Team PrepLadder felicitates Dr. Raksheeth Nathan Rajagopal on his success of achieving AIR 75 in DNB and we wish he succeeds in his career ahead. In his exclusive interview with PrepLadder, he shares the plan that worked for him in order to achieve this goal.
Hello, please tell us something about yourself.
Hi, I'm Raksheeth Nathan Rajagopal from Chennai. I am from a non-medico background. I graduated from PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Coimbatore in March 2016 and completed my internship in April 2017. I secured AIR 75 in DNB CET June 2017.
What do you think is the correct approach to study for DNB? Only MCQ's or Theory+MCQ's?
For DNB, I guess MCQ practice is slightly more important than theory. But without theory, MCQs alone are unlikely to get you a good rank. NEET PG is also similar but I think central institute exams will need more conceptual understanding.
When should the preparation ideally be started?
I read some topper interviews for the first time during internship and I was so scared that they recommend entrance-based preparation as early as 1st and 2nd year. I didn't even know the names of all the coaching institutes or entrance books during internship. I started preparing post internship and then I realized what the toppers meant. No amount of time was going to be sufficient to "finish the portions". I wished I could have started studying earlier. My advice: No matter when you choose to start, make sure that you do not stop studying during internship. It can be entrance books, MCQ apps or studying theory related to what you learn during internship. Do not stop learning after final year as it become difficult to get back to studies post internship.
Please list the books you studied for each subject.
I read the following books:
- Anatomy- B.D Chaurasia
- Physiology- Guyton and Hall, AK Jain
- Biochemistry- Vasudevan
- Microbiology- Ananthanarayan and Paniker
- Pathology- Blue Robbins (The only standard textbook for UG that I feel everyone SHOULD read. Please don't get scared if you didn't read, I just feel that it gives a strong foundation)
- Pharmacology- Tara V Shanbhag, KD Tripathi
- Forensic Medicine- Narayana Reddy (Synopsis)
- Ophthalmology- AK Khurana (I regret not reading Parsons'- it will make you enjoy the subject more)
- ENT- PL Dhingra
- Community Medicine- Park's
- Medicine- Davidson (I really regret not reading Harrison, out of sheer laziness)
- Surgery- Manipal (But PLEASE read Bailey and Love, whether you are interested in surgery or not, you will really enjoy it. I read very few topics from Bailey and I regretted not reading it for the whole year, again because I just wanted to pass with minimum effort)
- Obstetrics- Mudaliar
- Gynecology- Shaw
- Paediatrics- OP Ghai
I was not able to cover all the subjects for DNB June-2017 because I started my preparation in April.
Subjects I covered before DNB exam:
- Physiology- Dr. Soumen Manna
- Biochemistry- Dr. Rebecca James
- Microbiology- Dr. Apurba Sastry
- Surgery- Dr. Rajamahendran book + class notes
- Forensic Medicine- DAMS material
- Ophthalmology- Dr. Utsav Bansal book + class notes
- ENT- Dr. Sakshi Arora
- Dermatology- Dr. Malcolm Pinto class notes (best class I attended till date)
- Anaesthesia- Dr Arvind Arora
- Radiology- Dr. Sumer Sethi book + Dr. Naveen (PRIME) class notes
- Psychiatry- DAMS material
- SPM- Dr. Vivek Jain (only subject that I read during internship)
Covered post DNB exam, or not covered yet:
- Anatomy- Arvind Arora (I also tried reading Dr. Rajesh Kaushal)
- Pathology- Dr. Devesh Mishra book + notes
- Medicine- Dr. Dilip Kumar notes + Dr. Deepak Marwah book
- Pharmacology- Not covered yet
- Orthopedics- Not covered yet
- Obstetrics & Gynecology- Not covered yet
- Paediatrics- Not covered yet
Approach to guidebooks is important. Guidebooks are neither comprehensive nor exhaustive. It is important to understand this because most of us (including me) tend to focus on covering a fixed number of pages (For eg. 100 pages a day). However, I do not have a solution for this problem. It's not as if we can pick up the standard textbooks and start reading them now. A guidebook gives us a feeling of "finishing a subject" one at a time and there is nothing wrong with it. But, a better approach would probably be mainly using guidebooks as a source for practicing MCQs and less extensively for theory (class notes are the best). I would also recommend watching videos online to obtain theory knowledge (almost every topic will have decent videos on youtube). I feel that the retention that comes by watching these videos is more as it surely breaks the monotony of staring at a guidebook for the whole day.
