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Monday, January 24, 2005

How many questions to attempt?

How many questions to attempt?

One of the most often asked queries regarding any PG Entrance Exam is “How much to attempt” in this exam

There are two types of Entrance Exams. In the first type, you don’t have negative marks and in the second type you have negative marks for wrong answers. There should not be any dilemma as to the number of questions you have to attempt in a paper that has no negative marks for wrong answer. You have to attempt ALL the questions. It is so simple!!!.

The question actually arises in exams where there is negative marks.

First of all, I would like to tell you that there is no single answer that can be told for this seemingly innocuous question. The number varies depending on the nature of the Exam, the quality of that specific question paper and the nature of the candidate (how good he or she is at guessing) the preparation of the candidate and more importantly the distribution of the question and the candidates overall depth of knowledge in that particular topic

Let us see one by one

The Nature of Exam

  • For AIPG the safe limit is 270 – 280 for an “average” student for an “normal” exam. The value can vary based on the other factors
  • For AIIMS, the safe limit is 160 – 170, but it is highly variable
  • For TNPG, it is advisable to go for 235 t0 240 out of 250

The quality of the question paper

  • Needless to say if the question paper is very tough and the questions are from exotic topics (like the commonest variation of arch of aorta) it is better to stay back than attract negative marks

Nature of the candidate

  • If you are good at guessing, you can attempt more.
  • If you are notorious for guesses turning wrong more often, restrict your markings in the OMR Sheet.
  • How good you are at guessing can be easily found out if you take mock tests while you are preparing. Just evaluate how many percent of your guesses turn right and whether you get a “net profit”. For example in AIPG or TNPG, if you able to guess 10 question and get 3 (or more) correct, then you are a good guesser. Where as in AIIMS you have to get 4 (or more) correct to ensure that you don’t loose your hard earned marks

Preparation of the candidate

  • If you are well prepared – attempt more
  • If your preparation is just enough – be careful while leaping forward
  • If you feel your preparation in not adequate – attempt the maximum !!! Because if such case if you are going to leave the questions you are not sure, you can attempt only 20 – 30 % of the questions


  • If you have some reservation, you can be a little more adventurous
  • In TNPG, those candidates who have more “extra marks” can take more risk. In service candidates with 3 or 4 additional marks can even attempt the whole 250 (except the question which are totally new to you) if you have prepared for 2 or more years

Distribution of the questions

  • This is the MOST important criteria.
  • A question paper will be never homogenous
  • There will be easy questions from few topics and very difficult questions from few others. In case you are able to attempt the very difficult questions, you can go forward. This typically occurs when the questions are extremely difficult in one (subjects like ENT, Anesthesia, Psychiatry) and the candidate has previously done or discontinued a diploma (or a master degree)
  • Remember that subjects like Medicine Surgery will be difficult or easy for everyone and will not be rank deciders

Overall depth of knowledge

  • In case you have a profound knowledge in subjects like Biochemistry, Anatomy or topics like Acid-Base and Electrolyte balance, Genetics etc and the questions are tough in those areas you can attempt more

Where you should not guess??

  • However there are few areas where you should avoid guessing if you don’t know the actual and correct fact
  • Pediatrics will more often than not turn into a Waterloo if you surge forward without adequate reserves
  • If questions look too tough in Ophthalmology or Community Medicine, don’t worry. Simply leave those questions. If will be tough for every one. A drug that is new to you will be a new drug to 98 % of the aspirants
  • However tempting it be, don’t guess on questions related to Clinical Examination. Until you are very sure (you can be very sure only if you have prepared specifically) don’t guess in questions regarding types of Pulse or JVP, clinical signs on Surgery. Though the answer may appear familiar to you (it will be familiar because you would have definitely heard those terms in your Clinical postings during under graduation) you may get those wrong very easily

To conclude

  • There is nothing called as “Easy Paper” or “Difficult Paper”
  • There is no fixed number of questions to be attempted
  • The ideal number of questions YOU can attempt will vary from the ideal number of questions I can attempt
  • The ideal number of questions you can attempt in one type of exam varies from the ideal number you can attempt in other type
  • The ideal number of questions you can attempt this year is different from the ideal number you can attempt next year
  • Only you can decide the ideal number of questions and you can decide that only after seeing that question paper

All the best for your efforts !!!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Eligibility clause for government doctors to join PG courses set aside

By Staff Reporter of 'The Hindu' on the daily on 30/12/2004

For Updates look at

A clause making three years of uninterrupted service mandatory for Government doctors to join postgraduate medical courses under the in-service candidate quota, as against original two years, was set aside by the Madras High Court.

