How this student topped the 2022 architecture board exam 2
In order to memorize important notes and figures, Kaye posted them on the wall of her study area at home.
Culture

How this ‘average’ student topped the 2022 Architect Licensure Examination

Finding a review strategy that would work for an examinee entails self-evaluation, says Architect Marianne Kaye Ofianga. “You need to know yourself first.”
RHIA GRANA | Jul 01 2022

Out of the 4,766 who took the Architect Licensure Examination (ALE) last month, there were 3,037 who passed. And the topnotcher hails from the district of La Paz in Iloilo City, a graduate of Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT U)—Architect Marianne Kaye Ledesma Ofianga.

It took a few days for ANCX to reach Kaye, who’s currently on a much-deserved break after a nerve-wracking five-month preparation for the ALE. She resigned from her job and took a break from social media for several months so she could focus on reviewing for the exam.

Days after the licensure test last June 17 and 19, Kaye purposely distracted herself from thinking about exam results. “Inaatake kasi ako ng anxiety,” she tells ANCX. She knew she will find out anyway in three or four days’ time, although the exact date was not announced.

Last June 22, Kaye spent the day binge-watching “Stranger Things” on Netflix. Around 7PM, her mother got a call from Kaye’s boyfriend, Jericko. For some reason, Kaye’s phone can’t be reached.

“Nung time na ‘yun, nasa climax na ako ng ‘Stranger Things’ e, so hindi ko maintindihan ang sinasabi ni Mama,” she recalls. Kaye heard Mrs. Ofianga screaming, “Kaye, top 1 ka, top 1 ka!” Still focused on the sci-fi series, she replied, “Top 1 sa ano?” After a few moments, Kaye finally tuned into her mother’s message and she could not believe what she heard.

Architect Marianne Kaye Ledesma Ofianga.
Ar. Marianne Kaye Ofianga is bent on taking up a masteral degree in landscape architecture in the near future. Her ultimate dream is to take her practice abroad.

Journey to the top

Kaye is from an ordinary middle class family. Her father, Jose, is an electrical engineer and her mother, Anne, is a full-time housewife. To hear her say it, Kaye had a pretty normal childhood. In school, there were occasions when she’d make it to the class top 10. The unica hija received enough encouragement from her parents to excel in her academics but she says they never pushed her too hard.

One field this future architect has long been interested in is the creative arts. “Mahilig ako mag-drawing mula bata hanggang high school,” she tells ANCX.

This led her to taking up an architectural degree at ISAT U. After her graduation, Kaye worked as a draftsman and supervisor in a construction firm for three years so she could save up for her review expenses. Finally in January, she decided to resign from her job to focus on reviewing. The review started by end of that January and lasted until June.

Finding a review strategy that would work for an examinee entails self-evaluation, says Kaye. “You need to know yourself first—kung ano ang capabilities and brain capacity mo. Kung mahina ka mag-memorize, mahina ka sa math, then focus on that para makasagot ka ng mahihirap na questions,” the board topnotcher advises.

Since memorization is not her strength, she posted important notes and figures on the wall of her study area. Kaye sent us a photo of the wall almost entirely covered with review materials. “Every day, skim mo lang ang mga figures then automatic na siya mag-register sa mind mo,” she says. “I also have some notes pinned on our bathroom wall.” She devoted special attention on areas she found most difficult—namely building technology and construction.

It helped that she’s very detail-oriented. She  loves organizing her notes, which allowed her to easily absorb the lessons. Since she’s aware of her weaknesses—she is easily distracted and has a tendency to procrastinate—she changed her routines. “I avoided social media. Ang daming distractions at that time—the upcoming elections, climate change, Ukraine-Russia crisis. So talagang nag-deactivate ako muna para focused ako sa exam,” she says.

Like many students, Kaye also liked pulling all-nighters. “During the first three months, I would review from 10AM until 2AM, with short breaks in between. I don’t do that every day though,” she says. She also made sure to allow her mind to relax by walking her beagle, Bossie, in the morning and in the afternoon. “Yun lang ang free time kong lumabas at mag-chill,” she says. A month and a half before the board exam, she focused on memorization, and she thinks doing so helped her a lot.

Asked to rate the difficulty of the exam from 1 to 10, Kaye says it’s a 7. “May bagong examiner kasi at hindi namin alam kung paano sya mag-formulate ng questions at yung field of expertise niya. Kaya medyo mahirap ang board exam namin—pero manageable,” she says smiling.

Architect Marianne Kaye Ledesma Ofianga.
Finding a review strategy that would work for an examinee entails self-evaluation, says Kaye. “You need to know yourself first—kung ano ang capabilities and brain capacity mo."

Above average

The 24-year-old Ilongga says she never aspired to become a board topnotcher. “I’m just an average person, with average capacity, and definitely not aiming for that ‘topnotcher’ title,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “I just want to pass the board exam and all I ever did was to give my best every single day.”

Asked why she considers herself “average,” the architect says she based it on the fact that she came from a lesser known school and didn’t graduate with honors.

But as the recent ALE results would prove, preparation is a very important factor, too. And confidence, says Kaye. Every day, she would utter self-affirming words—You can do it. Do your best. Trust in God.

Simple lang siya pero makakatulong siya sa emotional health mo, kung paano mo iko-condition ang self mo pagdating sa board exam,” shares Kaye.

To beat anxiety, Kaye turned to prayers. “Hindi kasi ako nagshe-share ng feelings sa parents or friends ko. Kini-keep ko lang sa sarili ko. Ayoko magbigay ng burden at distraction sa kanila,” she says. “So kay God na lang ako nagko-confess. Sa prayers ko ibinubuhos ang emotions ko, para ma-handle ko ang mga gumugulo sa utak ko. Dahil doon, naging close ako sa Kanya.”

Topping the licensure exam has opened a lot of doors for Kaye. While still on vacation mode, she says she will be accepting commissions soon after the oath-taking this month. She plans to work first before taking the Master Plumber Licensure Board Exam. She’s also bent on taking up a masteral degree in landscape architecture in the near future. Her ultimate dream is to take her practice abroad.

The journey so far has been a great learning process for Kaye. In her viral Facebook post, she told the world the best lesson she’s learned: “I am a walking testament that there’s no such thing as IMPOSSIBLE when it comes to our God.”

[Photos courtesy of Ar. Marianne Kaye Ofianga]