The Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET): How I Prepared for and Took the Exam Even During Typhoon Season
September 27. The day had been marked for months on every calendar I have—in my mobile phone, in my planner, on my computer, in my room, in the editorial schedule. The day of the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET), the board exam for teacher-wannabes. Come first week of September, I was reviewing more intensely, and also taking more care of my body. (Read my essay on how to pass the LET.) I ate more vegetables, fish and fruits, and tried to sleep earlier than 2 a.m. I took time off work to mentally prepare myself to think of the exam, instead of the deadlines I was supposed to beat.
The week before the Exam Day, I followed a stricter regimen, alternating between reviews and relaxation or recreation throughout each day. To keep nervous breakdowns and panic attacks at bay, I followed meditation techniques taught by Sir Knoi on our last review session. As he also suggested, I had my baon and time planned out days before Exam Day.
As it turned out, no amount of preparation would prepare me for what was to come.
Storm in the City
On the day before the exam, I woke up to a phone call from my best friend—who was also going to take the LET but in Bicol—demanding I give her a rundown of all the “isms” in education. Only after I had calmed her down and reviewed theories with her did I notice how strong the pouring rain was outside. Apparently, typhoon Ondoy was already in the city.
By lunch time, news of flooding all over NCR broke out, as well as SOS messages from friends stranded due to two-storey-high floodwater in their areas. Text messages from friends and fellow test-takers started to arrive regarding the weather and the exam. The bar exams had already been postponed but no word yet came from the Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC) as to whether the LET was postponed as well. At past 6 p.m., we were still waiting for an announcement in the news or in the radio. Another friend and fellow LET-taker, opined about how poorly teachers are given importance in the country as attested by the very late postponement advisory from PRC. When the news finally broadcasted the postponement of the LET, we both were relieved we did not have to brave the murky floodwaters just so we can take the exam. But at the same time, we were very concerned with the state of the areas ravaged by the typhoon.
As September 27 dawned and the sun shone little by little, the whole of NCR and nearby provinces were in a state of calamity. Classes were postponed for a week for affected cities to recover and to encourage the youth to volunteer for relief operations conducted by various organizations. The LET was slated for the next Sunday, October 4. I had another week before judgment day.
I didn’t spend that week reviewing—it would have been unfair to the typhoon victims. Anyway, I promised not to browse my books and notes until I had helped in some way. A friend recommended a relief operation in Cubao and I was able to go on Friday. For half a day, I helped carry and pass on hundreds of packed relief goods, and I was happy to find that my companions were cliques of high school students who had decided to join the relief efforts instead of heading to the malls. Yes, we still have hope.
However, I realized upon waking up the next day—the day before the exam—what my mistake was: my entire body was aching! Luckily, I had bought everything I needed beforehand—long brown envelope, long plastic envelope, No. 2 pencils, black ballpen, ruler, metered window envelope, snack food. After preparing everything, from the materials to my clothes, I spent a leisurely day with friends, the whole time secretly swallowing down the urge to scream, “Kinakabahannaako!” (I'm so nervous!)
Of all the advice given by friends and instructors, there was one I chose not to follow—take a taxi to your testing center.
Aside from being a quintessential kuripot, I chose to commute because I thought getting to the testing center quickly would not be good for my nerves. Taking longer to get there would give me time to breathe and collect my thoughts, and also would fool me into thinking it’s just another ordinary day.
At the train station, I saw a lot of people wearing white tops and carrying long plastic envelopes—just as I was. This relieved me, especially when I realized the two women across me were actually proctors for the exam. When we were a mere one station away from my stop, however, the train just suddenly stopped mid-track. Uh-oh, I thought, I should’ve taken a taxi.
Just when I was about to finish the speech I was going to give my mother as to why I wasn’t able to take the LET this year, the train shuddered back to life. Thank you, Lord.
I arrived at the testing center just a few moments before they opened the gates for the examinees. Some of my batchmates were there waiting for me, and we were all in good spirits. We bid each other good luck before heading to our assigned rooms.
During my preparation before the exam, I made sure I had a white blouse that would be comfortable enough to wear in case my testing room turned out to have little ventilation. What I didn’t prepare for was the other way around—if the room turned out to be air-conditioned.
Some people learn and perform best when hungry, some when full; some do better in a hot environment, others in a cold one. Let’s just say I was glad that even if I wasn’t able to bring a jacket, I was wearing a flexible blouse which can both be short- or long-sleeved. Also, I chose not to bring rice and a viand for lunch—I get sleepy when I’m full. Instead, I brought bread and snack food, water, and coffee in can.
Taking the Exam
Once the proctors handed me my answer sheets and questionnaires, I took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and took the plunge.
The exam consists of three parts: General Education, Professional Education, and Content Areas for Elementary Education or Specialization/Majors for Secondary Education. The first two subjects are administered in the morning and the last one is given in the afternoon.
I had a bad start, thanks to my waterloo, Filipino, but grew more comfortable as the exam progressed. I took care to check the time after answering 25 questions, and also ate and drank a bit every hour. Lunch break I spent with a schoolmate and we chatted about our post-grad lives instead of the exam.
While answering the test, it was difficult not to notice problematic items. For instance, in some items, the answer was not among the choices. Some questions were also vaguely stated, or just outright confusing. Noticing these was actually an exercise of one of our subjects, Measurement and Evaluation, and it proved I did master the rules for test construction.
After more than eight hours of wracking my brains, I finally handed in my answer sheets, signed the attendance, donated my pencils for the PRC pencil drive, and walked out of that cold room with a big sigh of relief.
The exam was over—the month-long wait began.