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AT LARGE : Cheating and profits

Cheating and profits

By Rina Jimenez-David
Last updated 07:28am (Mla time) 08/13/2006

Published on page A11 of the August 13, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

ON Tuesday, Leonor Tripon-Rosero, chair of the Professional Regulation Commission, will meet with the deans of nursing schools around the country. Depending on the results of the meeting, Rosero said she will decide whether to push through with the planned oath-taking of examinees who had passed last June’s nursing board exams, postpone it further, or nullify the results entirely and have all 42,000 exam-takers go through the exercise again.

In an earlier meeting with the nursing deans of UP-Manila, University of Santo Tomas, University of the East and Far Eastern University, the deans were all in favor of having everyone retake the tests. “But I asked them: ‘Is this the sentiment of all your students who passed?’ They were not able to answer,” recalls “Baby” Rosero.

The controversy over the June nursing board exams is rooted in the discovery of a “leakage” of exam questions, which were allegedly disseminated by a review center among examinees in Baguio. Protesters raised an outcry, claiming the exam irregularities have tainted the results of the test, bringing to question the qualifications of all who passed.

After hearing reports of the “leakage” in the media, Rosero says the PRC board immediately created a fact-finding committee to conduct an internal investigation. The PRC board subsequently filed administrative charges against two members of the Board of Nursing “for neglect of duty that gave rise to the leakage of test questions” and also referred the matter to the NBI for further investigation.

The PRC then “invalidated” some of the exam questions that appeared in the leaked materials and, through some statistical re-configuration, decided that the leakage in Baguio had no significant impact on the general integrity of the exam results. Thus, they released the names of passing examinees last July 19.

* * *

TO OBSERVATIONS that the PRC, which administers board exams for 42 professions, “rushed” the release of the nursing board results and “hastily” scheduled the oath-taking for Aug. 22, Rosero notes that it took the commission 27 days before releasing the June nursing board test results. “In contrast, we released the results of the CPA board test after one day, while the results of the nursing board test given last December were released after two weeks.” A total of 17,871 examinees, or 42 percent, passed the test last June. Of these successful test-takers, some 6,700 took the test in Baguio. “Baguio actually reported a 36-percent passing rate, the lowest among the 11 test centers,” notes Rosero.

If re-administering the test—with a brand-new set of questions—would solve all the concerns of the protesters and clean up the sullied reputation of all the passers, why won’t the PRC just give in?

* * *

“WE conduct 72 exams a year,” explains Rosero, who took over as acting PRC chair in January 2005 and was formally appointed that June. “Conducting the nursing exam again would mean formulating a new set of questions for the subjects in question, hiring a new set of examiners and proctors, and renting test halls, all of which would cost money and we would have to do while administering other exams.”

Actually, it seems quite shocking that someone could pull off cheating on the scale of the one alleged to have occurred in Baguio, considering the elaborate measures the PRC has adopted to secure the test questions.

Each of the five examiners (for some professional tests, only three examiners are needed) are required to submit 500 test questions, classified into three categories—difficult, moderate and easy. These questions are then encoded (in a stand-alone computer) at the PRC office with the examiner present, and saved in a diskette with the examiner identified and the contents protected by a password. Using an encrypted program, the computer then selects the questions to appear in the test, and the secured diskettes (with matching police escorts) are brought to accredited printers for printing into booklets the night before the test is to be taken.

While the exam is being given, the examiners and encoders are sequestered (“we call it the ‘bartolina,’” says Rosero) in a locked and guarded (by PNP and NBI personnel) conference room, disallowed from communicating with anyone, including members of their families. For the June nursing exams, the examiners and staff were locked up for all of nine days, in exchange for which they were paid P23,000.

* * *

SO how did the alleged leak in Baguio happen?

Here’s one plausible explanation. During a June 26 meeting of the Board of Nursing, examiner Virginia Madeja, one of the two members facing charges, recalled that she brought her hand-written questions to a copying center near the PRC building to be “xeroxed” before she submitted them to the PRC, since she had the habit of copying everything she wrote. It was evening and she was alone.

While she was at the copying center, the machine operator kept on transferring from one machine to another, saying the machines were malfunctioning. Meantime, a stranger insisted on staying close to her, peering at her materials. It was then that Madeja began to suspect something and decided to stop the copying, though by then about 18 pages had already been copied.

