Target PG – What is so special about preparing for an Indian MCQ Medical PG Entrance Exam??
PG Entrance – few Guidelines
– by An Experienced Campaigner
The strategy for PG Preparation involves three vital questions
- What to do
- How to do that
- What NOT to do
Do you need to waste your time reading this article?
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once said “It is easy to be wise AFTER the event”. In other words,
- Knowledge is knowing how to do
- Experience is knowing how not to do
The percentage of people getting a seat in First attempt is very low 2 % but people getting in the Second attempt is more than 80 % (Community, Institute and In Service Quota excluded). This 2 % – 80 % is not only because one reads all the recommended books in one year. It is also because one learns the knack of the exam – the technique of what to do, how to do and what not to do after a year of attempting entrance exams!!
This following paragraphs are neither to teach you the basics of pharmacology or psychiatry nor are they to dwell with the nuances of Acid Base Balance of Indications of Jejunal Biopsy
This small article is intended to share with you the basics of attempting Objective Questions – something few of you may even know now but many of you will have to learn by yourselves if you attempt exams for one year. To put it in a nut shell you may gain one year in 15 minutes.
Do just three important things
The entire art of Preparation can be summed in three simple steps
1. 1st – Set a target – Decide your course
The first and foremost thing
2. 2nd – Reach it – Take the rank needed for it
This is the most important part
3. 3rd – Go and Join the course!!!!
The easiest of all
You can again repeat these 3 steps any time for any exams
- when you want to do super specialty
- when you appear for service examinations
Decide your Goals!
Hope you know the adage “Well begun is half done”. This first step, when properly executed will make your job much easier. So you have to sit down and make a clear plan about the exam (or exams) you plan to take. Your job can be made much simple when you answer these questions
- Do you want a rank in All India?
- Do you want a rank in your State PG?
- Do you want a rank in another State PG also? (when you are eligible for that)
- Are you planning to give exams for Institutes like JIPMER, AIIMS, PGI –Chandigarh , CMC Vellore etc
- Are you planning to enter into service by UPSC or TNPSC or other exams
- Are you planning to give fly abroad by tackling PLAB and USMLE
You can choose one or more among choices 1 to 5, or you can choose 6 alone but if you have chosen choice 6 in addition to any of the other five, your strategy needs rethinking. Before proceeding further on the Indian Exams, I would strongly advise you to choose between Indian and Foreign exams at the first step itself and PLAN FOR ANY ONE. If you chase a single rabbit, you can hope to catch it. But if you chase two rabbits at the same time, it is certain that you are going to miss both. So decide about this step in the early part itself. You can prepare for two or more Indian exams, and get ranks in both, but to prepare for Andhra PG and PLAB at the same time or to prepare for AIIMS and USMLE at the same time is disaster.
If you are of the idea that you will initially attempt AIIMS twice for one year, your State PG for one more year and later will try for PLAB when you don’t get a rank in these, you are in serious trouble. Clearing PLAB can get easier, but with each passing day, getting a good job in a decent hospital in UK is becoming a nightmare. If you are planning to “fly”, you have to start immediately and be the early “bird”. Remember, the early bird gets the best catch.
Know about your Exam and Set a Target
Having planned for your future (reading ECG in AIIMS or fixing bones in JIPMER), you have to do a little research about the exam(s) you have planned.
1. How many Questions are there?
a. All India / NEET
b. JIPMER 250 questions,
c. AIIMS 200 questions
2. Are there any negative marks?
a. All India – 0.25 negative marks and Scaling System in NEET
b. AIIMS – 0.33 negative marks
c. JIPMER – no negative marks
3. Is there more than one type of questions
a. CMC Vellore has more than one type of questions
4. Can more than one response be correct?
a. PGI Chandigarh – more than one response can be correct
5. Are there a limited set of portions
a. TNPSC and UPSC (Civil Services) have limited portions
6. How many persons may take it?
a. All India – about 50,000 and NEET around 90000
b. AIIMS – about 6,000
But this hardly matters since you will be getting the seat only when you get the top ranks!
