Hi friends, I got a neet pg rank of 2777, took MD Paediatrics at JNMC, Aligarh. I took a break year after the internship and studied at home with Marrow. So I thought my preparation journey would give some insights to those who are preparing for neet.
This is a very long post. Find TLDR at the end.
This is how I did things. Need not be the same for everyone. There is no single best strategy. Experiment and find yourself what works the best for you. I realized my mistakes only at the end. So it might help you to get better clarity on what to do and what not to do.
Get a Tab
First of all, if you decide to prepare online at home, get a tab. It is hard to sit for hours with a mobile phone with small screen. Any tab would do fine, but my bet is on the iPad.
Make a Time Table
Preparation without a time table is like sailing an uncharted sea. 4-5 days per short subject and two weeks per long subject should be just fine. And this includes all of watching videos, working out qbank, revising the subject, taking the subject test, everything. So you do not have much time to waste in a day. And this schedule is hard to keep up. Even if you miss deadlines do not haggle around with the same subject. Move on to the next.
Make a plan until NEET, – a grand plan, subdivided into simpler plans, finally a plan for every day. Make the plan previous night itself, and take adequate breaks in between. **Do not make a very tight schedule**. Plan what you can achieve in a day.
During study time I used the **Pomodoro technique**. Study for 25 minutes, then take a break for 5 minutes. Repeat three more sessions likewise and take a long break of 15 minutes. This way we can maintain our attention span with fewer distractions. Sometimes I would get bored and look at the timer, it would say 10 mins remaining. Now ten minutes do not seem very long. I would continue studying and finish the session.
Apps I Used
Excellent content and a very nice user interface. Every subject is simply top-notch. No worries about that.
And Marrow Qbank is ‘the best’ no doubt. Marrow’s qbank is on the tougher side with more concepts and information. And don’t get disheartened that you cannot get a decent percentile while solving questions.
“Marrow’s qbank is a learning tool”
I got a printed set of Marrow notes and watched the videos at 2x.
I started with short subjects first. It keeps our confidence up that we have at least completed something.
For other subjects, I studied system-wise. For example CVS in all subjects – starting with embryology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, medicine, and surgery. Likewise, CNS in all subjects, RS in all subjects, etc.
To do so, first, make a list of all the modules which go into each system. Calculate how much time it takes for each system and divide your time accordingly.
It helped me that I could change between different subjects and not get bored soon.
I would highlight the important points alone in the printed Marrow notes. And add some important extra content from the qbank. Do not add every explanation from the qbank to the notes. Tried and tested, it is too huge.
After completing each module of the video, I would give a quick recap of the notes and work out the same topic from qbank. It gave me a quick revision of the content and made me aware of the areas where I was lagging. Then I would work out the same topic from the PrePG app too. (More on it later)
We need not complete every video and qbank module from Marrow. I had watched approx 70% of videos and ~80% of qbank. We can skip those topics which we feel fairly confident about.
I used to take grand tests whenever it went live, irrespective of what I had learned so far. Take grand tests irrespective of the level of your preparation. It helps to set the baseline and track your progress through time. I did not take most of the subject tests.
These are some of the most important content which are compiled together, very very useful. You can read the pearls only after you get to know the subject. You cannot start straight away with pearls.
For me Marrow qbank was a learning tool, while PrePG was a practice tool.
I had subscribed to the pro version. It has some 70,000 questions. So don’t worry about completing everything.
PrePG has basic, repeated, most common questions. We cannot afford to miss the basic questions. So if you practice more and be thorough with the basics, you need not even care to search for the answers. You look at the question and the answer is there in your mind at the moment. (Meanwhile don’t be overconfident too. Read the question and all the options thoroughly first). So in the exam, you will have more time to think about the difficult questions and search for an answer.
And solving more and more questions improves the speed to answer the questions too. Many felt that the NEET paper was lengthy. But I completed the test in 2.5 hrs. And had an entire hour to revisit the questions and double-check the answers.
Practicing more also makes you aware of confusing terms like, all are true except, all are false except, etc.
But I did not read all the explanations fully. I would read explanations for only those questions which I had answered incorrectly.
The questions often get repeated. So on seeing a question for the second time, you would realize that you had made a mistake while attempting it previously, and correct the mistake.
The app has daily tests of 60 questions with ranking, posted daily. Around 2500 – 3000 people take tests every day with an overall ranking. And top 100 people’s names are given too, which is a huge confidence booster to see your name on that list.
A very important use in attending those daily test is to keep in touch with all the subjects. Say we had studied a subject initially. On looking back at the subject after two months, we would have forgotten many of the content. Those daily tests of PrePG cover all the subjects in two weeks. So we keep in touch with the subject constantly. It helps to revise all the subjects twice a month.
I used to solve at least 300-500 questions every day.
Take a grand test at least twice a month initially and once every week while nearing exams.
The pro version has an interesting feature known as PrepDNA. I found it extremely useful. It is a color-coded topic wise percentile chart, to know where you stand among your peers. As you practice more and make lesser mistakes, the colors change from red to green, and every minute color change is a confidence booster.
Keeping your confidence up is all that matters in the long game of PG entrance preparation.
You get an in-depth analysis of all the sub-topics among the whole content. For example, say if you click on microbiology, it shows bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. If you go to a deeper level, say bacteriology, it shows all the sub-topics like staph, strep, vibrio, etc. Now you can choose a particular subtopic and workout. E.g. the Streptococci sub-topic may have ~70 questions in it. If you practice everything, no more questions can possibly come from that topic. Now you are thorough with everything regarding streptococci.
