Blog Comeback: Chemist Board Licensure Examination

2015RESULTS

This is my first post this October and my first post after having an almost a month of posting silence in this blog as well.

Guess what? My dedication and hardwork for the past eight months has already yielded good fruits! I am now a Registered Chemist, joining the other 12,000+ Chemists in the Philippines!  Finally! However,  I dunno if how many of them were still alive. 😀 Maybe atleast half of them? Haha.

2015 Licensure Examination for Chemists

The licensure examination for Chemist held by PRC (Professional Regulation Commission) last September 15 & 16 in Manila was quite brain cells resource draining.

During the two day examination, I and my fellow examinees took the following subjects:

Inorganic Chemistry

Organic Chemistry

Analytical Chemistry

Physical Chemistry

We’re lucky that the subjects were still four, remembering the recently passed R.A. 10657 pertaining to the Chemistry Law. This republic act states the addition of a fifth subject, Biochemistry as a part of the examination. Based on the law, it should take effect immediately once the Board of Chemistry released a new syllabi of the licensure examination. It is expected that the last batch of takers that will only have four subjects on their exam is the 2016 batch. 2017 and later graduates will be required to take the fifth subject automatically.

Originally, Biochemistry is a part of the Organic Chemistry subject. The Board decided to separate Biochemistry from the latter since the discipline is expanding and current scientific researches and jobs, whether local and international, requires a deeper understanding of Biochemistry. This is also done for us to be able to cope in the ASEAN integration.

My Story

On my college days, the words “THE CARD” seemed to be always trending when the recognition day of our college comes. It is because those who were able to pass the chemist board licensure examination, thus already have the PRC License or “THE CARD”  share their experiences during the event. This is done in the hope of providing motivational and inspirational talks to those who were still on the battle of being a BS Chemistry graduate. Also, to retain students by engraving to their minds that there is a bright future with Chemistry. 😛 I can say, this course is one of the most indigenous, extinct and tough Bachelor’s degree to have. It is not because I am a BS Chem grad but because it really is.

I am not afraid nor ashamed to say that this is my second time to take the Chemist Licensure Examination. I am a proud repeater. I had taken the examination last year, 2014 but I am not able to pass it. I am about 5% behind to be able to pass. This rating, considering that it is not that far on the mark, convinced me that I can pass the exam with a proper review and focus. After recovering from the unhappy event, I planned to start working even without a license. But, many of my relatives (and my parents, too)  convinced me to give myself a chance. Thus, a second try. That time, I am torn apart between two companies (I will not be mentioning names) where I applied at. Both of them seemed to be ready to employ me. However, I did a mistake on choosing a company to work at. I declined the offer of the first company and opted to wait for the call of the second one to tell me when to start. Like what I had said, I made the wrong choice. The second company suddenly dropped my application in favor of a licensed applicant. This is quite absurd since I already did the final interview (and a series of interviews) and able to pass it. I am just waiting for a call when to start! Then what, all of those were thrown out of the blue. Given that, I did not continue to get or look for a job, despite of calls from some other companies. I promised to myself that I will have my license next year, and I will never be dropped again just because I don’t have THE CARD.  I took a break from studying and started to live the barrio life, helping my mother on raising our backyard animals. My life for almost three months revolved in feeding the animals, playing with my dogs, cleaning the house (and the whole yard) and sometimes, helping my cousin on clearing her backlog in her work in the office.

My Preparation

January to February. I prepared a review schedule for morning and evening during weekdays, allotting at least 4 hours a day for review. I started reading a General Chemistry book by Raymond Chang mid-January 2015 and able to finish most of the chapters. I had a hard time reading it nicely since it is only an electronic copy and puts heavy strain on the eyes. With that, I contacted my aunt and asked for help. She had given me funds to buy books for my review. I decided not to enroll on any review center this time and rather conduct a self-review. Most people will say that it will be very hard when you were just alone. But, I believe that I can do it myself since most of the time, I prefer to be alone. 😛 I am not that antisocial or something! (Ahm, Slightly? Haha.). So, honestly, it is really hard to get your focus on reviewing. Especially, if Facebook and other things you are interested at constantly teases you. What I did is I limit or set a time when WiFi access is usable. I mean, I am not able to access the internet on a certain time frame – putting limits on my own. I am still able to help my mother on household and barrio chores when I started reviewing.

March. On March, I decided to  go to Manila to purchase the books I need. When I went home, I can’t even literally handle the books I bought. It is that heavy. I contacted my father to meet me on the bus terminal to help me carry my things. I am able to have a book for each of the major subjects and other supplementary materials. I took about 12 books home. HAHA! I am not a nerd or something. I just wanted to have them. 😀 Then, I realize, I should have bought those when I am still at college. Nonetheless, they will be still very useful this time! Also, I borrowed two books from a college classmate who already passed the exam. I started reading a book in Biological Chemistry right after buying the books I had mentioned. I am eager to finish everything and was able to read the said book, word by word in two weeks. However, I feel like I am saturated with words from the book and ended up retaining a small amount of what I had read in my memory. It simply doesn’t work that way. I decided to watch Youtube videos and tutorials. I started watching the CrashCourse Chemistry and Biology series to regain the basic foundation of Chemistry as well as some of Biology. It seemed to work since I am a visual learner.

April to June. Later in April, while I am reading an Analytical Chemistry book by Skoog and West, I decided to make one my dreams into reality. It is to have my own domain and a blog. I started  blogging with wordpress as my stress reliever and my past time. (Read the story here). After experimenting with my first blog, I launched my personal blog and let my friends know about it. As you may guess, it is the blog where you are currently reading this post. Most of my time in May and June were consumed by learning the principles of blogging. Technically, I’ve been out of track on my review schedule. From time to time, to cover up the things I had missed, I read those supplementary books and learned that Chemistry is not that hard. It is how the principles were delivered, really. As a motivation, I started tracking my progress by using sticky notes on my laptop with my grade from the past year’s examination and the points I need for me to pass (and also to probably top the board, really. Haha).

