Toppers Tips & Tricks to Crack NEET-PG: Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar Shares His Story of Cracking NEET-PG in the Very First Attempt


1. When should one start preparing for PG entrance exams? How many months and hours of serious preparation did you put in?

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: In my opinion, an ideal student should be oriented to PG entrance exam pattern and the kind of questions they ask from the UG days itself. It will be better if he can try solving MCQs from various exams along with theory preparation itself. But it should not be done at the expense of losing edge over theory knowledge. 

Its better to read Standard books like Ganong, Robbins during the UG days itself because most MCQs are based on standard textbooks. But if you find it difficult to follow standard text books, you can read other books. Make sure, you have got the concept rooted in your brain.

While reading standard textbooks, its better to make a note out of it. Because in books like bailey, things are scattered in various places. If you can bring it together in a note, it will be helpful for your theory as well as entrance preparations.

Even while preparing for practicals you can maintain few of the notes which are likely to be asked in the future exams. For eg. Histopathology notes and record. With so many image based questions being asked these days practicals notes are also important. Students can maintain the photos of histopatho slides and instruments so that it is useful in the future.

Having said that, as I was not an ideal student I have not done any of these! But I read standard textbooks, whenever possible. If possible is mentioned because there were a few exceptions. I did not read Tripathi's textbook because I found it very volatile. Even during UG days, it was  Sparsh Gupta's MCQ textbook which I read. They have given  theory in a concise form along with a lot of mnemonics which I learnt by heart. It really helped. And learning that much theory was enough to get a decent marks in Pharmacology exam. Of course, I did not read Grey's anatomy or Harper. Nor did I read Harrison or Nelson. But books like Ganong, Robbins, Parson, Bailey and Love were easy to comprehend. Hence I read them and I believe it really helped me.

 As as a UG student my scores ranged from 68% to 71%. Our convocation was on Aug 5th and I had my NEET on 6th Dec. So I had roughly 4 months to learn. Inspite of this, being an average student, I could acheive it and I believe everyone can. 

Another factor which helped me was the teaching faculty in my college i.e., Thrissur medical college. They ensured that basic concepts were clear to us. 

Now coming to the second question, my serious preparation started only after my convocation. I used to go for PG coaching in MedPG Thrissur soon after my final exams. But during those days, I could not learn what was taken. I just listened to those classes and wrote the online exams conducted by the coaching institutes. Even while during house surgency, I attended coaching classes in the same institute. But I could learn only during relatively free postings like opthalmology, psychiatry etc. 

 Once I started preparing seriously I used to learn 12-13 hrs a day. 



2. How did you prepare for NEET PG- solving previous question papers or studying subject wise books with MCQs?

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: During my internship, I used to read the notes I had written from MedPG coaching classes. But even during busy posting, we used to have free time. For eg. when you are ward on call for Medicine and there are no much calls. In such situations, I used to read books like Q wave. This was because, I had no mood to learn a new concept in such situations but I was forcing my reluctant mind to read MCQs. Q wave covered high yielding topics and had MCQs from various exams. Answers were given in points and were given in a manner which even lazy minds can easily follow. 

I had also ready subject wise books during my CRRI. For eg. Sparsh Gupta- pharmacology, Vivek Jain- PSM. I used to read it in my relatively free PSM postings. I tried to learn topics according to the posting I was having during internship. For eg. I read about antidepressants and antipsychotics during my psychiatry posting, anaesthetics during my anaesthesia posting. The advantage I got by employing this method was that I could ask doubts to the faculty.

Keeping an open mind to explore things during internship really helped. For eg. Malampatti classification is something which one never learns in his student days but it is something which every anesthetist uses during Pre anesthetic checkup. It can be easily learnt if one had been attentive during Anesthesia posting.

Glasgow coma scale can be easily learnt if you always had tried to classify a patient in  coma during your casualty posting. Likewise, the colour coding of cannula, dose of PGE1 given after a normal delivery and lot of image based questions are easy if you are attentive enough during your internship.

For Biochem I used Biochemistry wave during my internship. I tried to recollect the different cycles in biochem whenever I had time. I later bought Rabecca madam's textbook of biochemistry as well. Nothing more was needed forBiochemistry . Whatever book you are using, the important thing about biochem is that you have to ensure repeated revision because biochemistry is a volatile subject. You will easily forget it.

Orthopaedics textbook by Apurva Mehra and forensic textbook by Sumit Sethi are two other books which I later bought after house surgency. I found them really good. I had bought a few more subject special books. But I had no time to read them.

I also had got textbooks covering DNB questions. Since NEET was being conducted by NBE I believe they are using the same question bank. Hence reading those questions helped me. 



3. Did you attend coaching classes? How useful were they? Do you think cracking the exams is possible with self-study?

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: I attended coaching at MedPG thrissur during my  final year vacation and house surgency. After my house surgency, I had coaching classes till October 31 which included the crash course of MedPG as well. Most of the time I spent during the days after house surgency in learning the notes of the classes taken. I had missed many pivotal classes during my house surgency. For eg. we had Devesh Mishra sir's patho class. But I ensured that I got a photostat of my friend's notes to learn patho. 

One of the main advatage I got from coaching institute was I could evaluate myself through the various online exams conducted. Initially my rank was in 200s. Later I could jump into top 10 rankings in the last 3 exams conducted. Online exams also help you to analyze which subject you are weak at. So, definitely I would say attending coaching centre has helped me.

Its possible to crack NEET with self-study. My batchmate Krishnan had attended very few classes from TMCAA during internship. After house surgency. he did not attend any coaching. It was mostly self study for him and he got a rank of 1400 in NEET. But he was among top 3 in my batch. Maybe such people could do without coaching. I don't know what would have become of me without attending coaching classes.