It was only when the probe into the leakage started and she got to see the leaked materials that Madeja noticed the “similarities” between some of her prepared questions and the ones distributed in Baguio.

One lesson: Not even the most elaborate security measures can foil the most determined cheaters, especially when there’s lots of money to be made from desperate examinees; and schools, review centers and “fixers” are willing to profit from their desperation.


why do we need to prove ourselves the 2nd time around? I don't get it?

To those who failed the JUNE 2006 Nle and still remained LEVEL-HEADED AND DOWN TO EARTH. I wish you all the best this December board exam.

To those who can't accept their failures: I don't care if you are a doctor or a 2nd courser. Parang kayo BATA.. ano to DARE? if you are really good .. you should have a retake? thats bullshit and you know it. YOU guys have the nerve to dare us to to take a retake when you guys didnt even pass the boards?

Stop spreading shit about US EMPLOYERS NOT WANTING TO HIRE JUNE 2006 PASSERS. you guys are spreading black propaganda, you yourselves who want a retake are ruining the nursing profession. I guess I shouldnt be surprised, since I can see so many NURSES WHO ARE SO livid with envy when someone better comes along.

You guys are really lucky that there are SELFISH DEANS, LAWYERS, SENATORS, JOURNALISTS and FELLOW narrow-minded june 2006 board passers behind you. You can't even see that they are using you.

You guys keep saying we are narrow minded, we are only thinking of ourselves and not the future. Why? Do you think if theres a retake it will solve everything? I can tell you right now, its just the start. Geez you haven't even seen board passers complaining yet.

Your comments are contradictory. Messages about alot should have passed the nLE if the questions weren't removed at all. Then you accuse June Board passers of not being competent enough. HOw can you judge us when we passed it even after removing all the leakage questions? Be consistent!

To all June Board passers. Let's all pray the PRC will not be pressured by selfish and immature people. Besides we know our right and you can't fool us.

- demo -

para sa lahat ng pumasa na ang kanilang dean ay nag-aadvocate ng retake:

>> ininsulto kayo ng mga deans ninyo!

>> imagine, mas bilib pa sila sa mga bumagsak kaysa sa inyo na pumasa!

>> imagine, sinasabi ng mga dean ninyo na mas competent pa yung mga bumagsak kesa sa inyo na pumasa!

>> will you just let this things pass?

just wondering why are we dwelling so much on the issue of retake and making all of us disunited?

we should be directing all our efforts on the real culprits and not to us, the victims. we are already being punished without the benefit of doubt.

how about those greedy people who are the root causes of all these mess? they are washing their hands (maybe they have perfected hand washing one thousand times!) on the issue and before we know it, they might be one of those who are putting the blame on us, the victims.

who knows, they themselves are laughing at us for being disunited, for fighting each other so that the camera will not focus on them.

who knows they themselves are also advocating the retake issue in order to divide us (divide and rule).

lest these people are charged in court and punished, this issue of leakage will still continue for it is a common knowledge that leakage is practiced since GOD knows when.

just like what the prc once said "leakage is a thing of the past" thus admitting the fact that leakage was existing in the past!


if there are people who deserve to be called cheaters, its definitely not the examinees but the deans themselves who degrades the credibility of their own schools. Why did u allow ur students to graduate if u think they are incompetent?

NARROWMINDED?! Assess urself nga. ndi ba mas narrowminded mga pumasa?!?! ano lang ba iniisip nila? sarili nila. we, ung sinasabi mo bumagsak, gusto namin ung real scores namin. ndi kami katulad mo na pumasa ok na. forgetr na lahat. i pity u

TO POSTER 5:I agree with the first poster actually. Ikaw ang narrow minded, kasi sila pumasa na, eh ikaw bagsak ka kasi, so wala ka pakialam kung mag retake kasi wala naman mawawala sayo, kahit hatakin mo pa lahat ng pumasa d ba? REAL SCORES, SINO NILOLOKO MO? gusto nyo ng retake kasi chance nga naman sa inyo yun baka pumasa na kayo haha. shempre masaya na sila pumasa na sila, bakit sila papakahirap mag retake para lang ipasa kayo mga bagsak, pinag hirapan nila pagpasa nila. ung hindi umabot scores mo, gumaya ka sa iba, retake sila sa DECEMBER, malinis pa konsensya nila. Eh ikaw, basta makuha mo lang pride mo at makapsa sa retake OK NGA NAMAN.


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