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This Electrical Engineering Topnotcher from the Philippines Did Not Use Facebook for 4 Months to Focus on Review

Using social media sites is a habit that is difficult to break for most engineering board exam reviewees - but not Alfred.

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Engineering board exam reviewees in the Philippines know very well the time wasters over the course of their preparation for that important exam. One of the most common is using social media and networks like Facebook, which undoubtedly consumes a lot of time daily, eating up study sessions.

A report called Digital in 2017 by the social media management platform Hootsuite and United Kingdom-based consultancy We Are Social Ltd. revealed in January 2017 that on average, Filipinos spend 4 hours and 17 minutes per day on social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.

Within 4 hours and 17 minutes, a reviewee can already study – with focus and zero distractions – an entire subject matter that is critical in the board exam. But it’s just that for other reviewees, that time is allotted to scrolling through the Facebook timeline regardless if there is a forthcoming board exam. Using social media sites is a habit that is difficult to break.

But not Alfred Isaac Ajo. When he reviewed, he gave up using Facebook 4 months prior to his electrical engineering licensure examination in September 2016. It wasn’t so difficult to him to do that since he confessed to that he is not that fond of Facebook anyway.

However, that one sacrifice may have helped him get the top spot in the exam results, garnering a 92.40% rating. He is joined by about 4,000 other electrical engineering graduates in the list of passers.

Above his lack of fondness with Facebook, the magna cum laude graduate from Cebu Institute of Technology University (CIT-U) has study habits that were proven to be successful even when he was young. He was trained by his father who is a civil engineer and his mother who is a public school teacher.

As of writing, Alfred works as a Planning Engineer at Visayan Electric Company in Banilad, Cebu City, a company that offered him a college scholarship.

Alfred in yellow with his fellow electrical engineers. Photo supplied.

He keeps this job while being an online reviewer for REE (SPLBE), which targets aspiring Filipino electrical engineers in the Middle East who are time- and travel-constrained. This can be found over

I have interviewed the 23-year-old engineer through e-mail and discovered his other secrets in passing the board exam, among others. Here is the full transcript below:

Student Life

Why did you choose that course? Who or what was your inspiration?

I chose the course because a high school mentor told me that if I was mathematically- and scientifically-inclined, electrical engineering would be best [course] for me. Coincidentally, a local distribution utility, the Visayan Electric Company offered scholarships for BSEE, and I was blessed to be able to pass the exams and interviews.

What are your favorite subjects in your entire engineering study? How about least liked subjects?

My favorite subjects include Three Phase Circuits and Power Systems. I was less inclined in Social Science subjects which are included in the curriculum, which might be because I am more comfortable in the technical side.

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Have you had any subject failures or disappointing academic performance to the very least? If yes, what did you do about it? How did you cope?

I have a not so good memory, and I do not like memorizing. This accounts for my lower grades in memory-intensive subjects. In order to cope with this, I related the more advanced ideas to their most basic. This was easier in the more technical subjects since derivations from the most basic ideas can be combined to form the more complicated formulas, requiring less memorization.

Do you have any study tips or tricks that you think others should emulate from you?

A good foundation in the basic subjects is key in being more able to cope with the more difficult subjects. As engineers, I think it is required for us to think about more difficult matters in order to make lives easier and more convenient.

That is why I want to encourage engineering students to read more and practice deriving formulas more. Deriving formulas is a very good way to understand the underlying principles and possible applications of a subject matter.

What is the best engineering school advice that you can give to other students?

Study to learn, passing the exams will follow inevitably.


Board Exam Experience

What are the greatest struggles that you experienced while preparing for the board exam? What did you do to overcome them?

The greatest struggle in preparing for the board exams is being able to convince myself that I have prepared to the best of my ability, and that I was ready. That is why I dedicated a scheduled time for studying every day during the review period, and not allowing a subject matter to pass by unstudied, since backlogs are a good way to mess up a schedule.

Did you enroll in a center for your review? Do you recommend doing so? Which one did you go to?

Yes, I enrolled in a review center. I highly recommend doing so, since the reviewers are very experienced in helping the examinees prepare for the board exams, including the trends, techniques, tips, tricks, document requirements and schedules. It is comforting and at the same time, encouraging that there are people with similar aspirations as you, and this means more people get to share and learn ideas that can help greatly in the exams, from formulas to what snacks to bring.

I went to CEERS, a review center here in Cebu which was under the leadership of Engr. Valenzona and Engr. Rojas. Currently, the two now have separate review centers.

How did you find the board exam? Easy, average, or difficult?

I found the exams difficult, partly due to the fact that a significant number of problems in the Mathematics subjects were erroneous, missing some data, wrongly encoded, or the correct answer was not found in the choices. Good thing the review center gave some tips to deal with this as well.

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What were your expectations after you took the board exam and before the results were out? Did you have a feeling that you will be at the top?

I have no inkling whether I would be one of the topnotchers, however, I was sure I’ll pass. I was not expecting to top because of the erroneous problems in Mathematics I described earlier. Apparently, God had different plans from what I was expecting.

What did you do the first minute you discovered you topped the board exam?

I immediately informed my parents. They were very joyful upon hearing the good news and shared it to relatives and friends.

Who do you owe your success to?

I owe my success to my parents. They instilled discipline and love for learning in me since childhood. I also thank my teachers and instructors from pre-school to college. Their collective contribution has led me to this particular success. I also thank the Lord for giving me strength and clearness of mind while taking the board exams.

What incentives did you get from your university and review center after your board exam success?

Both the university and the review center gave cash prizes. I also received a plaque of recognition from the university.

Share your most effective study habits.

Study regularly and have a schedule. Also, instead of just reading a solution, try solving a problem yourself. This gives you a better chance of remembering the solution process.

Give 5 important tips (in bullets) for future board exam takers who aim to become topnotchers.

  • Never hesitate to ask questions when you don’t understand something, even if it sounds stupid. This is to prevent doubts from accumulating.
  • Set a schedule for study every day, and focus on studying during this time without distractions. Snacks go very well with studying.
  • Practice solving problems instead of just reading and scanning the solution.
  • If you feel sleepy, rest. Studying is ineffective if your body is not in condition. It is also important to know your prime time, when your mind is at its most active and learns easier and better. Know your body clock.
  • Never forget to ask for support, whether from family, friends, or God. It is fulfilling to know that there are people who share the same goals, the same worries, and the same answers as you. Support fellow examinees and never forget to pray for the success of your endeavors.


You might also want to read:

Filipino Topnotcher Shares His Secrets in Topping the Chemical Engineering 2016 Board Exam. Click here

DOTA Player Tops 2016 Mechanical Engineering Board Exam (Ph). Click here

Math Isn’t the Favorite Subject of this Filipino Civil Engineering Topnotcher. Click here



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Dion Greg Reyes
A young civil engineer finding his place in the industry. Pilipino.


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