HOW TO PASS THE ECE BOARD EXAM?
Starting in the Right Direction. The fact that you are now reading this article means you are ready to move on and face this new challenge in your life. Before starting your review, just look straightforward - stop regretting and blaming yourself for not being able to study hard enough in college (if you think you did not) and failing to acquire all the knowledge that you are suppose to learn upon graduating from your dear alma mater. From now on, you must be focusing on achieving these two important goals: to LEARN and to PASS the ECE Licensure Exam.
Amount of Time Needed
to Pass the Board Exam.
You might ask, "How much time is needed to pass the board exam"? Actually, you
just need 3 days to pass the exam - 1 day for the application (at PRC)
and 2 days to shade the correct answers for Mathematics, Electronics and
Communications exams. However, asking "How much time is needed in preparation
for taking the board exam" will make it a little bit harder to answer. Asking
some individuals who already passed the board will surely result to different
answers. But taking into consideration an average ECE graduate and with
the type of questions appearing in the board nowadays,
4 months* is an absolute minimum for someone who desires a 99.99%
probability of passing.
*[I will explain this 4 months review later.]
Probability of Passing. To give you an idea, you need to answer correctly 35 out of 50 multiple-choice questions in Mathematics and 70 out of 100 for Electronics and Communications. I can assure you that 4 serious months of review is enough to make an average graduate capable of answering 60% of the questions with confidence. And since each questions has 4 choices, by using all the knowledge you learned plus some techniques (such as elimination method), it is highly probable that you will be able to answer correctly 25% of the remaining questions (or 10% of the total to get 70%). As you may have noticed, using the laws of probability, by luck alone, anyone is capable of answering 25% of the remaining questions correctly.
Passing Without Reviewing. You may know someone who pass without or with very little preparation. Those individuals passed because of pure luck. They are lucky because most of the questions are based on the concepts which they have reviewed for a short period of time or they have learned in college. But by having a longer time to prepare will allow your chances of passing the board be more independent of luck and as you reach the 4 months ideal preparation time your chances of passing will be ideally independent of luck.
Why Take the Board Exam? Have you ever asked yourself why should we first pass the board exam before becoming a full-fledged Electronics and Communications Engineer? It is because not all students who graduated even in prestigious institutions are competent enough to handle the job of an ECE. Ask yourself now, "if I will take the board exam at this very moment, in which case the questions are based from the most basic concepts that a graduate of B.S. E.C.E should know, am I confident enough to say that I will pass the exam?"
Topping the Board. If you think you have studied hard enough in college, and have understood all the lessons from your major subjects, well, good for you - you may take this review as a chance to summarize what you have learned for the past 4 or 5 years. You also have a better chance of not just passing but also making it to the top. If instead, you think otherwise, this is the best opportunity to study what you failed to learn during your college days.
Review to Learn. During the course of your review, do not keep on asking yourself whether you will be able to pass the exam, but rather ask yourself this way: "with this review program I am taking right now, will I be able to LEARN all the BASIC concepts that a new ECE graduate must know, just before the day of the board exam?".
Be a Professional. If you really want to earn your license, you must first teach yourself on how to behave like a professional. Learn how to be PROFESSIONAL enough in facing your new challenge. Many of those who took the board exam fail because they consider studying and preparing for the board exam a burden for themselves. They did not realized that they have endured studying for more than 14 years; and reviewing for some more months should not be as hard as they think. All you need to do is to discipline yourself and study hard for the next 4 months. Always remember that if you really love your degree, LEARNING everything related to your profession will be a rewarding experience. You will see for yourself that PASSING the board exam is inevitable because it will just be a direct consequence of your hard work and dedication to learn.
Not Everyone Deserves to Pass the Board Exam. If at this point, you feel, you are not willing to study hard but instead base your chances of passing to pure luck and worse, from leakages (if there's any), then you deserve to fail the board exam! Because if you do pass, you will not help but instead be a burden to your future company and to the society. What you just want is to use your profession to find a job and earn money. Your not thinking of what you can provide to the company but rather what the company can provide to you. Well, it's not too late for you to change that attitude. If in college you are a lazy student and you have developed the habit of cheating then start changing for your own good and for the goodness of our society. I must add that preparing for the board exam is not purely mental; it includes social, physical, emotional and most importantly spiritual preparation.
Whom To Seek Help. During your review, you will be needing the help and support of your Review Center, your fellow reviewers & friends, and your family. Most reviewers never fail to seek the help of our Almighty Creator, which is of course, the most important thing to do. But you should also not forget to seek help from the individual who can help you the most - yourself. Believe in yourself. Believe that you can prepare & discipline yourself to become a competent licensed Electronics and Communications Engineer.
