Ms. Maricel Manalo, LPT: Journey to Success in the Special Professional Licensure Examination (SPLE) 2023 Interview

Maricel Manalo-Panes - Journey to Success in the Special Professional Licensure Examination (SPLE) 2023 Interview



This interview features a Teachers-Specialists Organization Kuwait (TSOK) board passer, Maricel Manalo, sharing her experience and journey to passing the board exam 2023.

Here’s an up-close and personal interview with Ms. Maricel Manalo:

How do you feel about receiving the news that you passed the board exam?

She described the news of passing the board exam as a beautiful surprise and an unexpected blessing. The revelation of being a topnotcher added to the joy.

Have you received such recognition before? Please give details.

She is a Civil Service exam passer since 2012 and was the Top 1 in the Special Science Class Entrance Exams during High School, out of around 1000 applicants.

What is your job here in Kuwait? How long have you been OFW?

She started as a Teller in November 2015 and was later promoted to Training Coordinator at Al Muzaini Exchange. Maricel has also been serving as an Adjunct Instructor at ICSA Kuwait for the Office Management course for almost 8 years.

Who do you attribute your success to?

She attributes her success to great mentors, managers, and fellow Toastmasters club members who are headstrong in their professional development. She emphasizes the importance of surrounding oneself with the right people.

Who has inspired you to take up SPLE?

Her family serves as the main inspiration for all her endeavors as an OFW. Fate brought her to become an educator, and she fell in love with teaching.

What were the reactions of your family to this board’s passing?

The reactions of Maricel’s family to her passing the board exam were mixed, involving both tears and happiness. The moment would have been more perfect if they could have celebrated together.

To what extent was TSOK helpful in your success story?

TSOK played a crucial role in her success in becoming a Licensed Professional Teacher (LPT). The organization and its supportive officers assisted, guided, and encouraged her throughout the entire process.

What is your plan for the future or your dream after passing this exam?

She hopes to return home in 2-3 years and serve as an educator to fellow Filipinos. Her dream is to become a college professor in Iloilo.

Is this your first licensure exam? Do you plan on taking other exams, and what would it be?

She took and passed the Civil Service Exam in 2012. She also expresses a desire to take the Foreign Service Officer Exam in the future.

What message would you like to give to the upcoming board exam taker?

Strong motivation is vital, but discipline and strategy are key. You would really need to carve the time from your busy schedule to focus on your review and have a systematic approach. Because of the vast coverage of the exam, you may easily be overwhelmed, so choose the topics that you will master and go over them repeatedly. Having numerous review materials is an advantage, but these will all be pointless if you won’t find the time to read them and have that information retained in your memory.

How did you know about the SPLE?

She got to know about the exam through Ma’am Gracia Amor, who delivered a Financial Literacy seminar. Through Ma’am Gracia, she learned about TSOK and the SPLE being conducted in Kuwait.

When did you decide to apply: after graduation or after finding a job? Why?

Being a BSIT graduate in 2015, she needed to take up educational units to qualify for the exam. She completed her diploma in Teaching between 2018-2020 and waited for the exams to resume in Kuwait due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What did you expect from the SPLE regarding the content of the exam? How different is it from college entrance exams?

She knew that the LET coverage was broad but felt fully prepared through review centers. Her major falling under Social Studies, a topic she loves, made the review easier.

What questions were easy to answer (e.g., solving, logical reasoning, abstract reasoning)?

The easiest questions for her were those containing concepts/info that she studied and memorized.

Did you attend a review center? Which review center? (a.) If yes, how did it affect your preparation for the SPLE? (b.) If not, how did you prepare for the exam in terms of resources and review materials?  

She enrolled in CBRC online review and joined Zoom sessions with Sir Melvin and Sir Gio’s team. TSOK member Mr. Edmundo Sabado also provided review tips and drills.

How many of the things you reviewed appeared in the exam?

Review materials from CBRC, YouTube drills by Sir Melvin Buracho, and lessons from Sir Gio Quebral proved helpful. Nearly all the topics from GenEd, ProfEd, and Social Studies major were covered.

How many weeks or months did you prepare for the exam?

About 3 months.

How much did preparing for the exam cost you? Is it worth it?

CBRC = 7000 PHP

Sir Melvin & Sir Gio’s Team = 1500 PHP

Others = Free

It was worth it because the best investment we can make is in ourselves.

Do you have a daily study routine? (a.) If yes, what is your daily routine, especially the specific time you study? (b.) If not, how did you manage your time, especially for reviewing?  

She didn’t have a strict daily routine but dedicated at least 1 hour every other night and 5 hours or more during her day off for intensive review. Listening to YouTube review drills during chores and commutes supplemented her preparation.

How did you balance your work and review? How did you manage your time?

Her fixed work schedule and a weekly day off facilitated effective time management for both work and review.

How did the SPLE affect your time with family and work?

As she doesn’t have family in Kuwait, she could focus more on preparations. Effective time management was crucial for handling part-time tasks in addition to regular work.

Did you have any strategies in studying for the exam that helped you understand your notes better?

Her strategy involved summarizing important points after review discussions and going over them multiple times for memory retention.

What difficulties did you face in preparing for the exam? How did you better remember complex terms and lessons? Did you improve your memory in any way?

Feeling overwhelmed by the vast amount of topics was a major difficulty. She used mnemonics, keywords, and related real-life scenarios to remember complex terms and lessons.

How stressed were you in preparing for the exam? How did you manage your stress?

While stress increased as the exam date approached, she found comfort in having a stable job regardless of exam results. Reminding herself of doing her best despite pressures and homesickness helped manage stress.

Have you procrastinated on your review? How did you manage procrastination? How did you motivate yourself?

The fear of going back to the Philippines and starting over served as strong motivation against procrastination. She reminded herself that passing the exam was assurance for a confident return home.

How important is preparing for the SPLE (or other exams)? Can you say that you are well prepared? How so?

She emphasizes that preparation boosts confidence and reduces stress on the exam day.

How did you act during the exam? What were your thoughts during the exam?

She felt a mix of anxiety and excitement during the exam. Strategic time management, including marking unsure answers and returning to them later, helped her navigate challenging sections.

Where did you gain the strength that helped you pass the exam?

Maricel gained strength from her faith in the Almighty and support from her family. Deciding to give her best effort in taking the SPLE LET also contributed to her strength.

Did you search for and use guides and tips in your preparation? How effective were they?

She followed various effective tips such as improving memorization, listening to review drills, practicing shading answers, maintaining a brain-healthy diet, and even wearing red on exam day.

How did passing the exam benefit you in terms of your work, your life, your family, and yourself?

Earning the official title of LPT gave me more confidence to excel in my job and inspired me to try new teaching approaches. As an educator, I have the privilege and authority to influence, encourage, and inspire learners, making a positive difference in their lives. Personally, this achievement gives me hope of settling down in the Philippines in the near future.


Here’s the full list of passers:




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Peace and love to you.

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