July. When the month of July began, I am forced to revise my review schedule to cope of the loses I had from the past two months. I started to read a General Chem book again, a Canadian edition this time, followed by watching tutorial video series again in Youtube about many disciplines of Chemistry like a lecture series by Brainstorm and Khan Academy. Later on, focusing on watching a lecture series in Biochemistry by an Indian Professor, Prof. Dasgupta.  Her lecture is quite boring but very informative. I learned much more things from her than from my biochem professor during college. Honestly speaking, my foundation of biochemistry doesn’t really have a foundation since I do not have any firm knowledge to start with. Because of that, I got the lowest grade on the subject Organic Chemistry on my first take, because more than half of the exam is Biochemistry oriented. I am not able to finish her lecture but I gained most of the basic skills to know Biochemistry. Later on July, I am able to finish a Schaum’s Outline book of solved problems about Organic Chemistry.

August. It is one month to go before Board Examination but I still haven’t read about Physical Chemistry. However, most of the principles of PhyChem were mentioned in General and/or Inorganic Chemistry. I asked my mother to provide me more time for review. Thus, leaving the mentioned household and barrio chores to her. I started setting up a review den, transforming our dining table into a mini library. I gathered all the review materials from last year and piled all of them in place, then review the papers one by one. My review time has been doubled and sometimes almost tripled from the original 4 hour review per weekday but still have well good and sound, 8 hours or more of sleep. Also, this time, I even do reading on a Saturday. But still, from time to time, I never forgot to update my blog and had regular postings in it. It is a great provider of leisure and disaster as well, since I am forced to design/rebuild the blog again after having a problem with my webhosting provider. I am  able to finish an Organic Chemistry book by McMurry in August. After finishing the book, I started to answer practice exams like GRE Chemistry Model Tests. Unlike what was said in my former review center that GRE is not an ideal review piece, I can say that she was wrong since GRE really provides great help.

September. I used the first week of September on summarizing the things I learned and answering review questions. I am not able to read three books. Two of them were those I had borrowed. I believe it is not good to read new concepts in this crucial period. I barely did a review on the week before exams and just devoted the time visiting a church in the city (San Sebastian Cathedral) and one in San, Jose Tarlac (Servants of the Risen Christ – Monasterio De Tarlac). I and my mother already stayed in Manila in the house of one of my aunt two days before the exam.

My Experience

The program for examination was never released on time, just only about two days before the examination. Luckily, it is confirmed that the subjects were still four and not five. Yes! Room assignments were released 5 days before the exam and contrary to what  I expected (and the norm), that I will be taking the exam on Manuel L. Quezon University (MLQU) since I had taken it last year from La Consolacion, I am assigned to take the exam in a relatively new venue, Mary Chiles College. Other examinees will take the exam on St. Jude College, including one of my batchmates who will also take the exam again. I did not bother to check the venue myself this time since it is located near PRC and La Consolacion, it will be easy to find.

Examination Day 1.  I came almost late on first day because I waited for another colleague on the train terminal that yes, did not arrive on the time that we agreed to. However, the situation does not bother me since I am not the last one who entered the room. 😛 I am glad to know that the examination venue is way better that what I’d experienced in La Consolacion.  Seats are better and more comfortable compared before that it seemed like I am not counted on the number of examinees who will gonna take the exam in that room. As expected, examination started with Inorganic Chemistry. I am pretty confident that I got it despite of forgetting some principles. I was shocked to know that Organic Chemistry is less exhausting than what it should be – less Biochemistry principles than before. But, I am mad at myself because I changed many of my answers on the last minute, hoping that what I had replaced were the correct ones. Later on, I discovered that I lose more than 5 points for that silly move on this single subject alone.

Examination Day 2. I never expected the subject, Analytical Chemistry to be that hard. Maybe, I’ve been over confident on the subject since I passed the subject on my first take. Thank God I am able to get a passing grade from it (similar on my first take. :-P). Physical Chemistry was almost considered as a giveaway exam if it doesn’t contain huge chunks of quantum mechanics principles. Hell yeah. I did not study physics, and I do not want physics.

1 Day After. I and my mother decided to go home in the province just after my examination. Being somewhat drained, I put myself into sleep on that afternoon, right after doing chores in the house. I woke up on dinner time, now having a headache due to oversleeping. I am about to eat my dinner when I decided to check my tablet since I remembered I left it with the WiFi turned on. I almost had a palpitation when I started reading words like Congrats, Congratulations! on the preview screen. These were my friends sending PMs via Facebook! Congratulating me! I told my mom and dad almost instantly that I passed. They were shocked as well as very happy to know about it. My mother even told me that I should recheck it before we call our relatives. Haha. Just to make sure, I quickly navigated to the PRC website. And yes, the results of the examination was released in just after one day! Wow. That fast? Downloaded the list of passers and Yes! I am on number 69! I successfully and officially passed the licensure examination! I spent an hour sending replies to the persons congratulating me on Facebook, text messages and calls. I devoted this success to God. He’s the one who made it possible, together with the prayers of my friends, relatives and myself combined with hardwork.

After the happy moment, I remembered that I am having a headache and need to eat my dinner that is now as cold as a pig’s nose. 😛

2015-2

Right now, I am waiting for the Oath Taking Ceremony to be held on October 15, 2015 at Century Park Hotel, Malate, Manila. I will be an official Registered Chemist then since I only have my license number as of now. Haha. After that, let’s start the real world rolling!

Photo Credits: Integrated Chemists of the Philippines


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