Sunday, December 11, 2016

Richard C. Macapulay - September 2016 LET Topnotcher Inspirational Story

Be inspired with the story of the Richard C. Macapulay, the topnotcher of the recently-released September 2016 Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET), Secondary level. He strongly believes that thorough preparation along with strong faith in God can lead you to the spot you want to be. Here is his story.


I am Richard C. Macapulay. I am fifth among my nine siblings and the eldest son of Mr. Reynaldo and Mrs. Rosita Macapulay. My father owns a small-time auto mechanic shop and my mother busies at home and in school for us their children. We are not well off but my father is a good provider.

Mr. Reynaldo and Mrs. Rosita Macapulay (Parents of Richard Macapulay)
I graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at Tarlac State University (TSU) on April 2013 and by September of the same year, I was blessed to become a Registered Chemist. These were made possible through scholarships and sponsorships.

Looking for a job is never easy. I was hired at a refinery’s power plant located in Bataan as a laboratory technician from February to July 2014. Then, I moved to a third party testing laboratory in Makati from August 2014 to June 2015.

During my first two months in the second company I worked for, I realized that I miss schooling. I was experiencing a quarter life crises then. I love studying history but I don’t have any means to support another course. I got three siblings in college, too. I tried looking for a scholarship program at the University of the Philippines (UP) – Diliman to pursue Bachelor of Arts in History. However, my financial standing made me realize that it is not time yet to pursue my passion. So, I decided to take Professional Education units at TSU during Saturdays starting November 2014. I tried managing my time working in the laboratory while trying to understand principles of teaching, learning and assessment.  On April 2015, my application for my master’s degree was accepted. I then resigned from my job to be able to finish the remaining six units of Professional Education that I still have.
2013 Bachelor of Science in Chemistry graduates with Latin honors with Ms. Claire C. Lagrana
On second week July 2015, we were done with our 18 units of Professional Education which serves as a requirement to take the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET). I did not intend to take the exam scheduled on September 2014 so that I can still have a longer time to prepare. I was aiming to top the licensure exam as a personal challenge and life goal. And then, on August 2015 I started attending classes for my Master of Science in Biochemistry at UP Manila.

When I resigned from my second job, I didn’t have enough money to support my graduate studies. The Youngbok Community Church from South Korea and a good friend of mine sponsored my tuition fees and provided for my expenses for a month. Then, I was accepted at the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) scholarship program for graduate students on October 2015, the Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program (ASTHRDP).

Even if I have been browsing sample LET questions since January 2015, I had to focus my attention to my graduate studies by September and by the end of the semester, I started reviewing for LET again. I did practice sets from LET review books I borrowed from friends and classmates who are already registered professional teachers. My review wasn’t promising and smooth. When I started, I only get 40% to 60% correct answers. I also didn’t have Earth Science subject from my bachelor’s degree. So what I did was, I downloaded the BLEPT for March 2016. I attended the final coaching at Chain Rinivarts Educational Training Center (CRETC) for those who will be taking the March exam in which my sister was also reviewing. I didn’t take the March 2016 because my preparation wasn’t enough.

My graduate studies’ course subjects had been taxing. Fortunately, I am a full time student. Reviewing for the licensure exam has been my way to relax myself from Biochemistry subjects. I was also taking online reviews but with cautions that I might learn erroneous knowledge. This was a reality because not all reviewers, especially those from the web, are fool-proof. What we can do is to check other references always and promptly when we are in doubt.

