Choosing a Review Center: Truth and Lies

In the 1990s and even earlier, there were only a few review centers in the Philippines.  In fact, most nursing schools conducted their own review classes for their graduates.  However, the rapid increase in nursing enrollment which started in 2000 has also paved way for the mushrooming of not only nursing schools but also nursing review centers.  The lack of regulation of these review centers greatly impacted the quality of review and performance of many nursing hopefuls.

Although the BSN Program has equipped graduates with the knowledge and skills to become a nurse, in order to practice, one must obtain a license as Registered Nurse.  It has been part of the practice of many if not all to enroll in nursing review centers to boost their chances of passing the tough nurse licensure examination administered by the Professional Regulation Commission-Board of Nursing.  Although literature is limited to support a higher chance of passing the licensure examination with enrollment in review centers, adequate preparation, which includes a comprehensive review will matter most.  On one hand, it cannot also be discounted that some examinees pass the licensure examination without undergoing a review from a review center, though a lot of factors can be correlated.

The existence of numerous review centers brought about a stiffer competition amongst them.  To some extent innovating their review programs and intensifying their marketing strategy which sometimes include enticing but misleading numbers, particularly on the passing rates.  It is therefore wise to take into consideration several aspects before finally deciding to enroll in one review center.

  1. THE NAME.  Does it ring a bell?  Many are driven by popularity of nursing review centers.  The better the marketing strategy one review center has, the higher the chances of attracting more enrollees.  There are however review centers that do not invest much on marketing their centers, as they have the principle that “word-of-mouth” will make their center known.  The reputation of a review center should also matter, in that it has not been involved in illegal activities.
  2. TRACK RECORD. Mostly, review centers present passing rates to attract enrollees.  Truth is, the figures are simply self-claimed as there is not a monitoring body for this.  The Professional Regulation Commission does not release an official passing percentage for review centers unlike for nursing schools.  The list of top-notchers can also be deceiving as the PRC only recognizes and releases the name of the school where the student graduated and not to include the review center.
  3. AFFILIATED SCHOOLS.  Review centers usually have affiliations or partnership with nursing schools.  Although not all top performing schools are affiliated with any review center, some are.  This implicates that these schools have considered quality of the review center in choosing or forging an affiliation or partnership.
  4. ROSTER OF REVIEWERS.  If the review specialists in a review center are academicians (teaching in the BSN program), they are more grounded on the curriculum and test framework which are the basis for the formulation of questions for the licensure examination.  On the other hand, some academicians may conduct review classes in a traditional classroom manner.  In some review centers, “Shine-On, Shine-Out” phenomenon also happens whereby their “produced” topnotchers are employed as reviewers and later on replaced by a “newer” or higher in rank topnotcher.  To put it simply, a remarkable or significant experience of a reviewer matters.  But nonetheless, whatever the background of the reviewer is, they have the ability to impart knowledge in simple, concise, and comprehensive manner.  The concepts are also presented in varying strategies and techniques to allow for an easy grasp.  Furthermore, a good reviewer should be able to motivate its students to study, persevere, and instill in mind passing the examination.
  5. THE REVIEW PROGRAM.  Review programs compose of didactics or lectures on nursing subjects with focus on important nursing concepts; mental drills which compose of examinations and rationalization; simulated board examination; and final coaching or boosters that include rationalization of their simulated board exam and highlighting predicted concepts or points for the licensure examination.  Another consideration is the duration of the review program.  Typically, review programs would last for 2-3 months although some take up to 4 months depending on the number of class days.  It is also worthwhile to note the number of hours spent on particular nursing subjects.  In terms of distribution of hours, Medical-Surgical Nursing take a bigger chunk of the time as it covers Nurse Practice Test III, IV and part of V.  Although the best way to pass the licensure examination is through nursing knowledge, an important aspect of a review program is the inclusion of Effective Test-Taking Strategies.
  6. JUST ENJOY THE SHOW.  Learning can sometimes be boring and so reviewers use humor to lighten up or awaken the reviewees.  It can be observed however that some review centers focus on the entertainment mainly.  This now implicates that less entertainment equates a poor performance of a review center.  While humor and entertainment can help promote attentiveness and better interaction, at the end of the day, its not about how entertaining the review went but the learning, understanding and new insights gained.
  7. THE LOCATION/ VENUE OF REVIEW.  The location or venue of review classes should be accessible.  Otherwise, relocating to an area near the review center will be advisable.  Sometimes review classes are handled in big venues that can occupy thousands of participants.
  8. CLASS SIZE.  Some of the review centers hold a class with 500 or more students.  This greatly affects the learning of the students.  Special learning needs of students may be neglected with a large audience size.
  9. REVIEW FEE.  The cost of review is not a joke.  The most expensive cost of a review for the local board exam is P18,000++ and the cheapest is as low as P9,000++.  Do not use the review fee mainly as the basis of determining quality review program or review center.  Its not always applicable that the higher the cost, the better the quality, and the lower the cost, the poorer the quality.  Especially nowadays that enrollment in the BSN program is declining and in effect lower enrolment rates in review centers, the cost is also affected.
  10. THE REVIEWEE.  It’s a matter of making the right choice, and the decision lies upon the reviewee.  It is also important that the reviewee not only depends on  the review center but also to himself.

Byron Webb Romero, RN, MSN

Finished BSN at Lyceum of the Philippines University, and Master of Science in Nursing Major in Adult Health Nursing at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. Currently working at Manila Doctors College of Nursing as a Team Leader for Level I and II, Lecturer for Professional Nursing Subjects, and also a Clinical Instructor.

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