How to Ace the Medical Boards

IKR? This is not an advise coming from a topnotcher of the board exams for Physician… but from an average, sometimes lame yet self-confessed conceited MD.

The following tips MAY PROBABLY (redundant to emphasize) help you ace or least pass especially if you are a type B>A personale (histrionic>schizoid) much just like me. Also, some of these are particularly directed to my co-Tomasinos bonded by “traditions”. LOL.

  • Have a much needed break or relaxation right after internship orrr right before you start formally studying for the exam. Give your mind and body a rest for maximum of a month and a half. They deserve it. And by formally it means the serious kind of studying. And by serious… you define your own seriousness. :-P
  • Buy review materials during mid-internship and start reading browsing these reviewers or start highlighting important details if you may. As we all know, highlighting takes time… Right? This may probably not gonna work… But it’s just a common knowledge that once you begin early, you end up acquiring more.
  • Speaking of buying review materials, buy only one review book or material for each and every subject. Don’t hoard. Get a version which you find comfortable and easy for you to read and understand. I for example opted to have the Board Review Series in most of the subjects, Baby Robbins for Pathology (But make sure you have read the entire Papa Robbins during med school) and MRS for Microbiology. Also, always bring Netter when reviewing for Anatomy; visual aids help. A lot.
  • Don’t enroll. Unless you are comfortable paying 10K bucks for an in-house review. In my opinion, reviewing for the boards is a personal time between you and your review materials. It’s like cherishing what you have learned during the entire med school. It’s like reminiscing the glorious days when you first heard of the medical terms… But I recommend that you rather sit-in to important classes especially in subjects you find very difficult for you, orrrr in Preventive Medicine class and Legal Medicine.
  • Keep in touch with friends; maintain your circle and social life… especially to those who can spend thousands of bucks for a review class. Rumors always have it.
  • Focus on the details. The most important/s. The most commons. The basics. Don’t spend too much on breakthroughs.
  • Create a time-table. Personally, I gave 5 days to each subject. Finished or unfinished, you must move on to the next subject as to not compromise your time for the rest. Get a copy of the exam schedule to make your own strategies for studying.
  • Apply for the exam in the PRC very early.
  • Acquire sample exams. Although, don’t drown yourself with too many. I noticed that almost all the subjects did not come up with questions from those sample exams. Trust me. Unless you hear rumors about this and that that these will come out as the questions… But personally, the sample exams are helpful. It will help you estimate your knowledge in every subject. So try answering them like a real exam.
  • Get a review bag. I call it a review bag because it’s a separate bag from your usual daily bad. It’s where you put all your review materials and studying-sundries like an iPod, notebook/s, highlighters, pens, sunnies, hand sanitizers, chips, mints, etc. Invest on a satchel and totes to contain big books as references.
  • Bring with you a non-med-related book or magazine. This will help you unsaturate your mind with all medical stuff you are putting in your brain while pausing for a break.
  • Don’t restrict yourself from your usual routines. Personally, and as a lot of people know, I tweet a lot and I tried quitting during the review period and it drove me a lot crazier. Seriously. If you’re into online-games, partying, movies, music, concerts, or bondage or what haves, don’t put them on hold but rather reduce the time you spend with these stuff if you may.
  • Stay healthy. Reviewing for the big exam will keep you sedentary. Reading while sitting whole day defines it. Choose the right and proper food and drinks. Ask for a non-fat drink and take off those creams. Find time for physical fitness. Ask your friends orrr partner to do aerobics/jogging or anything physically healthy for you…
  • Save money. With the advent of popular and gourmet coffee shops, people who want to study or just simply hangout accumulate in these not-so-cheap places. Find an affordable but comfortable place. A bonus if it’s just a 5min drive away from home to save you on gas. And a jackpot if they offer free and adequate parking space.
  • Pray. And Believe.

