Posted in Everything Med

Bitter Truth of the NMAT: Part II

Part II. Learn from your Mistakes: Dos and Don’ts for the NMAT

When Applying:

  • Go to and be mindful of the application period.
  • Cheap trick: if you ever encounter pixel problems for your NMAT photo and have photo editing apps such as VSCO cam, just crop your photo into a square and save it according to the needed size on the site. Note that you have choices “small, medium, large, and actual size,” along with the pixel dimensions written under.
  • I know this is a matter of self-discipline, but don’t pay on the day of the deadline. I’m worried for you. If laziness gets the best of you, pay online. I don’t have to tell you this. I dunno. I’m just concerned.

When Studying:

  • Do not take it for granted because the test is not easy. Not only do you have a limited amount of time to answer the items but most of the items themselves are difficult to answer.
  • Do not cram your review, study a month or two before the test, but this doesn’t mean you need to constantly burn the midnight candle as you did during the finals of your last year in college. The earlier you start, the better. Information sticks more when you take your time understanding a concept, not merely “dangling on to the though of it”.
  • Read sparkly notes. It’s a good general outline of the major subjects, although not quite for Chemistry and Physics. Search *subject* sparkly notes pdf on Google.
  • After refreshing your mind with (not too much) crash course videos on YouTube, high school/college notes, and “101” pdfs, REVIEW THE PRACTICE SET EMAILED TO YOU BY CEM. Its level of difficulty is in par with that of the actual test. And if you really want the concepts to stick, rationalize the part two of the practice set yourself,  although I did one for Physics and will be dropping the link below.
  • Don’t stress on the MSA. It may be helpful in terms of its rationale but most of the items are too difficult. The practice set is better.
  • Search Math tricks, memorize some of the square roots, internalize formulas and be quick to look for patterns. Practice and analysis is key.
  • For the Part I, practice is key. I can’t exactly tell you to “study the dictionary”. It all boils down to how wide your vocabulary has grown through the years. Or just internalize some of the items in the practice set. I remember some came out.
  • As far as I could remember, here are some of the things you must focus on in every subject; more like a coverage. Char.

Part I (four subtests, 40 items each for 3 hours):

    • Math, the basics, actually. You’ll be given equational problems, word problems, and graph analysis.
      • Internalize Area, Perimeter formulas of common shapes
      • Basic Right triangle principles
      • Rules of exponents and fractions
      • PEMDAS
      • Basic arithmetic principles (also arithmetic sum, but you can do away with pure logic if the “n” isn’t astronomical.)
      • How to analyze graphs
      • Factoring, Foil Method

Part II (four subsets, 50 items each for 2 hours and 30 minutes):

    • Biology (Difficult, for a non-biology major like myself)
      • Mendelian, Population, and Molecular Genetics (the basics)
      • Botany (Parts and functions of different plants, short-day/long-night and short-night/long-day plants, phototrophism and other -phisms, don’t like botany, important plant enzymes, parts and functions of a plant cell, photosynthesis, etc.)
      • Evolution and Diversity (Darwin, symbiosis, etc.)
      • Basics of taxonomy and zoology (biomass, etc.)
      • Ecology and the biosphere
      • Basics of AnaPhysio (If you’re a paramedical course grad, don’t worry.)
      • CELLS
    • Physics (Easier than Chem and Bio, for me, that is.)
      • Kinematics (Displacement, Velocity, Acceleration, Equations of Motion and Projectile motion)
      • I know you know Newton’s laws by heart
      • FORCE (but don’t break your head on torque and moments)
      • Work, Power and Energy (Kinetic, potential energy, etc.)
      • Linear momentum and impulse
      • Waves
      • Light waves and basic optics (Focal point and stuff)
      • THERMODYNAMICS and calorimetry
      • Electricity
      • Basics of magnetism and electromagnetic induction
    • Chemistry (My gosh I cannot even, tuon jud dai):
      • Atomic structure
      • Electron Configuration and basics of molecular geometry (Sp’s and the hybrids and whatnot)
      • Patterns in the Periodic Table
      • Bonds, their nature and types
      • Ideal Gases (Charles’, Boyle’s, Guy-lussac’s)
      • Thermochemisty (enthalpy)
      • Entropy (general idea)
      • Molarity, Molality, Normality
      • Colligative Properties
      • Chemical Equilibrium
      • Acids and Bases
      • Oxidation and Reduction
      • Nuclear Chem (Nuclear Fission, Radioactivity and Nuclear Reactions)

               This is the most of what I can give and remember.

