Interview of Dr. Prateek Joshi: Rank 51 in MH PGM CET 2016
Dr. Prateek Joshi has secured Rank 51 in Maharashtra PGM CET 2016. He has done his MBBS from B. J. Govt. Medical College, Pune.
Q. In what year did you pass out your MBBS (Completion of Internship)?
ANS: I finished my internship in April 2015.
Q. What was your MBBS percentage marks (aggregate or final year)?
ANS: I scored exactly 70% in the final year, maintaining an average of 68.4% throughout MBBS.
Q. What ranks had you secured in any previous PG medical entrance exams you gave?
ANS: I scored SML 51 in the MHPG entrance of January 2016. Before this, I have appeared for the mid-year DNB entrance exam held in July 2015, and secured an All India Rank 290. However, I should state here that I was always more comfortable with the MHPG question pattern and, therefore, had studied more along the lines of MHPG throughout the year.
Q. Could you please tell us something about yourself?
ANS.: I passed out of the ICSE-affiliated St. Mary’s School in Pune in 2007 with 95.4%. After clearing my Std. 12th exam I secured a rank 300 in the MHCET in the first attempt itself and joined B. J. Govt. Medical College, Pune in 2009.
I held the post of Academic Secretary of the Students’ Council of our College from 2011-12. My father Dr. Charuchandra Joshi (M.S. Gynae.) and mother Dr. Madhavi have always supported and helped me throughout the course of my education and whatever I am today is due to them.
Q. What is the secret of your success?
ANS: As the Kung Fu Panda would put it, “There is no secret ingredient!”
It’s all about starting out towards your goal believing that you are capable and picturing yourself on the top of the world having achieved your goal. And once you have that picture fixed in your mind you need no more motivation. It’s pure hard work from there onwards.
Q. How was your internship?
ANS: Sassoon General Hospitals being one of the largest tertiary care centers in western Maharashtra has a massive patient load, and internship is fairly heavy. But the flipside is that learning opportunities are abundant and with the advent of the case based, image based questions and questions asking for details regarding commonly used hospital equipment, the time spent in the hospital can be used intelligently to observe these details.
Q. When did you seriously start preparing for the entrance exam?
ANS: I started as soon as my internship got over which was around the last week of April 2015.
Q. How many hours did you study each day? How long do you think students need to prepare for cracking PG medical entrance exams?
ANS: Approximately 8 to 10 hours of quality work each day. Most normal people (myself included) cannot put in 100% efficiency for more than an hour or two at a stretch and so counting unavoidable distractions and regular breaks the total study time is approximately 12 hours per day. Also, the “per day” part is of utmost importance because consistency and continuity are the crux to prepare for any PGME exam.
Q. Which books did you read for the theory part?
ANS.: I had referred to Harrison, Bailey & Love and KDT for the respective subjects during my undergraduate course. In the internship and post-intern phase, however, these “Bible” books are time-consuming and, therefore, should be used only for reference purposes or for a small topic-based study where standard MCQ books do not suffice. However, it is advisable to study the pictures from the standard textbooks for image-based questions.
Q. Which books did you read for MCQs revision? Which revision books were the most
productive and which were least?
ANS.: I used standard Arvind Arora and other revision books for MCQ practice. Also, for the MHPG, I referred to the past papers in Dr. Daga’s book to analyze which topics are trending. It is always better to revise topic-wise rather than taking on an entire subject at a time.
Q. Which subjects did you focus on?
ANS.: I focused on short subjects viz. Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, FMT, ENT, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Radiology, Anaesthesia and Orthopedics. What is common to all these areas is that most of us can write prof exam-pattern answers in these subjects but are weak at them when it comes to pinpoint information based MCQs, and thus, we end up losing marks in these subjects. The remaining subjects are related to each other for example Pathology and Surgery or Pharmacology, Medicine and Pediatrics, and so they can be studied together along a continuum to avoid duplication of efforts.
Q. What were your study methods? How many revisions did you do for each subject? Did you make any changes in your study methods in your recent attempts?
