PG Blazer: Congratulations on securing a top rank in the PGI entrance exam! What is the secret of your success?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: Time bound planned prioritised subject wise study and my Parents guidance and blessings.
PG Blazer: Could you tell us something about yourself?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: I hail from Jalandhar in Punjab. I did my schooling from MGN Public School in Jalandhar, MBBS from MAMC, New Delhi.
PG Blazer: Who or what influenced you to take up Medicine as a career?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: My parents inspired me to take up medicine. Their work ethic and dedication towards their profession always motivated me.
PG Blazer: What were your aggregate percentage marks for MBBS?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: 68.8%.
PG Blazer: How did you prepare during your internship period?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: To be really frank I did not really work that hard during my internship period. I joined the test and discussion batch at Dr Bhatia Centre and tried to attend as many sessions as my internship duties allowed me to attend.
PG Blazer: Which were the various entrance exams you wrote in this session? What were the ranks you obtained?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: I sat for AIIMS and PGIMER. My ranks were 269 and 31 respectively.
PG Blazer: What ranks did you obtain in your previous attempts?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: In Nov AIIMS I wasn’t even on the list, PGIMER I was rank 523. In NEET 2014 I was Rank 1804.
PG Blazer: What changes did you make to your preparation after your last attempt?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: I actually sat down to study seriously and prepared a plan to complete my syllabus with previous year papers over a duration of 4 months.
PG Blazer: When did you start serious preparation for this year’s entrance exam?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: January 2015.
PG Blazer: What was your study strategy?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: I started reading the subject wise MCQ books. Wherever I felt conceptually weak I used to read from the standard textbooks. I prioritised topics that were asked more often in the exams and tried to strengthen my weak points. I tried to improve the quality of my knowledge rather than the quantity.
PG Blazer: Did you make any notes for helping with your revision? Were they useful?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: I did prepare some notes of important classifications and some other topics. They were extremely useful for quick last minute revision.
PG Blazer: In your opinion, how much time does a student require for preparing for this exam?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: 4-5 months of dedicated targeted study.
PG Blazer: How many hours did you study each day?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: 6-8 hours each day.
PG Blazer: Did you have a timetable for preparation? Were you able to stick to it?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: I did prepare a subject wise timetable but I usually missed the deadlines. But because of prioritisation of topics I managed to complete the more important ones in time.
PG Blazer: What role did the Internet play in your preparation?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: Internet played a huge role. I used to appear for all the mock tests online and whenever in doubt or when in search of the latest information, PubMed was the go to web database.
PG Blazer: Did you ever doubt your ability to get selected in this entrance exam? If so, how did you overcome your fears?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: When preparing for such a hugely competitive exam doubts are bound to creep in. Keeping a positive mind set becomes extremely important. Music used to calm my nerves. My parents and my friends were always there to talk to me and lift up my spirits.
PG Blazer: Did you attend any classroom coaching? Was it useful? Do you think classroom coaching is essential for getting a good rank?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: I attended regular classroom coaching at DAMS Delhi in my Pre-Final year and T&D at DBMCI in my internship. Some of the notes I made in these classes were extremely helpful. These institutes are well versed with the examination trends and one gets to know the important topics. I won’t go as far as saying that these are absolutely essential but they do help you get there.
PG Blazer: Did you attend any test series? If so, did you find it useful?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: I joined the online test series at DAMS, Dr Bhatia and ADRPlexus. I found them to be extremely useful in introducing us to the various exam patterns and in knowing our current standing in the competition.
PG Blazer: What were the subjects you focused upon?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: Short subjects like Ophthalmology, ENT, Psychi, Ortho, Anesthesia are extremely important and scoring. PSM I feel is the rank deciding subject for almost all exams.
PG Blazer: Which books did you read for theory?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: Anatomy – Gray’s Anatomy for Students
Physiology – Ganong, Guyton
Biochemistry – Lippincott’s
Pathology – Robbins
Microbiology – Ananthanarayan
Pharmacology – Goodman and Gilman, Katzung
Forensic Medicine – Dr Reddy
ENT – Dhingra
Ophthalmology – Parsons
SPM – Parks
Medicine – Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine
Surgery – Bailey and Love, Schwartz
Orthopaedics – Maheshwari
Paediatrics – OP Ghai
OBG – Dutta’s Obstetrics and Shaw’s Gynaecology
Anaesthesia – Ajay Yadav
Radiology – Sumer Sethi
Dermatology – Neena Khanna
Psychiatry – Neeraj Ahuja
PG Blazer: What was your approach to Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: I read only selected topics from Harrison’s. Reading it cover to cover is not required at UG level.
PG Blazer: Which books did you read for MCQ’s? Which ones were the most useful?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: Exam specific books– Amit Ashish for AIIMS, Manoj Choudhary for PGIMER, Chandigarh. Manoj Choudhary is a wonderful book. There are some mistakes here and there but the overall quality of content is good.
Subject wise books:
Anatomy –Arvind Arora
Physiology – Arvind Arora
Biochemistry – Rebecca James
Pathology – Gobind Rai Garg
Microbiology – Rachna Chaurasia
Pharmacology – Gobind Rai Garg
Forensic Medicine – Sumit Seth
ENT – Shibu George( Smart Study Series)
Ophthalmology – Arvind Arora
SPM – Vivek Jain
Medicine – Mudit Khanna
Surgery – Pritesh Singh
Orthopaedics – Apurv Mehra (Do attend his Dhoom Dhadaka Session if you get the chance)
Paediatrics – Arvind Arora
OBG – Punit Bhojani (Smart study series)
Anaesthesia – Arvind Arora
Radiology – Sumer Sethi
Dermatology – Arvind Arora
Psychiatry – Arvind Arora
Avoid the ACROSS series. They are very low yield books. Go for Arvind Arora, I found them much better.
PG Blazer: Is there anything specific to keep in mind while preparing for AIIMS?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: AIIMS is a tricky exam. I think the key to cracking AIIMS is to not get a repeat question wrong and getting your basics right. Some questions that they ask you will be so much out of this world that no one will be able to answer them with absolute surety. So aim to get 145-160 questions correct and you will surely be among the top 10.
PG Blazer: How did you tackle the PGIMER entrance exam?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: PGIMER is a very different exam. The multiple correct answers totally change the equation I feel. The key here is to read your theory well during the 5 and half years of MBBS. The questions are asked from very basic topics but you need to have an in depth knowledge of these. Tables and flowcharts become extremely important here. Time management also becomes an issue so one must practice that during preparation. The aim should be to get >450 correct with <100 incorrect.
PG Blazer: Which speciality are you interested in choosing and why?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: I am interested in pursuing a career in Paediatric Cardiology as the Heart, specially the Congenital Heart Diseases, has always fascinated me.
PG Blazer: What is your advice to future aspirants?
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: Always take up a branch based on your passion. Never be the slave of your rank. Another year of preparation is better than a lifetime of regret.
PG Blazer: Please give your comments / suggestions regarding PG Blazer.
Dr.Manjinder Randhawa: I think it is a wonderful website where you can get guidance regarding various PG Medical examinations.
PG Blazer: That brings us to the conclusion of the interview. Best of luck for your future endeavours!