Vernon Leo DeSousa – Cooper topper

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.

Anat: 158

Physio: 155

BioChem: 169

Total: 482.


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.

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