Government Medical College Chandigarh Old Students Association
Any tricks or tips for studying for the Indian PG entrance exams?
Since we finally are talking of Indian PG's, I would like to add my two paise of information. This is my take on how to clear Indian PG's (more applicable for AIIMS and PGI).
During my internship I read Harrison's page to page and made notes (drug of choice, differentials, characteristic symptoms, most common, etc)...my read through Harrison's was a very fast read (not agonizing over each page and every concept and NO MEMORIZING PUHLEASEEE!!!...concepts are immaterial and irrelevant for Indian PG's) and I underlined on every page (resist the temptation to underline more than 1/4 th of each page...anything more and it will be too much to try and read again). So when I had to revise Harrison's it was a breeze...just going through my notes and the underlined sections took no more than 2-3 weeks.
Second, I did only MCQ's of other subjects without doing texts. People miss the MOST important trick in doing MCQ's - it is not the correct answer, but why the other 3 or 4 choices are not the answer...so for many questions I would go retrospectively to the text and reference the wrong answers and make notes on them next to the question. This sounds labor intensive at first, but as you do more and more, you keep cutting down your work. Eventually you will start running into a lot of questions where the previous wrong options are now the correct answer and you will already have a ready reference on them.
People also underestimate the benefits of group study...I don't suggest a large one, but 2-3 is ideal...this way you can share tasks looking up the wrong choices on MCQ's and finally compare notes. I don't think I could have gotten such good results without studying with Sumesh Arora and Varinder Sandhu.
Finally 2 golden rules:
1. Revise, Revise, and Revise- people panic that they have not looked up 'everything' and try to assimilate new information before the exams. But if you don't revise, you will forget. Studying even 70% of the total syllabus and revising 3-4 times is even far more effective then doing 100 % of the syllabus and not being able to revise effectively. And with the approach I mentioned above, revision is brisk.
2. No matter whatever approach you apply, if you don't work off the seats of your pants, not even the Gods can help you! For six months I put in 12-14 hours on a daily basis before AIIMS...of course I took 'holidays' and treated myself to dates with Preety twice a week and Varinder and I would always a session of cricket on his rooftop at the end of the day...but you have to sweat the good stuff.
It is very important to study the correct books. Two people putting in the exact amount of hardwork can get entirely different results depending on what approach they take. Most of us editors except DRK (who is too young to give Indian PG's, lucky guy!) are buddha now...we gave Indian PG's many years ago and the books and trends have changed. All we can share with you is our methods of preparation, and they were quite effective as evidenced by the results we got.
But I cannot stress to you enough, studying the right books and approach is just the right path to seek...however the vehicle to steer you over the right path is SHEER, GUT WRENCHING HARD WORK. I mean it...you have to literally sit down and read for 12-14 hours a day, day after day, for a few months...this hard labor for 6 months or 1 year of your life will pay off for the rest of your life.
You must convince yourself that you are next to none and that you can achieve anything you set your mind too. Its all there available to you in the form of books and MCQ's...in the end it depends who mastered them better.
PUT YOUR MIND TO IT AND ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
I agree with Sandeep, we gave our PG entrance exams eons ago (I entered AIIMS in 1997!) - so we are not up-to-date with the latest trends and materials for these exams. But the basic principles of getting through remain unchanged. You have to work hard - there is no substitute for perseverance. And you also have to know how to give these exams - for example, making sure you attempt all questions when there is no negative marking, and be more careful when there is negative marking etc.
I did find doing MCQ's again and again very useful. A lot of them tend to be repeated is some form or another in a lot of exams. I agree with Sandeep that the trick is trying to find out what they are asking for and figuring out which options are not correct. Doing MCQ's repeatedly AND checking out their answers to see why certain choices were wrong certainly helps in this respect.
The majority of questions in all exams come from Internal Medicine - so it is most important that you get to know this subject. I would recommend Harrisons. Before starting Harrisons, it might be a good idea to go through some MCQ's to get a sense of what all is usually asked (that is high yield). It is impossible to lap up the two volumes of Harrisons and to do that is a waste of time anyways. I focused on the first few chapters (Cardinal manifestations of disease) - these have a lot of high yield material, have a lot of tables and include names and details of a lot of crazy syndromes that are asked about. Tables in Harrisons are very helpful. I underlined text to begin with (just a few lines on a page), and during my initial read, made notes on small scraps of paper and stuck them in the book (on the page where I got that material from) - the next few times I revised, I only focused on the underlined text and the notes - so I could revise the whole Harrison in a week!
I again agree with Sandeep that instead of reading everything, it is more important that you know extremely well what you have read - and that means keeping time for revising everything that you have read.
Hope this helps. We will start archiving these posts in an Indian PG section, similar to the one currently available for the USMLE. We do thank Ashish Khanna for bringing up this idea and volunteering to help out with this enterprise.
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