PG Blazer: Congratulations on securing a top rank in the PGI entrance exam! What is the secret of your success?
Dr.Sachin H J: Thanks Very Much. There is no real secret as such.
1. Hard work Consistent study.
2. Constant support from my Parents and friends.
3. A creamy layer of Luck 0n top.
PG Blazer: Could you tell us something about yourself?
Dr.Sachin H J: I am from Mysore, Karnataka.
Schooling In Vidya Vardhaka Sangha Kuvempunagar.
PU in Sadvidya Composite PU college, Mysore.
MBBS from Mysore Medical college.
PU CET had got rank 50 in Medicine.
I was a very average guy in my MBBS days. Enjoyed them a lot never worried about entrance.
PG Blazer: Who or what influenced you to take up Medicine as a career?
Dr.Sachin H J: I was seriously never interested in Medicine. All I wanted in my PU days was to get into SJCE E&C. After my PU CET rank I was counseled into coming here. But after coming here, to my huge relief I found a lot of people just like myself. I was of the belief that Medicine was for crammers and Engineering was for the truly intelligent thinking people. But while this is partly true even today Later I came to know that after the initial phase of cramming, there’s a lot of application and that’s where the fun part starts. And from that point I’ve never looked back.
Well I’m telling this story just for the benefit of a lot of people out there who start to think that they are misfits here in medical field, especially during entrance!!!!
PG Blazer: What were your aggregate percentage marks for MBBS?
Dr.Sachin H J: 69.3.
PG Blazer: How did you prepare during your internship period?
Dr.Sachin H J: Did not prepare during internship. Our college internship was between the two extremes more towards the hectic side. But In minors SPM and even during other postings we did have a lot of free time. I wish I had prepared back then. I will always regret that.
PG Blazer: Which were the various entrance exams you wrote in this session? What were the ranks you obtained?
Dr.Sachin H J: AIIMS 77.
PG Blazer: What ranks did you obtain in your previous attempts?
Dr.Sachin H J: Last November:
JIPMER 460 (something).
PG Blazer: What changes did you make to your preparation after your last attempt?
Dr.Sachin H J: Nothing much really. But I did PGI and AIIMS volumes initially and then started subjectwise 45 days before exam.
PG Blazer: When did you start serious preparation for this year’s entrance exam?
Dr.Sachin H J: After AIPGMEE results were out.
PG Blazer: What was your study strategy?
Dr.Sachin H J: I studied from MCQ guides mainly. Some of them are prospective some retrospective. I did not read any textbook page to page during entrance. Only back referencing when I felt like it.
This time my original plan was to do subjectwise at least twice before the exam. But I regret even now I couldn’t do it.
PG Blazer: Did you make any notes for helping with your revision? Were they useful?
Dr.Sachin H J: I feel that PGI exam is the best among the three existing institute exams. So my focus was always PGI.
While reading volumes I had written down notes about volatile and frequently asked topics in PGI and entrance in general. I kept reading from that now and then.
For theory part I was never really good at making notes in classes. (Only exception was Rakesh Nair Sir’s Medicine classes. He gave a lot of time to write down everything and I found that his notes was highly exhaustive as well as concise. One could answer all previously asked topics from that. But Mudit Khanna is a real good book as well 🙂 . Initially I used to go to classes thoroughly unprepared and I used to write down everything said in classes. After coming back I used find that more than 90% of it was already given in the guides. So after two and a half months I made a dare and did not study after a class. Rather studied for the next class and attended classes. The difference was immense. I just sat back and absorbed things coolly making a mental note of where it was given in book. I carried my books and sat in side hall (TMCAA) wrote down only extra points told in class. This helped to curb the ever endless piling up of notes and unclassified material.
In short I mainly read from guides.
PG Blazer: In your opinion, how much time does a student require for preparing for this exam?
Dr.Sachin H J: Depends a lot on how you were during MBBS and esp Internship. I literally started from scratch and for that it will take 7 to 8 months of prep last two months exclusively set for revision.
PG Blazer: How many hours did you study each day?
Dr.Sachin H J: 6am to 9am, 10am to 1pm, 2pm to 8pm (minus two hours for afternoon nap and small evening break) 9pm to 12/1 am was the typical schedule. But I kept giving frequent breaks listening to short songs/ Brief news headlines/ a quick peek into fb/ whatsapp just to break the monotony. And when exams were close the afternoon nap was impossible laving me tired earlier sleeping awa waking earlier.
PG Blazer: Did you have a timetable for preparation? Were you able to stick to it?
Dr.Sachin H J: Yes definitely!!!! But no I always ended up missing a lot of deadlines. But then Had keep creating new deadlines. Reprogram, replan, and prioritize. All steps integral for preparation.
PG Blazer: What role did the internet play in your preparation?
