1.Congratulations on achieving such an amazing feat. Tell us a bit about yourself. Please also tell us your individual marks in each subject.
Hi there! I am Varad Saptarshi. I scored 78.16% in my first Year BDS University exams. The distribution of marks was as follows :
Anatomy : 154/200
Physiology & Biochemistry : 167/200
Dental Anatomy & Histology : 148/200
Well I don’t think that it would be appropriate to call it a “feat” but I certainly can assure you that it feels great to score good and be proud of yourself.
2.So, when all of this is new and the rest of us are still busy figuring the head and tail of the subject, how did you tackle and master the syllabus?
Actually if you see properly all the years from first year to the internship aren’t exactly of 1 year. But when it comes to first year the time we have is the least as compared to other years as we are totally new to this field and hence having a proper way of study is the need of the hour.Firstly after getting admission everyone is superbly ecstatic by thinking that in a few years time I’ll be a doctor(come on admit it we all think this way). It’s all new, the college, the people, the teachers, the atmosphere,etc. It’s Indeed a big leap from standard 12th to 1st year because here we actually start to deal with the human body and start to go in depth of each and every subject.
Well let’s just face it ,the syllabus is vast and time is very limited. But no need to get bogged down because it’s not that difficult. To master any subject there is only one thing that needs to be done –reaching to the depth of the subject and getting the concepts crystal clear.Well I just did the same and it worked pretty well for me. Clinical correlation is the thing which took my study to the next level.
3.Did you have a set schedule, a time table that you stuck to? What were the daily hours that you put in self study ?
No!! I just followed one pattern of study that is getting acquainted with each new term I come across and reading in between the lines. When the exam is away you can actually take your time, go slow, read each and every line repeatedly until you understand everything.
I am not a believer of following the clock and studying! The thing that is important is that by the end of the day you should complete your target. Let the time to achieve the target be 3 hours or even 8 hours it really doesn’t matter!
Ideally what I followed was completing one single chapter in parts. A small chapter was divided into 2 parts and completed in 2 days. And thishelped me a lot. Also keeping in touch with the chapter you do is important so that when exam is near it doesn’t consume much time for you to go through the chapter as you are already in touch with it ( this helps especially for Physiology & Biochemistry during the finals as there is huge syllabus to go through in just 1 or 2 days).
4.Did you have a different methodology of tackling the subjects? Any special notes that you prepared?
Not a different methodology but I’ll put it as‘I had my own way of studying.’ I always felt I don’t need to follow anyone’s study schedule. My way of studying for instance –
For Anatomy : I visualisedeachthing I am reading about be, itbones,organs,or a muscle. It helped.
Talking about the notes, yes I did make my own notes! A lot of them! Be it flowcharts of Physiology, cycles of Biochemistry, origin/insertion of muscles in Anatomy or traits of the teeth in Dental anatomy I had them all done! My notes were actually a compact but a very precise version of the text book which meant that only reading these notes during the last minute studies was more than enough.
5.Do you have any special pointers for specific subjects? The do’s and don’ts of it?
As I mentioned above making your own notes, flowcharts for Physiology & Biochemistry, etc.
Make your own Mnemonics they helped a lot while writing the exam.
6.Was there any help that you acquired while exam preparation? Like any visual aids any professional guidance? Or those little tit bits that the professors tell us but none other than the toppers pay attention to? Please share with us.
Yes! A lot of it. Had a lot of help from my professors.
Well if you pay attention in your dissection sessions and are able to visualise things properly no visual aid is actually required.
I guess I have to agree to the fact that those little bits of things told by the professors are indeed important. They might not help you in theory exams as such because the questions usually are pretty straight forward in the theory papers. But when it comes to Viva these small bits not only leave a huge impact on the mind of the external examiner but also on your exam scores.
7.How vital is the Question bank during exams? Does it come highly recommended or you advice thorough reading of the text and having confound knowledge of the subject?
Oh yes! Question banks are important. They make you familiar to the type of questions to a particular topic. But the problem with them is that after a certain period one starts getting dependent on them and when this happens the knowledge of the subject (which is indeed the basic requirement) is compromised. But anyways, recently in the University exams there hasbeen a trend of difficult papers with unexpected questions, so to survive this, one must go back to the traditional way of studying that is – Reading each and every line of the textbook! This will not only increase your knowledge of the subject but also, you will be comfortable even if an unexpected question is asked because – YOU KNOW IT ALL!!!!
8.How do you propose the students study and what kind of discipline should be followed during exam time?
The EXAM TIME! Especially the final exam time is scary. For a first year student that is all the more difficult as its their very first time at the University Exams and to add to the woes, the first paper is usually ANATOMY (which most people find difficult to deal with)! But every cloud has a silver lining. As I said earlier, if you are regularly in touch with your studies throughout, its just another exam for you. But during this exam, don’t let your daily routine get hampered due to stress of the exam. Remember these 3 things –eat well, sleep well and of course study well.
9.Could you give some important pointers on Exam writing skills? And also how should one prepare for a practical exam?
Presenting the answers well has a huge impact on the exam scores! But remember this Mantra – KEEP IT SIMPLE i.e. don’t over complicate things much, stick to the point, don’t write short answers,provide adequate details for that particular question. Write the paper in such a way that it becomes difficult to deduct your marks. Remember diagrams for Anatomy, flowcharts and tables for Physiology and Biochemistry, H&E diagrams for DADH are compulsory and not optional if you want a distinction.
You need not prepare any differently for the practical exams. Go through all your books as you did for theory exams but this time also go through your journals. Do all the slides for GeneralHistology and Dental Histology properly. And now it’s time to discuss about that Grand theory Viva by the external examiner! Perhaps this is the most important part of the practical exam and sometimes maybe scary as the external examiner maybe a bit harsh with his questions.But remember, the questions asked usually are of a very basic level but at the same time check how deep you have reached in that subject, so if you are thorough with reading the book throughout then it’s an easy job!
10.Any special tricks and tacts for the students of your college who would be reading this?
No special tricks, no shortcuts are handy when you aim to be the best. The traditional way of attending lectures, studying everyday, setting targets and achieving them is the only hack to be a topper!
11.So, do you have any parting thoughts? Like disclosing that secret mantra that you chanted or that special brand of energy drink you savored? Just kidding. Seriously though, anything at all?
Like they say, behind every topper there is a special drink! Haha just kidding! But my energy drink was undoubtedly COFFEE…. Lots and lots of it especially during exams keeping me up and going throughout the night.
Ok so the parting thought! Remember, you need not imitate anyone to achieve success. Make your own path, be your own role model! BE YOU, BE CONFIDENT and you too would be giving this interview next year I am sure.
A last tip – Use standard books no matter how hard the language may seem to you to understand! If you can’t understand by reading it once, read it thrice!
Eg – B.D. Chaurasia(Medical Edition)For Anatomy
Wheelers/Fueller For Dental Anatomy
Orabans’s/Ten Cate’s For Dental Histology etc.