Good luck to the next batch! Breath…

James Abraham D. Malala, MD

TBTH? The feeling is too different way back when I took and passed the MedTech licensure exam not so long time ago. Haha. Both pre & post-results. The feeling is so much better than that!

IMO, the exam was horrible. Seriously. Spell H-A-R-D. Some questions particularly on my favorite subject are garble. So it didn’t occur to me to really feel safe that I will pass the exam. It was mind blowing and energy-sucking.

After the 2-weekend exam, I was prostrated. Kinda like I went through a choleric episode for a week! Day 1 post-exam I just stayed in the house and rested. Day 2, kept myself busy; had my haircut, read a novel and agreed to have dinner and watch the advance screening of Conan The Barbarian with my co-interns.

Day 3. I was trembling since I woke up this morning. I knew the results will be released today but I never expected that it will come out this early. I decided to keep myself busy, again. Went out to watch movies for free at the 2011 Japanese Film Festival in UP Diliman. After watching the second film, I decided to snack on some cake and tea at ChoKiss when I suddenly received messages saying the results are already being uploaded.

After several minutes, my thoughts were something like…

“OMFG, why is it that nobody’s calling me?!”

“Is it really out yet?!”

“Why now?! Why should my iPhone currently not around when I needed it badly?!”

I can’t bear the feeling. I can’t eat, focus and enjoy my Quezo Chiffon! I decided to call on a friend to know what was going on!

“Is it out yet?! Is it out yet?!”

“Yes, yes, I saw your name!”

Best-est news! Ever. Bliss is an understatement. It was the best orgasm I had for ages.

When I passed the MedTech boards, the first people I called were my parents. Since they’re in the opposite side of the world now, I called my Tita who initially wasn’t answering her phone! LOL.

I cried while telling her the news. It made my Quezo Chiffon a lot more salty. I think. :-))

I was literally crying at ChoKiss all by myself. Yes, I’m a certified maudlin on certain occasions especially if family-related. I think people were watching but I didn’t care. I cried because I remembered the hard work. It wasn’t the studying which was hard. The exam was! Geez!

So there, I am now officially a registered doctor of this country.

Thank You!

I wanna thank everyone especially my family and my closest friends who had faith in me. To those who prayed for me. To those who gave me confidence. To those who helped me in this struggle. Thanks muchos.

I wanna thank my mentors for the knowledge. I say I used 80% Stock Knowledge, 20% Acute Knowledge.

I wanna thank and congratulate my batchmates! We did it 100% at 400 years! Woohoo!

“Now where is the party?” LOL.

Examinees, did you donate you pencils?

The Philippine Regulation Commission have this new program  by asking the examinees at the end of the exam to render/surrender their pencils (and even pens, sharpeners, erasers and what haves…). I’m not so sure of it’s recentness but ~4 years ago when I took the MedTech boards, there’s none yet. So for me, it’s relatively new.

According to our very accommodating room watchers, the pencils will be donated. There was a note/letter being passed around after the last examination stating that the collected pencils and other items are being donated to provincial schools especially to those schools with marginalized students.


I just found out that traditionally, examinees would break their pencils post-exam as a symbolism of not taking the exam again. Well, obviously I didn’t knoe there is even such tradition and apparently I didn’t do it in 2003. Well maybe because I still have to use pencils this year!

Personally, I bought a box of Monggol #2 pencils and acquired several “blessed” pencils during the pre-boards mass in UST chapel.

I brought 5 newly-sharpened pencils during the exam and used only one during the entire 4-day exam course.

Just imagine how many utile pencils can be gathered at the end of the exam if each examinee has ~5 pencils. That’s gonna be a looot!

I think this program of the PRC is brilliant because personally, I don’t have anything to do with the pencils anymore. Some examinees would even just leave those pencils in the exam room. And instead of breaking those pencils traditionally, why not give it to the needy instead?

I hope those pencils will continue to serve its purpose to our younger and less fortunate students. :-)