7. How many seats are there?
8. Do you want any specific course for which there is only a limited number of seats?
a. MS (Ortho),
b. MD (Paed),
c. MD (Radio Diag),
d. MD (Anaes),
9. Do You want it in one particular institution
a. Paediatrics in ICH
b. OG in IOG
c. JIPMER in ALL India PG Entrance
10. Are You in Open Competition or any reservation?
a. Community Reservation
b. Institute Preference
c. Service Quota
11. Does the seat you want come under one or any of the reservation?
a. All India – No reservation
b. JIPMER – Community as well as Institute Reservations
c. In TNPG – Community reservation + Service Quota
12. What rank you need to score to get a seat of your choice?
13. What were the usual marks associated with that rank in the previous years?
Finding answers to the above questions will take less than 10 minutes. All you need is the previous year’s prospectus and a chat with a college senior. When you have found answers to the above questions, you can decide about the vital question “HOW MUCH do you need to SCORE ?”
You now have an idea of how much you have to score. Now we move to the next part “How to reach it”
Reaching your Target
Have a look at the following proverbs
- “What is worth doing at all is worth doing well”
- “Fortune favours the brave”
- “Make hay when the sun shines”
- “Never put off till tomorrow what can be done today”
Having already set the target, it you now your turn to reach there. There are a lot of factors which decide your micro plan for cracking the exam, but the most important factor is time. Your plan will depend on How Much time you have when you start
- 1 year – Ideal – You are an opening batsman and you have lots of time
- 9 months – You can read slowly, but be extra cautious and don’t waste time
- 6 months – You have to go for a slog over attack
- 3 months – You have to forget cinema, cricket, TV Serials
- 1 month – the bare minimum time you need for revision
- < 1 month – You have no choice but to Omit some subjects and go for your exams
But remember that this is not a qualifying exam (where a mere pass is enough) but a competitive exam (where every mark counts) and if you are cricket lover, remember that You are batting second and “CHASING” your target. Also remember that after you have decided about the course of your choice (“Set” your target), It should not be “downregulated” For example, your original plan was joining MD (Paed) at ICH. Afterwards you think that MD (Paed) else where is enough. When you later become satisfied with DCH, I am afraid that you will land up in the Waiting list. But you are free and welcome to “upregulate” the target. When you aim for the stars, you will at least land in the moon. Before going into the details of the book you need to study, let us discuss few common questions
Should I practice with MCQs – YES
There are a few important points regarding preparation with MCQs.
Take any MCQ book & Take a note book. Note the starting time in the note and then Work MCQs one by one without looking into the answers. After you have finished (at least 50) note the time. Correct your responses only with the Standard Text Book and never with the answers given in MCQ books. Write all the points in which you have gone wrong and the relevant points in the same note below or in the opposite side of the note (You have to refer these points again during your last week revision). Use the same note book for all your MCQs. Try to finish it in time
- Never attempt MCQs before reading the subject at least once
- o It is not needed that you have to read the biggest book from cover to cover, but you should have read the subject at least once – any book, even SARP or Refresher Series would do
- Never Write the points in bits of paper while solving the MCQs. Use a note book.
- Never mark the answers in the MCQ book itself. Write it in a separate note after looking the answer AND RELEVANT POINTS in Standard Text Books
- Never look into the answers given in the MCQ book
- o Usually questions are not repeated – you will know only that question and answer if you look into the answer
- o Same questions are not usually asked – Only relevant questions are asked
- o This is a practical and MOST important point – You may have been misguided in this aspect by many.
- o There is a chance of Printing errors when the book gives only the answer. Beware – Every question counts in an competitive exam and you may loose your seat by learning a wrong answer
I learned with “notes” during my undergraduate days. What to do now?YOUR CHOICE
You can still read your notes – if you had once taken notes regularly and neatly. But you can yourself decide – Work out MCQs and if you are able to score more than 80 % with notes – you can continue with your good old notes.
Group Study? YOUR CHOICE
- If you had earlier studied in groups during your undergraduate days – follow it.
- If you had studied alone during your undergraduate days – follow it
- If you used to read in Library during your undergraduate days – follow it
- If you used to read in your room during your undergraduate days – follow it
- If you used to read watching TV during your undergraduate days – follow it
Group Discussion? – YES
- A discussion of 2 hours a day will be enough initially. ( When you allot more than 2 hours the discussion will drift to extra curricular topics)
- In the last month, you can discuss upto 3 to 4 hours a day
- Choose a subject and then a topic and one person discuss it each day
- If the same group also works out MCQs, don’t do both in the same time
- First Discuss and then go to MCQs
Should I go to Cities and study in University Library? – No Need
Assumed Advantages by Reading in Cities
- Some people talk of a “trend” – There is nothing like that.
- In today’s era of Communication, there is no advantage in city life. All the notifications, current trends can be had from the internet.
