestly, I think I got 40% from the RI classes and 60% from my own personal efforts. It is much nicer to come to the review class na nadaanan mo na yung topic from your personal study than have to familiarize yourself with it in the review class for the first time. If you can really go the extra mile, go through all the topics in the schedule even before the classes begin TWICE.

All my personal efforts aside, R.I. has done its job really well in preparing us. In our batch of geodetic engineering board exam takers, 10 out of the 10 topnotchers in our board exam were R.I. reviewees.

Seven out of ten were UP graduates, including yours truly, which made it also a successful year for our department then.

(We UP geodetic engineers are also hoping that UP board exam takers this year will also achieve the same or more this September 2011. But of course, I am leaving all my tips open to everyone else, regardless of school. ;-))

What else? Just one last: DON’T BE ABSENT! 😀

Good luck! More tips to come soon! 😉 Share the love!

Image credit goes to: http://www.civilengineeringcafe.co.cc/

Longer Nights

One of my most memorable review class sets in Review Innovations for the board exam is the lesson on Astronomy. Sighs *dreamy*. I did not memorize the constellations; we only needed the sun’s position to accurately depict the size and shape of the earth. Geodetic engineering has grown on me through and through. Although not enough for me to give up my skin to the merciless altar of extreme sun exposure. I am really an office girl; and an office girl I shall become starting tomorrow! Whee!

Nights are longer in November because of the movement of the sun’s position relative to the earth. During  March 21, we often have what we call the Summer Solstice. This is the position where the sun is relatively nearer to the earth more than ever. So there are longer days and shorter nights. On September 21-22, the Winter Solstice is what we experience, which means the sun is quite far from earth and as such, we have longer nights and shorter days.

I am about to launch into an explanation of the apparent sun and the mean sun, but that might just bore you. haha.

And to that very informative exposition on why there is a malamig na Pasko year in and year out, our  review teacher naughtily adds: “Hence, there are more people born in September and October.” In review, you forget the concepts, but you never forget the humor.

A certain Eric here has another explanation on why the nights are longer these days… LOL. Tyler seems to buy it. Lamebook is so funny in getting the worst Facebook posts. But I don’t like the “green” posts. This is an exception; pretty wholesome and harmless for me (and the ten-year-old readers of this site)…

alternative explanation for getting dark early...

LOL. REALLY! hahaha.