Engineer Topnotcher Worked 2 Jobs and Crammed His Review 2 Weeks Before the Exam.
Here’s a story about persistence and determination. He was a civil engineering reject, now a GE topnotcher.
Most engineering licensure board exam takers take at least five months to review. After all, they have to relearn everything they studied in five years.
Unfortunately, Engr. Dominic Fargas didn’t have the luxury to review for five months. He was working two jobs and didn’t even have time for sleep or meals some days.
Despite this, he impressively landed in the Top 9 in the Geodetic Engineering board exam last 2021 with a rating of 88.80%.
In an interview with GineersNow, he shared how he managed to make it work.
Course: Geodetic Engineering
Rank: Top 9
School: University of the Philippines Diliman
Review Center: Review Innovations
Challenges: Subject failure, losing his grandparents, difficulty in managing time
Mother: Government employee
Starting from elementary until high school, Dominic has been very fond of mathematics.
His interest in this subject led him to dream of becoming a Civil Engineer one day.
Hence, he decided to take up CE at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Unfortunately, his application to become a CE student was rejected.
So he shifted his focus and went for Geodetic Engineering instead.
The problem was he had no idea what that course was about.
But since he was already accepted, he grabbed the opportunity as he thought Geodetic Engineering was the easiest way to get into UP.
However, because GE wasn’t his top choice, Dominic considered shifting to Civil Engineering in his late second year.
He eventually scrapped this idea after finding out about the opportunities and career paths that GE provided when he started taking his major subjects.
As a matter of fact, he really enjoyed surveying classes, as well as photogrammetry/remote sensing—which he believes is the reason he decided to continue being a GE student.
He still had least-liked subjects, though.
He admitted to not enjoying topics such as Geodesy and Engineering Sciences.
Although he learned to love the course, Dom failed to pass one subject after getting poor scores exam after exam after exam.
This naturally made him upset, but he knew he couldn’t do anything but accept it.
He then took the subject again the following semester, and he successfully obtained a passing grade after giving extra effort.
There was, however, something more painful that Dominic and his entire family went through.
He lost his grandparents before he could graduate. His grandfather passed away when he was in his third year, followed by his grandmother a year later.
In his graduating year, just before presenting his thesis, his other grandfather died.
It was a really difficult time for him because not only were his grandparents the biggest supporters of his education, but he also wished to go up the stage on his graduation day with them.
Those heartbreaking incidents resulted in Dom taking a short break from his studies.
During his hiatus, he realized that he couldn’t let his grandparents down and that they were looking after him.
He used these thoughts as motivation to finish his thesis.
In July 2020, Dominic finally graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GE board exam that was initially scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020 was postponed to 2021.
Dom had more than a year before the board exam day, and since it was too early to review, he decided to find a job first.
When 2021 came, Dom enrolled in a review center to prepare himself for the board exam.
But his review session didn’t go well, mainly because he was still working at the time.
He had two jobs separately scheduled in the morning, and at night, then his review classes took place in the afternoon until the evening.
As a result, managing his time was difficult for him.
A typical day for him would be working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., then attending review sessions from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Right after that, he will work again from 10 p.m. onwards. Creating extra time for reviewing was just too tough for him.
After his first job, he would take a short break to relax his mind before he started to review.
He will begin with learning the concepts and then answering sample board exam questions.
While studying the lessons, he always kept a notebook beside him to take notes.
And during review classes, he would join the teacher in solving the questions instead of just watching, so he would know what to do during the actual board exam.
However, after some time, it became extremely tiring for him to still attend the review sessions because of his tight schedule.
There were times when he was unable to catch up with the lessons anymore, so he had to assess all the topics discussed in an entire week during the weekends.
There were also days when he would not have enough time for sleep or even meals.
Luckily, two weeks before the board exam, he was granted study leave.
This was very helpful for him, so he used the opportunity to cram for the exam.
After two weeks, it was officially time for the board exam.
Dominic found the overall exam difficult, explaining that compressing five years’ worth of all the lessons into less than 500 questions brought him extreme anxiety.
On the first day, he was unsure if he would get a passing score.
So, he had to study extra hard for the second day of the examination.
After completing the test on Day 2, he was confident that he would pass.
Still, he didn’t expect to top the board.
But life had a way of surprising Dom. He ended up both passing the board exam and becoming one of the topnotchers!
The best things in life really do happen when you least expect them.
I started college at 15. I actually wanted to be a Civil Engineer at first; however, I was rejected by their admissions.
Luckily, Geodetic Engineering accepted me.
I had no idea whatsoever what the course was about.
But when I was introduced to the opportunities and career paths that Geodetic Engineering provides, I decided to pursue this degree.
I really didn’t know a single thing about GE when I entered UP.
I just thought that Geodetic Engineering was the easiest to get into at UP since it was a lesser-known course.
In fact, I was still considering shifting to Civil Engineering late in my second year.
It was just that as I started taking my major subjects, I learned more about the opportunities and job sectors in our field—Remote Sensing in the Philippine Space Agency, Surveying in the Government/Private Sector, or even teaching/research in the University.
From someone who didn’t know anything about GE in college, I am now the one sharing what GE offers when I teach.
I really enjoyed my surveying classes as well as photogrammetry/remote sensing.
I believe that this was the reason why I decided to stay in Geodetic Engineering and let go of Civil Engineering.
However, I didn’t enjoy topics such as Geodesy and Engineering Sciences as much.
I remember calling my parents and telling them that I had to take ES 13 (Mechanics of Materials) again the next semester because I failed exam after exam after exam.
