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THE CATALYST: Tips and Tricks for Taking Board and Certification Examination

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By Felix C. Veroya

Board and certification examination are vital part of the competency assessment for professionals. Way back 2011, I took what is called the Certified Industrial Engineer (CIE) Examination and there were no known review centers that you can enroll in that time. I acted and owned my preparation for the examination and blessedly, I have passed the examination and got the 4th rank out of hundreds of takers across the Philippines.

Below are the 10 tips and tricks that someone who will take any board or certification examination can follow to be more equipped for the challenge.

1. Plan smartly. Make sure that you give the required amount of time to each subject considering your proficiency to each.

When I was preparing for the 3rd CIE Exam, I have assessed myself based on which are subjects that I am already OK and those NOT OK. Knowing that my strength lies in the 2nd Part (Work Measurement, Methods Engineering, Ergonomics), I put lesser time into those subjects and put more into my areas of weakness, i.e., GEAS, Statistics and OR. I also aligned the study plan I created based on previous Table of Specifications (TOS) released by the PIIE – IECB ( As what wise men said before, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

2. Be resourceful enough. Studying across multiple resources is a vital advantage for an examination. The more resources you read, the more chances of winning.

Sticking to a set of reviewers and support materials will limit your exposure to other set and might deprive you of explorations of other techniques and problem types from other resources. Because there are no review centers during our time (20 kgs ago), I made use of the usual IE books but my favorites are OM books where almost all of our core subjects are covered (you may refer to Heizer – Render, Stevennson and Goldratt). This is also the time that I decided to make Google an official part of my support group – name it, he have it. I did not try to memorize every problem or concepts, I just wrote key notes and read them repeatedly. This worked for me and I would suggest try to find what practice might work for you, i.e., create mnemonics, a song or drawing to stimulate retention. Even now that there are review centers, I always advise students not to limit their selves with materials provided from them. Remember, a resourceful person can beat an intelligent one.

3. Stress on key notes / formulas. Memorizing these key notes and formulas is critical for the exam. For higher retention, you may write them in bright chart papers or “post it” stickers and stick them on your study workplace.

What I did was secure a tickler/notebook with all the fundamental formulas and concepts written on it and I have that all the time so I can go back if I am having a hard time remembering it. To further improve retention, I wrote these on bond paper and made it like wall paper near the bed I am using (I am living in a boarding house way back then). So every time I wake up, these are the first few sights I will see. Visualize key items to facilitate higher retention.

4. Time your efforts. Get an idea as to how much time you need to answer a particular question. This will help you know if you need to concentrate on speed or accuracy.

We took the 3rd CIE Exam at 200 items for 8 hours. This will give me roughly 2.4 mins / question. Answering a question less than this is better but spending more than this means the time for the remaining questions suffer. As part of my review process, I do time my efforts to see to it that I can answer/solve a question in this time frame. During the exam, I bought a watch to help me gauge my performance and to trigger strategy on how to manage my time. Make time your friend.

5. Study in group. Studying in groups will help you get your doubts cleared by your friends. It also helps you validate your exam preparation and efforts.

For our group, we rented an apartment and use it as a review space where we had lecture and practice sessions. It enabled positive peer pressure and venue to validate / ask questions on how to do work around on specific problem types. It also served a venue on exchanging best practices and useful calculator techniques. Now go and invite your friends to have your group study get done (please avoid “kwentuhan” and “inuman”) during these sessions. 🙂

6. Study during early mornings. Sleep early and wake up early to stay fit and refreshed. Having rested well, your mind is in a better state to absorb what you are studying leading to higher comprehension and retention.

Since high school, I have maintained this study habit of doing it on early morning like 4 AM ~ 5 AM. I have read an article that effective studying time might vary between day persons (5 AM to 10 AM) and night persons (5 PM to 9 PM). Find you pace and maximize it.

7. Stress on your weaknesses. It is not a good idea to ignore your weak subjects. Give equal importance to each subject. In case you find a particular subject difficult, direct more efforts towards it — practice more and more so that by the end of preparations you are comfortable with all the subjects.

As mentioned in Tip #1, this should be part of your planning process. What I did is to run through specific subjects and even specific problems that I am having a difficulty with and tried to solve problems repeatedly. This is to enhance problem recognition and proper approach / strategy on how to solve it. If you hate Stat or OR, then read materials and problem sets with focus on those. I became allergic to eggs before, but I can’t resist it, so I started eating it and became immune to it. Face your weak subjects and do work around to make them your favorites.

8. Mind your health. There is no sense in being prepared mentally when you are not prepared physically. Treat these two aspects equally important.

Don’t abuse your physical health during the preparation process. Have rest if you feel you need it. You may invest too much on the preparation and forget that the day of the battle is also important.

9. Don’t lose your peace. Comparing your preparation to your peers is only going to make matters worse. Learn to concentrate on your efforts rather than the others. Just relax!

Though preparation readiness comparison with your friends might give you a positive pressure to push harder, remember that our baseline are not the same. Focus on the plan that you created and refrain from negative thoughts.

10. Give it up. Give it up means giving it up into Him! On top of all your preparation efforts, be sure that you gave this all up to Him, Jesus Almighty!

It is written in Proverbs 21:31 NIV, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.”

These are the tips and techniques I did to prepare for the certification examination. Doing this will not guarantee your success but I’m 95% confident that the probability of your success will increase somehow.

Please feel free to share to a friend that is planning to take any board / certification because sharing is caring. 🤓

God Bless and All the Best!

Felix C. Veroya, CIE, AEE, CLP, MBB, CSM

Top 4, 3rd CIE Examination

Ask Lex PH Academy | IExcel CIE Review Center

Let’s continue to be #significantlybetterlifelonglearners, together!

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