Notching the top spot in the licensure exam is a tough challenge so I asked two classmates of mine who topped the Chemist Licensure Examination for review tips and strategies. I also thought that this challenge is impossible if I will just rely to praying and self-reviewing. So, I started reviewing at Mind Gym Review Center in Quezon City by second week of May 2016. My review coaches are UP alumni and previous LET topnotchers. They coached and challenged me to ace the exam. In my review, I met my review buddy named Algie Juridico. He is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Bachelor of Elementary Education with Specialization in Special Education and a LET topnotcher bet, too, of our review batch. He also did best in the actual exam as he ranked number 5 in the elementary level.
Mind Gym review batchmates with Coach Alice during our salu-salo for finishing General and Professional Education review.
By June 19, we were done with our General and Professional Education review at Mind Gym. So I decided to stay in Tarlac City. Instead of taking my break from graduate studies, I started attending review classes at Chain Rinivarts. The review speakers are PNU faculty members namely Prof. Patrocinio Villafuerte and Prof. Jason Orozco. They, too, believed and challenged me that I can top the LET. During the review classes, I didn’t aim to top my review batch performance but I had a goal of reaching a target score, i.e. 130-135 out of 150-item exam.
Prof. Patrocinio Villafuerte and Sir Arvin Christian Delos Reyes from Chain Rinivarts Educational Training Center
I believe that we shouldn’t be aiming to the best in our group. There will always be someone who is lower or higher than us. What we can aim for is to be a better version of ourselves so we can try all our best efforts to go beyond our self-imposed limitations. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to achieve that target score in my review module drills and appraisal examinations. On the brighter side, I made sure that every mistake I got will be an addition to my knowledge and every quiz or exam be an opportunity for improvement and not purely a measure of intelligence.

On August 2016, I started attending my graduate studies again. I should be starting my thesis by this time but I still have remaining course work. I tried managing my time in attending my classes at graduate school and two review centers. This was a challenge for me but I need to review smartly. The key is prioritizing few things which are of high importance.

My mock LET scores by September 2016 at Mind Gym were 127, 114, and 139 for General Education, Professional Education, and Specialization, respectively. On the other hand, my pre-board exam scores at Chain Rinivarts were 130 for General Education, 121 for Professional Education, and 140 for Specialization. Of the three parts of the licensure exam, I am confident that I am prepared for the Specialization part.

By the end of my review, I finished to read cover-to-cover and in parts the following: Mind Gym practice books, module drills, mock exams, final coaching 150-item practice sets; at least ten books in Chemistry, Earth Science, Astronomy and Physics; Chain Rinivarts review handouts, appraisal examination practice sets; LET review books; online quizzes and exams; etc. I did peer mentoring with some review classmates and my review buddy. Moreover, I didn’t have work to support my expenses but I did borrow money from my sister. I am narrating these because licensure examination is not a test of intelligence but a leap of faith and hard work. It is better to have exerted our efforts and didn’t achieve our goal than to do mediocre review tasks and regret about it when we know that we can achieve something higher. It involves talent, time, money and faith to the Almighty.

My LET preparation taught me review and test taking strategies as well as managing time as efficiently as possible. I also practiced the art of highlighting and erasing erroneously shaded answer sheet. I even recorded the time I consumed while taking a 150-item exam and the travel time from where I am staying to the actual exam venue.

Despite the strenuous review preparation, the actual licensure examination was a real challenge. The night before the actual exam, Al and I prayed to God for wisdom, guidance and strength. Al was a bit sick so I was worried. We are aiming to have a back-to-back victory for the elementary and secondary levels. Our test booklet for the General Education was more than 15 minutes late than the official time of start but the proctor didn’t adjust our time. Anyway, I’m thankful that God helped me to finish each 150-item exam with 20-40 items of unsure items. I didn’t answer an item and shade it per item. What I did was I finished answering the test booklets in an hour, rechecked twice and finalized my answers, shaded my answer sheets and cross-checked my test booklet and answer sheet if I shaded each item correctly. The General Education was okay but the Professional Education was too taxing in terms of reading comprehension and applying principles, laws, theories and concepts to every situation. I was frustrated with the Specialization because there are constants which were not given in the item; typographical errors like missing reaction products and vector units.