The matter relates to a batch of more than 45 writ appeals against a single judge order upholding Clause 23 of the Prospectus for PG medical examination 2004-05, following an October 2002 Government Order to that effect.

Earlier, Government doctors were required to put in a minimum of two years of 'satisfactory, continuous and uninterrupted service' to be eligible to apply for postgraduate medical courses under the in-service candidate quota. They were required to serve in a primary health centre after the completion of the PG course as well.

However, the impugned order was pursuant to a policy decision to reduce the compulsory period of service to be rendered in rural areas from five years to three years, and simultaneously increase the minimum in-service eligibility criterion from two years to three years. When it was challenged, a single judge dismissed all the writ petitions and upheld the government decision.

Passing orders on the present batch of appeals, a Division Bench comprising Justice M. Karpagavinayagam and Justice S.R. Singharavelu said there was no nexus between the impugned decision and the object sought to be achieved by the Government.

The Bench referred to the Government's stand that as per the present decision the candidates need not go back to the primary health centres after completing the PG course and said, "if this argument is accepted rural people would be deprived of availing themselves of medical care by more qualified persons having expert knowledge in specialised subjects."

Stating that it was "not in public interest," the Judges said increasing the eligibility from two to three years would not achieve the object of rendering quality medical service to rural masses.

`Missing link'

They further said though the impugned decision was taken in October 2002 itself, instead of implementing it in the next year, it was given effect only for the academic year 2004-2005. "What is the reason for the introduction of this clause belatedly? There is no explanation." In view of this "missing link" the students' contention that the clause was introduced to deprive the present batch alone "has got to be countenanced. It cannot be said to be fair and equitable."

The judges also rejected the Medical Council of India's submission that the appellants that "no admission was permissible at this stage," and directed the authorities to admit the appellants in PG courses after informing them of their selection.

Note: Copyright: 1995 - 2004 The Hindu: Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the consent of The Hindu

About CMC Vellore - for and by a PG Aspirant

If you are new to CMC Vellore

à Read this and tell whether this is useful

If you are a veteran with facts about CMC Vellore

à Correct, Contribute and Criticize

A “PseudoPG” after and about CMC Vellore on 4th Feb 2003

(Note: PseudoPG is the name given to those hapless, (some times hopeless) candidates whose target is a PG seat after they have finished their MBBS. For this they have to read about 20 subjects and a total of at least 50 books and about 12,000 pages of A4 size matter. Well the agony does not end there. After reading all these you come across questions in the exam that even a Assistant Professor in that specialty finds difficult to answer. But in few centers you may find few “persons” who have not even completed their school education take these exams!!!

Often thePseudoPGs are also known as “Entrance Employees”)

See here for the Official notifications for Exam 2005

About the Entrance Exam for CMC Vellore.........

The selection process and the exam are in fact What is Special about CMC Vellore............. and The Different 2003 Exam turned out be quite different form the ones usually held in CMC Vellore

About what is different in and about CMC ?

Unlike the majority of Post graduation Entrance Exams being conducted nowadays, Here in CMC there is a two stage selection process, They conduct an entrance exam on Tuesday morning and post the results (they select the candidates equal to twice the number of seats for an interview) on Wednesday 7 PM…….. On Thursday there is an interview for the Final Selection

And the Initial Entrance Exam also is a little different………..

You can write a General paper or a Paper that’s for your specialty…however for MD General Medicine and MS General Surgery there is no special paper

The special paper will contain questions in that specialty only… in total one can apply for 4 courses and two papers… For example one can write General Paper and apply for MS General Surgery and MD General Medicine and He can write a Pediatrics special paper and apply for DCH and MD Pediatrics or he can write a general paper and ortho paper and apply for MD Pharmacology and DLO and MS Ortho and D Ortho. The possibilities are endless. The only thing is those 2 papers and 4 courses

Please note that for every course you apply, you have to pay separate exam fees. This time it was Rs 400

Initially there is a MCQ Exam

About the general paper, we had 240 questions......................... and we have to choose one among five (A, B, C, D, E)

There are no negative marks

And out of 240 questions we have 170 direct questions

Which may be like

1. The ratio of Chest compression to Respiration in CPR is (5:1)

2. The normal standard dose of Anti D Ig is for …. ml of Feto Maternal Hemorrhage ………. ????

3. Rhabdo Virus is a RNA virus

Or may be even like

1. The commonest site of Kaposi Sarcoma in Larynx is ……. ???

10 questions (171 to 180) where a clinical scenario / drug toxicity was given and we were asked to diagnose...

