NEET PG: Good Strategy / Bad Strategy

Benson Benjamin
Apr 23, 2018 · 8 min read

Do you need a strategy to prepare for NEET PG? What is a good strategy for preparation? These are two fundamental questions many doctors try to answer as they start their preparation.

A few doctors end up rejecting the idea of having a strategy. They decide to work hard and assume the results will show. But having a strategy and working hard are not mutually exclusive. A strategy is about making choices that give you a competitive advantage over other doctors. Imagine the goal of cracking NEET PG as a massive rock, and massive it is with the vast material you have to cover. You need a strategy to lift this rock.

A lot more people do have a strategy but realize it is not working. In fact, they have a bad strategy, which is worse than not having a strategy. A bad strategy guides you in the wrong direction and ends up giving you a competitive disadvantage against other doctors preparing for NEET PG. On the other hand, a good strategy will ensure you make choices that make you shine in NEET PG.

What makes me qualified to give you this advice?

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am a first year resident in Oncology at JIPMER. I was in your position just about a year back. I have been a mediocre student and was never among the top few in my MBBS class. I was among the top rank holders in several tests including NEET PG and JIPMER because of my strategy. I got this strategy from my mentor, Dr. Ashwath Kumar of MedPG Thrissur, who has coached several toppers for years.

Your strategy should increase your chances of improving your score for the same effort. In other words, increase your yield to effort ratio by answering two questions:

  1. What sequence of subjects should I follow?
  2. How should I distribute my efforts between subjects?

The Sequence of Subjects: Climbing the NEET PG Mountain

You need to keep two objectives to keep in mind to decide the sequence of subjects. First, you should ensure you are scoring the highest marks for the same amount of effort. Second, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and you have to find a way to always stay motivated.

Imagine the amount of material you have to cover to be the height of a mountain you have to climb. For NEET PG curriculum the mountain would look something like this:

The Mountain of NEET PG — Volume of Material to Cover

The volume of content for each of the seven short subjects is not much. In fact, most of the vital material for each of the short subjects can fit in 50~80 pages of notes. On the other hand, the critical content would be 20–100 times as much for subjects like Medicine, Surgery, or Paediatrics.

From which direction will you start climbing?

With the height of the mountain you need to scale established, where would you start climbing this mountain if you want to keep your morale high? Will it be from the hill of Short Subjects, or the Mount Everest of Majors? Sounds like a rhetorical question at this stage, doesn’t it? Even starting with the first- or second-year block will mean you get stuck in the high volume material without significant improvement, thereby impacting your morale.

Here’s a strategy that worked for me and has worked for thousands of MedPG students:

1.Start with the Short Subjects. The short subjects contribute 65 questions — a significant number. If an average student attempted any MCQ in NEET PG, they are likely to get at least 50% right based on their MBBS knowledge. But if you have not prepared for NEET PG Psychiatry, you will not know the answers to two out of the ten questions. Reading through just 50 pages of notes on Psychiatry will be sufficient to answer 8 out of the 10 MCQs. Stated another way, the volume to yield ratio is very high for short subjects.

2.Get First Year Block to an Acceptable Level. It is very common for doctors to be weak in the first year block of Anatomy, Physiology, and Biochemistry. But there is no reason to be scared of these subjects. Each of these subjects barely contributes 15 questions, but the volume to study is very high. You should not try to get to very high proficiency in Anatomy and Physiology since it will eat away a lot of your time. For example, if you are not strong in Anatomy, just focus on getting the high yielding facts right and improve your proficiency to above 50th percentile. If you do so, you will get at least 7 to 8 of the 15 questions right, which is sufficient to get you even the top ranks. Biochemistry is the one exception here since it lays the foundation for cracking the Majors.

3.Double Your Yield With Second Year Block. Subjects like Pathology, Microbiology, and Pharmacology yield value beyond what they contribute to the questions that come up from these subjects. These are “double yield” subjects since they help you understand a lot of concepts in Medicine and Surgery, and help you eliminate wrong options in these subjects. Unlike the first year block where you are planning to get to the 50th percentile, you should try to get to at least the 75th percentile in subjects like Pathology since they will help you with the Majors.

