Every doctor has goals. What are yours? Here are examples of what we heard from doctors using Pre-PG:
Crack the PG medical tests like NEET PG or AIIMS PG
Master a field of medicine that I am passionate about
Become a successful, respected doctor
Serve my patients and save lives
Take on an easy specialty and chill
Make shiploads of money (don’t judge!)
You must have similar goals too. What’s stopping you from achieving these goals? It is tempting to believe that you can’t reach your goal because you don’t have the knowledge or the talent. That is a mistake. You want to think you can’t achieve your goal because of a knowledge gap since it is relatively straightforward to gain knowledge. Just watch endless video lessons and read books. On a similar vein, you want to believe you can’t make it since you don’t have the talent since it is easy to blame something that is beyond your control.
The fact is that knowledge and talent do not drive results as much. Practice does. Not the mindless I-will-work-harder practice, but a particular kind called deliberate practice.
My favorite example is that many of us possess in-depth knowledge of cricket, but only a few become great cricketers. These few push themselves regularly to practice with a purpose and get feedback on how to improve.
Deliberate practice has these three essential elements:
- Practice hard, and push yourself out of your comfort zone when you practice
- Monitor and get insights on your practice — how well did you do and how can you improve, and how are you tracking against your goals
- Make changes to improve
Here’s how Anders Ericsson, the leading researcher in the field describes it:
“Get outside your comfort zone but do it in a focused way, with clear goals, a plan for reaching those goals, and a way to monitor your progress. Oh, and figure out a way to maintain your motivation.”
― Anders Ericsson, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise
Example of Deliberate Practice in Medicine
Most young doctors like you have similar or sometimes better knowledge of medicine than the older, experienced doctors. But you must have come across some veteran doctors who are the real experts in their fields and are known to diagnose complex cases accurately.
How do they do it? These experts assimilate facts of the patient’s condition, recall relevant medical knowledge, and use the facts and knowledge together to identify several diagnoses. They then eliminate unlikely diagnoses based on further exploration and follow-up questions, finally honing in on the correct diagnosis. A doctor right out of medical school may come to the most obvious diagnosis for a medical condition but may end up ignoring critical but seemingly irrelevant information to come up with the correct diagnosis.
Getting to this level of expertise requires building mental models through deliberate practice. It does not mean that the expert doctors have just been practicing for a longer time. It says that they have been challenging themselves with complex cases, getting insights on their mistakes, thereby improving their skills.
The way to prepare for any test like NEET PG is not too different.
Deliberate Practice to Prepare for NEET PG
Let’s explore the concept of deliberate practice from the standpoint of NEET PG preparation.
Learning — 10% of effort:
When you start preparing for NEET-PG, it is likely that you start with some level of knowledge of the medical basics related to a topic. By reading through notes, attending reputed coaching classes, and watching videos, you get a good level of knowledge. But if you take a practice test on the topic at this stage, you will be surprised at how many questions you get wrong. As Dr. Benson Benjamin mentioned in this article, you are likely to get easy questions right at this stage. But many of the medium and hard questions will stump you.
Practice — 90% of effort:
What’s going on? At this stage, you have improved your knowledge of medical basics related to the topic, but your skill of getting MCQs of the topic right still needs help. Developing the capability requires applying the knowledge and forming mental models that help you choose the right answer. This skill includes making educated guesses by eliminating wrong options and applying the fundamentals of several interrelated topics to judge the right answer.
The most effective way to do this is through a deliberate practice of MCQs. Practicing MCQs is where your knowledge — facts and concepts — gets applied. Your brain stores these facts and concepts as individual pieces and applying them to solving MCQs provides context and meaning to the diverse pieces of information. For example, you can utilize things you have learned in Pathology and Biochemistry to eliminate answers in Medicine, but you will not figure out how to master this skill of eliminating wrong choices without practice.
You will waste your efforts if you don’t get insights from your practice and monitor your progress. Bookmark MCQs to keep a tab of ones that most others got right but you got wrong, or one that you got right just by luck. Look at the QuestionDNA and explanations and ask yourself why you made a mistake, especially in questions that have easy to medium difficulty. Think of several different ways you could have got the answer right. This method is not too different from how expert clinicians train themselves on developing accurate diagnoses. Look at the weak topics in PrepDNA and in the topic analysis after daily tests, set a proficiency goal for each topic, and start practicing these topics.
You need to revise regularly to train your brain out of the mistakes you make. The most effective revision is regular and spaced over an extended period. We have designed the Pre-PG revision features to help you make changes and improve. Ideally, you should revise every day (Daily Revision), regularly practice the bookmarks of the subject you are studying (Bookmark Revision), and dedicate some time every two weeks for weaker concepts (Deep Revision). While you practice, our adaptive question delivery will show you questions that you had made mistakes in the past.
Yes, this part is hard. Much harder than learning from notes or videos since you have to train your brain to recognize these patterns and build mental models. You need to keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to get there. But as you push yourself, you should remember to stay motivated through the journey.
The Takeaway: YOU CAN DO IT!
All the research into deliberate practice proves that you can reach any goal with practice. If you think you can’t crack NEET PG, I am sure you are making an excuse. Getting the knowledge is the easier part — just choose the notes well and read them thoroughly. Claiming you can’t retain is only an excuse for not practicing.
Our mission to help doctors crack NEET PG through personalized deliberate practice
Pre-PG is designed to help you do the right kind of practice to master NEET PG. Pre-PG content and daily tests will always be free, which means that you have all the content you need. That said, we have put together a set of valuable features into our Premium tier that gives you the insights that give you an unfair advantage over others. We will tell you more about our most valuable Premium features soon.
Start practicing regularly in this purposeful way, and you will surely get to your goal!