It’s that time of the year for most medical aspirants when they’re left with mixed feelings. On one hand, there’s the joy of the Board exams drawing to a close and on the other, there’s apprehension about the entrances looming ahead – PMT in early May, AIIMS, and JIPMER in early June interspersed with state entrance exams and other miscellaneous ones. Here, find some tips for acing medical entrances for medical aspirants.
Pushing To The End: Tips For Acing Medical Entrances
It’s often one of the most confusing periods too. You know you are close to something you have been working for diligently since almost two years (and dreaming about since I don’t know how long) and yet you are not sure as to whether or not you are adequately prepared, how you will fare, etc. This article aims to precisely clear that confusion; thereby enabling you to formulate a sound strategy in this last crucial phase and seal the kinks in the armour, if any. Just like a marathon runner stops periodically at pit stops to sip on water and has a banana or two, you may take a short breather (a day or two) at this juncture before embarking on the all-important last mile. Do not see it as a waste of time, it’ll help you recharge, rejuvenate and approach the last bit with renewed vigour.
The most basic tip for acing medical entrances, or any entrances for that matter. See your entrance preparation like a pyramid. You cannot add many new bricks as you reach the top of a pyramid; likewise, you cannot cram up a lot of new stuff now. The time to study or memorize new things or concepts is now behind you. It’s time to reinforce the pyramid or, in this case, pre-built concepts. Practice, practice, and practice is the key. If you have joined some test series, try to be regular. Solve at least 2-3 papers a week (they can be topic-wise at the early stages and then full portion as the D-day draws closer) and attend the post-paper discussion sessions to get your doubts cleared and analyse your strengths and weaknesses. After getting back home, try to solve all the questions, which you either left blank or made mistakes in; see if you can comfortably solve them. If not, ask the concerned faculty once again. Solve some similar questions from your coaching packages or reputed MCQ books.
Your best friends at this point are the books with the last 25-30 years PMT and AIIMS questions. Solve as many questions from them as you can. Referring to the voluminous reference books is not recommended; not only do they demoralise you, most of the content in them is unnecessary for a medical aspirant in the present era. Rather, solve previous years’ questions and get your doubts cleared by the concerned faculty. Do not hesitate to ask questions even if they may seem silly to you. Since you have adequately covered your 12th class syllabus for your boards if at all you feel the need to read something to brush up concepts, give priority to the 11th standard concepts, which may have become rusted. But revision/re-reading of the NCERT is to be done in the time left after solving as many questions as you can and not at the cost of the questions.
Do make it a point to appear for the All-India Level full syllabus tests conducted by coaching institutions. They are fairly good barometers of your preparation level and your standing amongst your peers. But do not let a single bad test demotivate you in any way. Sometimes, the test papers are unusually tough, and you may struggle with a few questions here and there.
D-day 1.0 NEET
The first Sunday of May will be the one when you will be appearing for the All India Pre-Medical Test (NEET). While having a slight flutter of nerves is absolutely normal, do not let the anxiety get to your head and become counterproductive. I have seen people come retching into the exam hall and spoiling their papers just because of over anxiety. Wrap up as much as possible on Friday itself. If possible, revise only important formulae in Physics, some reactions and formulae in Chemistry and salient features from the chapters you do not feel comfortable with in Biology on a penultimate day.
Spare some time for unwinding with whatever hobbies you indulge in (in my case, it was newspapers, television and the internet). Most importantly, grab a good night’s sleep on Saturday. Reach the hall well in time on Sunday. Spend the first 3-5 minutes to go through the paper carefully and allocate time (you should have a rough idea according to how you used to do in your mock tests) to each subject – for me the division used to be 40 minutes to biology, 50 for chemistry, 80 for physics and the leftovers, if any, for revision. This is not ideal for everyone in any way and can be highly variable according to your skill set (I was horrible with calculations and thus left a lot of time for physics) and the nature of the question paper. Also, when it comes to the sequence, I used to prefer biology followed by chemistry and physics at the end; but again it can vary according to your preference.
Knowing the exam’s paper pattern and being thorough with frequent questions is key to acing medical entrances. NEET is more benevolent when it comes to negative marking vis-a-vis AIIMS (+4 and -1 vs +1 and -1/3 respectively), and it is good to make a few intelligent guesses here and there. But as with all risks, it is beneficial only when taken in a calculated manner. Do not make blind guesses, but if you are fairly certain about something, you may attempt it.
These were some of the tips I used for acing medical entrances. In my next article of this series, I shall elaborate on the strategy specific for AIIMS and what to do in the one month gap you have between NEET and AIIMS. Till then, all the very best for your preparations.