To become a civil engineering topnotcher, do you really need 10 review centers?
I Enrolled in 10 Review Centers to be a Civil Engineering Topnotcher
So you want to ace that board exam and become a civil engineering topnotcher?
Many students who want to be a civil engineering topnotcher often ask themselves “how many weeks do I need to prepare for the licensure exam?”
I think the right question is “how many review centers should you take to nail that exam?”
In our lengthy and extensive Q&A interview with Engr. Daniel James Molina (DJ Molina), we found out 3 key ingredients to become a civil engineering topnotcher – Preparation, Prayers, and Perseverance (3Ps).
No matter what the odds are, you must persevere. Prepare for the worst. Pray a lot! Just like Capt. America said, “whatever it takes!”
DJ is a civil engineering topnotcher from St. Louis College, San Fernando. He took the 4th spot with a 91.85% rating.
Here’s part 1 of our full interview with DJ Molina, civil engineering topnotcher.
Civil Engineering is a complex program since it comprises subdisciplines that are not much directly related to each other but must coexist.
Yes, several topics are applied in many different subdisciplines of Civil Engineering. Still, the applications in the field will make the two fields a bit separated from each other.
It is complex because the topics are really spread out. From the drowning concepts of hydraulic engineering to the mind-cracking design provisions in structural engineering and many other concepts that are a bit far from each other like Engineering economy, environmental engineering, management engineering (as you may notice, there are almost 0 topics that are common to these subjects lol).
In my own understanding, self-review is a good thing since the only person who knows your strengths and weaknesses in review is yourself, and you will be able to give more time to review your weak topics. Still, there will be problems along the way:
Review centers are the ones that will guide you on what to study, how to study, and other tips along the way. They are also the ones who will help you recall all the topics that you have learned in college. Furthermore, the topics that you need to learn from scratch, which is also required for the board exam.
They are also the ones who will give you problem sets for you to simulate yourself taking the exam.
Likewise, enrolling in a review center, whether it is face-to-face or online, you will be able to meet people that have the same situation as you do: a reviewee who needs to absorb almost five years’ worth of learning for nearly 6 months just to take a 2-day, 100-item exam.
As I have observed, all essential topics in the board exams were all covered by the review centers I enrolled in. They also offer Review and Refresher programs, evaluation exams, preboard exams.
Since the concepts in all topics are all the same, the difference will be determined on the following factors (DJ version): Mastery of lecturers in the topics, the presentation of different possible approaches, additional topics (which can still be asked during the board exam but can only pop up rarely), the scheduling of topics, the mock exams they give, and how the review centers treat and inspire reviewees to study more for the board exam.
Major factors are:
First is by subject: 2 months Math- Surveying- Transportation Engineering, 2months for Hydraulics and Geotechnical Engineering, two months for Structural Engineering and construction.
The second type is Progressive. All parts (MSTE, HGE, SEC) will be taught simultaneously but progressively (from fundamental to advanced). For me, any of the two types are okay.
Minor Factors are:
Please give us 10 tips on studying so civil engineering students may follow your lead.
I admit I slacked off a bit when I was in college. I was lazy in scheduling the tasks (but still tried to finish those on time).
I was also sluggish in reviewing for significant exams. I only reviewed those that I really do not know or those I do not have any mastery of yet.
But based on those mistakes that I had during my college days when it comes to studying habits, here are some that I can share.
Create your own schedule of reviewing & doing any tasks. Ensure that you follow it. It is good to schedule your whole week during Sundays so that you will have a guide when the tiring week comes.
Use most of your vacant periods to do your requirements so that the remaining vacant time you have will be the time for rest before the next subject or before you do another task.
This one I should’ve done during my college days since I was really that bad at managing my time, especially my vacant times.
I’m not quite sure if this applies to your schools but in our school, you can go there as early as 6 am and stay until as late as 9 am (pre-pandemic).
Thus, I really suggest that all requirements, especially group requirements, are done in school until the school guards will escort you to go out of the school premises (hahaha). I was then having rest when you get home.
When I was in my 5th year, I realized this during the deadline for the Feasibility Study final manuscripts. I saw that my group had done about half of the job when we shifted to this scheme instead of scheduling overnights in someone’s home.
Try to study more of the topics they teach beyond what is being taught in the classroom.
The internet is a vast space where you can find lots and lots of references. I had seen different approaches to solving problems when I started to read online materials and hard copies of Civil Engineering books.
I have also seen some topics that are not usually covered in school.
At first, I thought it would not be worth it since when I share those topics, I learned with my classmates, some of them do not appreciate, or some of them refuses to listen to me since it is an approach/topic/ technique which is different from our teachers hence, deemed not helpful.
But when the board exam review came, there I realized that it was effective since I only had a few topics to learn instead of many (since I was already familiar with some topics in the board exam that were not taught in school)
There you will get used to time pressure variety of civil engineering topics. I had the chance to meet amazing people in different quiz contests.
I learned a lot from them since, even though we are competitors, we share ideas with each other, thus gaining more techniques and more “diskarte” in solving (since time pressure).
There is no single study habit/routine that applies to all students. It will help if you look for that routine that suits you perfectly.
In my case, I really used Trial-and-error to choose which study routine worked for me the best.