4. Did you use UG textbooks/ reference books for any subjects(s)?

i. What was your approach to Park for PSM?

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: People say Park is a beautiful textbook . But I have always found it difficult to get along with Park even during my UG days. In my UG exams, I have got my least mark in PSM I think. Vivek Jain is a good book and is less time consuming to read it. The classes taken for PSM in Medpg was also good. Nevertheless, I had referred Park in a few instances. The questions I got from PSM were very easy. I don't know if they used to ask very difficult questions in PSM. But in my opinion, its better not to read too much of Park if you have only limited time.

ii. What was your approach to Harrison's Manual of internal Medicine? 

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: I never read Harrison. The classes taken in MedPG for Medicine were based on Harrison.We also used to have Harrison based MCQ exams in the mobile app of medpg.  Hence, I thought it will be better not to spent my limited time on Harrison.



5. Did you prepare lecture based notes and textbook based notes? If yes, how helpful were they?

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: As I mentioned earlier what I had been learning mostly were the lecture notes of the coaching classes. I also maintained a note cotaining only the difficult things which I always forgot. DNB questions which I found tough were also noted down. I only read these books during my last few days before exam. 



6. How imporant is the revision? How frequently did you revise during the preparation?

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: Since I had little time to learn, I could not revise much. But I believe more the revision, the better it will be. We might have learnt a lot of things. But if you can't remember them, whatever learnt is going a waste. Ideally at least 1 month should be completely alloted for revision.



7. The new pattern of examination conatins image based questions on ECGs, CT scans, USGs, instruments, histology etc. Did you specifically prepare for tackling them?

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: We had separate classes for ECG and image based questions at our coaching centre. I had written a free online image based exam by Prep ladder. In Fb I was a part of Vandana Madam's discussion group. She used to discuss a lot of image based questions. And of course, like I told earlier I kept an open mind in OT to learn the name of instruments being used. These were the only preparations I gave for image based questions. 


8. During the PMT preparation days, doing as many exams as possible was highly recommended. Did you use online question bank or exams for NEET PG preparation and how did they help in craking the real exams?

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: As mentioned earlier the online exams conducted by my coaching institue helped me a lot. Apart from that I have written a few free online exams. I have not written any other exam because of the lack of time.



9. There are many candidates who spend a lot of time for preparation, but have failed to secure a good rank. when you look back, there will be possible mistakes in the preparation that you were fortunate to avoid. Can you please share them.

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: Lack of proper revision is something which I think that adversely affects the candidates. Reading just MCQ books alone is not enough. Most of the things which we learn during UG days we tend to forget. But there are some basic stuff  which should always be kept in mind. Thanks to the teachers in my college, I always remember those  stuff. For eg. things like brachial plexus, cubital fossa were things which I could recollect even without learning it again. Maybe this is an area where candidates fail. Instead of understanding things properly during the student days, they might have ended up memorizing things. For them entrance preperation is like learning the whole mbbs course again.

 Knowing the exam you are writing is also important. For eg DNB entrance they ask only one word kind of questions. AIIMS and JIPMER they ask tricky clinical kind of questions. In NEET, most questions are of the DNB pattern, but certain days they have more of clinical kind of questions. Thats why luck becomes a factor in NEET. Certain days, they ask more questions from one particular subject. If the candidate is week in that subject, he is likely to score low rank. One day, if they ask a lot of questions from IPC sections, the next day they may not even ask a single question from IPC. Just like that some days, they  may ask more of clinical questions instead of DNB pattern questions. So if the candidate had prepared more for AIIMS and JIPMER he can get lucky if he write exam on that day.

So an unlucky candidate inspite of good preperation can fail to get a good rank. But to those brilliant candidates who is prepared for all kinds of questions, luck is not at all a factor. 



10. Our research shows a large number of candidates are under stress during preparation. Were you under pressure at some point of time? How did you unwind during those days?

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: No, I was not under much stress. Because it was my first attempt, that too with only a few months of proper preparation I was  mentally prepared to give it another attempt if I failed in this one. I got a rank of 2300 in November AIIMS which indeed boosted my confidence. Had it been my second attempt I am sure I would have been under tremendous stress. I believe in God, destiny and all such stuff. I used to go to nearby temple daily during the preparation days. The serene ambience, meditation and prayers certainly helped me tackle stress. These days, there is a tendency for 'free thinkers' to look down upon religious people with contempt. I strongly believe religion is something personal and can help in maintaining a good stress free mental health if used in a positive manner.



11. What tips will you give juniors for the exam day?

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: Don't read anything new on the exam days. What I did was I read the Appendix of Q wave to quickly revise stuff like malignancy staging. If you have a small book in which all things you are likely to forget unless read in the last moment, that will help. Appendices of exam preparatory textbooks usually keep such most important but easy to remember stuff. People say  on exam day you have to relax and read nothing to keep your mind calm. But I believe it is better to sprint thorugh these appendices stuff in the last moment.



12. How did you plan your time during the exam? How many questions did you attend and what was your rank and score?

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: There was no such planning for the exam. I marked the questions which I was sure then itself. Other questions I marked for review and answered later. I left 4-5 questions which I had no idea about. I was under the impression that in case of a tie in marks, they consider the wrong questions as well. That was the reason why I left those questions. It was a stupid thing I did because those should be very tough questions and would have had maximum marks.  So I would have got those maximum marks if one of my guesses got right. But as I said earlier I believe in destiny. Maybe I was destined to become an ENT surgeon. If I had a better rank I might have got General Medicine in college of my choice and would have taken that. But I have reasons to believe that God has better plans for us. And I am happy with the position I am in now. ☺



13. Which college and course will you be joining now?

Dr. Vishnu Vinayakumar: I joined department of ENT in Goverment Medical College Thiruvananthapuram.