Dr.Sachin H J: I used to google a lot. But it has its pluses and minuses. Factual questions quick answers can be found. But some Qs will only make you waste more and more time. Its an essential tool to be carefully used.
PG Blazer: Did you ever doubt your ability to get selected in this entrance exam? If so, how did you overcome your fears?
Dr.Sachin H J: Well w.r.t. central institutes with so few seats and given the immense competition (esp w.r.t. GM) there are no guarantees. A lot depends on your category awa the subject of your choice. With proper effort and hard work you must get into top 100 or 200. But can you get into top 20 (for a GM candidate like me who wants a Non surgical branch)??? Top 5???? (I know some guys want only Radio!!!!)
Its always a big gamble of too many factors. I just kept working and left everything to fate. I always spoke to my mom and Dad. They supported me at every step.
PG Blazer: Did you attend any classroom coaching? Was it useful? Do you think classroom coaching is essential for getting a good rank?
Dr.Sachin H J: Yes definitely!!
I attended TMCAA classes. Till the point where there are about two months attending classes helps you.
1. Lot of updates happening which your faculty can give you.
2. Clear concepts.
3. Give you better methods/mnemonics to remember/ understand things.
4. Give you lead points to study further and show you what important and what’s not, what’s trending and what’s not from entrance point of view.
5. Topic/weekend tests to target seriously.
6. Simply help you to stay in the loop (Entrance journey is a long and arduous one and its super easy to get frustrated and distracted).
But at any point of time you always need to ask yourself the question as to “what did I Get from this class?”. mindless repetition of what you’ve already read will also be a waste of time.
Bottomline: Classes are definitely important. But you’ll need to be choosey as well especially towards the end.
PG Blazer: Did you attend any test series? If so, did you find it useful?
Dr.Sachin H J: Yes I gave AdrPlexus mock exams this time for May exams. I did not attend any classes and these exams were crucial to stay focussed. Apart from that writing mocks seriously helps you improve your time management especially PGI, answering and “guessing skills”.
PG Blazer: What were the subjects you focused upon?
Dr.Sachin H J: Short subjects.
Biochem, Immunology and molecular bio are especially important for PGI.
PG Blazer: Which books did you read for theory?
Dr.Sachin H J: Anatomy – BDC
Physiology – Ganong And Indu Khurana
Biochemistry – Harper And Satyanarayana
Pathology – Robbins Sometimes Harsh Mohan
Microbiology – C.P.Baveja > Ananthnarayan
Pharmacology – KDT
Forensic Medicine – K.S.N Reddy
ENT – Dhingra
Ophthalmology – A.K.Khurana And Parson
SPM – Park
Medicine – None
Surgery – SRB
Orthopaedics – Maheshwari
Paediatrics – O.P.Ghai
OBG – Dutta & Shaw
Anaesthesia – None
Radiology – None
Dermatology – None
Psychiatry – None
Please note that these were books I had read in MBBS [except (regretfully though I think every UG must make time and read especially ROBBINS and HARPER) Robbins, Harper and Parson. ] I never read them page to page during entrance. Only back referencing.
PG Blazer: What was your approach to Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine?
Dr.Sachin H J: Never read it. Very occasionally I referred back .
PG Blazer: Which books did you read for MCQ’s? Which ones were the most useful?
Dr.Sachin H J: Exam specific books: AIIMS Amit Ashish vol 1 & 2. PGI Vol 1 & 2. Manoj Chaudhary. Please note that in present scenario its not of much use to give exams by reading only these books. None of the existing exams have repeats in numbers > 10. Rest all are new questions only. These books are definitely excellent in that they help you understand how questions are set, help strengthen concepts, and give a lot of orientation. But there is no point in merely solving them and giving the exam. Rather solve them at a planned pace. Set some time apart for everyday along with your subject wise study (like 100q/day). And finish them two months ahead of the exam (for May exam). In the end your subject wise revision is what counts the most. [And for the November attempt please dont worry too much about volumes. I had got 26 in AIIMS and all I had done was previous 6 papers Q&A answers only And PGI with a wrong approach of reading only Manoj Chaudhary Vol 1 paid the price of 188. Be thorough with your subjectwise books and concepts taught in your class. Thats most important.]
Subject wise books:
Anatomy – This May I hadn’t studied it formally. Last Nov had read ACROSS.
Physiology – Arvind Arora
Biochemistry – Rebecca James Perincheril
Pathology – Gobind Rai Garg Sparsh Gupta
Microbiology – Rachna Chaurasia
Pharmacology – Gobind Rai Garg, Sparsh Gupta
Forensic Medicine – ACROSS
ENT –Shibu George. I went thru previous questions in Sakshi Arora.
Ophthalmology – ACROSS
SPM – Vivek Jain
Medicine – Mudit Khanna And Rakesh Sir’s Notes. Again this May regret as I didn’t revise.
