BrainTrain review center recently came on top in our first ever Students’ Choice UPCAT Review Center of the Year  poll. In the course of the contest, we cant help but notice the glowing reviews and extraordinary support of BrainTrains’ students – thus we had to know more.. how did BrainTrain Review start? What makes it different from the others? and what are its plans for the future?
We asked and they answered.. ^^ here is their story:
BRAIN TRAIN is an academe-oriented review group specializing in college admissions tests and high school entrance tests. It started very small in 1992 in Los Baños, Laguna with Mrs. Angelina Cariaga-Ladaga tutoring English to Japanese students. Then, Mrs. Cariaga-Ladaga’s friend needed a physics tutor for her son and her son’s friends. The group requested the services of Mrs. Cariaga-Ladaga’s son, Ramon Randy. Although he was just a UP student then, the group trusted Ramon Randy because of his being an alumnus of the Philippine Science High School Main Campus and a topnotcher of the UP Rural High School Qualifying Exam. Satisfied with Ramon Randy’s physics tutorial, the group of five friends requested him to mentor them further: they wanted Ramon Randy to review them for the UPCAT. The original group of five grew to 30, and this was the first ever BRAIN TRAIN UPCAT review students. Despite working for BRAIN TRAIN while studying, Ramon Randy was still able to get 96% percentile in the National Medical Admissions Test (NMAT) when he tried to take the exam out of the blue. But because he wanted to continue to improve BRAIN TRAIN, he decided not to study medicine anymore. Instead, he became an instructor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, pursued his master’s degree at the same time, and devoted his remaining time to BRAIN TRAIN. He juggled his time teaching and studying at UP, and creating BRAIN TRAIN’s modules, conceptualizing its review programs, and teaching math and science. A review for high school entrance exams was also demanded from BRAIN TRAIN, and that service was added aside from the tutorials and UPCAT review. When Mrs. Cariaga-Ladaga decided to immigrate from Los Baños, Ramon Randy took full charge of BRAIN TRAIN and resigned from UP.
Regardless of not being aggressive in advertising for several years, students from as far as Bicol, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Iloilo, South Cotabato, Quezon City and even the Middle East have flocked to Los Baños just to “get that BRAIN TRAIN advantage”. What is even more surprising is that even Metro Manila-based students choose to review at BRAIN TRAIN Los Baños even if they are surrounded by dozens of other review centers. Parents of these students say that they have been referred by relatives/friends whose children averred what a great experience getting that BRAIN TRAIN advantage has been. Because of the influx of students who wish to review at BRAIN TRAIN, it has expanded its operations to neighboring provinces (Batangas, Cavite, Quezon and other towns in Laguna), plus franchises in Davao City and General Santos City in 2008, and in Cagayan de Oro City in 2010. In summer 2011, BRAIN TRAIN had its first ever review conducted in Metro Manila. Despite the lack of connections and the competition in the Metro, and the last-minute decision to (finally!) put up a venue in Quezon City, BRAIN TRAIN’s maiden plunge in the Metro proved to be a success.
BRAIN TRAIN’s secret for success is no secret at all—the people behind BRAIN TRAIN are just really sincere in helping their students. Perhaps the fact that BRAIN TRAIN’s owners/financiers are 100% involved in the review spells the difference. Because they also teach in the review classes, they know the needs and wants of the students. Since they personally know the students, their hearts break when students do not make it. Thus, they always come up with innovations. Their dedication to their craft has also inspired their new blood of teachers to commit the same level of devotion and passion to teaching. Because BRAIN TRAIN is privately owned, it is free to hire and rehire teachers who perform excellently, and to dismiss those who do not. More than having impressive credentials, each BRAIN TRAIN teacher has undergone an impromptu teaching demo. The demo is important to ensure that the would-be BRAIN TRAIN teacher has a natural flair in teaching. After passing the impromptu teaching demo, accepted applicants are also required to attend teaching workshops conducted by veteran BRAIN TRAIN teachers, and then to sit in actual review classes to watch how a veteran BRAIN TRAIN teacher handles the class. This is how seriously the BRAIN TRAIN management chooses each teacher, as it believes that effective teachers are the essence of a successful education institution.
The years in the business of BRAIN TRAIN also means that the review program has already been refined and improved through the years, and guarantee that the students are not “guinea pigs”. Most importantly, BRAIN TRAIN does not give false/misleading claims that may attract students to enroll but disappoint them afterwards. Because of these things and more, it can be noted that BRAIN TRAIN is one of the few (if not the only) UPCAT review center that CONSISTENTLY presents a list of UPCAT passers and topnotchers year after year after year. Worth noting is that these lists only include students who ACTUALLY reviewed at BRAIN TRAIN, and that this list does not include the passers of other CETs/CATs (which are less competitive than the UPCAT).
Despite being Academic Clinic’s UPCAT Review Center of the Year and the already glowing comments and evaluations by students, BRAIN TRAIN strives to be even better. In fact, the BRAIN TRAIN management is communicating with telcos to provide a platform to make communicating with the parents of its reviewees more effective, and with a software engineer to create a software that will make students stay connected with BRAIN TRAIN even after the review. The UPCAT Refresher Course and the ACET/DLSUCET/USTET reviews will also be intensified and greatly improved this coming summer. Moreover, the BRAIN TRAIN UPCAT Simulations will be using Scantron paper and have Scantron machine check the exams, just like the actual UPCAT, ACET, DLSUCET, USTET, and other standardized exams. And, in 2012, the second BRAIN TRAIN building will rise at the Sta. Rosa Business Park in Greenfield City, Sta. Rosa City.