Today, my nail school (Pink Room International Nail Academy) released the results of the 2012 Diploma Examination. It was a poignant moment for me because it finally closed a chapter of my life, marking the end of my learning journey as a Diploma student at PRINA.
In 2010, I enrolled in the Diploma programme at PRINA and had my first lessons in December. Apart from theoretical knowledge, I also picked up practical skills that equipped me well in my home salon. The programme was rigorous – apart from what we learnt in class, we were also expected to complete assignments and attend self-study sessions before we could sit for the various examinations.
For the Professional Manicurist Certificate Exam, I submitted the following homework:
I also had to go through a mock exam for pedicure, which contributed towards the examination score.
For the Acrylic Extensions Certificate Exam, I submitted the following homework:
I also had to go through a mock exam for gel and acrylic extensions, which contributed towards the examination score for both the Acrylic Extensions and Gel Extensions exams.
Finally, I had to take a theory paper for all three exams.
I ended up scoring Distinction grades across the board, but they didn’t come easy.
I’m actually very bad when it comes to taking exams – I don’t handle stress well, so my heart will start racing and my hands will shake. This is especially terrible because these were practical exams, so when my hands shake, it affects my ability to draw or paint well, and I am more likely to nick my model. Although I have a lot of experience working on customers (over 2 thousand sets of nails and counting by now!), I still suck at taking exams. I just can’t help feeling nervous.
For the Gel Extensions Certificate Exam, I thought I did very well. It was the best set of gel extensions that I had ever done. However, I received an immediate failure (a little like the driving test – if you mount the kerb, you fail immediately, right?) because I nicked one of my model’s fingers. So, I had to sit for the exam again. The second time around, I was disappointed and didn’t think the extensions were my best, but thankfully, I managed to get the results I desired.
However, getting Distinctions for the three Certificate exams was not enough. I was enrolled in the Diploma programme, so at the end of the day, what was most important was the Diploma. I could only get it if I passed the Diploma Exam. This is a major examination held only once a year, so if I didn’t manage to pass on my first try, I would have to wait a year before I could get another shot at it.
Before I could qualify to sit for the exam, I had to submit all the nail art assignments.
Then, I scrambled to finish the second assignment, which was more difficult. This time, I set high expectations for myself. I didn’t want to just complete the assignment, but to do it very well. So, I spent a lot of time and effort on it:
Finally, I had to complete the third assignment. This took me an entire day to do and some research beforehand as it was an original creation inspired by artwork from Sentimental Circus. I had to put together a set that would be aesthetically-pleasing and fit the theme that I had chosen. I wanted it to showcase my freehand art skills, and not just fulfill the requirement of having freehand art, embossed art and 3D art. Basically, I wanted to push myself to see how good I could be.
On the day of the Diploma Exam, I actually had a lot of problems with time management. For the manicure segment, I stubbornly stuck to intricate art instead of simple art because I wanted to stretch myself and score more. For the extensions segment, my model arrived late and I was unable to do cuticle preparation before the exam. So, I had less time to do the extensions and ended up finishing the extensions right on the dot, with no time to spare. It was a nerve-wrecking experience and the extensions that I had done did not meet my own expectations. I thought my best chances would be a passing grade. I certainly did not hope for a Distinction grade after all that had gone wrong on that day. I was so shaken that I even forgot to take pictures of my model’s gel extensions. These are the only pictures I took on that day – one shows the manicure model and the other shows the acrylic extensions with mixed media art on one nail.
So, you can imagine how shocked I was today when I found out that I had received a Distinction grade for the Diploma Exam.
I am really very grateful that I have been so lucky to achieve a “perfect score” with Distinction grades for ALL my exams so far. All this would not have been possible without my friends’ support (I have a group of like-minded nailist friends and we offer each other tips and encouragement, and help each other out all the time instead of seeing each other as rivals) as well as the guidance of my teachers at PRINA who gave me invaluable feedback and guidance not just during lessons but when I went for self-study sessions. Although the teachers are strict and have high expectations, I am glad because these are the qualities that help to push us students to be good nailists and achieve success!