1.Congratulations on achieving such an amazing feat. Tell us a bit about yourself. Please also tell us your individual marks in each subject.
I am Vanni Jhawar from Pune, currently studying MBBS from RCSM GMC Kolhapur.
My marks out of 200 were 152, 157 and 159 in Anatomy, Physiology & Biochemistry respectively.
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?
There’s no such magical word as mastering the syllabus, because no matter how much u study it’s never enough to complete the syllabus it’s just about giving your best effort in understanding the subject. All the 3 subjects carve your basics, without which none of the clinical subjects will make sense. It’s very logical and all you need to do is relate things everywhere. For eg. You can link metabolic disorders with physiological manifestations and anatomical appearance and there…. hey you get a pathology… everything is related…. and learning it is actually a fun experience.
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 ?
I had no time table, actually I did, but it was hypothetical. You never can study by deciding what to do it all depends on the mood. Either I would study the whole day or not study at all. Just before exams, I used to try studying for minimum 6-7 hrs a day, rest of the times the figures varied.
4.Did you have a different methodology of tackling the subjects? Any special notes that you prepared?
In the beginning I used to read anything I felt like… but when I was done reading most of the imp topics… I used to correlate and read, like I used to read pancreas from anatomy… then from physio… about the functioning and then the molecular basis in biochemistry. This made studying real fun because you get to relate everything and understanding becomes easier, since most of the points get repeated it becomes very helpful… I had no special notes as such, but to write answers, I used to write down the subtitles and then elaborate by myself.
5.Do you have any special pointers for specific subjects? The do’s and don’ts of it?
DO everything u can… don’t just do the imp topics and all because anything and everything is important. In a future clinical case a patient will just not come for a liver disease because HEY that was an imp topic!!! They can come for something as trivial as constipation! So I m not saying study each and every word because that’s not possible in a timespan of 1 yr to complete especially anatomy, because it’s sooo sooo huge!!
Also go through diagrams… make as many diags nd flowcharts as possible because in the end knowledge and presentation go hand in hand.. and also because hardly people have time to read the big answers u right.. diagrams simplify your answers and makes it more effective… write precise answers… dont elaborate on 1 sentence repeatedly
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.
Well, some of my friends used visual aids like Najeeb and Kaplan, they are very helpful even for your PG exams. Najeeb is a bit time consuming so better start watching it from day 1. I started watching Kaplan from 2nd yr. It’s short and sweet, helps clear your concepts. For anatomy make a habit of drawing diagrams, that is the most effective way to score in anatomy.
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?
You have to be thorough with the subject, that’s for sure. Being more precise in your concepts helps you answer the viva better which is purely based on knowledge but during theory exams you don’t have time to do each and every page of the textbook, so you have to refer a question bank either provided by your college or by books like Bhalani. We used to solve question papers (orally) no need to write and waste your time, but it helps in quick revision during theory. Mark my words, for viva you need to be thorough with the textbook. Try to visualize what you read and you will never forget your basics.
8.How do you propose the students study and what kind of discipline should be followed during exam time?
I can’t suggest how students should study because everyone has a different pattern, but make sure when you are studying you should be focused on the topic at hand and not get distracted. This way even a 2-3 hr study daily helps more than a distracted studying of 6-7 hrs. During exams I suggest that you have at least 4-5 hrs of sleep. Newbies might wonder why so less, but you will realize soon that exam pressures are the worst… and we ended up sleeping 1 hr before our exams. Don’t do this please study from the beginning (that doesn’t happen trust me….. well, at least with me) but it reduces exam stress if you are already prepared. Anatomy has this beauty that you can’t remember everything, so basically you feel like revising as much as u can at the last moment, this is necessary unless you have a photographic memory.
9.Could you give some important pointers on Exam writing skills? And also how should one prepare for a practical exam?
As I said earlier, presentation matters along with knowledge. Both go hand in hand. So make your papers beautiful with diagrams and flowcharts. Draw simple metabolic cycles in biochemistry and explain via flowcharts in physiology.
For viva you can be asked anything, so basically you need to know everything. First thing you need to know on entering this course is that u can’t leave anything in option because u cant just say to a patient right??…. Sorry bro … I didn’t study this part …. so make sure you read everything at least once this year so that you can answer at least the basic questions. No one expects you to tell all the clinical aspects… you just need to know the basics properly… regarding clinical practicals in physiology what the examiner judges is the correct method and your attitude towards the patient, whether you can answer all theoretical aspects properly is a bonus factor but most important is your knowledge about the topic and behavior towards the patients..
Biochemistry is one of my favourites, well, all 3 are, but still… you understand the molecular basis of each disorder and things begin to click in place like it does for House MD for biochem viva, especially table vivas know the clinical aspect of tests you perform and the values that you get… because getting the right value is important but more important is knowing what is wrong with the patient if the value is high or low.
10.Any special tricks and tacts for the students of your college who would be reading this?
Umm all I said earlier will really help you score good and more importantly during vivas.. please answer questions confidently.. because your confidence is a very important aspect of your personality.. that will make you a nice doctor… also do not answer if you don’t know… faking answers may give a wrong impression… and lead you to score less….. honestly telling that you don’t know… will just lead the teacher to ask you to study more rather than taunting you…
11.So, do you have any parting thoughts? Like disclosing that secret mantra that you chanted or that special brand of energy drink you savoured? Just kidding. Seriously though..anything at all?
No secret mantras or energy drinks do not take memory enhancing pills like chatur in 3 idiots.. because that will lead to unbearable consequences for your roommate.. just kidding… just one mantra that I always repeated in my mind whenever I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore… ” study not for the sake of scoring… but study because you want to gain more knowledge… study for yourself!! ” .. everyone will pass … That’s for sure.. but passing as a good doctor makes all the difference between a person who studied because he HAD TO and a person who studied because he WANTED TO.