Choosing Your Review Center. If you believe in professional integrity and you really have the desire to learn, you should find a Review Center that will help you learn almost everything you need to become a competent ECE (although it is impossible to teach everything in detail). A good review center must have (1) a well-planned program (it includes systematic scheduling of topics to be discussed) and (2) instructors who are highly competent to discuss their assigned subjects and who are truly committed in helping the students pass the board exam.
I am not in the right position to discriminate against other review centers but I strongly suggest that you enroll in ACER (Asian Center for Engineering Review) and/or EXPERTS (EXcellence in Professional Engineering Review and Training Solutions). Among the best instructors for ECE are teaching in these centers: ACER: Engr. Perfecto Padilla, Engr. Alejandro Ballado, Jr., Engr. Arnold Paglinawan, Engr. Marloun Sejera, Engr. Glenn Avendaņo, Engr. Emma Ruth Tiong, Engr. Mercy Manila, Engr. Jenny dela Cruz, Engr. Yves Rilloraza; EXPERTS: Engr. Alex de Jesus, Engr. Elwood Avena, Engr. Edwin Gozun, Engr. Donald Bautista, Engr. Dindo Esplana, & Engr. JR Umipig. If you was lucky to be under these instructors during college, surely, you won't have any doubt about their competency, but would rather recognize their utmost abilities in their own fields of expertise. Just for your information, they all graduated from MAPUA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY.
All review centers provide two separate courses: the REVIEW COURSE and the REFRESHER COURSE. The Review Course is like an ordinary lecture class while the Refresher Course (which usually starts 2 months before the board) may include a Question & Answer type of discussion or it may be a whole day exam for the students.
Attending 2 Review Centers. What about attending two review centers for the Review Course? The advantages of having 2 centers are first, lessons are discussed twice and with 2 different approaches (from 2 diff. instructors) - it really aids retention and better understanding especially for difficult topics. Second, if one of the center unintentionally fails to include some lessons, the other one can make up for that. The disadvantages are lesser time to study on your own and higher tuition fees; but with proper time management and some financial aids from the centers, it is really advantageous two have 2 centers.
On the contrary, attending 2 centers for the Refresher Course is more of a disadvantage. During this period, you will need more time to study on your own. Nevertheless, I do know some persons who attended 2 refresher courses and pass the board.
Always remember that whichever review center(s) you choose, their effort in helping & guiding you in your review is just 30% - 40% of what is needed; you have to provide the remaining 60% - 70%.
THE 4 MONTHS REVIEW PROGRAM
You can see from the graph 5 different activities you will do in preparing for the Licensure Exam. Take note of the relative amount of time you should allot on average for each activity so that you can use your time efficiently and learn as much as possible.
The 4th and 3rd Months Before the Board Exam. Within the first 60 days of your 120 days review program, all you have to do is to READ books & reference materials, LISTEN to the discussions in your review center & PRACTICE solving computational problems in Math, Electronics and Communications.
1. READING. If in college you failed to develop the habit of reading books, then you better start reading now. The following list enumerates the basic reasons why it is important to read books:
1. Reading allows you to understand all the principles and concepts - from the most basic to the most complicated topics.
2. Finishing a book boosts up your self-confidence.
3. Even if you did not memorize all the objective type of information such as dates, definitions, enumerations, you have a better chance of recalling it just in case it is asked in the board exam.
Usually, instructors based the principles they teach from the books they have read. In just a matter of years, who knows, you could be one of them; so what hinders you from being able to learn by just reading on your own, as those instructors were able to do.
What to read. The following are my suggestions on how you can maximize your 4 months of review and learn as much as possible. It worked for me, but I don't think it will work for everybody; at least, you have an idea on how and where to start.
For MATH, you don't need to read books. But if there's some formula that you feel you need to know the concepts behind, and if you have more than 4 months before the board, then reading won't hurt you. What you must do is practice solving problems.
For ELECTRONICS, finishing first Grob's Basic Electronics gives you a good start. For the second book, choose one from Floyd, Boylestad or Malvino. Then read a book about vacuum tubes - Mehta is a good one. You must also read a very good reference that discusses motors, and it can be found at http://www.tpub.com (Module 5 - Motors & Generators). Finally, read some references about synchros, servos, & gyros; it can also be found in www.tpub.com (Module 15). These books/references covers 90% of what you must understand about electronics. The remaining 10% includes miscellaneous topics which the review center will provide you during discussions.
