5 ESSENTIAL TIPS IN TAKING THE PHILIPPINE PHARMACY BOARD EXAM

1. Enroll yourself in review centers but invest in self-learning

In the Philippines, we generally have two review centers: Manor and Brex. I, myself, considered enrolling to these two and I can say that this gave me a certain advantage. Why? I’ll tell you.

First, Manor Review Center is the more popular between the two. The signature advantage of Manor is that it offers lectures that are complex and whose content is somehow new for students like me. Heck, I even remember telling myself, “Bakit ngayon ko lang ito nalaman?” during the review. To be honest, na-overwhelm ako sa new information na tinuturo ng lecturers. Parang naging wake-up call ko na yun na “Hoy, paspasan mo na ang pag-aaral. Marami ka pang hindi nalalaman.”

Heck, I even remember telling myself, “Bakit ngayon ko lang ito nalaman?” during the review.

What I liked most about Manor is that kina-career nila ang pagrereview mula sa lecture papunta sa drills at mockboards. Mafefeel mo na talaga na actual board kung nag-mock kasi they really simulate the board exam — its structure, strictness, testmanship and rules. The questions they give out are very very difficult, I warn you. Also, they let the recent board exam takers and topnotchers make the exam therefore updated talaga ang trend of questions nila. The disadvantage is that they give out info and questions that are so complex and difficult that most of them do not come out in the board exam. Why? I’ll explain later.

Now let’s talk about Brex. The tight contender of Manor who is pretty much different in its approach to reviewing. Brex teaches simpler things and the basics and this is the very reason why I like Brex. Simple and practical to the point that the stuffs I learned from them are very useful in the actual board exam. In short, lumalabas talaga ang tinuturo nila. Disadvantage that most of us saw during the review is that they don’t put too much pressure on the students. They give out questions that are relatively super easy and sadly, their mock board exam is very far from that of the actual board when it comes to testmanship and implementation of rules.

Being a hybrid of the two, I gained the following points: (1) the fundamentals of pharmacy from Brex, the complexity of pharmacy from Manor. (2) the testmanship and structure of board exam from Manor and the useful mnemonics from Brex (3) the much needed pressure from Manor and the fun-while-learning from Brex. I got the best of both worlds kumbaga!

The best reviewer is yourself.

HOLD UP. But aside from those two, remember that the best reviewer is yourself. Ikaw ang nagpoprocess ng napag-aralan mo. At the end of the very long and tiring day of review, you have the responsible to recap the things you learned, to organize them and put them into deep thought and heartfelt learning. In short, self-review allows you to be unshakable during the preparation for board because you develop your own style of learning (like, visual learner ka ba o more on auditory?), you discover your strengths and weaknesses (do you ace pharmacology…or do you suck at Mod 1 which is basically the most important of all modules?), and you eventually arm yourself with the attitude of a board exam passer. (Di sumusuko at masipag mag-aral!)

2. Don’t stick with your notes. Research, research din!

I recalled the time that we’re reminded to see the latest news related to our field because that might come out in the board exam. During my time, EBOLA was one of the hottest medical issues and indeed, may lumabas na question about EBOLA asking for its symptoms. Heto ako, alam lang na naging endemic yun, so di ko alam basically ang sagot. HAHA! But because my strength is that I can effectively eliminate the wrong choices by just analyzing them, I got it right! :D

The Board will select some of these hot issues as potential questions in the licensure exam.

Sideline lang, I want you to try to list down the hottest medical issues today, for example, Zika Virus, or the new drug molecules. Try to learn one issue per day, two weeks before the board exam. More often, the board will select some of these hot issues as potential questions in the licensure exam.

Going back. Same with DENGVAXIA, a new vaccine for dengue. Nalaman ko nalang yung ganung vaccine during the exam and so, I don’t know a single thing about it. After ilang days ng exam, I came across the website MIMS.com and found out na nandoon lang pala sa latest news section ang tungkol sa DENGVAXIA! If only I read it earlier, I could have gotten the right answer.

Maliban sa MIMS, also check out Pharmacy Times, Sciencemag.org, and other medical sites.

