PGI entrance topper interview: Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj, 27th Rank, May 2016

Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj - PGI entrance topperDr. Akinchan Bhardwaj

PG Blazer: Congratulations on securing top ranks in the PGI and JIPMER entrance exams! What is the secret of your success?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Thank you very much. It was all possible with the help of Hanumanji, blessings of my father and mother, mamaji ; support from my sister and brother and my senior Dr. Vaithee. The secret has been my determination, hard work, proper planning and above all my thought programming during stressful moments.

PG Blazer: Could you tell us something about yourself?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: I am from Gorakhpur. I got my schooling done from Children School, Azamgarh.
I did my MBBS and I am a gold medallist from JIPMER. I have participated in various cultural activities and quiz.

PG Blazer: Who or what influenced you to take up Medicine as a career?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: My father is a doctor and the inspiration to make myself a doctor like him was drilled inside me since my childhood.

PG Blazer: What were your aggregate percentage marks for MBBS?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: 66 %

PG Blazer: How did you prepare during your internship period?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Internship in JIPMER is very hectic and most of the time during my internship I had to spend inside the hospital. But I tried my best to utilize the maximum available free time to prepare for the exams. Despite the best efforts I could do only some 6 subjects from subjectwise guides throughout my internship.
But I tried to learn the maximum procedures I could like central lines, LP, chest tube placements and many others, and this would sometimes demand me to stay in the hospital for a duration longer than the usual. And it was worth it. JIPMER is known to create the best MBBS graduates in the country and I did not want to miss the opportunity.
But in order to save the remaining time I used to keep myself cutoff from friends and wasting time after every possible thing. I could finish second year subjects, dermat, ortho and pediatrics.

PG Blazer: Which were the various entrance exams you wrote in this session? What were the ranks you obtained?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: PGI Chandigarh 27,
JIPMER 62,
AIIMS 122.

PG Blazer: What ranks did you obtain in your previous attempts?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: IN MAY 2015 I didn’t qualify AIIMS, PGI rank 800 odd, JIPMER 4000.
In NOVEMBER 2015 AIIMS 800 odd, PGI 1000, JIPMER 700 odd.
I did not take AIPG and DNB.

PG Blazer: What changes did you make to your preparation after your last attempt?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: There were many mistakes that I made in my selection so as what to read. Like I had not touched the exam specific guides previously and concentrated only on subjectwise reading from coaching notes. I didn’t solve many MCQs either. According to a session held by the coaching director since repeats have reduced so there’s no use reading exam specific guides. I followed it and it was a mistake i made.
Also the way I approached the exam was not ideal. I used to be as stressed out as I could be. I had to take sleeping pills for about one and a half months before the exam because I was not being able to sleep because of the stress and palpitation. I had consistently been reading about 16 to 17 hours on average still I could not perform accordingly because I used to be so very tensed.
While I was writing my PGI exam I felt there were a lot of questions and options which were not there in the notes, many important topics were not covered.
Earlier I wanted to finish the subject completely and read everything, because of which I wasted a big amount of time over the topics which were very less likely to appear on the exams.
So I had to do the following:
-Motivate myself and bring myself out of depression because I did my best, still my rank in PGI went down instead of improving compared to may. The most difficult task.
-Read the exam specific guides regardless of other experts’ opinion.
-Fill up the gaps in all the subjects and read all the untouched important topics.
-Avoid spending time on less important topics and more on high yielding topics.
-Solve MCQs and write online tests.
-Try and keep myself totally stress-free so that I could perform well in exams, which was the key change that I made.
To fill up the gaps I first went through the previous five years questions of all three institutes and found out the maximum tested topics. I read those topics from textbooks and subjectwise guides. Added points to the incomplete topics in my notes.