1. A lady after taking procainamide developed malar rashes...

The next 30 (181 to 210) questions were a little different................ We were given a question and 4 choices 1, 2, 3, 4............... We have to mark the answer as

A if 1, 2, 3 are correct and

B if 2, 4 are correct and

C if 1, 3 are correct and

D if 4 only is correct and

E if all are correct........

The easy way was that in a particular case if 1 is correct 3 is correct and vice versa....When you find it soon in your exam hall, it will be lot easy............ those who don’t understood this trick have a comparatively tough time !!!!!!

And questions 211 to 240 were of different type........... Here a clinical scenario was given and 2 to 3 questions followed

What could be the other clinical feature?

What is the investigation?

What is the treatment etc?

The question what was the diagnosis was rare !!

And we had none of the above in almost all the choices....!!!!!!!!! Which was the answer for a few

Again here there is a trick... When you are not sure of the diagnosis (which usually happens in MCQ ExamsJ) you can mark the Investigation for one diagnosis and treatment for the other!! At least you will get one right and there are no negative marks!!! (But if you are not sure, like me, the chances for your selection decreases!!! - Remember that you have to face an interview the next day)

There are a few points worth mentioning

  1. The seats are very limited.
  2. Few seats are reserved for candidates who are sponsored (They have to work in a mission hospital for a total period of 5 years - 2 before and 3 after the post graduation) The sponsored candidates can take the seats in open competition.
  3. The questions are set by the professors of the institution and they usually ask their favorite points!!! Which they repeat for umpteen numbers of times in their ward rounds and classes and questions which seem very tough to outsiders are reflex questions to CMC students............... This I feel happens in almost every Institute!
  4. There is an interview following this MCQ exam ............... again the same professors are there and their favorite questions come out........ (Why go to that level …….. The same things happen in Final Year exams where when a Unit chief of one exam comes as the Internal, that unit students get a cake walk where as others have a difficult time………)
  5. They give special consideration for a best outgoing student. As far as I know…. All the best outgoing students (from whatever college he or she may be) who appear get selected for interview……… but getting the seat is another thing.
  6. So if you are an undergraduate reading this…… get pumped up!! Grab a medal or two in your Final year and you have bright chances

There are a few more points worth noticing

  1. Even though the seats are very limited, seats are more than what is there in JIPMER(which has reservations for Institute candidates as well as community reservations and just 18 seats this year for Open competition),
  2. If you think that you can qualify for JIPMER you can do in CMC……..This point is stressed because I know a lot of people who write JIPMER entrance but not CMC Vellore Entrance, saying that the chance of qualifying here in CMC is less. That’s not the case… CMC Vellore has more seats than JIPMER and no community reservations. Please check the prospectus and you will see this for yourself !!!!!
  3. Unlike what is being thought widely, the selection is NOT restricted to Christian students
  4. And They don't restrict their selection to CMC Students.... If any one meets their standard he/she is selected ... I know few of our seniors (not from CMC Vellore and all Non Christian) who got through........ after extensive preparation !!! (I didn’t get through because I didn’t prepare well !!!)
  5. This exam gives us an ideal platform to assess yourselves before JIPMER and the state PG Exams and like Kerala and TamilNadu PG Exams
About what was different in CMC in 2003?

Usually, when there are 240 question in a PG Entrance exam paper there will be some 7 to 12(usually 10) questions on Acid Base Electrolyte and Water Balance……… There will be something on Respiratory and Metabolic Acidosis and Alkalosis and Hypokalemaia and hyperkalemia etc………..Those doubting check any paper and you can verify for yourself.

But in CMC Vellore there will be more than 30 questions ( > 10 % of the total questions) in this topic and there will be questions asking us to calculate the amount of bicarbonate of Sodium you have to give to a patient

And needless to say, this year every one (including yours truly) was ready with all the armour from Harrison and Washington Manual and High Yield Acid Base & Electrolyte Balance and there was no question on those topics…… It was very obvious that those topics were scrupulously omitted…. Cause, as I have already told, it is natural that we get 5 to 12 questions on this topic

The reason for highlighting this issue is for the benefit of aspirants. In the course of your preparation you will hear that this exam they use this book… and in this they don’t use this book. My request is that if someone tells you to study some book, well and good…….. but if you are told that questions will not be asked form this book (or this topic), please ignore………..You can get question from anywhere……. And you will be at loss if you are ill prepared……….. because, the examiners have 100 % right to change the books !!

