My last post was about my goals for this year 2015, and one of them is to get and pass the board exam for Chief Mate in MARINA which I finally got last 13 February 2015. Board exams for Marine Deck and Engine Officers were transferred to MARINA from PRC just this year, and I was among the first examinees (for Management level) to take the first shot, or as what we know as “first blood” last January 19, 2015. Many of the first examinees were shocked because all we know is the procedures conducted by PRC. But after some trials and errors, I finally got the pot of gold.
Since I took the first pilot test for exams for Management Level, some of my friends, colleagues, classmates and ex crewmates are asking me how to process the application for exam and how it works. Even until now. So to make the queries answered, I opted to make my second blog post about the exams.
So herewith listed are the procedures and anything to expect, from processing of papers and application to how the exam works. I’ll try to elaborate it in a not so boring way. Believe me, this is one hell of a ride journey, but if you really want to get it, bear with it.
Training for Management Level Course (MLC)
This is the one of the most controversial, talked about trainings a marine officer should take if you want to upgrade your rank. Management Level Course is a 54-day training (will take three months if you’ll disregard weekends and holidays) consisting of topics drafted from STCW and divided into functions, depending on the topic.
What’s hard for this training aside from its very lengthy duration is the training fee. Prices range from PhP25,000 to PhP30,000, depending on the training center. I was so blessed because my company has their own training center, and MLC is free for all of its crew. All I have to worry about is my transportation fees everyday for about three months.
At the end of the course, you will be issued three certificates (four for engine department), one each for every function. Keep it because it will be required for future references.
Application for Exam
In this part, you need to be a bit knowledgeable with the usage of computers, as well as patient with schedules. Many seamen I’ve talked to are not so happy with this system because they are still confused on how to set an appointment and uploading their documents online. But for some tech-savvy ones (like me), the method implemented by MARINA is so quick and easy to follow.
First, you MUST upload all your documents online in their website for seafarers, http://www.scsmarinaph.com for them to easily track your career progression and part of their online profiling of all Filipino seafarers. Scan all your documents, including certificates of training, passport, seaman’s book, yellow card and government issued certificates, either in .jpeg format or .pdf format. Register yourself by filling up all necessary information, and upload all your scanned documents. After finishing all of the step by step procedures, you will be given a Seafarer’s ID. This number is very important because you will be needing this on your future transactions with MARINA.
If you still cannot follow the step by step procedures in their website, there are some training centers, review centers and (in most cases) in your company that offers help in registering yourself in the website- free of charge.
Second, apply online at http://www.marinaapppointment.com.ph. and secure an appointment date. Fill out all necessary information asked on the page, including the Seafarer’s ID. On the calendar option, there you can see the available dates for appointment. Choose the date you want and the time of your appointment. After finishing, print out the form that you will receive from MARINA in your email inbox. Keep it and bring it on your appointment date.
Appointment in MARINA
On the day of your appointment, make sure you have all necessary documents so that you will have no hassle and frills during your assessment. One thing more, punctuality is a virtue here. If you did not arrived at the MARINA STCW office on time, your slot will be forfeited.
Before reporting, make sure you have all of these:
1. MLC Certificates. Bring all three certificates issued to you. If your MLC was taken from August 2013 to April 2014, you should also have a certificate for MLC refresher course. All MLC certificates issued earlier than August 2013 will not be accepted. Original and photocopy.
2. Seaman’s Book. Make sure that the accumulated days of being an OIC is not lesser than 12 months. If your total days of service is 12 months or more as OIC, you are qualified for Chief Mate or Second Engineer,but if you had 36 months or more as OIC, you may be qualified to take the exam as Master or Chief Engineer, case to case basis. Original and photocopy.
3. Medical Certificate, PEME format. Before disembarking, you must get from your Master the medical certificate issued to you before you went onboard. This will be very helpful to you,but make sure that the expiry date is not yet due. Original and photocopy.
4. Company Sea Service Certificate. Obtain this one from your respective shipping companies,signed and dry sealed. Original and photocopy.