PG Blazer: When did you start serious preparation for this year’s entrance exam?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Since I was left totally depressed and disheartened after the November results and a few other personal problems arising thereof, I could not read much during December and January. I spent these two months insanely figuring out how the exam papers are framed, where the questions are asked from, searching for the perfect review books and related research. If I were to comment on the way I was during these months, I would say I was almost going mad. I was thinking now I should give up my desire to do medicine from an institute and better prepare for All India PG because I am not good enough. But I once sat thinking about all that was going wrong and came out with something more powerful than my current situation. AND THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO SHARE WITH THE OTHER PG ASPIRANTS
I told myself that when I started preparing I wanted to do medicine only from Institutes but now how can I think of giving up and going only for some random college through All India PG. When I started my preparation I didn’t have even this much knowledge as much as I have right now. So if I could aim for only institutes then, then for god’s sake, I know much more than as much as I did in the beginning. I must keep on chasing my dream still. Then I kept on thinking about how can i make myself better, how can I study more efficiently, in what way do I approach the exam in order to gain maximum out of it. I talked to many seniors who were top rankers earlier. I combined all the information collected. Finally I came out with a great strategy for the available 3 months I had. And started reading February onward.

PG Blazer: What was your study strategy?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Since I had only three months left before the exam and had forgotten a lot of stuff that I read earlier because of the 2.5 months gap. So first I went through all the questions from exam specific guides in subjectwise manner so that I could know the most important areas. I kept aside 4 hours per day for Manoj Chaudhry. Then I would revise whatever I had read one day before followed by the reading of that particular day. After reading theory I solved some MCQs. I solved MCQs from subjectwise guides for more important areas and remaining from exam specific guides of AIIMS, PGI and JIPMER. I stressed more on high yielding topics and revised them more often rather than spending time over less important topics. I had 2 ‘Master Notes’ in which I used to write all the important topics for last minute revision. I read the most important topics also from the textbook that I read during MBBS.
I needed practice for the exams so I solved many online tests so that I could develop necessary skills to take the exam. APPROACHING THE EXAM IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR FOR PG ENTRANCE. During April I used to solve 100 questions per day from Amit Ashish AIIMS guide. JIPMER questions from Kannan. Two hours per day for Manoj Chaudhry revision followed by revision of notes and other topics that I had read from subjectwise guides.

PG Blazer: Did you make any notes for helping with your revision? Were they useful?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: I had my coaching notes made during classes and later on I just kept adding points into it as I went on reading other books and solving MCQs. And my Master Notes that I prepared for final days.
Notes are definitely helpful and we must have well made notes because it takes far less time to revise from notes rather than revising directly from books. And MULTIPLE REVISIONS ARE THE SECOND MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR FOR PG EXAMS.

PG Blazer: In your opinion, how much time does a student require for preparing for this exam?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: It is entirely a relative factor which can only be defined by the individual . Time needed is for learning all the must know topics of pg with some recent advances plus practicing online tests and MCQs. If someone can do all this in third year or during internship then he can get a seat right after the internship. If not then, if he can do all these, within six months then six months.
So if someone begins after internship then 6 months to 1 year is more than sufficient.

PG Blazer: How many hours did you study each day?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Average 15 to 17 hours.

PG Blazer: Did you have a timetable for preparation? Were you able to stick to it?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Preparing timetable or I say PLANNING is the THIRD MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR.
Yes I made too. And earlier I was not able to stick to it, as happens with everyone, followed by blaming myself that I cant follow my plans so get myself frustrated.
But the change I made this time was I kept myself totally flexible, if one plan didn’t work out, no problem I made the next one. But I had a plan every moment and tried the best to follow it.

PG Blazer: What role did the internet play in your preparation?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Internet helped in many ways. Reading the recent advances, test series, images, video lectures, online forums of authors, PG Blazer interviews and MCQs to mention a few.

