You already have THE plan. You finally figured out what university to go to, what career to pursue, or you have finally completed all your grad school coursework. You are ready for the next big step.

As students and professionals prepare for the crucial tests in their life such as the College Entrance Test (CET), National Medical Admission Test (NMAT), Board Exam, Comprehensive exams or the Bar Exam, a major question to consider is: Do I need to enroll in a review center or do I study on my own? To help you make an informed decision, we have listed the advantages of each.

Advantages of Self-Studying:

Self-Study requires a lot of will
  • Self-Study can be Done Anywhere: One advantage of self-studying is that you can choose the best place for you to review in. So, you can find your own happy place. In fact, you can even study in your bedroom, but please, just because you can does not mean you should.
  • Self-Study can be Done in Your Own Time: Another advantage of self-studying is that you can choose your own study time, so you can do it when you are more relaxed. However, it takes a lot of discipline to choose your own study time.
  • Self-Study is Good for Exams Which Are Not Standardized: For comprehensive exams, the only way to study well is to study on your own. This is because comprehensive exams differ per student. Due to this, all you have to do is to consult with your examiner, read your readings, and prepare your notes.

As a result, self-studying is best for those who desire autonomy when they study, or are preparing for exams that were tailor-made for them.

Advantages of studying in a Review Center:

Review Centers are more structured
  • Studying in a Review Center is Structured: One advantage of studying in a review center is that it is structured, which helps develop the discipline to review. After all, the French philosopher Jacques Ranciere said that the role of the teacher is not necessarily to explain the lesson, but to keep distractions out, so students can develop the will to learn.
  • Studying in a Review Center can Duplicate the Exam Atmosphere: Another advantage of studying in a review center is that it can duplicate the actual CET atmosphere. In fact, in AHEAD’s simulated exams, a lot of distractions are created to train students on what to do during the actual test. Due to this, students are way more prepared for the distractions that happen during the actual exam, like LRT trains whizzing past students taking the DCAT.
  • Studying in a Review Center Grants Access to the Best Materials: Unlike self-study, where students only rely on their books and notes, studying in a review center, especially one which is test-based, grants access to the best materials. This is because the best materials are those patterned after the actual entrance exams, for students who have gone through a test-based review will feel as if the actual exam was their third time, due to the constant practice.

As a result, studying in a review center is best for those who need to develop a certain sense of discipline. Also, review centers are the best places to prepare for standardized tests, since these are as structured as review centers themselves.

We have laid the ingredients on the table. For those who treasure autonomy, then the self-review method is for you. On the other hand, if you need more discipline and structure, then you better go for the center-based review.

Now, the recipe for success is in your hands. Whatever your decision may be, just remember that the greatest regret in life is a what-could-have-been.

Edited and Revised by Daniel Francisco P. Del Rosario

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