By the time you complete the short subjects and the first- & second-year block, you would already be at a level that will get you in the “competitive range” or the top 10,000 ranks. Because you have been efficient with your time, you will have the edge over others as you head towards the majors.

4.Let the Foundational Knowledge Help You With the Majors: You will find it way easier to climb the Mount Everest of Majors after you have been at the base camp of understanding the four foundational subjects (Pathology, Microbiology, Pharmacology, and Biochemistry)

Distribution of Effort: The Pyramid of Question Difficulty

To decide on how you should distribute your effort, you need to understand the structure of the NEET PG test.

Number of Questions by Difficulty Level

The examiners divide the paper into difficulty levels to segregate the population into different buckets:

Easy Questions: About 40% of the questions are easy, and the examiners expect most of the MBBS students to get these right. The examiner users easy questions to identify students who qualify and penalize doctors who don’t know the basics. Nobody can afford to make mistakes in these questions.

Medium Questions: These are questions that you will get right if you have studied NEET PG notes and practiced MCQs. Doctors who get a majority of these questions right get to the top 10,000 ranks.

Hard Questions: The examiners start differentiating the competition set at this level. Doctors get these questions right in subjects that they have worked very hard on and enjoy studying. The ideal subjects to try to master that will help you the most with hard questions are Pathology, Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Pharmacology.

Very Hard Questions: Even the top professors of coaching institutes find it hard to get these questions right. Very few doctors get these right, and you should not focus on this set since it is not much in your control. Keep in mind that the new pattern NEET PG does not differentiate between easy or hard questions in the marks it gives you, decreasing the relevance of the very hard bucket of questions.

How Your Performance In The Pyramid Tiers Impacts Your Rank

At MedPG Thrissur, we have started using Pre-PG as our testing platform. Pre-PG stats track the overall and subject-wise success rate by question difficulty. We asked the Pre-PG team to get us average success rate by rank level for doctors who took NEET PG in 2018. Take a look at this data. What patterns do you see? What can you learn?

Average % of Correct Questions by Difficulty Level

Looking at this data, a few insights jump up:

  1. You need to get about 90% of easy questions right to be in the top 10,000 ranks. There is only a 10% difference between top 3 and the 10,000 rank for easy questions. If you are doing any worse than getting 9 out of 10 easy questions right, go back and read basics of the subject.
  2. The medium and hard questions help to differentiate between doctors once they are in the top 10,000. In fact, while the top 100 rankers scored over 20% higher on medium difficulty, they scored over 30% higher on hard questions. Your scores in the medium and hard buckets are where your preparation makes a difference.
  3. The very hard questions do not differentiate between rank 100 and rank 10,000 as much — there is less than a 10% difference in scores. In fact, it seems that these very hard questions mostly differentiate within the top 100 ranks.

Tracking this Data on Pre-PG

Pre-PG Stats in Gynaecology for ~1,000 Ranked Doctor

You can track the success rate by difficulty in Pre-PG app’s Stats section. You can see these numbers for any subject.

I am showing the Gynaecology stats for a doctor who got ~1,000 rank in NEET PG 2018. The Success Rate by Difficulty gives the doctor an idea of where she needs to improve. While she is very clear on the basics and is getting 95% of easy questions right, she can improve her Gynaecology score to the top 500 level by brushing up notes and improving on moderate difficulty questions.

Which topics should she start reading notes on? The PrepDNA tells her the topics in which she is weak. For example, studying and practicing Carcinoma Cervix will improve her score a lot since it is a high yield topic and she is weak in it.

Her performance is low on the very hard questions, but she should not focus on improving this area for reasons we discussed earlier.

You will also gain from understanding how Pre-PG can help with your preparation:

Want to know more? Contact MedPG Thrissur

Thanks, Pre-PG team to host our post in your publication. If you have any questions about the MedPG approach, please contact me directly.

Courtesy: Arjun K Co-Founder Pre-PG platform. Thanks for your awesome support

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