PG Blazer: Did you ever doubt your ability to get selected in this entrance exam? If so, how did you overcome your fears?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Due to the lack of time I could not revise few subjects before AIIMS exam. So the BIGGEST CHALLENGE I faced during this time was the stress that I read a lot more for November exams, still I could not perform well then how can I expect to get a good rank this time; I am not good enough, I have very less time left. These thoughts kept on intruding my mind every now and then but I kept on motivating myself and did not let these fears overcome me. I told myself I AM GOING TO GIVE MY BEST EVERY SINGLE SECOND THAT I HAVE GOT. I kept doing what I call ‘Thought Programming’ every time I was tensed. I have several self made quotes that help me in such situations. I prayed to God to give me strength to keep going.

PG Blazer: Did you attend any classroom coaching? Was it useful? Do you think classroom coaching is essential for getting a good rank?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: I attended DAMS Satellite classroom coaching at Gorakhpur but I had to do a lot of self work to make the notes worthy.
If someone has good concepts since his MBBS days it is not essential for him. But we rarely find such people. So if someone doesn’t have good concepts it is essential to attend a classroom coaching (and ‘any’ reknowned coaching classes for that matter as all have more or less similar way of teaching).
-During the lectures a lot of difficult topics get cleared so it does save time because if we read and try to understand such topics ourselves it invariably takes a lot of time.
-Another advantage is that we get relevant notes to which we can later on add other topics and points so that we have good notes. Since the teachers are experts of their respective fields, it becomes great to have notes taken during their lectures.

PG Blazer: Did you attend any test series? If so, did you find it useful?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Yes I attended NIME test series and DAMS test series. I liked NIME more.
Yes it was definitely helpful because it makes us more prepared for taking the exam. Also it keeps reflecting where do we stand compared to other competitor, what are our weak areas. Many topics which we could not read during our self study can be covered from test series explanation.

PG Blazer: What were the subjects you focused upon?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Final year and second year subjects plus biochemistry and molecular biology.

PG Blazer: Which books did you read for theory?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Anatomy –BDC
Physiology – GK PAL Sir’s
Biochemistry –Harper and Vasudevan
Pathology – Robbins
Microbiology –Parija Sir’s
Pharmacology –KDT and Katzung
Forensic Medicine – Reddy
ENT –Dhingra
Ophthalmology – Parson
SPM – Park
Medicine – Davidson mainly and some parts from Harrison
Surgery – Bailey and Sanjay Azad
Orthopaedics – Maheshwari
Paediatrics – Ghai
OBG – Dutta and Shaws
Anaesthesia – Ajay Yadav
Radiology – Bipin Daga
Dermatology –Thappa Sir’s book
Psychiatry – Neeraj Ahuja

PG Blazer: What was your approach to Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: I read Cardiology , Nephrology and RS fully, selected topics in neurology, endocrinology and GIT; plus initial chapters on symptomatology.

PG Blazer: Which books did you read for MCQ’s? Which ones were the most useful?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: AIIMS – Amit Ashish
PGI Chandigarh – Manoj Chaudhry
JIPMER – Sudharshan Kannan
No books for AIPG.

Subject wise books:
Anatomy – Arvind Arora
Physiology – Arvind Arora
Biochemistry – Rebecca James
Pathology – Praveen Kumar
Microbiology – Rachna Chaurasia
Pharmacology – Sparsh Gupta, Gobind Garg
Forensic Medicine – Sumit Seth
ENT – Notes and added points from Dhingra and Shibu George sir’s book.
Ophthalmology – IAMS material
SPM – Vivek Jain
Medicine – Amit Ashish
Surgery – Amit Ashish
Orthopaedics – IAMS
Paediatrics – Arvind Arora
OBG – notes only
Anaesthesia – IAMS
Radiology – notes
Dermatology – IAMS
Psychiatry – IAMS

PG Blazer: What was your strategy while preparing for AIPGMEE?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: I did not take AIPGMEE because I was more focussed on getting into an institute.