The Judgement Day:

  • Sleep early the night before. You can’t afford to doze off during the exam. Time is gold.
  • Go early. Not just for yourself but for your roommates too.
  • Relax. A clear mind is a thinking mind.
  • What to bring:
    • Plastic Envelope
    • Sharpened pencils, don’t waste your time sharpening them during the test
    • Sharpener, because what the heck
    • Candy
    • Jacket because you can’t afford to be frost-bitten
    • A valid ID
    • Yourself, your faith and determination. You can leave your fears behind.
    • Money for celebratory food trip after exam
  • PLEASE wear your wristwatch. Time is gold. The NMAT is not just a test of knowledge, but a test of time too.
  • Release the Kraken (Pee/Poo) BEFORE the exam because for the Nth time, TIME. IS. GOLD.
  • When the proctor says, “you may start now,” START AND THINK FAST AND FORWARD. Ain’t nobody got time for brain clots. (What I did was read the entire passage through so I didn’t have to look back when I answered the questions. But we have our own styles.)
  • For the image tests, TURN THE BOOKLET AROUND who cares what people think, you gotta go to med! But seriously, it helps.
  • It depends on your strategy but what I did was finish all the easy questions leaving an hour and a half to finish Quantitative Reasoning and Numerical Ability, which for me, are the most challenging.
  • LEARN THE ART OF ELIMINATING. Especially when the item requires you to pick out the black sheep. You’ll be surprised by how much faster you can answer using this skill.
  • Write the alphabet in one line on your scratch paper. Use it as a template for analyzing patterns for the letters under the Numerical Ability section.
  • For Part Two, follow the time allotted. 35 minutes for Bio and Social Science, 40 for Chem and Physics. Your call, your strategy.

BOTTOMLINE: No matter how hard you study, it all boils down to how you take the test. So my best piece of advice is for you to RELAX and THINK CLEARLY, THINK CRITICALLY.
Because when you look at it, the NMAT isn’t exactly difficult– it’s challenging.

I wont say good luck, because the NMAT’s not solely about luck. Instead, I’m gonna say I KNOW YOU’VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES, SO SLAY THAT TEST! 

Posted in Everything Med

Bitter Truth of the NMAT: Part I

Part I. Why I took the NMAT twice

Contrary to popular remarks, the National Medical Admissions Test is not an old T-shirt you could scavenge out of your high school and early college “stock” knowledge, so please oh please don’t take it for granted. Well, unless you’re a genius with an eidetic memory of some kind, it’d be lemonade on a sunny day. I’ve had friends telling me, “kaya ra jud nang NMAT, Tal. I-run down ra ang high school lessons sa Bio, Chem, Physics ug Math (the NMAT is manageable, Tal. Just review what was tackled in Bio, Chem, Physics and Math back in high school).” I appreciate their words of encouragement, but if I were that friend I would give you the blunt truth, hence this blog.


DON’T EVER DARE TO TAKE THE NMAT WITHOUT REVIEWING AT ALL, with exemptions for geniuses who know Biology, Physics, Math, Chemistry, Sociology and Psychology like the back of their hand. However, for average people like myself, I had to take it twice to fully condition myself that the NMAT does not go easy on Medical School applicants.

The first time I took the NMAT was last October 2016. I was fresh from our board exam so my brain was still recovering. But the NMAT doesn’t care about that. My biggest mistake was playing with the illusion my friends gave me– that I could hurdle the test with the aid of mere logic and stock knowledge. As per necessity, I bought the MSA NMAT set along the roads of Recto (it’s cheaper there. I bought mine for only 750 while in NBS, it costs 1115 php. You’d save like, a celebratory meal for Pepper Lunch after the NMAT exam). Some may do a full-grilling of the questions in the MSA, but as old as the reviewer is now, I’ve learned that it serves as a mere guide than actual study material. I didn’t enroll for a review center because I didn’t want to spend much knowing that some of my friends were able to get a percentile of 90+ from mere “self-study”. But of course, with “mere self-study” comes great discipline.

So what did I do with my “self-study”? A month and a half before the test, I skimmed through the MSA reviewers, got discouraged by how much I’ve forgotten the most basic concepts, and decided to watch “Crash Course” on YouTube; which wasted my time but was fun, nonetheless. I basically took the first test for granted, recklessly cramming two weeks before the test. I wont even blame it on the fact that I worked at the laboratory 600 hours a week because I had all the time to review. I cram-read the rationale of the reviewers, memorized the formulas a night before, and held on to the information like dangling on a cliff.

And ended up falling during the exam day.

Fifteen working days later, the mail arrived and read “66th percentile”. It was okay, but not enough for the schools I wished to apply to in Manila. Telling you about the struggles of my applications would be a different novel. Synopsis: it’s not “chill” especially when you’re not from there and when your college is waaaay over in Visayas. I had to have recommendation letters mailed to me.

I finally had a firm resolve to retake the test on March 26 because I lacked 4 points to be admitted in UERM. I had to take it seriously. Well, not too seriously because I still finished a couple of anime series and fanfics. But I finally made a review schedule and sticked with it, though I still didn’t enroll for a review center because work and poor. Haha. Jk.

I wont get into the details of how I reviewed for the test because of course, we all have our ways. But I’ll be giving you a few tips, dos and don’ts, and the topics to focus on, so tune in for Part 2.