For COMMUNICATIONS, books written by Blake, Frenzel, Tomasi, Miller are just a few. I suggest that you start with the book by Blake because it is relatively easy to read and new (2002); you should finish reading it. Frenzel can help you understand basic am, fm and pm especially if you answer its end of chapter questions. It also provides a good discussion about modems, microwave tubes (magnetron, klystron, etc.) and microwave semiconductors (gunn diode, tunnel diode, etc). I suggest that you read topics in Frenzel which you did not find in Blake. Tomasi is very difficult to finish for a limited amount of time. I suggest that you skip chapters about AM, FM, Noise, Transmission Lines, Antenna and proceed to the chapters about Digital and Data Communications, Satellite and Mobile Communications. For this chapters, avoid wasting your time on different formulas because they can be found in most communication reviewers which you will soon use in your review. You must otherwise focus on important information such as dates, numbers, enumeration, definition, etc. Finally, read a reliable communications reviewer that summarizes most of the important formulas in communications: Communications Engineering Principles & Formulas by Ballado is suggested.
Allotted Time. You should read the suggested materials for 5-7 hours daily for the first 2 months. Expect that you will need to reduce this allotted time to 1-2 hours daily once you reached the 60 days review period.
2. LISTENING. If you plan to attend only one review center for the Review Course, you must attend every meeting, avoid coming late and do your best to listen attentively. There are times that you will feel sleepy and you can't control it, well, it's ok. As long as you understand the lesson for the day either by reading the modules on your own or by making an extra effort to read the specific topic from your books, you are on the right track. However, if you always feel sleepy, you have to do something about it. Take at least 8 hours of sleep the night before each review session.
If you plan to attend two review centers, avoid intentionally missing sessions from either review centers. Even if you think you know the lesson for those sessions, you could still possibly miss some important concepts that the instructor may include in the discussion.
Allotted Time. You will be listening to the discussion in you review center for an average of 12-20 hours per week for each review center.
3. PRACTICE SOLVING. In the board exam, Mathematics will be and should be the easiest subject. And for Electronics and Communications, the questions that require computations will be the easiest part of these exams.
There are 2 requirements to be able to solve problems that require computation: (1) you should know the correct formula to use, and (2) you should know how to use the formula. And the only way to memorize and learn how to use those formulas in Math, Elec and Comms is to let them become a part of your daily activities. Practice solving problems especially in Math and Comms, for about 2-3 hours daily. You must answer about 20-30 problems daily for the first 2 weeks then increasing it to about 50 problems. You must also plan where to get these problems so that you can cover all major topics. For Mathematics, ECE Board Exam Guide in Mathematics by Padilla is suggested. For Electronics, basic computations taught in the review center is more than enough. For Communications, the reviewer by Ballado mentioned above provides most of the basic types of problems. By doing this for the first 2 months of your review, you will be able to answer at least 2500 questions. Remember, practice makes perfect.
Allotted Time. You should allot 2-4 hours daily solving different types of problems for the first 2 months. Allotted time for familiarizing in different types of problems for the last 2 months should be reduced to 1-2 hours daily; however, this will become a part of the activity - Self-assessed Exams.
2 Months Before the Board Exam. 60 days before the board is the most critical period of the review. By this time, you should have finished reading books and have familiarized yourself with the different types of problems and formulas in Mathematics, Electronics and Communications. The Refresher Course, most probably, have just started at this point. You must have accomplished at this point the following:
For Math, you can answer the basic problems easily; and for the hard ones, you can solve it by just recalling the necessary formula and constants from your notes, or at the very least, understands how it is solved, step-by-step, while looking from some sample problems on your notes.
For Electronics, you can answer problems requiring basic equations easily; and for the hard ones, you know where from your notes/books you can find the necessary formulas to solve it. But more importantly, you must fully understand the basics of electronics - I'm pertaining to the WHY's and HOW's of electronics and not the WHAT's. For example, "How does an electron flow inside a BJT during normal operation?", then a follow-up question would be "Why does an electron flows that way?".
For Communications, you must know what and how formulas and constants are used in different types of problems. And like Electronics, you must understand the important principles and concepts, and at least, be able explain it to yourself. For example, "How does an electromagnetic wave propagates in different mediums and how does it differs from longitudinal waves such us a sound wave?".