- I Personally feel that this present trend is the same one which was 7 to 8 years ago for Entrance Exams after XII Standard – you will get medical and engineering seat only if you study in Cities – Now we know for sure that, that idea was absurd
Disadvantages in Cities
- Lodging – minimum Rs 500 per month
- Food – minimum Rs 1300 per month
- Other expenses – Rs 400 per month
- Water – Hope you are aware of the Water Scarcity in Cities.
- Travel & Phoning home – Even if you visit your home once a month – Rs 1000
- Totally you spend Rs 3000 per month ie Nearly 40,000 per year for no obvious benefit
- Note – Petrol Charges not included
Coaching Programs – YES
- There are a lot of coaching programs and you can enroll in any one of them. And after a long toil at this circuit what I could conclude was that as far as the papers ( ie notes / study materials/question papers / high yield points etc ) are concerned, in majority of cases, it is almost the same as SARP/ PARAS / Bhatia/ Salgunan / PG Plus/ Dharmendra Sharma Crash Course/ Mudit Khanna / Tapas-Arun Yadav/ Various Pretests etc
- The notes of the coaching program and the MCQ books are nearly equa but when you attend the “CLASSROOM” COACHING, it will be beneficial. In fact the only thing that seems as an advantage is the classroom coaching.
- So if you want any advantage, please don’t look at the previous years “papers” – notes/test explanations – you are going to get those details from the books you normally refer.
- It is the class room coaching / lectures that you are spending your/your parents’ hard earned Rs 20000 or 30000 in any coaching class
- So if you are joining make sure that you will be attending all the classes or you can very well read with the standard books.
- In South India, Kottayam is a good choice
What? How? What not to do Pre, Per and Post Exam
- Pre Exam – (Before the day of exam)
- o Before 1 month
- o During the last month
- o During the last week
- o During the last day
- Per Exam – (On the Exam day)
- o Before you enter the hall
- o In the hall
- Post Exam – (After the Exam day)
As you go through the following paragraph, you may come across certain facts which are Extra Academic and may appear insignificant or “childish” to you and you may like to skip those. I feel that advices regarding the MCQs are available freely every where and it is these “small things” that are taken for granted. Nevertheless, they are important and they are given here because I know at least one person who suffered because he/she didn’t do one of those “trivial” things.
What? How? What not to do 1 month before the exam
- Plan your time
- Read Daily. But if you are working and have a tight routine You can read more one day and less another day, but don’t skip a day
- Divide your time available for that day into 3 parts
- o Read the Text books first
- o Then read the notes
- o And work out MCQs
- These three are to be done daily and it is better if different subjects are done for each
- What not to be done : Don’t allow a day to pass without reading at least one hour
Planning your time
- Keep the last 1 month for revision
- And you should spend a Minimum 20 hours a week, and If you can spend more than that it is well and good
- Calculate how much time in hours you now have at your disposal. You will be surprised to see that you have lots and lots of time, but when you start to allot it to your subjects that is not enough!!
What? How? What not to do during the last month before the exam
- If the exam centre is a different place, BOOK Your Tickets for your travel. Remember that you are not the only person appearing for this exam
- Start Revision
- o Pharmac and Biochem should be revised 2 times and it is better if you start them first
- o And topics like Embryology and Nerve Supply in Anatomy, Enzymes and Metabolism in Biochem, General Pharmacology, Culture Media in Micro, Growth and Development in Paediatrics, Fetal Skull and Diameters of Pelvis in OG, Values in SPM are to be studied again and again
- o The list given is just to give you an idea about is not exhaustive. In short the topics that “you” easily forget are to be read more than once in the last month
- What not to be done : Don’t Read any new topics
- And I think that you are not a kid for us to advice you to Skip 3Cs Cricket, Cinema and Celebrations during this last month
What ?, How ?, What not to do during the last week Before the exam
- Decide where you are going to stay. Get those facts right now before one week.
- Check whether you have got your hall ticket. If not communicate to the concerned authorities. Read the details given in the hall ticket and the prospectus ONCE AGAIN.
- Does the exam need Pen or Pencil. Get 2 (or 3) pens ready. If the exam needs pencil, get 2 pencils, an eraser (which does not leave mark on the paper – check it now – not on the answer sheet) and a sharpener.
- Pack these and the hall ticket and anything you may need and (if you have a special dress for exams, as most people have – pack that too) now itself. Keep your journey (to and fro) ticket along with these.