Have you attempted any PG exam previously? If yes, what were your ranks then and what did you do different this time that lead to your success?
Yes, I have attempted PG exams previously.
NEET PG (December, 2016) - AIR 16145
AIIMS (May, 2017) - Did not make it on the rank list
JIPMER (May, 2017) - AIR 198
NEET PG attempt was a trial and I had absolutely no prior preparation.
AIIMS and JIPMER were very early during my preparation. I must say that my JIPMER result surprised me.
How big is the role of practice and revision while preparing for DNB and how much time should be dedicated for it?
Practice and revision forms the bulk of the preparation. As others also point out, revision is vital. Our visual learning is very inefficient. We need to review information repeatedly i.e. useful in the exam. Flipping through notes is a good method. Another method which I used was taking a subject/grand test every day after the day's preparation. This not only gives valuable test experience, but also serves as a revision method for subjects you have completed. Don't forget that analyzing a test is as important as taking it. Bookmark the questions you got wrong.
Did PrepLadder play a part in your success? If yes, how?
Absolutely! I found everything from the tests to the interviews extremely useful. For someone with no guidance or approach to PG preparation, it is a really good platform to begin. I must specially mention that the PrepLadder’s All India DNB mock seems to be pretty accurate in predicting your actual rank.
Did you use a time table/study plan to keep your preparation on track?
I spent about 10-14 hours per day with the books out of which I was able to translate these into 7-11 hours of effective study. I kept a schedule for the day and specific targets before which I needed to complete my subjects. One part of the day was reserved for test taking. Honestly, I feel that the number of hours does matter. If you are so efficient that you can complete your daily quota in 6 hours, then go ahead. But I feel that most of us need to put in more hours.
Were you a topper or a mediocre student during MBBS?
I stood third in my batch.
List the most difficult and easiest subjects for you.
Difficult - Anatomy (since MBBS days) and Biochemistry (preparation was difficult but exam questions were okay). Easier- Surgery, Dermatology and FMT.
One mistake that you believe everyone must avoid while preparing for DNB.
Not taking practice tests and not self-evaluating calls for disaster. Constant evaluation of progress is required to get an idea about where you stand. It is better being depressed seeing a poor rank in a mock test result than in the real exam. You might feel satisfied with your preparation but if thousands of people are doing better than you, you need to change your strategy.
What was your exam taking strategy in DNB? How many questions did you attempt?
The best part about DNB is that there is no negative marking. Thus, I attempted all the 300 questions. Educated guesses play a major role. Test taking ability is an often underestimated and under-discussed component of the final rank. How else would you explain people who seem to have the same level of knowledge doing vastly different on a test? So give practice tests their due importance.
Some last tips for our readers preparing for PG?
I think everyone here has given really inspiring advice but I'd like to be honest. PG preparation is possibly the worst phase for a medico. There were nights I cried myself to sleep thinking, "What if I put in all these efforts and I didn’t get a good rank?" The fear of failure is intense. It is really difficult to keep studying day in and day out. I don't have a solution, but I can tell you that you are not alone. Find something that keeps you sane. It can be going for a walk or having your favorite food or just talking to someone. Also, try not to leave a long break in your schedule. This is a marathon and it's really difficult to restart after you stop. Just keep pushing yourself, no one else can do that for you. In the end, do remember that luck matters, but hard work (+ smart work) makes you lucky. It is natural to doubt yourself but do not give up on yourself.
All the best..
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