PG Blazer: Is there anything specific to keep in mind while preparing for AIIMS?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: AIIMS new pattern is mostly i would say  ‘medical general knowledge’. in a way it tests how keen has one been during MBBS and internship. so one should be observant throughout the clinical postings and internship.
There are many frequent topics of AIIMS which one should know in detail like IPCs, lymphoma, leukaemia, retina and glaucoma, nerve supplies, hearing assessment, mechanism of action and side effect of drugs, HIV drugs, drugs for diabetes, cardiology and neurology topics, gynae amenorrhea, infertility, neonatology, investigations in all the clinical subjects. and many other frequently repeated topics, all of which can’t be mentioned here but you can know by scanning through the 5 years questions.
In every subject the main investigations should be read in detail like ERG, EOG, audiogram etc along with the respective ‘picture of their reports’.
Know exactly the investigations and treatment of the important clinical conditions.
Most importantly develop a habbit of analysis and clinical reasoning which come by question practice.
Read management flowcharts from textbooks, and at least Harrison and Obstetrics.
Do solve at least 8 years questions and know the correct answer with reasons so that even if twisted you would still be able to solve them.

PG Blazer: How did you tackle the PGIMER entrance exam?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: PGI seems easier but in reality it is the toughest of all three institutes exams. You have to solve 1250 ques in 180 minutes so as to know whether they are true or false. You have no time to think over any option for too long.
So you need a clear concept, high accuracy in your analysis and reasoning, a very fast speed and a good judgement whether to mark the option or not. Concepts are built by reading all the important areas thoroughly followed by multiple revisions. Remaining three come by solving PGI pattern questions everyday from 50 to as many as you can strictly within the time limit. But keep practicing a full paper of 3 hours duration every 15 to 30 days.
Now a well known rule about PGI is that ‘mark only if you are 100 % sure otherwise don’t’. I did NOT follow this rule. I would rather modify it to DON’T MAKE WILD GUESSES, DON’T MARK IF YOU CAN’T WORK OUT THE ANSWER. Why do I say so is that if we be too strict in marking then we will end up with LOWER ‘X’{ the number of options you marked out of the total correct options(A)} that is itself dangerous, but if you go on marking wildly then you end up having a HIGH ‘Y’ {the number of wrong responses that you marked out of total wrong responses (B)}. So you don’t get a good rank if your knowledge is less and you don’t get a good rank if you mark too many negatives. And that makes PGI the perfect exam.
So by applying your concepts correctly and confidently even if you are 75% sure, mark it. If you have no knowledge and you can’t apply your concepts to reach the answer, leave it.
There will be about 30 questions about which you will have no knowledge at all, leave them and don’t panic. Answer the questions that examiner wants us to know and answer.

PG Blazer: How did you prepare for the JIPMER entrance exam?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Regarding JIPMER the only thing different from what all I said under AIIMS preparation is ‘SIMILAR QUES PRACTICE’. Such questions you will get in USMLE or MRCP question bank. Practice these questions to increase your speed.
Always ‘’read the last line of ques first’’ so that if you are able to answer without reading the whole ques, you ‘save time’.
A lot of JIPMER questions are of ‘multi step thinking’ types so you have to be really strong in concepts and should have no confusion in them. For e.g. whether it is RNA or DNA, whether it is dsDNA or ssRNA. Be observant for every minute details while you read.

PG Blazer: How did you prepare for the image based questions?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Most of the Image based questions are from these categories: important anatomical areas from Netter’s atlas, pathology gross and histology (of important questions); Microbiology – eggs, parasites, staining like gram stain, ZN stain etc, malaria parasite differentiation; PSM- Plots in biostats; Ortho – x-ray of fractures, bone tumours, clinical tests, deformities in arthritis etc; urinary sediments, ECG, Chest x-rays; Vaginal infections ; instruments of important procedure. so PREPARE FOR THESE.
Rest can be solved by your theory knowledge, don’t spend too much time over images.

PG Blazer: What was your strategy for revision on the day before the examination?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: I just revised the high yield topics one day before. Slept strictly for 7 hours.
Coped up with exam stress by telling myself that I have done the best I could during the preparation time and I am going to give my best the next day during the exam. I convinced myself that if I worry too much I won’t be able to take the exam with my full capability and if so happens all my hard work will go waste.