Please note that :

This little article is written for the benefit of the PG Aspirants by someone who is in no way directly or indirectly related to CMC Vellore or JIPMER (except that he writes the entrance exams!)

The author has, however, been following the trends of various PG Entrance exams for quite sometime. The one and only aim of this is to enlighten the PG Aspirants about this ‘not so common’, unique pattern of selection to one of the most prestigious and world wide accredited institutions.

The views expressed are not those of the institutions

For Official and detailed information one may refer the official websites of CMC Vellore and JIPMER or contact in person or through mail.

Mail in your suggestion, corrections, clarifications, contributions, criticisms to

See here for the Official notifications for Exam 2005

Memories of Distant Past

Memories of Distant Past......... repeating again and again

I will tell you something After TNPSC 2003, we returned to Hostel from the centre and worked out the answers.

I had around 172/200 and one of my colleague had 165/200.

There was a gentleman with 175 and few others along 165 - 170

Every one else in the hostel was having a net of 185+

In the end, when the results were out, the person with 175 was a topper, those who had 170 were selected comfortably.......

None of the person i remember as having told me that he will be getting more than 185 was even called for the interview !!!!

Those who want to know the final marks with regard to TNPSC 2003, see here

In AIPG (All India Medical PG Entrance Exam) 2003 too there was a similar story

A Person who had net of around 190/300 got a rank of 110

A Person who had net of around 185/300 got a rank of 400

A Person who had net of around 178/300 got a rank of 900

Persons with net about 210 and 215 did not find their numbers in the merit list

Too Easy or Too Difficult

It is really interesting to read the posts about AIPG 2005.

Every one seems to tell either of the two 'So Easy' or 'So difficult'..............

In either case that is not a sign for a good question paper as a very easy or a very difficult question paper will lead to 'clustering of marks' and will be a big challenge for those hoping of getting good ranks

An exam can be either easy or difficult.

When we get both of this opinion for an exam, then it is obvious that the question is a very good question that has plenty of spotters, quite a few readers, lots of thinkers and FEW traps.....

I have seen the question and it has every thing i have mentioned......

This is like any other AIPG, but with minor variations (as usual)

  1. This paper is tougher than last year and easier than 2003 !!!!
  2. One significant fact is that the repeats were from the 'uncommon topics' like Gustavson and cervical cut off (AIPG 2003).... unlike most papers where the repeats will be from the common topics like Jejunal Biopsy, Calcium Metabolism etc......
  3. Harrison has lost the importance.... at least partially..... Almost 280 questions can be solved without Harrison !!!! and with Harrison you can not solve above 70 questions
  4. Questions are from Standard Books.... Gray, Ganong, Harper, Tripathi, Ananthanarayanan etc and not from the EXOTIC books like that happened in AIPG 2003 (Williams) and AIPG 2004 (Campbell)
  5. More importance to Histopathologic Examination What this will lead is that Those who have prepared well (prepared MCQs also) and had a 'accident free' CNS during exam can go above 220 mark........ but those who have not prepared well will find them below 170 !!!!!

This is the reason why some people find that the paper is "too easy"while some say "too tough" But the question that is more important is....

What is the mark needed for me to get Rank 100 ???? Rank 1000, Rank 1500

In my opinion that question can be answered only after a comprehensive key has been prepared................... a key that is made by looking at every answer from the book and then valuing your paper by that key

That takes some time....

Till then.... try to find the answers

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Last Week Check List for All India PG Exam

What ?, How ?, What not to do during the last week Before the exam

Decide where you are going to stay.

Get those facts right now before one week.

Check whether you have got your hall ticket.

If not communicate to the concerned authorities.

Read the details given in the hall ticket and the prospectus ONCE AGAIN

Does the exam need Pen or Pencil.

Get 2 (or 3) pens ready.

If the exam needs pencil, get 2 pencils, an eraser (which does not leave mark on the paper – check it now – not on the answer sheet) and a sharpener

Pack these and the hall ticket and anything you may need and (if you have a special dress for exams, as most people have - pack that too) now itself.