3. Be creative as possible

Using witty mnemonics, story lines, green jokes and even hugot lines to remember your lessons is an effective way to recall stuffs even if you are faced with a mental block during the exam. I said this because out of all the things I memorized, 90% of these are noted using the aforementioned hacks. For example, my easiest way to remember the two main phases of metabolism is this: HOR-GASM. Phase I is HOR which stands for Hydrolysis, Oxidation and Reduction while Phase II is Glucoronidation and Glutathione conjugation, Acetylation, Sulfation and Methylation :D

Also, I have the acronyms “CoryneTe” (read as kuryente) to represent the non-spore forming group of gram + : CORYNEbacterium and LisTEria. Then “basi close” (in Hiligaynon, this means “maybe close”) to represent the spore-forming genus: BACillus and CLOStridium. Diba corny talaga? Pero natatandaan ko that way so yan ginamit ko. Hahaha!

Walang cheesy and corny pagdating sa pagrereview, kahit walang sense ang joke mo, pag nakakatulong ito sa’yo, then go lang nang go!

Another life hack to those who do not know how to shade letters properly kasi di uso yun sa school nila. (APIR!) What I did back then was I searched sa Google for test papers that are shading type, preferably with ABCDE choices and yung narrow rectangles ang shading area. I printed the template so that everytime I answer my reviewers, I use them to practice my stroke and pressure. (Kaway-kaway sa green-minded. LOL)

Know yourself!

Last advice, know yourself! List the modules that you consider as your strengths, and those that are your weaknesses then see to it that your strengths are mostly Mod 1, 3, 5 and 6 kasi ito yung may malalaking percentage. Determine if you are a visual learner or auditory ba, so that you know if you learn better with diagrams and drawings or by listening intently sa lecture.

4. Separate yourself from negativity…FOR YOUR SAKE!

Do you have a friend who is so lazy to study and always invites you to watch a movie instead? Or a fellow-examinee in your room who keeps on telling you, “wow, aral ka nang aral, tama na yan girl.”

You should find a better companion — someone who will motivate you or has the same enthusiasm as you.

Tell you what, you should find a better companion — someone who will motivate you or has the same enthusiasm as you when it comes to studying, someone who will not tell you to stop but push you beyond your limits, hindi yung parang insecure kasi nakikita ka niyang nagsisipag!

I have a friend who is currently under the same dilemma. She has friends in the same review center who, in my own viewpoint, deliberately tries to hurt her feelings as to distract her from studying. They would make her feel like they don’t want her around, or they want to bond exclusively, leaving her alone and feeling sorry. That constant negativity deters her from focusing on her studies.

minsan imbis mag-aral, nagchichismis kami ng barkada ko.

Now, in my case, hindi ako sumama sa barkada ko. I followed my mom’s advice na doon sa Cebu mag-review since I’ll be staying sa dorm ng twin sister ko. (yes, I have a twin!) Because of that, I get to decide everything on my own, I need not to consider kung may study buddy ba ko papuntang coffee shop plus hindi ako madidistract kasi minsan imbis mag-aral, nagchichismis kami ng barkada ko. Di naman tama na mas alam ko pa ang characteristics ng crushes nila kumpara sa characteristics ng virus diba? Aral bago landi ang rule dito!

please consider the nature of your actual board exam day

Advice ko pa, please consider the nature of your actual board exam day. 7am palang start na ang exam niyo. Meaning kung sa kaumagahan like 1 to 4am or gabi like 8pm to midnight ang working hours ng brain mo, lugi ka! Nag-eexam kayo tapos tulog pa utak mo, kaya train it to work during the exam hours: 7am to 5pm is my advice.

Bawal din na dependent ka sa coffee on your exam day. Train your body to function properly even without caffeine kasi pag nagkape ka on your exam plus kinabahan ka pa, baka atakehin ka sa puso o di ka na makapag-isip ng maayos nyan. Always consider the nature of your board exam so that you won’t get the shock of your life when it happens!

5. Strengthen your faith in God and in yourself.

Preparation for board exam is also a journey with God. Some people reading this post may be atheists but let’s just say that in general, a person in need calls for his/her Superior’s help.

I can still remember the advice that has struck me:

The best way to study is to start it with a prayer, asking Him to enlighten you as to which topics will likely come out in the board exam, to provide you with focus and clarity, and lastly, to enable you to glorify Him no matter what your results will be. Believe in your heart that if Heavenly Father wills it, then it shall be done. Nothing is impossible with Him. Amen?

You may not know everything but remember that the board exam is not created for geniuses — it was designed for all.

Lastly, believe in yourself. Do not belittle that brain of yours. You’ve been learning pharmacy for 4–5 years of your life, and plus, you have read this post! You may not know everything but remember that the board exam is not created for geniuses — it was designed for all pharmacy students that will soon become licensed pharmacists. YOU ARE ONE OF THEM.

Good luck and bless you!

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