Taking the Environmental Planning Board Exam (Part 1): Lessons Learned

The post was updated in June 2019.

An expensive postgraduate curriculum did not hinder me!

Two years after completing my scholarship for an Environmental Science degree, I was qualified to take the Environmental Planning (EnP) Board Exam.

I hope to inspire you through this reflection of the milestones during the six months of board exam preparation and results. 

Before the Exam

The exam was in June. I made my decision to take the exam in January. There were much to learn in a span of six months.

What was at first a casual attempt became a serious endeavor. I started to view the exam as a passage rite towards being a true teacher of Land Use.

I was teaching Land Use as a “nonprofessional”, so I wanted to test my capacities against professional regulation standards.

Every night at 21:00, after dinner, I read a scheduled topic for the day.

I kept notes on one notebook only. This notebook had an index (bullet journal style!) to reference the page with corresponding topics.

I tried to maintain a table of contents based on the exam themes indicated in the syllabus.

The Land Use class that I taught in the second semester of AY 17-18 became an outlet for my review. My lectures were central to land use laws because of my review sessions.

Devolution and the local planning structure were mainstays in every class.

I was also excited about learning laws on indigenous peoples, protected areas, and mining that I inserted such discussions into my second semester syllabus.

Learn from my first year of teaching.

Doing this, I found gaps in my current knowledge. Sometimes students will correct me on figures and numbers of boundaries and limits.

My own experience in assisting the Municipality of Tiwi for the updating of their CLUP was advantageous. The Tiwi CLUP was my first engagement as an “environmental planning consultant.”

It was an extension project of the UP Department of Geography to the Local Government of Tiwi.

Since I only assisted in previous planning endeavors during past employment experiences, I had the opportunity to apply the theories and principles from the resources above into a real-world document.

I found that even though I started reviewing intimately six weeks before the exam, I had much to learn.  A week before the exam, my confidence level was low.

Only a few people knew I was taking the exam because for the first time in a long time, I was sure to fail.

The passing board exam grade is 70%: I was getting 60s in practice exams.

Even with low confidence to pass, I knew that having a stable university teaching position and an advanced degree already qualifies me as a success.

Passing the exam, however, will strengthen my value as a Land Use teacher and give justice to the evenings I spent reviewing.

During the Exam

I was in unfamiliar territory during the exam days. For a year, I was giving tests to my students. Now, I was on the other side.

I was holding my future in a No.2 pencil.

It was great also that the test was multiple choice. My penmanship is bad and an essay test may have killed me.

My penmanship is bad: an essay test may have killed me.

During the exam, I was a recipient of a cheating attempt. While at the restroom, a stranger asked me blatantly to answer an exam question. It was casual for him: just like asking for the time.

We were accompanied by exam proctors when we go out for the restrooms, but these proctors stay outside of the restrooms. With all my courage, I just smiled at him and kept my mouth shut. It was wise to hold back rebuke, as I do not know this person.

I did not care to know his name. I do not know if he passed. All I know is that I understand him. His career may have been hanging in the balance; he badly needed to pass.

After the Exam

I felt disappointed.

I focused too much on studying the different laws, yet questions were about practical planning implementation.

Reading more of the Local Government Code and the HLURB CLUP Guidebooks could have saved my exam scores.

But, I did not have time to think much about the exam. I was handling a field work class who were doing pre-departure preparations. I needed to be present in these activities.

After four working days, I found out that I passed!

When I passed, I felt satisfaction!

I can continue to teach Land Use with confidence, knowing I “pass” professional standards.

I plan to use the license for more extension work, like what I did in Tiwi and Bacacay.

Read more about Being an Environmental Planner.

Let’s work together.

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