How to Pass the Physician Licensure Examination

Published on 6/18/18   9:48 AM

I am an average medical student.

I had removal  examinations during medical school.

I cried during and after exams... even after the result of the exams.

I have my own ups and downs during medical school but I passed the licensure examination on my first take.

If I can do it, I know you can also do it!


I am Genesis Mercado M.D., graduate of Manila Science High School,  UP Manila - BS Biology  and San Beda College of Medicine.

I am also a graduate of Internal Medicine Residency from Manila Doctors Hospital. 

This post is 3 years late, but I hope to inspire the interns who will take their Philippine Physician Board exam. 


A students needs at least 9 years after high school before he/she is eligible to take the Philippine Physician board exam 
  • 4 years Pre Medicine Course 
  • 4 years Medicine Proper 
  • 1 year Post Graduate Internship 
  • Total: 9 years 
Philippine Physician board exam
  • 12 subjects 
  • 4 examination days in 2 consecutive weeks 

I tried to search for blogs in the internet on “How to pass the Philippine Physician Board Exam” months before I finished internship. 

The notes in the blogs helped me a lot. I then promised myself to make a blog on my board exam experience but I was not able to do it. 

Part 1
Best seconds of my life: Board Exam Result

Before we start my board exam journey, I want to share the “Best seconds of my life: Board Exam Result”
Double click the image to play the video

The day was February 18, 2015   
  • 2 days after the last day of the Physician Board Examination (2 days earlier than usual)
  • 1 day after the arrival of mommy and daddy to Manila from the USA (my whole family is living in the USA while I am in the Philippines studying medicine

      At around 3:35 pm, I got a phone call from an unknown number while we, Daddy, mommy and I, were inside Robinson Otis Supermarket
  •        "Congratulations, Dr. Mercado... Uncle Greg mo to!
  •        Uncle Greg was the first person to inform me of the board exam result 

Dream then became reality as we checked the board examination result posted on Philippine Regulation Commission's website. 

The happiest moment is not the time that you saw your name on the Physician Licensure result... 

Rather, it is the moment that you saw the joy in the eyes of your parents when THEY saw your name on the list.

Double Click on the image to play the video 

Me with daddy and mommy minutes after we saw my name on the PRC website

Part 2
Pre – Board Exam Journey

A. Clerkship/ Internship 

-               I always advise my clerks/interns to study for the Board Examination during rotation. 

-               Maximize your rotation
1.      Read on the cases that you see in the wards. If your on Internal medicine rotation, read your internal medicine notes; if you are in pediatrics, study your pedia notes. 
2.      Examine your patients. Experience is the best teacher. The cases will stick in your mind if you saw it and read on it. Board exam includes cases that is normally seen in the wards 
a.          Listen to the sound of heart murmurs.  
b.         Examine the skin lesions (the color, size, etc).
c.          Examine the patient’ abdomen and master the signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal diseases ( appendicitis, cholecystitis, etc)

3.         Read patient’s ECG and laboratory examination 
4.         Listen to the resident’s discussion of the cases during endorsement  
5.         Attend hospital conferences and take down notes 

-               Must read and master during Clerkship/internship  
1.         Legal Medicine Notes 
2.         Preventive Medicine and Family Medicine Notes 
o   Why? 
a.   Most of the time, these subjects are the least subject that you would focus on during the review 
b.   Legal medicine is a “stand alone” subject unlike other subjects where you can integrate the topics during your review like (Internal medicine, Pathology, Anatomy and Pharmacology)


B. Review School versus Self Review 

-               Question 1: Will I pass the exam if I do not enrol in a review school?
o   Answer: Yes, I know a lot of students who pass the exam on their first take without enrolling in a review school but I know students who did not enter review school and failed. 

-               Question 2: Is review school a guarantee that I will pass the exam?
o   Answer: I passed the exam once under a review school but I also know students who are on a review class but failed the exam 

-               Therefore, the answer to the question “Will I enter review school or not” depends on your study style

-               If you are the type of student who can master the review material on your own then I guess you do not need review school

-               On my case, I need “security blanket.” 
1.     It is easier for me to study under the supervision of mentors. 
2.     I need review materials from a respected review class 
3.     I need to see other students who are on my similar situation – “depressed, exhausted but hopeful.” The picture ironically pushes me to study harder.  
4.     I need encouragement from my mentors who will constantly remind me that I can do it. 


C. Topnotch Medical Board Prep

-               I enrolled in Topnotch Review Center. This is the best decision that I made for my board exam journey.

-               Dr Banzuela is our professor in San beda College of Medicine
o   the teaching style that he used during our med school is the same style that he used for topnotch. 
o   He can simplify difficult topics for the students to understand 

-               The notes in topnotch reviewer are must know topics. 
-               Competent reviewers
-               Free pizza and fishball during review classes

Part III
"The Battle"
Board Exam Review Proper

Board exam is your greatest battle. Do the following to win it: 

A.  Prayer – your ultimate weapon 

-               I always believe in prayers. 
-               Regardless of your religion, you must pray and ask God’s/Allah's guidance. 