Keep your journey (to and fro) ticket along with these,

To search for all these just 1 hour before the start of the journey is not going to do your confidence any good

Don’t leave these vital things which (may appear insignificant now, but will occupy the whole of your mind , if not properly planned for and) may significantly affect your PERFORMANCE

Take an old question paper of the exam you are going to attend Lock yourself inside a room

Try to complete the paper in the prescribed time Correct the paper with the Standard Text book and not with the key given in the MCQ book itself

Now concentrate on your MISTAKES. They are more important at this stage.

You will now know your "Achilles heel". Don’t repeat it in the exam.

Don’t care about the answers you got right. You will get it right again in your exam !!

What not to be done : Don’t listen if some one says

  • that the question will be tough,
  • the question will be easy!,
  • the question is out !!,
  • he/she is not here - gone to get the question paper!!!
Listen to only Academic discussions…… If you are preparing with a group, it is better to get away from the group and become "solitary". It may sound odd, but this is a practical problem and we have seen most aspirants getting depressed after hearing such kinds of news.

What ?, How ?, What not to do during the last day Before the exam

Take rest !!

If you have traveled a long time, try and get a good sleep.

Revise those facts which you find hard to remember , especially the numeric values, investigations, syndromes, etc.

Go to bed early

What not to be done : Don’t try to read more points by forgoing your sleep on this particular day

In addition to you recent memory (which you will by reading the whole night) for a good performance you need certain other skills like remote memory, analytical skills, speed, decision making the next say. And to get all these at the zenith is to have a good sleep.

What ?, How ?, What not to do Before you enter the exam hall

Get to the exam centre early at least 1 ½ hours before the start of the exam.

Check that your number is displayed in the notice board

Some times 2 schools / colleges with identical names (or a main school and the branch) will be centers and the Auto Rickshaw will take you to the other center - for example, Kendriya Vidyalaya or SBOA - I was once forced to see many a SBOA School in Chennai !!! just before the start of the exam at the 11th hour

Get out of the campus and wait outside.

Check your purses/wallets and make sure that there are no bits of papers (which you might have kept long time back) inside that might create problems with a checking squad

Avoid reading at this time (Easier said than done)

What not to be done : Don’t discuss any question. When some one asks you a question and if you can’t answer you may be depressed

What ?, How ?, What not to do Inside the exam hall

First Write your register number looking at it from the Hall ticket (and not from your memory - however good your memory is) and then shade accordingly

Then shade the Question Paper Code, if any

If there any other paper work do it

Read the instructions in the question paper / answer paper.

What not to be done : Don’t leave the important details like register number question paper code blank and start with the questions right away. You may commit a mistake (which may be fatal) when you shade these things later "in a hurry".

Mark the answers in the Q.Paper as you read the questions.

When you have completed a batch of 25 (or 50) quesitons transform the answers to the answer sheet

What not to be done : Don’t try to read the entire question paper once again and then mark the answers

What ?, How ?, What not to do Inside the exam hall – Clinical Questions

Read the question once clearly, without skipping any thing and then mark by the side the

  1. age,
  2. sex,
  3. complaints,
  4. Symptoms - duration
  5. Signs
  6. Investigation
and follow the SAME Approach you did in your Final Year Exams.........

In 90 % of the cases, you will arrive at an answer.....

But the conditions are an endless list and definitely will not be limited to Mitral Stenosis, Hemipleiga, VSD, Prolapse, CTEV, Ca Stomach, Anaemia Complicating Pregnancy !!!

If you have followed the same procedure while preparation, you will find this method easy Any one with another method please inform

What not to be done : Don’t skip any part of the question by reading fast.

What ?, How ?, What not to do Inside the exam hall – Statistics Questions(PSM)

Write the details on the rough sheet and work systematically.

If you know an alternate way of working that particular problem try that also and check whether the solutions tally

Any one with another method please inform

What not to be done : Don’t do mental calculations or try from you memory.

What ?, How ?, What not to do during the after the exam

Relax !

Try to recollect the questions.

It is better if you do it as a group.

Work out the answers

Try to find out how much you might score.

Wait for the result !!!

What not to be done : Don’t try argue over few questions that might be ambiguous


These slides are not for advising you

They are to point out to you some facts

It is your life, your career and so it is your decision !!!

And before you leave …………

This "notes" were first prepared for Tamil Nadu Students.

Nevertheless, there are lot of points that may be of benefit to all PG Aspirants

So you are requested to change certain minor details especially those regarding the text books to suit you if you find the list given not to your choice

And if you can read between the words and find out what we are trying to convey, you can be successful in any PG Medical Entrance Exam


After MBBS - What Next

If you have finished MBBS and are wondering what to do next, this blog may be of some help to you

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