ANS.: Topic-based revision is the key. I made the coaching notes of DAMS as the basic unit of my revision, and as and when I found extra points, I would add them to the notebook. At least, 4 to 5 full revisions are a necessity before the exam.
Q. Did you do any special preparation for image-based questions?
ANS.: I followed the Facebook pages of DAMS and other groups where image-based discussions are held. However knowing that the MHPG does not have visual questions I did not lay too much emphasis on images.
Q. What was your strategy for the exam day? How many questions did you attempt and why? How many do you think you got correct?
ANS.: The MHPG does not have a negative marking scheme so one must attempt all 300 questions. I got 245 correct out of 300.
Q. Do think there should be a different strategy for preparation of different entrance exams like AIIMS-PG or PGI?
ANS.: Yes, each entrance exam has a different question format and, therefore, a different strategy must be followed.
Q. Did you join any classes or test series? Was it useful?
ANS: I had joined DAMS regular batch coaching in my post-internship attempt. But especially for the MH PGM CET, I joined Dr. Bipin Daga’s test series which was very useful. The number of direct repeat questions varies each year, but questions are always framed from the same or similar topics, and those tests give a very clear idea of which topics to concentrate on which proved very useful to me in the MHPG.
Q. Who or what influenced you to take up Medicine?
ANS.: I come from a family of medical professionals. I happen to be the fourth successive generation to go to B. J. Govt. Medical College so I have been interested in the medical field from an early age.
Q. In which field do you want to specialize in? Why?
ANS.: I would like to specialize in Orthopedics or Surgery as they are the branches of my interest.
Q. What seat have you been allotted in counseling? Did you join?
ANS.: The counseling rounds are yet to begin.
Q. What is your advice to future aspirants?
ANS.: Well study strategies and overall planning is most effective when personalized as per the individual. That being said, there are some general principles I learned while preparing which I would like to share below.
1. Studying all night without sleeping (pulling an all-nighter) is overrated and counterproductive. Disrupting the circadian rhythm is likely to do more harm than good even if you are used to staying up late (and more so if you aren’t).
2. As far as possible please try to maintain a simple diet at regular intervals and adequate hydration.
3. While making a timetable, it is always wiser to plan for short intervals (say a week) after which one should take a review of what was planned versus what was achieved before planning for the next time span. Longer timetables (of multiple weeks or months at a time) are likely to fail or fall slack.
4. Though it is advisable to give plenty of tests to assess your performance in terms of scores and ranks, it is wise to remember that “fluctuations are the rule” and that not even the topper of any exam has a great score to begin with, nor a continuous high rank. The marks or ranks, good or bad, need not affect your morale. (That’s why they are called MOCK tests and not the real thing.)
5. Cost/benefits analysis (in terms of time spent versus the gain expected) should be the deciding criterion for any decision made during the prep period.
Q. Indian PG entrances are highly competitive, so to crack them students end up in appearing for multiple PG exams with some of them having the same exam with different slots and papers, please extend your views on this and their pros and cons of appearing in multiple PG entrances.
ANS.: The decision to appear for multiple PG entrances should be made based on the time spent in appearing versus the likely gains in terms of experience or the possibility of getting a seat. It differs for each candidate. For example, I did not give any central institute exams like AIIMS or JIPMER because it involved travel to another city and I was not aiming for those institutes anyway. As far as the entrance exams with multiple slots and multiple paper sets are concerned, I have always opined that the system is absolutely unreliable and unpredictable. Although the “Itemized Response Theory” marking system is used in other exams such as the GATE or the likes, it succeeds in those settings simply because it is possible to objectively analyze the difficulty level of a sum or numerical problem but it is impossible to gauge the difficulty level of a medical fact; and getting a vague idea of the difficulty level as an inverse relation of the number of people answering the question is simply too inaccurate to judge the relative merit of over a lakh aspirants.I thank the admins at www.desimedicos.com for conducting this interview.
I thank the admins at www.desimedicos.com for conducting this interview.
We are ending this interview with our hearty congratulations and best wishes for future to this talented person, Dr. Prateek Joshi.