PG Blazer: What was your strategy for taking the exam?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: I solved JIPMER and AIIMS in two rounds. First I went on answering every ques that I was sure of. I did NOT be in hurry in the questions which i knew properly, to avoid making silly mistakes. In the second round I solved the ‘marked for review’ questions applying all my concepts, ruling out options, relating to other concepts.
In PGI I left only some 10 questions for second round, because there’s usually very less time to come back and give a second look. But if you have good knowledge time can’t become a limiting factor. I marked the OMR sheet along with solving the questions.
The most important thing is to be stress free. If you are stress free and cool during exams then you will even remember the facts read years ago. Your reasoning and concentration will be at its best. On the contrary if you be stressed out you will not be able to recall what you would even have read just one day before.

PG Blazer: How many questions did you attempt?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: AIPGMEE –did not take
AIIMS – 190
PGI – around 460 options
JIPMER –225

PG Blazer: How many do you think you got correct?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: AIPGMEE –NA
AIIMS – maybe 130
PGI – about 420-430
JIPMER – around 170

PG Blazer: Which speciality are you interested in choosing and why?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: I have opted for Medicine, because I liked working under medicine department the most during my internship and it is my favourite subject too.

PG Blazer: What is your advice to future aspirants?
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: Everything is possible but you need to believe so.
-Do have a plan for sure and be flexible with it. Because if you go on without a proper planning you would waste a lot of time and you won’t even realise it.
-Don’t go after reading everything, accept this that you can’t read and retain everything and you don’t need to know everything either, its a race; you just need to know more than others. Being more clear, about 70-80 % of the questions in every paper are answerable and remaining are not. They are asked so that nobody attempts the full paper, it is very less likely that questions will appear from those topics. So accept this and respect the institute.
-Don’t waste time in reading the topics which are rarely asked, instead utilize that much time in strengthening the important topics.
-Practice online tests and do solve at least 5 years ques with explanations of at least of three years. And maximum as much as you can do. It will have a straight advantage. Some people might tell you that ques are not being repeated much these days so no use reading exam specific guide ( specially heard about PGI) don’t listen to them. Do it and you will see the difference yourself.
-Do the ‘smart hard work’ , Be focused, Don’t waste time.
-Be totally stress free, one evening per week is for you to do whatever you like, movies, hanging out with friends anything.
-Revise as many times as you can and here I mean 5 times, 10 times, 100 times. As many times as you can. The more the number of revisions the better you become.
-Keep your strategies flexible and modify as per the time available to you.
-Overcome your fears and don’t let your fears overcome you.
-God will help you only if you do the best from your side otherwise not.
-Most important DON’T GIVE UP UNTIL YOU HAVE GOT THE SEAT OF YOUR CHOICE. Because as you go on your journey, at the end of this road is your PG seat, its just the matter of time it takes you to reach there.
-Lastly I want you to clearly understand that TIME IS NEVER LESS. Above I mentioned about I was left with only three months after the phase of depression and even I could have given up thinking that I would rather prepare for the next exam. But I did not. Rather I decided to face the challenge and told myself that I have to get a seat in the coming exam only.
Believe me your preparation will never seem perfect to you. It usually happens 1 month before the exam that you think you are not fully prepared and you should rather plan for the exam six months later. And you know what, after six months again the same feelings will arise. Give yourself a deadline when such distracting thoughts come that I have to get a good rank in this exam only NO MATTER WHAT.
DO YOUR BEST AND LET GOD DECIDE WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU AND HE WILL.

PG Blazer: Please give your comments / suggestions regarding PG Blazer.
Dr. Akinchan Bhardwaj: PG Blazer is an awesome platform and companion during the PG preparation. Especially the selfless effort you guys make in order to interview the toppers so that it could be useful to everyone is just superb.

PG Blazer: That brings us to the conclusion of the interview. Best of luck for your future endeavors!

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