In the PrepDNA, the subjects at the leftmost end are your weaker subjects and those at the right end are stronger subjects. Daily I used to practice 50 questions each for the 5 leftmost subjects in my PrepDNA. That way we can practice more and improve on our weaknesses.
The app has some inadequate explanations and a few wrong answers too. But mostly helpful. (That said, don‘t get too much into controversial questions).
This was my main way of preparation. I did not read notes, even once after the first time while watching videos. All I did was practicing questions and learning from the explanations. I might have solved more than one lakh questions through the course of preparation. Though I highly recommend everyone to be thorough with the notes.
Only when we practice more and more questions, we can know where we are lagging. So don’t skip practice. Make it a hobby of solving questions. I woke up and I practiced. I practiced and went to sleep. I cannot emphasize any more than this, the importance of working out questions, and taking tests.
Prepladder Individual Apps
Every subject of Prepladder has individual apps, which post useful content as daily updates. I used to refer to those every day.
I created a separate account for studies and joined almost every FB group for pg preparation. I followed every teacher’s pages from various platforms, every coaching institutes pages. These are places where the controversial questions are discussed. And still nobody has the answer for sodium valproate vs ethosuximide.
Do not get into controversial questions. Just read the answer once and move on. Those are simply not worth the time. Try to answer those questions which the teachers themselves post. Many conduct live sessions, discuss questions, important topics, etc.
YouTube is also an excellent source for preparation content. I used to follow all the teachers and various institutes channels on YouTube too. Many post useful interesting content. Special mention to Unacademy channel where teachers conducted live revision sessions while exams were nearing. I learned many useful mnemonics, shortcuts, from YouTube.
I joined too many telegram groups too, which I seldom used. They have many useful files, pdfs, quick revision books, etc. Special mention to MadEchoesRapidfire (https://t.me/joinchat/M0UwChUqb5Yef6xfgJE26g) where they make a schedule for revision and discuss questions with each other.
GENERAL TIPS & TOO LONG DIDNT READ
Choice of the institute does not matter
The content every institute provides is almost the same. All that matters is how we utilize it to the fullest.
Whether online or face to face class is our personal preference. I evaluated all my options and decided that Marrow suits me better.
Every single question is important
This NEET there are 987 people who have got above 850 marks; and 4817 people between the marks 750 to 850. That is ~5 times more people decided by just 25 questions. That translates to the chances for your dream seat.
Take risk while attempting questions
Plan to attend at least 280 questions. The benefits are greater than the risks. We can improve our guesswork through more practice and revisions.
Always remember, Nothing is 100% in medicine
If the options contain ‘always’, or ‘100%’ it is most probably the wrong option. (Even this fact is not 100% true).
Use common sense
Whatever be the scenario, always first things first.
Always remember the ABC of resuscitation.
A typical example of a common-sense question is –
A person is throwing fits in the middle of a road. What will you do next?
- give lorazepam,
- perform a CPR
- turn head to the left side,
- get him away from the road
The answer is 4 – verify scene safety first. Get him away from the railway track. Otherwise is dangerous for both the patient and the caregiver.
You examine a child and find cigarette burn marks on hands – what will you do?
- alert the child welfare authorities,
- alert the police,
- do a complete examination,
- inform the hospital administration?
The answer is 3 – do the complete examination first.
Such are the common sense questions.
Read the question and ‘all’ options very carefully
Do not look at an option and jump into conclusions. Read and analyze all the options.
Be careful with terms like “Preferred test”, “most sensitive”, “most specific”, “most common”, “investigation of choice”, “gold standard”, “best investigation”, “next step in the management”, “definitive management”, etc.
Ask why for everything
Both while studying and solving questions, ask why for everything. Ask why before evaluating every option.
Keep track of everything
I used to make a separate note of my daily PrePG test ranks and marks. I could see my improvement through the days.
All through the phase of preparation, the family’s support is very much needed. I used to have a separate room to study, would wake up and sleep at any time. A calm and supportive home environment is ‘the’ first thing.
Don’t worry too much about mock test ranks
My mock tests and final exam ranks were nowhere comparable.
DAMS CBT 3 – 13000
DAMS CBT 4 – 12000
Marrow Final neet mock – 16000
AIIMS Nov – 4000
PGI – 980
JIPMER – 1400
NEET – 2777.
Those mock tests were not even close to my real ranks.. maybe I took the mocks casually, maybe the questions were familiar to particular institutes students.
Have faith in your preparation and never lose hope seeing the mock test ranks.
Difficulty with Self-study
The only difficulty I felt with the self-study was, studying at home alone, we do not have a partner to ask and discuss questions. And having an online study partner does not work most of the time. That’s why take GTs and know where you stand among the competition.
My entire preparation was mainly practice & practice. But I do not entirely advise for it. It was one of my mistakes. I should have spent more time to revise the notes.
Starting now, still there is more than enough time to prepare.
There will be a time when everything feels stagnant and like no progress is being made. That phase too will pass. Keep the momentum going throughout the year. Find new ways to keep motivated.
Even if you can’t stick hard to the schedule, do something, anything at all, useful. Don’t fuss over the missed timelines.
Entrance preparation is a marathon. Keeping a steady pace wins the race.
The best strategy is one that you make yourself, works best for you, and takes you to the goal.
So keep calm and study hard. ALL THE VERY BEST.
Dr. Ram Babu