The 60 Days Review Program. If you are at least 70% confident to say that you have achieved the above requirements prior to starting this remaining 60 days review program, then you can maximize the benefits of the following guidelines on how to spend the remaining days of your review.
In choosing the schedule for your refresher course, I suggest that you choose the weekend section (Sat & Sun) especially if you are far from your review center, so that you will have a longer time reviewing on your own.
Since at this point you already understand most of the basic principles (the answer to the WHY's and HOW's) in Electronics and Communications, and you at least know what and how formulas and constants are used in solving different types of problems in Math, Elecs and Comms, you just need one more step before you can confidently face the Licensure Exam - and that is to MEMORIZE.
4. MEMORIZE. Yes, for the remaining 60 days, the only task left to you is to memorize everything that could possibly help you on the day of the exam. There are 2 sets of information that you need to memorize: the first is a set of Question-Answer pairs and the second set includes all of the formulas, constants, definitions, tables, laws, standards, dates, and a lot more.
For the second set, here is my suggestion: For formulas, write all important formulas in a clean sheet of bond paper, one page:one topic. For example, one page of formulas related to Acoustics, 1 page for Solid Geometry, etc. Write only the formulas that you understand how it is used in a problem. As much as possible, avoid including formulas which could be easily derived from other formulas. Box each formula. But please, avoid the temptation to include all formulas you find in different reviewers. Include only the formulas you used in solving problems for the first 2 months of your review.
For constants, tables, standards, laws, just have a list of what pages of the books you can find these information. Or if possible, you may photocopy those pages. Don't waste your time rewriting all of them.
Allotted Time. The 60th day before the exam is the ideal time to create your own compilation of formulas. Why? Because at this point, you encountered most of the different types of problems, and you know which formulas are worth memorizing. Spend 1-2 days preparing this compilation. Also, for 1-2 hours daily, memorize tables, constants, laws, standards and some formulas.
5. SELF-ASSESSED EXAMS. The first set of information I mentioned, the Question-Answer pair, can only be memorized in the most effective way through self-conducted exams. I will later discuss how to conduct it in the most effective way.
Again, prior to this 60 days all you have to do is to UNDERSTAND all the Principles and Concepts and to STRENGTHEN your Analytical Skills in different types of Problems. However, at this point, you don't need to understand everything. This time, the situation will be: 'If this is the Question, what is the Correct Answer?' You should not waste time asking how come it happened that this is the correct answer to this particular question. If the Question-Answer pair comes from a reliable source, just accept it.
But don't bother yourself much about this scenario of memorizing answers for each particular questions. If you really studied hard for the first 2 months, most of the Question-Answer pair would be familiar to you. That's why it is important that you understood the basic principles in Electronics and Communications so you will not feel like memorizing answers for questions from Nursing or CPA Licensure Exams...
If you will read some users' comments from websites providing online-exams such as www.onlinereviewer.com, the users usually thank the website for really helping them pass the exam. In these websites, the user will be given a set of Question-Answer pairs from a database containing thousands of entries. It is really effective to memorize or at least familiarize to as many Question-Answer pairs as possible through online-exams. But aside from the cost, the main flaw in this set-up is that it is hard to encounter all the questions in the database especially those questions that the user has a little or no knowledge at all. Most of them generates the questions randomly, lacking the ability to EMPHASIZE ON QUESTION-ANSWER PAIRS THAT THE USER PERSONALLY NEEDS TO EXERT EXTRA ATTENTION TO. Each user is unique in his assessment on which Question-Answer pair is easy, average or difficult for him. However, with this proper approach to conducting self-assessed exams that I will suggest to you, I am sure you can memorize Question-Answer pairs in the most effective and time-efficient way.
Conducting Self-Assessed Exams. There are 2 key factors to be able to get the maximum benefit of conducting self-assessed exams: (1) reliable and updated sources of comprehensive and relevant Question-Answer pairs such as reviewers, end-of-chapter questions of various books, modules, and hand-outs & quizzes provided by your review center; and (2) a well-planned and systematic approach in dealing with this Q&A sources.
For the sources, some of the best reviewers are those written by Padilla for Math, by Asubar for Electronics and by Ballado for Communications. I am sure that your review center will provide the necessary materials for you. The problem is how to memorize or familiarize yourself to thousands of Question-Answer pairs in the shortest possible time - considering that you will also spend time practicing solving problems and memorizing the 2nd set of information I already mentioned.
Steps in Conducting Self-Assessed Exams:
1. Plan which reviewers and modules you will use. Remember that your ultimate goal is to memorize or at least to be familiar to as many Question-Answer pairs as possible, especially those which you lack or have a little knowledge of.
