PG Blazer: Congratulations on securing the top rank in the AIIMS PG entrance exam! What is the secret of your success?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: Over years I have worked out on skills which have helped me top my proff exams and Nov AIIMS 14 in minimum possible time and effort.
Throughout my MBBS, I have been complemented for my exceptional speed and memory but these abilities I have evolved from my experiences in my college life. MEMORY IS A GIFT FOR THOSE WHO KNOW HOW TO PACK IT.
Most important quality which u need to become an all India topper is that you need to have composure and focus. By focus I don’t mean you need to study 12 hrs a day, it means that whatever you do, do it with 100% concentration. You must study in a stretch of 3 hrs as your exam is going to be in a stretch of 3 hrs. You need to learn how to maintain your focus for 3 hrs continuously without even a single distracting thought crossing your mind. And believe me it is tough!!! But it is possible to have that level of concentration and if you develop that good a focus, your reading speed and memory will improve considerably and instead of studying 12 hrs a day you just need to spend 6 hrs studying and remaining 6 hrs u can enjoy and have fun…….
It is a general notion that all India top rank needs phenomenal handwork but I would like to restate that it needs a smart way of studying with modest handwork.
PG Blazer: Could you tell us something about yourself?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: I am currently posted as an intern at ALL INDIA INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL SCIENCES (AIIMS), New Delhi. I did my MBBS from AIIMS. I was the combined topper for First, Second and Final Professional Examination and was awarded the Institute Medal for the Best MBBS Graduate of AIIMS for Batch 2009-14 and Delhi Medical Association Medal for the best ALL ROUNDER MBBS STUDENT. I got AIR 12 in AIIMS MBBS entrance examination. I did my schooling from DAV Public School, Amritsar, Punjab.
PG Blazer: Who or what influenced you to take up Medicine as a career?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: My parents have always inspired me to become something more than just a doctor, someone who can bring about a change in medical science in India.
PG Blazer: What were your aggregate percentage marks for MBBS?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: 76.8%
PG Blazer: How did you prepare during your internship period?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: I believe time management is the key. Honestly speaking I started my preparation in JAN 2014 but because of hectic rural posting for first 3 months of internship I could not study much. So I geared up my preparation from 1st April, 2014. Self Study is important but has to be complemented by group study. During group study, we used to divide topics and then daily discuss those topics .This helped me and my friends complement each other’s weak topics. I used to study 4-7 hrs/day during the months of April-July 2014 because of hectic internship but in last 3 months( Aug-Oct) I studied 10-12 hrs/ day in planned intervals of 3-4 hrs sitting/interval.
PG Blazer: Which were the various entrance exams you wrote in this session? What were the ranks you obtained?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: AIIMS NOV 14 PG- Rank 2 (1st Attempt)
PG Blazer: When did you start serious preparation for this year’s entrance exam?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: I started serious preparation from the beginning of my internship (Jan 2014)
PG Blazer: What was your study strategy?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: I think your strategy should depend on the time you have at your disposal. So plan well before you start your preparation keeping in mind your priorities, but don’t procrastinate as plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work. I used to glance through the previous year questions and select important topics for each subject, and read them in detail from standard textbooks and MCQ books.
PG Blazer: Did you make any notes for helping with your revision? Were they useful?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: Yes, I did make notes and considering the time crunch everyone faces in the last one week before the exam, I feel that notes are really helpful.
PG Blazer: In your opinion, how much time does a student require for preparing for this exam?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: 1 year of smart and intelligent preparation is sufficient.
PG Blazer: How many hours did you study each day?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: I used study 4-7 hrs/day during the months of April-July 2014 because of hectic internship but in last 3 months (Aug-Oct) I studied 10-12 hrs/ day in planned intervals of 3-4 hrs sitting/interval.
PG Blazer: Did you have a timetable for preparation? Were you able to stick to it?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: I did have a timetable, but I couldn’t stick to it because of hectic internship.
PG Blazer: Did you ever doubt your ability to get selected in this entrance exam? If so, how did you overcome your fears?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: We all pass through an inevitable phase of frustration and despair during our exam time, so I was no exception. But you have to keep your cool and go on. PERSEVERANCE IS THE KEY. I was lucky to have friends who were always there to cheer me up and boost my morale. And very importantly we need to learn to let go all the thoughts that disturb us and be optimistic about future. And I feel sublimation is a wonderful defence mechanism to bring out your anger and frustration in a productive and creative way.
PG Blazer: Did you attend any classroom coaching? Was it useful? Do you think classroom coaching is essential for getting a good rank?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: I attended classroom coaching for only selected subjects which I thought were weak. I relied mostly on self study and group study with my friends.
I don’t think classroom coaching is essential for getting a good rank.
PG Blazer: Did you attend any test series? If so, did you find it useful?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: Yes, I gave online tests during my internship. They helped me know my weaknesses and my strengths and helped me keep my pace during preparation.
