Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Studying tips for the Board exam [part 2]

FIRST, before all the tips, you need a mental adjustment. DECLARE that you will work hard, and that you will PASS. There's no space for even a bit of negativity here. I know someone who kept on saying that 'Boys are smarter than girls, but girls are just a lot more focused on studying'. It pissed me off because I did not agree, boys and girls start with the same brain, it depends on effort and not gender. She did not pass, I don't want to blame her exam result on this wrong belief, but YOU DON'T NEED THE EXTRA BAGGAGE OF THESE ASSUMPTIONS IN YOUR HEAD, they will not help you pass the exam. You need a sharp, single-minded focus, a vow to yourself that you will do your best.

I talked to someone in CPU handling the board exam reviews for the different courses such as Engineering, Accountancy, and Nursing, and she said that the students who have been in the top 10 for their board exams already believed and visualized that they would be successful in the exam. They always imagined their names of the passers' list, walking among the top 10 in the oath taking ceremonies. I myself do this and it was effective. It isn't being ilusyonada, but filling your mind with positive images about passing will also boost your motivation to study hard. But don't expect to pass if you only pray or visualize without proper studying! Passing entails hard work and not magic.

Correct studying involves understanding and not mere memorizing. I also know someone who wasn't so confident in her ability to understand so she memorized instead. Bad move! If you truly understand, memorizing will be easier. Understanding takes more effort but it is more effective.
But also, don't take it too seriously that you will be so hurt or kill yourself if you don't pass! Envision it, but don't get too attached to that. Pray, but also be realistic about your abilities. But if you know you prepared well and studied hard, you're halfway to passing. And if you don't succeed this time, there's always another chance and it isn't the end of the world or your dreams. Lots of people passed the second time.

If your parents are willing to support you, then I suggest going to a full-time review, or if you can't, take a leave from work for at least two weeks for focused study (depends on your skills, I had a year of focused reviewing while volunteering in various libraries). If you are attending a formal review, such as UP-SLIS, make the most of the materials. But keep in mind that attending a review class will not guarantee your passing if you don't have your own effort.

The formula for passing is pretty simple: read the basics of each subject, research on new trends, and the most important is taking practice exams. Memorizing and understanding is not enough, you must be adept in taking tests. You must have good reading comprehension, a good grasp of context clues, and be able to pick the right choice among A, B, C, and D. Sometimes you may not have an idea about the question, but some detective-work in analyzing the choices will help you make an intelligent guess on the right choice.

Don't just read your past lessons, but balance it with answering practice exams. It isn't only about mastering the topics but knowing how to take tests. I answered lots of practice exams until I was scoring about 90-100% in them.

I suggest that you study and focus, the earlier the better, so you can relax for the final days leading to the exam. If you know that you already did your best in studying, there is no need to cram. Cramming often worsens the pressure, it doesn't help. As long as you covered and mastered the basics of the subjects, then you are safe. But study all subjects with equal dedication. I know someone who got a grade of 74.85% when the passing grade is 75%, due to a low score on one subject! Imagine how frustrating that 0.15% must be! So one must try her best to  excel in all subjects during the exam.

Now, I will go about the actual days of the exam. I'm not here to tell you about the PRC requirements, that's your job to find out (and because I also forgot and I am too lazy to list them down here because they might change anyway, ask PRC). Check the location and room assignment, usually posted on the PRC website a few days before the exam. Make sure you bring all the requirements and be on the exam site before 6:30 AM. If you're taking the exam in Manila, take into account the traffic so you must be there a lot earlier.

Things to bring
You need a good pencil (Mongol #2) and a good eraser. I recommend using a white Steadtler eraser, preferably buy a new, clean one. This exam is a 'war' and you need the proper weapons - sharp pencils, and a good eraser. Though be very careful about shading answers, be sure that before you shade that it is your final answer. Only use the eraser sparingly and when it is really needed. Don't shade the tiny boxes too darkly that you might pierce the paper, and don't be so energetic in erasing either, because you might erase the print! Be very careful about handling the answer sheet, if you handled it wrong and it would be rejected by the machine checking the answers, then goodbye to all your effort if you don't pass because of these details! Remember that this is as important as reviewing.

I got these tips from this post by the Architecture board topnotcher. These worked for me, and these are only suggestions but it is helpful to have a systematic way to answer the test, especially for the multiple-choice type test (which is actually fortunate, the answer is already there, you just have to choose wisely!).

On the actual test
Keep your answer sheet clean, I suggest that you answer on the questionnaire first before transferring your final answers to the answer sheet. In the test, after answering, checking, and rechecking; I allotted the last 40 minutes of each exam session for final checking and reviewing and shading my final answers (you may take longer, depends on the difficulty and your reading speed).
  1. FIRST, scan the test paper from beginning to end. Speed-read through the questions. Since you have read and studied a lot during your review and your brain has loads of information, reading the whole test ahead prompts your brain to remember and focus only on the topics of the questions. Answer all the easy questions that you already know the answer of.
  1. Use the questionnaire as your thinking pad. You are not allowed to make unnecessary marks on the answer sheets but you are free to write on the questionnaires. Write your notes and whatever mnemonics that can help you remember. I had a system for classifying answers, according to whether I was sure or not (you can use other symbols, depends on your preference)
  • Star - answers I was very sure of.
  • Square - answers I am 25-50% sure.
  • Circle - Questions I didn't know anything about and I'm only answering using an educated guess.
These helps me see the answers that I need get back to. So I spent more time analyzing the questions I marked with a circle and a square. These can also help me estimate my grade and have a guess if I have a good chance of passing the subject or not.

It helps to pray before, during, and after the exam. I remember that even if I was already shading my final answers, I kept on praying inside, that Lord, please let this be correct, help me pass and top this exam!

Final and obvious tip: USE ALL THE TIME YOU ARE GIVEN. There are two hours for every subject and USE THAT TIME TO THE LAST SECOND. Don't be intimidated by those who are passing the papers early. Be thorough in reviewing your answers before passing the paper.

After the exam
Relax. Don't stress over things that you can't do anything about anymore. Plan a date with yourself, refresh, and keep the exam out of your mind until the exam results go out. If you pass, congrats! If you don't, keep going. But remember, the exam is not everything. It is the challenge you must pass, but there is still so much work ahead. Don't stop studying or learning about the profession you chose.

God bless, and work hard!

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