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Nails 101: A Student Blog

Week 9: My Mock State Board Adventure

by Orma Swearinger | October 20, 2016

The moment we’d all been waiting for was about to arrive: The Mock State Board Exam. We were extra busy on Monday and Tuesday of this week preparing for it by finishing up the book, notecards, workbook homework, review questions, and tests. I am so happy that I no longer have to do those dreadful notecards ever again. Would you like to join in with me to do the happy dance? Let’s do it.That felt great! My instructor did several demos three days this week. We learned about gel overlay, gel overlay tips, sculptured encapsulated gel nails, and sculptured nails with odorless monomer. I took very good notes on each demo, but all the while, I was thinking about the mock board. I felt mentally assaulted after going through all of that from Monday to Wednesday. It seemed as if I had done a month’s worth of work in just three days.

I spent my weekend getting everything ready that I would need for mock board. I even practiced the manicure portion of the mock board. I remember how nervous some of the more seasoned students were when they had their mock board exams, and I made a mental note to do whatever I needed to do to prepare myself so that I wouldn’t experience what some of them did. On Wednesday, my instructor made sure we had every item we would be using for mock board. I had everything labeled and packed away so neatly in my cute little storage container.

All I was thinking about on the morning of mock board was how neat, orderly, and poised I would be. Let’s get out our little pads and pens and check off the three that I mastered: Neat...check!  Orderly...check! Poised…..ummm? I’ll tell the truth. I’d give myself a check-minus. I may be in error for even giving myself a check minus. It probably should be a BIG check-minus. Let me explain.

I was sitting at the table waiting for the instructions to be read. I felt so calm and relaxed. Just a few short minutes prior, one of my classmates said she was getting very nervous, but I felt fine. Once the exam started, I was still fine. I had all of my implements laid out to my right in the order that I’d be using them. My products were on my left in the order that I’d be using them. I was perfectly fine until it was time to apply the red polish during the manicure.The polish I used was purchased from our store at the school. I had not used this polish during my practice over the weekend, so when I opened it, I was a bit shocked at how wide the brush was. I looked at how small the fingers were on my mannequin hand that I bought at the school. So I started applying the polish, and some of it got on the sidewalls of the first nail. This bothered me a little after the second nail because I feel that I apply polish very well. By the time I polished my fifth nail, I had made enough of a mess on each nail that it required me to have to go back and clean up each one with nail polish remover and a cotton tip swab.To my surprise, I made an even bigger mess using the polish remover. I was so nervous at that point that my hands started shaking.There was a sea of smeared red polish on the fingers now, and time was quickly ticking down. Why was this happening? Why hadn’t I seen this happen to any of the other students when I watched them take the mock board exams? Why wasn’t my nail polish remover working?!

These were questions running through my mind. I continued trying my best to clean up the mess I had made.Time was of the essence now, because my instructor had said “five minutes remaining,” and I had maybe four and a half minutes to go. Before I turned the hand around to face my instructor, I accidentally hit one of the nails and had to hurry up and re-polish that nail. I turned the hand to my instructor with maybe 10 seconds to spare.

When it was time to do the nail tip application, I tried to forget about the fiasco that occurred with that enemy of mine, the red polish purchased from our store. I took a couple of deep breaths and felt okay. “This should be a piece of cake,” I thought. I took out my nail tip and glue. We were supposed to use full-well tips.I had packed the half-well by accident. And just like that, I started the nervous shaking again. I knew I could not get up from my chair and go away from the exam area to get the full-well nails. My instructor saw the bewildered look on my face. I knew I had to continue on with that application as if I had the right tip. Because of my nervousness, I did not apply the tip as well as I know I was capable of doing.

The next segment was the sculptured nail. I did pretty well using the odorless monomer. I remembered everything my instructor had said when she taught the lesson on using the odorless monomer. That was the easy part. The hard part came when it was time to remove the form. Apparently, I had not waited long enough for the acrylic to harden. I removed the form and a piece of the sculptured nail came off with the form. By now, you all have read enough about my mishaps to predict what happened next: My shaking episode started right back again. I knew time was almost up and I was racing against the clock to fix the nail, let it dry, file it, and get the hand turned to my instructor. Well, I did not finish in time. I didn’t get to file the nail, and when I looked at it, I had a very hearty laugh inwardly. I had created a new category for the State Board called “The Jagged Edge Procedure.” The free edge of that nail looked like it had teeth and would be biting anything that came close enough to it.

The last segment went quite smoothly. Once the exam was over, I laughed out loud at myself. I could not believe how nervous I had been. But guess what? That was a test. That was only a test. A “mock” board exam, to be exact. I am so happy that I made the mistakes then so that I can correct them now. Trust me when I say that I will not make those same mistakes again. How can I be so sure, you ask? I will make sure that I use the OPI red nail polish that came with my kit, since I am familiar with it. I will use pure acetone and not the cheap $1.00 nail polish remover that I used. I will be 100% sure that I have full-well nail tips the next time. And finally, I will give the sculptured nail a few more minutes to dry before I remove the form.

Although I made a few mistakes, I am happy that I did not forget to properly sanitize my area and hands as often as I needed. There will be a couple of other opportunities to improve and I am looking forward to one soon. For all of you precious students who are awaiting your mock board exams, please learn from my mistakes. I’ve been as candid as possible in hopes of helping someone else avoid my mishaps. You may make mistakes, but try your best not to beat yourself up about it. I was able to laugh at myself, and that helps.

Until next time, have fun!

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