This is also called the Pareto Principle. You must identify the vital 20% of a whole covering 80% of the whole. For example, to master differential calculus, you need not memorize 100% of all the formulas and concepts. You just have to learn the formulas/derivations/general concepts (which comprise 20% of the whole), making you understand the other 80%.
+ represents additional info from asking the people that will help you. Ask those who are engineers already, ask your instructors about things you do not understand, and ask your fellow classmates who already understood the topic.
( – ) represents the sharing of ideas with other people. Teaching your classmates the topics they do not understand will also help you understand more of the topics
= represents sharing ideas with people who have the same level of understanding with a certain topic. Who knows, you may also be able to develop better ways to understand topics.
Write all of those points you need to note, especially those you do not understand, those you do not know.
I almost have the same preparation tips for the board exam as that of the above. Here are the things that I did:
Well, here’s the true chronological story.
I graduated in June 2019 from Saint Louis College, but due to some other reasons, I started reviewing in Manila (face-to-face) around July 2019 in one review center.
The usual review began by May 2019, so I thought I was a bit late in my review; hence I already started thinking about reviewing for one year and taking the exam by May 2020, but it took me until October 2019 (the last week of filing for the exam) for me to think about taking the exam by November 2019.
I realized I was not yet prepared mentally, physically, and emotionally to take the board exam.
Another reason for skipping was that I was a bit pressured since I was really aiming big for the board exam since I always tend to go beyond what is expected of anyone. If others only want to pass the exam, then I want to achieve more than just passing the exam since it is only once in a lifetime to pass the board exam.
March 2020 came, I was almost 80% prepared for the board exam. But the pandemic came. I had to go home to La Union in the hopes of going back to Manila after about two weeks, but, yes, the board exam was postponed.
I still tried to review every day, hoping that Nov 2020 exam would push through. I reviewed in only one review center (online), but Nov 2020 was again postponed.
For the May 2021 exam, I realized that I can still avail of the review incentives (free review-refresher, discounted rates) in different review centers since I graduated as Latin Honor and was a former quizzer in college.
Since that time was a time of pure uncertainties, I decided to enroll in the most number of review centers I could see so that I would be pushed to review every day and have no time of overthinking about postponements of board exams. In those months, I was already enrolled in 7 review centers (online).
Even though May 2021 exam was also postponed, I was more hopeful that Nov 2021 would be pushed through.
That is why I enrolled in 3 more review centers (online). Hahaha, yes, I also thought it was funny and stressful at the same time, but I thought it would be okay for me since I really need to be exposed to a wide variety of problems and take a lot of mock boards so that I will be fully prepared for the board exam.
I rested for a few days before sending my CV to various companies.
For now, I do not yet have any engineering job. Still, I am a part-time instructor at Saint Louis College for civil engineering and also a review instructor for Kippap Education, a civil engineering review center. As of this writing (March 3, 2022), I am still in the job application process in some of the companies I applied to.
Describe the job interview process. Do you tell them that you are a civil engineering topnotcher?
If you are in the academe or the review-for-board-exam side, It is slightly easier to be accepted than that of the engineering-field jobs. I also underwent standard job application procedures like other job applicants had.
Employers were curious about me being a civil engineering topnotcher, but I made sure that I knew the fine line between being a great/excelling/successful engineer and being a civil engineering topnotcher.
My dream job is to become either a structural engineer or a geotechnical engineer.
I am interested in those two fields, but I am thinking about which field I should choose.
I see myself managing my group of companies, helping other engineers/future engineers become a better version of themselves, as engineers, too.
I also see myself creating jobs for other people. I’m not yet sure what industry I will be into, but I am determined to have my own engineering companies.
I do hope engineers today and in the foreseeable future will help society become more envisioned to do what is best for improving the world’s quality of life, not only for themselves but for everyone.
Environmental-friendly construction processes, practices, and designs so that other people’s comments like “constructing something = destroying a natural thing” will now be a thing in the past.
My parents, Terrence Tao, Engr Jaydee Lucero, Engr Venancio Besavilla, Engr Francis Arjay Luz, and others (which I might have forgotten when doing this interview)
We met in Online Math World. I joined a math Group Chat during the 2020 lockdown (due to pandemic), and I met this lady. Then we started chatting until we became in a relationship. She’s a math major by the name of Shenette Lape.
Is it challenging to mix relationships while in engineering college? How difficult? What are the challenges? How did you overcome the obstacles?
You just have to be with someone who will fully support you towards realizing your dreams of becoming an engineer. But it would help if you also were supportive of your significant other. For me, it’s more of a challenge of not mixing the stress in your relationship with your stress in academics. Once you know how to separate the two pressures (haha, weird), it made me solve the problems that I/we face.
Jigsaw puzzles, crochet, content creating (math stuff), watching movies, visiting some places.
I always demand at least two pillows whenever I sleep. One for my head, one for me to hug.
Light it up like dynamite, Whoa!
Parents will do everything to ensure their child’s dreams achieved
He lost his scholarship, his family was in financial turmoil, his best friend died, and his father was engrossed in immoral vices. This engineer’s topnotcher struggles in life are so painful to read.
The reason will surprise you.
This is your one-stop guide to get that license.
For those who are struggling in school, read this inspiring story