Exam Preparations Revisited: Nursing Board Exam as a Springboard for Compre
Since 1978 to this writing (2017), I have been taking tests and examinations in various formal educational setting. So tests and examinations are like other folkways to me. They are like choosing the best clothes to wear as casual wear or as Sunday’s best. But, there are really big time events, like my wedding, which preparations for the clothes take weeks. And, such clothes are worn only in few hours. Such is the case of a board exam and comprehensive exam!
In March 2009, I graduated from my third course, Bachelor of Science in Nursing at a Seventh Day Adventist health school. This was when my youngest child of three was age 2 years and 3 months. I started the nursing course when my second child was 11 months old. I could say that this student life was intertwined with motherhood and work. Motherhood revolved around a 2 year old, breastfeeding a second child, a pregnancy of third child, another breastfeeding of the third child. Work demands involved commuting from my residence to another city (Marawi City) every day. And, student schedule is everyday after work. This has to be the most complex of all situations I’ve ever been. As in.
And, for the first time there was a board exam I need to pass! I really felt at that time that I do not need a review center to review me. I felt it in my heart that I knew best how to review myself. I believe I am old enough to adhere to my schedule. While a review center’s schedule may not fit my needs. And, it would a waste of my time. I did not have much time. I have already applied for the June 6 and 7 exam dates. The next exam would be by December. Between the two schedules, my heart and mind tell me to grab the June schedule. I have funny but logical reasons. For June exam, I have every reason to fail. Time to review is too short, only from April to May. And, the more if do not review properly in a review center. Just self-review is a ridiculous idea to some. So if I pass, it’s a wondrous outcome! For December exam, I have every reason to pass! So I would have a long review period from April to November. My mind was telling me, should I fail, I definitely cannot accept it. I would be in a fit of a depression, I guess. So, I embarked on the risky, short route.
Because I’ve helped my sister in the final phase of her master’s thesis in April, I’ve started my self review on the third week of April. By then, my husband decided to bring all the three children and himself to his mother’s place. They vacated our home for my solo use. His idea actually, which turned out to be so helpful for me. My sister advised me to enrol in a final coaching review for a week to boast my confidence. So I did enrol myself to a final coaching in another city, in the last week of May. So, I have two weeks in April and three weeks in May. I have a total of 5 weeks before the final coaching.
I gathered all my notes, photocopies, exam papers, case presentations, and few books. Half of the week, I grouped my materials into test subject categories. I have arranged the test subjects according to degree of difficulty for me. I allocated one full week and a half for Psychiatric Nursing alone. That was how I believed I was weak in this area. The third week, I tackled Community Health Nursing and Fundamentals of Nursing. The fourth week was for Medical-Surgical Nursing and Maternal and Child Health. The fifth and last week, I retook all tests i have taken.
I made and printed answer sheets. Every day I practice answering a test with a timer. I checked my answers and learn from my mistakes. I downloaded practice tests from those generous individuals who share their materials online. I answered compilations of past board exam questions sold by review centers. Those were what I used. The answer keys provide rationale. There were entries though, which appear unbelievable. So I consult the books on those instances. I stood by the books’ explanations. I did not allow my mind to wander away from what the books said. I heard many failures in board exams are due to over-analysis. That the board exam is book-based, I should not make up stories and own reasoning.
I woke up at six in the morning, bathe, in comfortable clothes, cook and eat simple but nutritious meal, and begin the review. Mealtimes were break times for me when I turned on the television to obtain updates of contemporary issues. Then I turned off the TV and continue the afternoon review. I took short nap of 30 minutes at 3 or 4 in the afternoon, more to stretch my body on the bed for better circulation. Then dinner time is another break and short TV. I only spent about 30 to 45 minutes on mealtime. Then the evening review continued. It was a must that I sleep by 11 in the evening. In all of these daily routine, I never forget to open and close the day in prayer. This came with a song and scripture reading. I spent about 15 minutes on prayer.
While in CDO for the final coaching, I stayed with my ninang’s family. The daily schedule was from 8am to 5pm. In the evenings, I did not anymore do any review. I just spend time chatting with the people around. I look at my online mails and read online nursing related stories. After the 5-day final coaching, I had a week’s break and went back to my family. That week, I just browsed notes from final coaching. I have started to cool myself down, to relax my mind and let everything sink in. I have done my part, everything else was up to God’s plans for me. That was what I’ve set my heart and mind.
And, God rewarded all my efforts! I passed the board exam! Though I’ve every reason to fail based on circumstances, yes. But, I did all that it takes to pass! I have not left any table unturned, no notes untouched. Most of all, I never doubted myself, not a bit. I knew that i would pass the exams based on how I’ve managed to finish the course in such complex situation.
Why I remember all these?
Because, another major exam is looming before me. A Goliath I have to slay, by God’s grace. In July, I will be taking a Comprehensive Exam for a doctorate degree. A doctorate in the field of Sociology, my first original field of study. The board exam experience gives me a good backdrop for my preparations for the compre exam. I now know what I need to do. I need two weeks of secluded review. No distractions. My family, with my three children bigger now, age 10-12-14 years old and my sister, we all were able to come up with the appropriate set-up for me. Again, I need to do my part, and God will do the rest.
In Jesus’ name.