Surgery – Pritesh Singh (But I could read only 60% of it).
Orthopaedics – ACROSS
Paediatrics – Arvind Arora
OBG – Sakshi Arora
Anaesthesia – Arvind Arora
Radiology – Arvin arora (studied only Qs and answers with explanations)
Dermatology – Arvind Arora
Psychiatry – Arvind Arora
I would like to put one word about short subjects in ACROSS here.
ACROSS is not for everybody. 70% of students cannot manage it. And I was One of them who suffered immensely at the hands of this highly informative, very vast and yet non linear and time consuming book. You should remember that revision in last two months is extremely important and with a book like Across, it will always take the same time how many times ever you study it. And you will lag behind. And once you read its difficult to change the book. By the time your friend reads ACROSS once, you can read Arora twice and answer a lot better than him. The content and yield of both books is same its just that ARVIND ARORA is much much much better in terms of retention and quick revision. Only exception is Ophthalmology. And even that with AIIMS point of view.
PG Blazer: Is there anything specific to keep in mind while preparing for AIIMS?
Dr.Sachin H J: AIIMS questions in the three exams which I have written:
1. Repeats are very very less.
2. Every exam is exploring newer questions in forensic medicine.
3. PSM carries a lot of weightage. (But mind you these questions by default extremely difficult to answer with confidence even if you have read PSM very very well. But then in AIIMS nothing is straightforward. If you’ve studied something you’re always more likely to answer by ruling out options or by making “educated guesses”.)
4.Ophthal – everybody knows you must know really well. (But again a lot of questions might still remain “unanswerable but guessable”((???)) )
5. Derma image questions in every paper.
6. Concepts are extremely important. AIIMS is a thinking exam. A lot of questions you stand a chance to answer just by coming back to the question in the second round.
7. In AIIMS after rank 39 you’re chance of getting a preferred clinical branch become very low (For UR). (That’s when the AIIMS preferential round starts). A notable exception is Ophthalmology which has seats in double digits every time. And in November session if people drop seats after All India results, some miracles keep happening in Open counseling. Well the point is if you want a rank below 50, then answer is Lady Luck.
Everybody will know the easy questions. Well read guys answer the next level of difficult questions.
And the tough nuts are the ones which can’t be answered by the even most well read.
Unfortunately every AIIMS exam carries this set of unanswerable questions and these are the questions which will decide whether you’ll get Rank 1 or Rank 51. And most of people I know who have topped mark > 195 options.
Last nov I had marked 193 options.
I had a policy of not guessing Qs about which I knew absolutely nothing about.
So this time I had marked only 188 options and I think that’s where I erred. I should’ve gone for the guessing game. I would’ve won or lost. No use of being in between somewhere. ( There are examples where guys have been so well read that they’ve got Peds. I don’t know Medicine is always interesting.
PG Blazer: What is your advice to future aspirants?
Dr.Sachin H J: Entrance is tough time for everybody.
Be calm and focussed. Always keep planning and replanning and prioritizing as well.
Don’t mix with people with a negative attitude.
With consistent and planned study there is nothing standing between you and your dream seat.
Don’t miss the jackpot of May (assuming you didn’t get in November 🙂 ). After ALL India go back to home spend some quality time for 4 or 5 days with family. But After that come back to your room, and set a schedule for Jan and Feb Exams like CMC/COMEDK. I’m not asking you to solve COMEDK papers or anything. Just whatever you had studied in October and November. Just revise only that and give these exams you will definitely crack em or get a reassuring rank. Then you’ll have Feb, March and April. You can fine tune your preparation and revise twice more. If you do this its a given that you will crack at least one of these May exams for a branch of your choice.
Most importantly. Know what you want. No branch is better than other. Its your interest that counts the most. For the May exams All India counseling and the uncertainty over it can eat into a lot of your time for preparation. So a Good All India Rank and a decided branch (Its not the counseling procedure in itself, but the time you spend thinking about it that kills most of your time) can save a lot of time and give you the edge.
Lastly I would like to tell one thing that Shibu Sir told us in his final class.
“At any point Never think of Yourself as a mediocre student. To get into medicine itself you were Definitely a Good Student. And you can always be one whatever you may be right now. When you see someone who is performing well; The question is not why he can??? (Everybody will have an answer for that He’s very smart, intelligent, hard working from day 1 of MBBS blah, blah, blah, etc., etc.) The Question is why can’t you?????”
PG Blazer: Please give your comments / suggestions regarding PG Blazer.
Dr.Sachin H J: Last year when I used to feel low and frustrated a lot of times, I used to read the interviews on PG Blazer and the amazing stories of the likes of Dr.Vivek Lanka. I am much previleged and happy to be able to share my views and thank PG Blazer for that.
PG Blazer: That brings us to the conclusion of the interview. Best of luck for your future endeavours!