PG Blazer: What were the subjects you focused upon?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: Subjects must do for SELECTION-
1. Medicine + relevant RADIOLOGY
RANK DECIDING SUBJECTS-
PG Blazer: Which books did you read for theory?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: Anatomy – BD Chaurasia, Student Gray’s (Reference)
Physiology – Ganong
Biochemistry – Harper, Genetics from Lehninger
Pathology – Robbins
Microbiology – Ananthnarayan
Pharmacology – KDT
Forensic Medicine – Sumit Seth
ENT – Dhingra
Ophthalmology – Khurana
SPM – Park
Medicine – Harrison
Surgery – Bailey and Love
Orthopaedics – Apurv Mehra
Paediatrics – Ghai
OBG – JB Sharma (Obs), Shaw (Gynae)
Anaesthesia – Ajay Yadav
Dermatology – Neena Khanna
Psychiatry – Niraj Ahuja
PG Blazer: What was your approach to Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: I don’t think you need to read Harrison cover to cover. The important topics which have been asked in last 6-7 years previous year exams can be read. Harrison is more of a reference but it is an indispensable companion of any medical student especially for controversial questions.
PG Blazer: Which books did you read for MCQ’s? Which ones were the most useful?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: Exam specific books:
Amit Ashish (AIIMS) Vol 1 (2007-2013)
Mudit Khanna (AIPGMEE)
Subject wise books:
Anatomy, Biochemistry, Physiology – ACROSS
2nd year – Pathology – Gobind Garg and Sparsh Gupta
Pharmacology – Gobind Garg and Sparsh Gupta
Microbiology – Rachna Chaurasia
Forensic Medicine- Sumit Seth
ENT- Coaching notes (DAMS)
Orthopedics- Apurv Mehra
Ophthalmology – Ruchi Rai
SPM- Vivek Jain
Radiology – Dr.Sumer Sethi’s book
Medicine – Dr. Thameem’s Notes + Mudit Khanna + Harrison as reference
Surgery – DAMS Coaching Notes + DBMI Surgery T&D Notes
Pediatrics – Arvind Arora
Obstetrics – Gynaecology – DAMS Coaching Notes
Dermatology – ACROSS
PG Blazer: Is there anything specific to keep in mind while preparing for AIIMS?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: The best way to study for AIIMS is to study topic wise and in an integrated manner. Most questions in AIIMS exam are clinical cases and test your diagnostic approach to a patient. For example if you are during neuro from Harrison it is useful if you read relevant neuroanatomy and neuroimaging at the same time as that will help you build your concepts better.
Another important aspect of your preparation should be to improve your mcq skills and reading skills. You should learn how to solve your mcqs smartly with minimal knowledge by improving your elimination skill which in turn depends on 3 factors- 1) How carefully you read a given question and its options, 2) How fast you can read a given statement, 3) How much you understand a given statement in your first reading. After all, it is matter of 3 hrs. Your years of hard work comes down to those 3 hours and if you have good reading skills and composure, it helps you perform far better.
AIIMS exam demands EXAM TEMPERAMENT, not factual knowledge!!!!
PG Blazer: How did you tackle the PGIMER entrance exam?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: I didn’t give the PGIMER entrance exam as AIIMS result was out by that time. But still I would like to share my approach for PGIMER exam as it is quite different from AIIMS exam. It is important maintain your speed right from the beginning in PGIMER as there are 1250 statements to be scanned. You have to be a little defensive in your approach as negative marking may cost you heavily. Last 5 years repeat questions (Manoj Chaudhary) are important.
PG Blazer: How did you prepare for the image based questions?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: I didn’t prepare for Image Based Questions per se. Most of the image based questions are asked in a background of a clinical scenario which you can easily answer if you have good conceptual hold of the topic. If you want to invest some time, then going through the images of Robbins 9/e and Harrison 18/e would be a good choice.
PG Blazer: What was your strategy for taking the exam?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: I had a strategy in my mind. I didn’t take pressure, I kept myself calm. I sat quietly for 30 min before my exam putting together all my strength and confidence.
I planned that I will go through all 200 questions in 2 hrs and reconsider the questions marked for review in remaining one hr.
I was almost close…I finished all 200 questions in 2 hrs 10 min and then reviewed the marked questions in 50 min.
I attempted 196 questions and I kept my attempt high as there were many questions in which I was able to eliminate 2 options, so I had 50% probability of getting it right.
PG Blazer: How many questions did you attempt?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: AIIMS – 196
PG Blazer: How many do you think you got correct?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: AIIMS – 155 to 160
PG Blazer: Which speciality are you interested in choosing and why?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: I will probably take up a surgical speciality (General surgery/ Neurosurgery) because for becoming a skillful surgeon you need good hand eye coordination, a skill which i feel i have.
PG Blazer: What is your advice to future aspirants?
Dr. Ravi Sharma: 1. Be confident. Even if you start late you can get a top rank.!!!
2. You need 1 yr of focused preparation to crack AIIMS.
3. Don’t cram; understand well….at the end, your basic knowledge matters.
4. Don’t read too much, revise more.
5. If your target is AIIMS, read more of conceptual things rather than factual knowledge ( NO ONE ASKS NAMED SIGNS, FACTUAL POINTS in AIIMS… they are useful only in NEET)
Quoting Ben Carson (Pioneer Neurosurgeon) – Always remember, YOU can do anything anyone else in this world can do, only YOU can do it better….
My best wishes to everyone. Thank you.
PG Blazer: That brings us to the conclusion of the interview. Best of luck for your future endeavours!