I was really sad about it, but I knew that I couldn’t do much about it anymore.
The next semester, I took the subject again and placed that extra effort.
I got a very good grade in that subject that semester.
The greatest struggle I believe I had during my college life was the death of my grandparents.
My grandparents were the biggest supporters of my education, and they always looked up to the day that I graduated and became an engineer.
Sadly, when I was in my third year, my grandpa died.
The following year, my Lola died.
Finally, in my graduating year, just before presenting my thesis, my other lolo died.
It was very hard for me to accept that my wish for them to go up that stage on my graduation day never came.
I was really close to my grandparents. I would always share with them how I was doing in school.
In fact, they would always include me and my studies in their daily rosaries. I always wanted to make them proud.
In my graduating year, it was also my lolo to who I first showed my graduation photo to.
Even though I hadn’t officially graduated yet, I told him that I had made it.
He was so happy.
Unfortunately, he never made it to my actual day of graduation.
I was really sad and had to take a short break during those times.
But after that, I knew I couldn’t let them down.
Though they were not with me, I was sure that they were still looking after me from above.
I used that as motivation to finish my thesis and, of course, during the board exam.
Fun fact: I would always remember the exact date of my graduation (July 26) because that was the birthday of my late Lola.
One tip I believe that others should emulate from me is my never-giving-up attitude.
Even if you get disappointed with prior exam results or poor grades from college, it’s not the end of the world.
Focus on the real deal: the actual board exam. And who knows, you’ll make it just like me.
Let’s face it: Engineering is HARD.
But even if life hits you at your worst, KEEP MOVING FORWARD.
It’s okay sometimes to take a break or rest. We all have our own pace.
You might also make a wrong turn and take a long cut.
But even when that happens, KEEP MOVING FORWARD.
It was really hard to study for the board exam because I was already balancing working at least two jobs at the same time. Creating that extra time for reviewing was difficult.
There were times when I wasn’t able to catch up anymore with the review sessions and had to cram them 2 weeks before the actual exam.
It was really difficult—time management was very crucial.
A typical day for me would be working from 8AM – 5PM, attending the review sessions from 6-10 PM then working from 10PM onwards for my other job.
After some time, it became extremely tiring for me to still attend the review sessions from 6-10, so there were weeks where I would just cram an entire week of study during the weekends.
There were days when I would not have enough time for sleep or even meals.
Luckily enough, two weeks before the board exams (2nd week of December), I was granted study leave to focus on the boards.
That was very helpful for me.
Yes (Review Innovations).
I actually recommend attending a review center because it actually prepares you for the board exam as well as pressures you to actually study.
I graduated in 2020, but the board exam was postponed for a year due to the pandemic.
With much more than a year before the next board exams, I was forced to work instead of reviewing.
I enrolled in 2021 in the review center, the same year as the most recent board exams.
The exam was difficult. Compressing five (5) years’ worth of all the lessons into less than 500 questions brought all of the anxiety.
I remember that during my evaluation exams in the review center, I would get failing or just above passing scores.
However, during the actual board exam results, I got good grades.
Honestly, on the first day, I was unsure if I would pass the board exam. So I had to study extra for the second day.
But after the second day, I was confident that I would pass the board exams.
By then, I had no more expectations for topping the board exams.
I was actually in bed when I heard the news.
We had a group chat with my close friends who also took the exams.
They delivered the news.
When I saw the results, I congratulated all of my classmates and friends who made it.
I also called my friend to congratulate him as he also topped the board exams.
I was overjoyed.
I owe all of my success to my family, friends, teachers, and classmates for believing in me and supporting me throughout the entire journey.
I also thank Review Innovations for preparing me for the exams.
Finally, I thank God; without His grace, none of this would have been possible.
There was a ceremony for the board passers and topnotchers from the university/department.
They also sent their congratulations, along with Review Innovations and my high school, for topping the board exams.
After work, I usually take a short break to relax my mind before starting the review.
I start then with the concepts just to get a grasp of the topic, then proceed to answer sample board exam questions.
While reviewing, I always keep a notebook beside me for my notes.
I believe that writing in your notebook also helps you remember what you have written.
For problem-solving questions, I join the teacher in actually solving the questions instead of just watching them solve the problem.
This way, I somehow “simulate” how it will be during the actual board exam.
Short breaks every once in a while also help to alleviate fatigue but don’t take away your momentum.
I am very close to my family.
Both my parents are working, and they have 2 kids: I and my ate (older sister).
My family is my support system, and I am always thankful to them for being there for me.
My mother is a government employee; my father works in sales.
They always knew I enjoyed Math subjects in elementary and high school, as well as playing around with different toys during my younger years.
I was very happy that they supported me in my career choice.
As of the moment, I am currently single.
Engineering is HARD.
Engineering is the use of science and mathematics to make our lives easier.
Everything we use and do to improve the quality of life is made possible by engineering.
Thus, engineering is the future.
Who knows, in 10 years, I might already have a wife and kids (hahaha).
I see myself 10 years from now as one of the most respected engineers in our country.
I want to be able to create something as a geodetic engineer that helps the Filipino people.
I want to be able to touch lives, inspire them, and push them to be the best versions they can be.
When she was a student, she caught a deadly disease and fought her way out.
This engineer didn’t have access to the internet and laptop while studying. But he still managed to top his class. How did he do it?
When he was younger, he never dreamed of becoming an engineer. But through hard work and determination, he became one of the top students in his class.
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