in Programming

My First Hand Experience of Taking the Philnits Examination

I was quite busy a couple of weeks back, with work and hefty exams that were quite challenging and exhausting at the same time. But anyways, I took the Philnits exam last May 9, 2015 and it was a great experience I had as an I.T guy in the field.

For those of you who haven’t known it yet, Philnits is the Philippine National I.T standards formerly known as the Japanese I.T Standards Exams of the Philippines (JITSE-Phil). Take it as a board examination for Information Technology or Computer Engineering graduates.

The exam consists of two parts. The AM and PM exam, that tackles all the basic fundamentals of I.T and the technical exam that deals with programming and other I.T related stuff respectively. Examiners are given 6 hours to finish the exam, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM with a 1 hour lunch break.

Before I took the exam I squeeze in a minute to pray hoping that every question that I encounter will be a walk in the park. Nothing beats the power of prayer.

Preparing for the exam was hard. With so many distractions. Namely from work related programs, to summer outings, hobbies and not to mention Grand Theft Auto 5 was just released a couple of weeks.

I will give you a detailed firsthand experience of that nerve wracking exam in glorious 24-style minutes.

6:50 AM – Left the house

7:20 AM – Grab a quick snack with a KitKat Chunky Bar, and an Espresso.

8:01 AM – I arrived at the examination site.

8:10 AM  – Began searching for my room.

8:30 AM – I texted my friend and waited for him outside the examination room. While waiting, I grab a quick game of Sky Force. (because it was so damn addicting and I didn’t bother to review since it will be cramming)

8: 45 AM – My friend arrived and we had a small chat.

8:50 AM – The proctors let us inside our respective rooms.

9:00 AM – Permit checking. And to my surprise, the exam starts at 9:30 AM. (Little bit shocked, that leaves me to 2 hours and 30 minutes to finish the exam)

9:15 AM – Proctor explains the house rules and do’s and don’ts of the exam. We had our bags placed in front of us.

9:30 AM – Exam starts.

The AM exam was 32 pages long with over 80 questions. I had to readjust my time since I was cut 30 minutes short. That leaves me 180 minutes for 80 questions. That gives me 1.875 minutes or 112.5 seconds.

I usually do this simple calculations to give me a heads-up on how much time I needed to take the exam. Another technique I use is skimming the pages. Sometimes long test papers my intimidate you that the exam is long and brutal. But once you skim the pages you’ll be comfortable to know some questions are not that hard. Additionally, it will be a gauge that will assess your skills and technical background.

To keep me awake in the exam I remember to take 2 C’s and that is caffeine and chocolate. Caffeine is a great way to keep me focused on long examinations and it keeps me concentrated over the course of that grueling 6 hours. Nothing beats staying focused rather than being sleepy and bored. Additionally, chocolates are great for the brain. No wonder why they are so delicious and will always makes you happy once you take a bite.

9:45 AM – I skim through the pages and started at question number 1.

10:30 AM – Everything seemed normal. Lots of questions left unanswered. I proceeded to another question if I can’t keep up with my 1.875 minute per question.

11:00 AM – I’m at question number 60 and still had a few blanks. More or less 20.

11:15 AM – Some examinees already started to pass their examination papers.

11:30 AM – Manage to go through all 80 questions. Went back to solve those blank questions.

11:45 AM – Reviewed from question 1 through 80 as fast as I can. Manage to change some of my answers.

11:55 AM – Passed the exam to the proctor.

My thoughts on the AM exam. It was brutal. There were some questions that were quite tricky. And some were just as confusing. But reading it all over again gave me an idea. And surprisingly, some of the hints and answer are hidden in the question itself. The longer the question, the more hints and clues it has.

Additionally, most of the questions lets you choose from 4 answers. From my observations, 2 of them can easily be flagged as wrong, which leaves you with 2 more answers that are almost identical.

1:00 PM– Proctor started to prepare for the exam.

1:15 PM – I take a look back at the class. And surprisingly almost half of the class were gone. 40-50% of the room were all AM retakes.

1:30 PM – Exam starts.

1:35 PM – Skim through the exam and look at the JAVA programming questions.

1:40 PM – Started answering first the program tracing in JAVA.

2:15 PM – Some of the questions are written in pseudo codes and began tracing another set of questions.

3:15 PM – Went to the network tracing,

One by one, each examiner passed their exam. I just stayed focus on my sheet of paper. Although I was intimidated and shocked at the same time on how fast they were able to answer the exam and thought to myself, they are damn genius to finish the exam.

3:30 PM  – Reviewed my previous answers.

3:55 PM – Passed the exam to the proctor. Proctor instructed me that I forgot to shade the programming part. I didn’t select whether it was C or Java. She was kind enough to review my papers.

I realize that the PM exam was much easier than the AM exam. If you happen to do lots of programming and database queries in your career then the PM exam will be breeze. The only thing I haven’t have the luxury was time. And some of the questions require a careful eye and analogy skills to get pass through that hurdle.

First of all there are questions that lets you choose from 8 answers. However, they are used for four questions. The secret I used was to find the pair that are highly identical. So if there are 8 questions, there will be 4 pairs that are almost true to the correct answer. Getting the right pair is the tricky part, but once you find the 2 answers, that will lead you to two choices. Pretty much the same as the AM exam.

I did go though a lot of research and first hand testimonies on how others manage to pass the exam. Their tips and messages are inspiring that kept me going to study more.

From the time of writing, I have two more weeks to wait for the official results. It is nerve wrecking. But come what may, if I do fail, I’ll consider this as a stepping stone and try again this October. This time around, I’ll study harder and dedicate at least 1 hour of study time every hour. Fingers crossed.