- To search for all these just 1 hour before the start of the journey is not going to do your confidence any good. Don’t leave these vital things which (may appear insignificant now, but will occupy the whole of your mind , if not properly planned for and) may significantly affect your PERFORMANCE
- Take an old question paper of the exam you are going to attend Lock yourself inside a room. Try to complete the paper in the prescribed time Correct the paper with the Standard Text book and not with the key given in the MCQ book itself. Now concentrate on your MISTAKES. They are more important at this stage. You will now know your “Achilles heel”. Don’t repeat it in the exam.
- Don’t care about the answers you got right. You will get it right again in your exam !!
- What not to be done : Don’t waste your time to topics like “the question will be tough”, “the question will be easy!, “the question is out !!”, “he/she is not here – gone to get the question paper!!!”
- Listen to only Academic discussions…… If you are preparing with a group, it is better to get away from the group and become “solitary” in the final week. It may sound odd, but this is a practical problem and I have seen most aspirants getting depressed after hearing such kinds of news.
What ?, How ?, What not to do during the last day Before the exam
- Take rest !! If you have traveled a long distance, try and get a good sleep. Revise those facts which you find hard to remember , especially the numeric values, investigations, syndromes, etc. Go to bed early
What not to be done : Don’t try to read more points by forgoing your sleep on this particular day In addition to you recent memory (which you will by reading the whole night) for a good performance you need certain other skills like remote memory, analytical skills, speed, decision making the next say. And to get all these at the zenith is to have a good sleep.
What ?, How ?, What not to do Before you enter the exam hall
- Get to the exam centre early at least 1 ½ hours before the start of the exam. Check that your number is displayed in the notice board. Some times 2 schools / colleges with identical names (or a main school and the branch) will be centers and the Auto Rickshaw will take you to the other center – for example, Kendriya Vidyalaya or SBOA – I was once forced to see many a SBOA School in Chennai just before the start of the exam at the eleventh hour. Get out of the campus and wait outside.Check your purses/wallets and make sure that there are no bits of papers (which you might have kept long time back) inside that might create problems with a checking squad
What not to be done : Avoid reading at this time (Easier said than done). Don’t discuss any question. When some one asks you a question and if you can’t answer you may be depressed
What ?, How ?, What not to do Inside the exam hall
- First Write your register number looking at it from the Hall ticket (and not from your memory – however good your memory is) and then shade accordingly
- Then shade the Question Paper Code, if any. If there any other paper work do it. Read the instructions in the question paper / answer paper. What not to be done : Don’t leave the important details like register number question paper code blank and start with the questions right away. You may commit a mistake (which may be fatal) when you shade these things later “in a hurry”.
- Mark the answers in the Q.Paper as you read the questions. When you have completed a batch of 25 (or 50) quesitons transform the answers to the answer sheet
What not to be done : Don’t try to read the entire question paper once again and then mark the answers
What ?, How ?, What not to do Inside the exam hall for Clinical Questions
- Read the question once clearly, without skipping any thing and then mark by the side the factors like age, sex, complaints, Symptoms – duration, Signs and Investigation and follow the SAME Approach you did in your Final Year Exams. In 90 % of the cases, you will arrive at an answer. But the conditions are an endless list and definitely will not be limited to Mitral Stenosis, Hemipleiga, VSD, Prolapse, CTEV, Ca Stomach, Anaemia Complicating Pregnancy !!! If you have followed the same procedure while preparation, you will find this method easy Any one with another method please inform firstname.lastname@example.org
What not to be done : Don’t skip any part of the question by reading fast.
What ?, How ?, What not to do Inside the exam hall for Statistics Questions(PSM)
Write the details on the rough sheet and work systematically. If you know an alternate way of working that particular problem try that also and check whether the solutions tally. Any one with another method please inform email@example.com
What not to be done : Don’t do mental calculations or try from you memory.
What ?, How ?, What not to do during the after the exam
Relax ! Try to recollect the questions. It is better if you do it as a group. Contibute the questions to any internet discussion group or mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Work out the answers. Try to find out how much you might score. Wait for the result !!!
What not to be done : Don’t try argue over few questions that might be ambiguous
The lines you have read so far are not for advising you
They are to point out to you some facts
It is your life, your career and so it is your decision !!!
Mail in your comments to email@example.com
This “notes” were first prepared for Tamil Nadu Students. Nevertheless, there are lot of points that may be of benefit to all PG Aspirants. So you are requested to change certain minor details especially those regarding the text books to suit you if you find the list given not to your choice. And if you can read between the words and find out what I am trying to convey, you can be successful in any PG Medical Entrance Exam. Wishing you ALL THE BEST for YOUR PREPARATION…!!!