On the Top of the Heap

As a young boy, Rob Jeremiah Gotengco Nuguid’s fascination with chemistry began by dabbling the rigors of an apprentice’s Alchemy, in his parent’s basement, mixing all sorts of things he could get hold of – water, palm oil, baby powder, petroleum jelly – well, you get the picture. So long before he even knew what chemistry is, he had known that he wanted to become a Chemist. Asking him now on what he wants to be, he stated that he would like to become a research scientist. However, he is still undecided as to which field of chemistry he would venture into because he loves every branch of Chemistry equally.

One moment, he’s got his eyes on…

Biochemistry.
(and 60 seconds later, a full-pledged Analytical Chemist)

Topping the chemist licensure exams, as he put it, is purely an offshoot of studying hard while having a tad fun along the way, and of course, prayers. Rob would take multiple-choice examinations after a hectic review each day. If he reached his target score, he would reward himself by watching a movie, slouching to watch a TV show or finish a chapter in the novel he was reading.

Devoutly attending novenas on Wednesdays to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Thursdays for St. Jude Thaddeus and Fridays for the Black Nazarene and Sunday masses that would not be missed kept his spiritual core calm.

Rob enrolled at an off-campus commercial review center in tandem with the in-house review offered at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. These review sessions gave a big boost to refresh his memory on basic concepts and helped him pinpoint the specific topics that need extra attention. For those aspiring to reach the top posts in the licensure exam, Rob suggests that you should design your own study regimen and timeline and set certain bounds critical to your review — which subject you should review first, how often you would review, etc. The following might be helpful:
• After graduation, take some time off to relax before facing the rigors of review. In my case, I declared the whole month of April as my rest month. I started reviewing in May.
• Start your review by mastering the basic concepts in General Chemistry to allow you to take on the more advanced topics. The next subject should be your Achilles’s heel (a.k.a., Physical Chemistry, in my case) so that you would have ample of time to learn its concepts before finally moving on to the advanced topics (e.g., harmonic oscillator, HSAB theory, etc.) as these may also be included in the exam.
• Read at least one textbook per subject and take notes. The rule of thumb is to use any book as long as you’re comfortable with it. Make sure that you understand all the things that you read.
• Try to solve numerical problems by directly inputting the data on your calculator instead of writing them first on a scratch — this is a great way to save time. Know every trick (e.g., the SHIFT-SOLVE method) that your calculator hides and use all of them to your advantage.
• Practice multiple-choice type questions. There is no clearer way to track your progress other than taking exams. There are many examinations available online. These are usually arranged by topic so you can immediately take an exam corresponding to the chapter that you’ve just studied. Additionally, you may also purchase practice exam books such as AP Chemistry, GRE Chemistry, GCSE Chemistry, etc. are available from Booksale at a discounted price. The board exam is in multiple-choice format so it’s best to practice with questions having the same format. I have compiled for your use some of the multiple-choice exams that I’ve answered online (Note: These links are case-sensitive):

General Chemistry: http://bit.ly/GENCHEM
Inorganic Chemistry: http://bit.ly/INORGCHEM (advanced)
Organic Chemistry: http://bit.ly/ORGCHEM
Biochemistry: http://bit.ly/BIOCHEM
Analytical Chemistry: http://bit.ly/ANALCHEM
Physical Chemistry: http://bit.ly/PHYSCHEM

• Relax and have fun. Sounds cliché but reviewing for the board exam really is stressful. You may even find yourself cramming during the final weeks before the actual exam (been there, done that). Celebrate every small victory (e.g., getting a perfect score on a chapter quiz) by rewarding yourself to do anything that you want — a movie or a trip to the mall perhaps — because these steps, however small, are not negligible and serve to indicate that you’re moving towards your goal.

And pray. After all, what can be impossible with Him?

“Taking the licensure exam is the pinnacle of undergraduate academic endeavors. Ergo, study hard and give everything that you can give because when you’ve done your best, you will feel fulfilled regardless of the results.”