5. NSO Birth certificate. Original and photocopy.
6. Appointment Letter sent to your email, original and photocopy.
7. PhP1,000.00 payment for exam. (How I just wish they can also accept credit or debit card payments).
8. Place all the required documents in a long brown envelope.
Proceed to the window for application for exam (window 2) and log your name there. Have patience as you wait for your name to be called. Then if it’s your turn, they will assess all of your documents if you are qualified for exam. If passed, go to 7th floor to pay PhP1,000.00 in the cashier, photocopy the official receipt and give it back to same window you’ve been earlier. Then the front window staff will hand you the logbook for scheduling, and look for available slots for your convenience. Once done, you’re finished with your business there and wait for the text message or call from the STCW department for your exam proper.
Examination. The Day of Judgement
On the day of your exam, come to AMOSUP MAAP Satellite Office Bldg in Cabildo cor Sta Potenciana St., Intramuros, Manila at least 30 minutes before the exam. Late comers will not be accommodated. Wear your proper marine uniforms (white polo, black pants and shoes, shoulder board of your PRESENT rank, have proper haircut and avoid wearing earrings for men) for you may be barred by the Board of Examiners from taking the exam. Also make sure that all of the items STCW office required you to bring are along with you, like non-programmable calculator, permit jacket (I swear, the examination room is like Winterfell because it’s so cold), water and some small snacks.
Once inside the briefing room, all of the examinees will be briefed on what to expect before, during and after exams. This includes the passing or failing of competencies, rules and regulations during exam, etc.
Many people are asking how MARINA examination works. Unlike the one given by PRC, this one is quite complex. So simplify the exam layout, here are the answers to some queries.
1. Examination consists of 19 competencies (for OIC) and 20 for Management. Each has 5, 10 or 20 questions depending on the competency.
2. One question has a time of one minute. So if you’ll take Competency no.1, you have ten minutes to finish it, or if not, your competency will be marked FAILED.
3. You must pass at least 80% or 90% in each competency, again, depends on the competency.
4. You have the option to take as much as many competencies as you want in one sitting- meaning, on that day, you can take all of the competencies, or take the exam on installment basis.
5. If you failed three competencies, you are varied from taking the exam within one month. This is called “3-1 rule”. But if you failed to pass a particular competency three times, you are not allowed to take the exam for three months. If this happens, you must undergo training related to that competency and obtain a certificate from the training center or if not, go back onboard ship and obtain a letter from your Master, certifying that you undergone training relevant to the competency that you failed and affix his signature on it.
If you passed all of the competencies, congratulations! Welcome to the club! You have finished the theoretical exams. The next thing you do is to go back to MARINA STCW Office and get the certification that you passed the exam.
As I’ve said earlier, I was one of the “lab rats” for the Management Level Exam. We were the first to take the pilot exams. On the first day, no one passed probably because, we were “shocked” on the schemes. The following day, our second retake for pilot exam was cut short because of computer glitch (especially in Deck Exams) and some problems with questions. As a result, we were given another chance to take the final pilot test the next week. The 3-1 and 3-3 rule is not yet in effect, but if after the last pilot test we still haven’t passed, the next exam that we’ll take is now affected with that said rule. Sadly, I missed all of the three pilot tests, garnering only 9 out of 20 competencies. I applied for retake and had the next exam set three weeks later. For those times I waited, I am still taking review classes. Thankfully, I passed on my last shot. I almost lost hope because the longer I’m waiting for my next exam, I’m more getting depressed. But thankfully, with prayers to God and support from my family and my “special someone”, I passed it.
About the review, yes you can take review classes but MARINA doesn’t endorse endorse any review centers. Fees range from PhP30,000-36,000.
Some are also asking for tips on how to pass the exam. These, are my personal advice.
1. Pray. Ask for guidance from God. He is the only one who can help you greater than anyone else can. Although there are times that I felt like giving up, I’m still asking to Him that if I pass, I’ll praise Him and if not, I’ll still praise him.
2. Focus on your review. I had only two weeks of review before taking the first pilot test, like a “shot to the moon”. Sometimes I regret that I don’t take the review seriously because, like a normal person during weekends, I’m having breaks.
3. Have some supplements and books to aid in your review. For example, I’m so very weak in Competency No. 14, which is IMDG Code. Ironically, this one is about chemicals (I was once a Chemical Engineering student before shifting to Marine Transportation). Luckily, one special friend of mine, a chemical engineer, advised me to download apps related to that topic. You can download apps in Google Play Store or iTunes like IMDG Code, Colregs, SOLAS, etc.
4. Stay fit. On this part of your life, you should not get sick. Have regular exercise, good diet and don’t stress yourself.
Have a blessed examinations!