Being a Topnotcher is This Electronics Engineer’s Way of Redeeming Himself from Failures in College

In the exit exam before his graduation, Aaron failed six times before he was able to pass. Eventually, he became the first placer in the Electronics Engineering board exam.


You know what they say about failure? That it is not the opposite of success. Actually, it is part of success.

Engr. Aaron Polancos best exemplifies that proverb, as he topped his Electronics Engineering Licensure Examination in April 2017 after a disappointing ending in college. He had to retake his exit exam at Mapua Institute of Technology in Manila six times before he was able to pass.

In an e-mail interview, he shared that his mother pressured him to graduate on time but unfortunately, he failed to deliver. The truth of the matter is that Aaron was skeptical about his exit exam.

“I’ve studied hard and failed miserably every time,” he said. “In my seventh take, I have passed.”

And instead of being discouraged by his record of six exit exam failures, Aaron pushed himself to the limit.


Photo supplied.

He wanted to prove that a regular student like him – Aaron did not graduate with academic distinction in college – can emerge as a board exam topnotcher. Because statistically, most top ten placers finish their engineering degrees with Latin honors.

Aaron defied the odds. With a rating of 88.80%, he placed first in his board exam. Three other students from Mapua were with him in the top ten examinees list.

When the results came out, he did not believe it first. He was in deep slumber when he received the phone call. But as soon as he had recovered from cutting his sleep short and verified it himself, the news made him scream to his lungs. He succeeded in his goal of redemption.

More of Aaron’s stories as an engineering student and as a reviewee in the full transcript of our e-mail interview below:

Why did you choose that course? Who or what was your inspiration?

Ever since I was about 7 or 8years old during my prep years, I dreamt of becoming an engineer. My aunt is a civil engineer. I look up into her and I think it’s cool to be an engineer. During high school, I don’t have an idea what engineering field I would take. My mom told me to take up ECE and the rest was history.

What are your favorite subjects in your entire engineering study? How about least liked subjects?

My favorite subjects are Math, Physics, Electronic Circuits, Electrical Circuits, Analog, Digital, and Microwave Communications. While the least liked subject is Chemistry.

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Have you had any subject failures or disappointing academic performance to the very least? If yes, what did you do about it? How did you cope?

I have failed 6 times in an exit exam. I was a graduating student back then. My mom pressured me to graduate and I can’t figure out how to pass that exam. I’ve studied hard and failed miserably every time. In my seventh take, I’ve passed. I think that this is one of the many reasons why I’ve aimed to top the board exam wherein I can redeem myself.

Do you have any study tips or tricks that you think others should emulate from you?

I usually study a week before and play online games a day before exams. Only 1 to 2 hours per study session would do. I also do school works immediately so I can play games right afterwards.

What is the best engineering school advice that you can give to other students?

Engineering is a big learning ground. We will encounter our weaknesses as we go by. There will be mistakes and failures that can hinder us moving forward. We must learn to overcome them. Don’t feel so lowly about it. Just remember that obstacles will make you better.

Photo supplied.

What were the greatest struggles that you experienced while preparing for the board exam? What did you do to overcome them?

Reading Books. I have no choice back then, I have a goal to be one of the topnotchers and reading books is not an option but a necessity. I started reading my favorite subjects and gradually including other subjects. In the long run, I’ve become comfortable and took long hours reading. Every struggle that come has been overpowered by my will to achieve my goal that time.

Did you enroll in a center for your review? Do you recommend doing so? Which one did you go to?

I enrolled in Excel Review Center. I would recommend it since it gave me the best of results. You will encounter different professors and students. The professors will inspire you and you will have an idea of the work ethic of other students that you can emulate.

How did you find the board exam? Easy, average, or difficult?

If my goal is just to pass, it is just easy peasy. However, my goal is to have high scores and be one of the topnotchers. That’s why I think it is difficult.

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What were your expectations after you took the board exam and before the results were out? Did you have a feeling that you will be at the top?

After I took the electronics subject, doubt comes into my mind since it is really hard. I’ve counted my sure answers and I think it is not topnotcher numbers. I’ve just prayed and hoped that I can still do it.

What did you do the first minute you discovered you topped the board exam?

I was still in shock back then. I was sleeping when the results came out. I was pissed since my phone rang so loud that disturbed my sleep. I was so confused that time. My aunt told me that I’ve got the rank one. I immediately check my Facebook and I’ve seen a lot of message (which rarely occurs). I was not dreaming that night. I screamed at the house saying “Top 1 ako! (I am top 1!)”

Who do you owe your success to?

I owe my success to my family, parents, siblings, relatives, professors, mentors, friends, and girlfriend. To God who filled my life with people who are always on my side.

What incentives did you get from your university and review center after your board exam success?

Monetary incentives. I hope there will be a lot more. Just kidding!

Share your most effective study habits.

I usually study non-stop during review days from morning until evening. There are times that even when I’m trying to sleep, my mind is still solving problems, still asking questions, still analyzing. I guess we should know how to exploit and make use of our minds. Seize the opportunity when your mind wants more. I rest only when I feel that my mind is overloaded.

Give 5 important tips for future board exam takers who aim to become topnotchers.

  • Eyes on the prize
  • Study while other rest
  • Never forget the basics
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses
  • Your level of determination will make you overcome the odds

You might also want to read:

This Former Working Student Topped His Board Exam Despite Being Unable to Finish the Test. Click here

DOTA Player Tops 2016 Mechanical Engineering Board Exam (Ph). Click here

Math Isn’t the Favorite Subject of this Filipino Civil Engineering Topnotcher. Click here

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Dion Greg Reyes
A young civil engineer finding his place in the industry. Pilipino.

Being a Topnotcher is This Electronics Engineer’s Way of Redeeming Himself from Failures in College

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