After the exam, I checked on the web and other references my answers. There some which matched my answers and some which I failed to select out of the two options I got from elimination technique. This made me more anxious about the LET results. The waiting time is the most toxic part of a licensure examination. Unlike the Chemist Licensure Examination, the results were out after two days. The results of the LET were expected to be out two months after the exam day. During these times, I went back to graduate school, as usual. I prayed to God about optimum result and acceptance and fulfillment of whatever results would it be. I tried my best to lower my expectations but keep myself optimistic. Two weeks before the release of result, I am glad that God kept my heart at calm despite of trailing in the actual examination.

I want every LET taker to realize that what we sow is what we reap. It is not about the level of difficulty of the licensure examination that matters nor the result if we took one. What we can manage is our preparation. This preparation has started during our first day in school. Let me share the words of Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant: “It’s not the will to win that matters. Everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

One thing I want to share to people is the lessons I have learned so far. Most people will see anyone of us as an achiever who always succeed in every endeavor. In reality, it is and was not. We are defined by our frustrations, broken dreams, and unmet goals. What made us to make a difference is not also due to our abilities but our perseverance and faith to embrace the frailties and hardship of life. I participated in competitions where I reviewed for half a year and lost by one point, I failed to enter the Philippine National Police and start my path to be a forensic chemist, I wasn’t able yet to pursue my dream of becoming a medical doctor nor my goal of becoming a Philippine history expert; etc. I struggled in my undergraduate degree, much more now in my graduate studies. Studying is never an easy task even if we do it full time. I got so many frustrations than achievements. These are unknown to most of our acquaintances. Nonetheless, these things strengthened us to be a better person. Our achievements may not be as that of a person who did it in flying colors. However, I believe that as long as we take excellence with us no matter how small our achievement or progress is, it would add up to our lives. Then, these small milestones will build us to be a person who makes a difference in our family, friends, schools and society. We are all experiencing different dramas in our lives but these should not excuse us in pursuing our dreams and life goals. When we’ve reached our goals, only then when we realize the reasons of our failures.
There is also pressure from people who believe in us. Those people who are expecting that we’ll make it on the list of passers and top notchers. Let’s remember this quote I posted on my Facebook account almost two months before the actual exam: “Graphite in pencil and diamond in jewelry are both made up of the same element, carbon. The only things which made them different are time, temperature, and ‘pressure’. Therefore, let us hone our abilities under ‘healthy’ pressures. Everyone has the potential to be an achiever.” Thus, let’s keep moving even if our progress seems so slow. Let’s still study and review even if the pressures are present, even if our passion to teach is fading, and even if our LET review scores are not promising. We must also stand firm with God in achieving our goal because in some cases, a person in our inner circle may ask us to abandon it. Let’s not be discouraged.

One more thing is that the question on where we graduated should be irrelevant to what we can do in our jobs as professional teachers and in our society. I am product of San Juan Bautista Elementary School, Maliwalo High School and Tarlac State University. These institutions do have limitations due to budget constraints that some learning materials or equipment were not available for public school students like me. But these flaws in our educational system should not be a hindrance for us to pursue excellence. After 14 years (+2 for K-12 program) of public schooling, the real questions should be: Do I have the knowledge and skills which are at par to graduates of premier universities in the country? Do I have a good character who can positively contribute to our society? Do I have enough patriotism and nationalism to serve our countrymen? Do I strive for excellence? Etc. No one is exempted to pursue excellence. It isn’t about the certificates nor the medals I would get if I did top the LET but the victory over low self-esteem. There are no ifs and buts. I believe that in God’s grace, we did it.

Let us be the catalysts of change in our society. Let us go back to our hometown and teach younger generations to aspire and perspire for their goals. The real challenge has just started. Let’s trust God and be humble. Let’s keep on striving until such time when we’re only reminiscing how we did it. Thank you and God bless you fellow professional teachers.
Awarding and testimonial activity of some passers and the topnotcher (Number 5, second person seated leftmost) of the September 2013 Chemist Licensure Examination
PS: I want to thank my teachers, my parents and siblings, and review coaches in helping me achieve this life goal.

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