1.Congratulations on achieving such an amazing feat. Tell us a bit about yourself. Please also tell us your individual marks in each subject.
Thank you. ☺ nothing amazing though. Exams are not the best markers of a person’s knowledge. Well, I’m Vernon Leo DeSousa. I’m a violinist, pianist, poet, debater and elocutionist in my spare time. I like listening to music to calm me down, and my family means everything to me.
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?
It’s still new to me. One never finishes the subject. Even a postgraduate does not know everything about his subject. The syllabus is not vast, it is infinite… and learning is a continuous process. Getting through the exams is about knowing what is important, and focusing on what the professors teach in class. Focus on mastering what you know and realize that nobody can know everything, but one must never stop trying
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 would like to say I was more regular, but to be honest I study very erratically. I only manage to finish homework of the day and I go through my notes once. The weekend is supposed to be for going through the textbooks and the weekdays for going through at least the notes of the day. However, I got involved in too many competitions, so it became difficult to keep up with this schedule. Ideally, don’t spend all your time on one subject. Do a little of all subjects every day to maximize the efficiency of your concentration.
4.Did you have a different methodology of tackling the subjects? Any special notes that you prepared?
The trick is to study as much as one can and consolidate the important points so you can refer to them later. Studying from the original Gray’s anatomy a day before the exam is not possible, but studying Chaurasia and referring to your notes of the important points you made when reading Gray’s is very beneficial. Essentially, you must study from a book that gives you the basic information without much detail. That’ll give you a firm foundation and let you pass in theory exams. To improve your vivas, only read reference books which are standards for the subject. No need to remember everything at first attempt, but at least read them for background knowledge.
5.Do you have any special pointers for specific subjects? The do’s and don’ts of it?
Anatomy: Study at least this subject regularly. Study the part you have dissected on the same day when you get back from college. Ideally, read through the part to be dissected on the previous day. For the exam, make more diagrams, write less and in points.
Physiology: understand the concepts instead of mugging up processes. For the exam, begin each new point in a new paragraph so it’s easy for the teacher to know how many points you e covered. Diagrams and flow charts are always welcomed wherever possible.
Biochemistry: understand the pathway, with the enzymes. Draw the cycles and label the intermediates, enzymes, etc. and label the associated metabolic disorders at the relevant step of the cycle/reaction/pathway. Once you’ve done this, you can add details.
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.
Nope. No extra help. The professors are there throughout the year, though. And I’ve had the honour of having amazing professors, so never feel shy to look stupid by asking “silly doubts”. You’ll look a lot sillier if your examiner asks you that question in viva. Always better to clear your concepts even at the cost of your friends laughing at you.
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?
Question banks are essential to know what is important for the exam, but never restrict your study to just the questions from the question bank. Read everything, Study the important topics, and the day before the exam read the question bank to brush up the most likely questions.
8.How do you propose the students study and what kind of discipline should be followed during exam time?
Try not to keep anything new to study during exam time. Eat healthy food, avoid energy drinks especially during the exam days. Sleep for at least 6 hours. It helps what you’ve studied to get stored so it can be utilized and reached easily. Pushed to a decision, it’s always better to sleep with half the portion done and remember in the exam, than pull an all nighter studying things for the first time that you probably won’t remember.
9.Could you give some important pointers on Exam writing skills? And also how should one prepare for a practical exam?
Write legibly, in points, with diagrams. Start the answer by covering all the points. Then describe each point after that. For practicals, practice clinical physiology as much as possible, but only after you’ve confirmed the procedure from a reliable source. Wrong methods and full theoretical knowledge will not help you. Always know the reason why you do something. That is the most common question for any practical viva. Don’t let one bad exam or practical ruin your other exams.
10.Any special tricks and tacts for the students of your college who would be reading this?
My college? Well, do us proud I guess. ? stay strong, don’t let the enormity of the portion weigh you down. Have fun, and balance studies with that. And you know you can ask me stuff when you meet me.
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?
MBBS is designed to make everyone feel depressed at least once in their course. Don’t let it get you down. If, for any reason, one of your exams goes bad, don’t let the rest of them suffer because of that. Move on, and stay positive.