(Mobile phone: Click to enlarge image)

         Pray a specific prayer: “God, help me top the exam”, “God, help me pass the exam” 
                During the board review season
o   I prayed at National Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus, Malacanang, Manila, and Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat - San Beda Church, Manila 
o   My family prayed at National Shrine Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes sa Emittsburg, Maryland, USA

   Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat - San Beda Church Manila 

National Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus, Malacanang Manila  

National Shrine Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes, Emittsburg, Maryland USA 
(daddy's facebook post after board exam result)

B.   Believe in yourself         
           During the board exam review, I changed the wallpaper of my laptop into a picture of small cat in front a mirror 

o   The cat believed in himself. He believed that one day, he will be as great as a lion. 
o   Picture yourself as the small cat, and lion as your “future self” – a successful, prominent physician

       Believe in yourself and the universe will conspire to help you achieve your dream. 

(Mobile phone: Click to enlarge image)

C. The Battle Song 

-               Since board exam is a battle, I recommend that you choose your own “battle song” 
-               Songs give us encouragement. It help push us to our limits

-              My battle song is “Lose Yourself” by Eminem 
o   It is the only song in my playlist for the whole review season. 
o   I played it while I was studying, minutes before the exam, and minutes after the exam
The song is about a guy who want to seize that one moment, that one chance to achieve his dream. 

"You better lose yourself in the music, the moment 
You own it, you better never let it go 
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow 
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime"

- Eminem 


D. Review Proper 

-               I decided to take my examination on February (currently I think the exam is on March) 

-               May to August 
o   I enrolled in topnotch and followed their schedule from May to August

-               August to February : Organ System Approach (Self Review)
o   I did an organ system approach to my review on the last few months before the exam 
o   Organs System approached helped me integrate the topics (anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, surgery, internal medicine) in my study

Examiner may ask pharmacology questions during Surgery Exam, anatomy questions during pediatrics, etc and vice versa 

End of Internship – May 2014
May to August 
Topnotch Schedule 
               I reviewed the topic per subject
              Ex: first week: Anatomy 
              Second week: Biochemistry 

Organ System Approach
(topics from in Physiology, Pharmacology, OB-Gyne, Anatomy, Surgery, Pediatrics, pathology, Internal medicine)


Respiratory and Critical Care 
+ Microbiology/Parasitology Notes

Rheumatology, Immunology, Dermatology, Allergology 
Other subjects
               Legal Med
               Preventive MEdicine
               Other topics not covered during organs

Intensive Review Phase (January and February) 
One week per subject 
Board Exam – Feb 2015

-               This is my guide on how I studied during the exam. 

Review Materials 

Review Materials 
Topnotch notes 
Topnotch notes
First Aid: Step 1 USMLE 

Topnotch notes 
Anatomy and Histology 
Topnotch notes
Study anatomy with Netter
Topnotch notes
First Aid: Step 1 USMLE 
Legal medicine 
Topnotch notes 
Med school Legal Medicine Notes 
Topnotch notes
Topnotch notes 
Internal medicine 
Topnotch notes
IM platinum 
Obstetrics and Gynecology 
Topnotch notes 
Topnotch notes
Preventive medicine 
PreTest: Preventive Medicine 7th and 9th edition
Topnotch notes 


E.  Body and mind conditioning

-               I conditioned my mind and body clock 6 months prior the examination 

-               I wake up at 3 am, sleep at 9 pm for 6 months 

-               This is the reason why I am not sleepy during the examination (other examinee sleep during the board exam) 

-               I do not take a nap in the afternoon because during examination, you should not sleep. So might as well condition yourself not to sleep in the afternoon. 

Daily Schedule 
3 am 
Breakfast and morning routine 
3 am – 12nn
12 nn – 1pm 
1 pm – 9 pm 
9 pm 

Part IV
3 days before Board Exam 

1.         Make sure to visit your board exam venue 3 days prior the exam 
o   Check for parking slot 
o   Check for your room (if the guard of the building will allow you to enter) (PRC will release the room assignment online)
o   Check for restroom near your testing room 
2.         Prepare your test exam materials (testing permit, pencils, sharpener, eraser, bottled water, food)
3.         Prepare your “analog” wrist watch. Digital watch is discouraged during examination. 

Part V
Board Exam Day

1.        Wake up at 3 am (you have been doing this for the past 6 months! )
2.        Pray!
3.        Eat your heavy breakfast (you need glucose for the exam)
4.        Wear your most comfortable shirt/dress + bring your white coat 
                  - I dont believe that red is the lucky color
                  - I wore the same "blue polo shirt" - my lucky polo - for the whole 4 days of the exam
                  - I just made it sure that the polo is cleaned every after the exam

5.        Be at the exam site at 5:45 am
6.        You can ask the proctor to accompany you if ever you want to go to the restroom during examination.
7.         There is a break in between subjects. You may eat your lunch during the break
8.         Do not talk with your peers during break. Focus your energy on studying for the next subject.
9.         Pray!

I took this video immediately after the 3rd day of board exam 
(Double click the image to play the video)

Part VI
Board Exam Result

The board exam result is usually released 2 – 5 working days after the board exam.

Double click the image to play the video

Double click the image to play the video 

Part VII

This is my board examination review story.
May God bless you on your Philippine Board Exam!
Make your own "best seconds after the board exam video" 
Congratulation Doctor (insert your name) in advance!

                                                                                     - Genesis Mercado M.D. 

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Genesis A. Mercado M.D. 
is a biologist and a licensed medical doctor
trained in Internal Medicine 

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