2. Plan when and how-frequent you will conduct your self-assessed exams. If you will attend the Sat&Sun Refresher course, you have 5 straight days to study. To give you an idea, to finish a 1000 Q-A pair reviewer having objective type of questions such as Electronics will require 10-20 hours. For a 1000 Q-A pair reviewer containing primarily of problem solving such as a MATH reviewer will require you 30-60 hours.
3. Prepare and print answer sheets. A computer-generated answer sheet will save your time. I have here the answer sheets I used in my own review. Answer Sheets.doc
4. Use a stopwatch. Answer the Exam in batches or sets. Record the duration of the time you answer each set. It is important for your own performance check, especially if you will answer an entire reviewer at least twice (I suggest that you do so). It is a great confidence-booster to know that you are able to answer the reviewer with greater accuracy and speed as you keep on repeating your exams. What about aiming to get at least 95% correct for a (100 questions - objective type - for 15-30 minutes) or a (50 questions - problem solving type - for 30-60 minutes) after answering it on your second try?
5. Classify the type of each Question-Answer Pair. While answering, take note on which of the following types the Q-A pair belongs:
· You are sure that you know the correct answer.
· You are sure that you know the correct answer, but after checking you realized your wrong.
· You are not sure but you feel you have a high probability of getting the correct answer.
· Through elimination and/or some hints from other related questions you can determine the correct answer.
· It is a problem solving type, and you can answer it correctly if you only recall the needed formulas and constants.
· You encountered similar questions in the past/previous exams, but you always forget or you always feel confused on which is the correct answer.
· The question is new to you; you don't have any idea.
Then using some marks (i.e. *,**,***,#,etc) at the side of the question no., you can easily review your exam later. What I did is that I did not mark the questions that I am sure of the correct answer, * for question I think I have a high chance of getting it correctly, ** for those with 50-50% chances, and *** for those that I completely guessed. I also group (using brackets) numbers with related questions (i.e. nos. 8-12 are questions about the different types of motors, etc.)
What's the benefit of doing this? First, if you get 60/100 and 50 of them are unmarked (meaning, you are sure that you know the correct answer), you can save your time and instead focus your attention on the remaining questions that you either guessed or are confused at.
6. List the Answers in a Clean Sheet of Paper. Would you agree if I claim that for most Q-A pairs, (after encountering it at least once), if you were given the correct answer you can easily recall its partner question, but not the other way around? For example, in Electronics, I give you 'Valence Shell' as an answer, what's the question? If you agree with me, then let's use this fact to our own advantage. How? For each reviewer, for each set, write the answers of those marked nos. in a clean sheet of bond paper. If you think it is necessary to add 1-2 words hint for some answers to aid you in recalling its associated question, do so.
7. Retake the exams. I suggest that you answer each reviewer twice, especially those sets where you get below 70%. You may repeat it 3 or more times but I think it would be a waste of time. The list you created in the previous step would be enough to aid you in memorizing the Q-A pairs.
8. Final Step. After you retake the exams, I am sure that you was able to reduce that reviewer containing thousands of questions to a set of 2-3 sheets of paper. Your task is to memorize the answers in these sheets and try to recall their associated questions in your mind. After doing so, you know you are confident to say that you can answer ALL of the questions from that particular reviewer.
ONE LAST TASK
Take the Board Exam with Confidence. For the 4th and 3rd Months you READ books, LISTEN attentively to the discussions in your review center, and from then on continuously PRACTICE SOLVING problems of different types. Starting the 60th day you MEMORIZED formulas, constants, laws, standards, and conducted SELF-ASSESSED EXAMS to be able to memorize thousands of Question-Answer pairs. To make sure you miss nothing, you reviewed those SHEETS of PAPER you created that contains formulas, answers to Q-A pairs, etc., 2-3 days before the day of the Exam. Aside from these Mental Preparation, you have also prepared your self Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually. Then you said to yourself: "with this preparation and with GOD's will, I am really afraid of the days to come... afraid of making it to the top, and delivering my speech in the Oath Taking Ceremony!"
Well, believe me, Nothing is impossible. But if you are reading this article months before the Licensure Exam, expect yourself to experience a higher level of self-discipline and perseverance. And I am sure you will have your own experience of FEAR - not because you think you will fail, but rather because you feel you have a very good chance of making it to the top. You will feel so excited to take the exam to see the positive results of your hardwork and dedication. Good luck and GOD Bless your review - future Engineer!