Back then, aspiring architects would fly to Manila to take the grueling three-day Architect Licensure Examination (ALE), armed with their T-squares, drawing boards and drawing implements; warriors with their eyes set on a precious prize.
This year, would-be architects trooped to licensure examination centers in various sites outside Manila, since the exams in the capital were cancelled due to its quarantine status.
Armed with face masks and face shields, 849 examinees from all over the country valiantly took the two-day ALE after several postponements since last year. Out of these examinees, 560 hurdled the ALE including four Cebuano architecture graduates from the University of San Carlos, who placed in the Top 10 highest scorers: Benson Heinrick Go (first place, 83.50 percent), Mark Anthony Flordelis (second place, 83.40 percent), and Magdalena Beatriz Arriola and Gerard Borbon (both sixth place, 81.60 percent).
The uncertainties of the exam actually happening due to the Covid-19 pandemic, proved challenging to them. The four of them agree that it affected their motivation and they felt that they were losing their momentum.
Gerard, who placed sixth, along with another Carolinian Beatriz (students from the University of San Carlos), missed doing lively group study sessions.
“(During the exam) the constant fogging of my vision due to the layers of face mask, face shield and my glasses also caused a bit of discomfort,” Gerard said.
This year’s first placer, Benson, said not going out to “de-stress” in between study sessions was an added challenge in addition to postponements, but he trusted God’s timing.
“Whether it was next month, next week or next year, trusting in God’s perfect time gave me peace. I just had to make sure that at any point, I would be ready,” he said. Yes, he also believes prayers got him through the tough challenge.
Apart from burying themselves with review materials, these guys also did extra work in their exam preparations. Being stuck at home most of the time, YouTube videos helped them a lot.
Gerard watched construction-related videos while Beatriz viewed videos on studying efficiently.
“The one that worked for me was Ali Abdaal’s videos on incorporating active recall and spaced repetition into my study methods. I followed his technique by incorporating previous exam questions in a Google spreadsheet and I just used that to test my knowledge through the entirety of my review,” revealed the sixth placer, who studied with her bar exam-bound sister.
For Mark, who placed second in the ALE, it was home workouts that kept him sane.
“This gave me the energy and mental sharpness to study for the rest of the day without being bothered by all the back pains.” He described himself as an average student with a lot of determination, which he believes helped him achieve his recent feat.
Moving forward, these newly minted architects are not about to rest on their laurels. Benson wants to pursue urban planning because he wants to help the city become more sustainable and efficient to live in. Mark and Beatriz want to explore sustainable design and planning and climate change adaptation while Gerard wants to dabble in landscape design and building utilities.
Indeed, the opportunities are flourishing ahead of them. After passing the board exams in top-notch fashion amid a raging pandemic, they look ready to do almost anything and stamp their marks in the built environment.