What is the Best Way to Prepare for Medical Entrance Exams?
The first step on your path to becoming a doctor is medical preparation. Around 11 to 12 lakh students appear for NEET every year but only a few thousand MBBS and BDS seats available to them across India. It means that the medical exams are quite competitive. Here, we will learn how to prepare for medical entrance exams in India step-by-step:
When Should I Start Preparing for Medical Entrance Exams?
Most medical entrance exams have three core subjects:
- Chemistry, and
The topics are same as those covered in Class 11 and Class 12 of the NCERT books. Hence, it is essential to start your medical preparation from Class 11 onwards. It gives you two years’ time to prepare for the exams at a more relaxed pace. You can learn the concepts and practice them at a convenient pace - instead of rushing to reach your daily study goals. If you miss the preparation time in Class 11, you will miss the fundamentals and make it more difficult for you to understand the concepts being taught in Class 12. There are some early starters too. Many students who already know that they want to be doctors in the future start preparing for the medical entrance exams from Class 9 onwards – as soon as they get introduced to Physics, Chemistry, and Biology as three different streams of Science. Early starters get an advantage of picking up concepts correctly right from the beginning.
Which Medical Entrance Exam should I prepare for?
There are three major and most popular medical entrance exams in India:
- National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET)-UG
- All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) MBBS Entrance Exam
- Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER) MBBS Exam
The CBSE conducts NEET in the offline mode at present, but since NEET 2019, the exam is expected to be taken over by the newly-formed National Testing Agency (NTA). It is expected that the NTA exam will conduct NEET in the online mode - much like the JEE exams at present. The NTA may also conduct NEET twice a year. While we will discuss the three exams in detail, here is a quick comparison that will help you decide which exam you would like to prepare for:
- NEET is a single-level entrance exam and gives you access to the maximum number of medical seats throughout India. NEET qualifiers may get admission in all the central and state government medical colleges, as well as the private medical colleges that accept NEET scores.
- JIPMER is based in Puducherry. It is funded by the Central Government and is an institute of national importance. JIPMER MBBS entrance exam screens students for 150 MBBS seats the institute has.
- AIIMS MBBS exam offers you access to 807 MBBS seats across 9 AIIMS institutes in India.
- NEET is a balanced exam which tests candidates’ speed, concepts, and presence of mind. It has negative marking. Hence, if you answer incorrectly, you stand to lose marks for it.
- The difficulty level of questions asked in JIPMER is easier than NEET questions, but you’ll need to have more speed to complete its paper. AIIMS questions are considered the toughest. Unlike NEET and JIPMER, AIIMS questions are unpredictable. They are never repeated and picked up directly from the book.
- Unlike NEET and AIIMS (which are based on the CBSE syllabus and the MCI-prescribed syllabus), JIPMER is based on the state-board syllabus. It means that if you are primarily preparing for NEET or AIIMS, you will have to study some extra topics to prepare for JIPMER.
- AIIMS exam includes questions on GK, logical thinking, and assertive reasoning. So, you’ll have to prepare for them too.
In general, medical preparation experts consider AIIMS to be the most difficult medical exam in India. NEET is much easier, and JIPMER is a bit easier than NEET regarding difficulty level. You may target AIIMS exam to get admission in the best medical colleges of India - and practice NEET and JIPMER questions on the side too.
A Sample Time Table for Medical Preparation
An ideal timetable for medical preparation should be highly personalised. It has to keep several factors in mind, such as:
- The student’s orientation (is he or she a morning person or a night owl) and the best time to study,
- The student’s school schedule,
- Whether a student performs well in short 25-minute study spurts with 5-minute breaks or 50-minute study sessions with 10-minute breaks etc.
Having a timetable in place helps you channelise your efforts in the right direction, and minimise wastage of time. Here’s a sample timetable for medical aspirants who have already cleared Class XII and have chosen to drop a year to prepare for the NEET or AIIMS or JIPMER exam:
|Time||What to Do?|
7:00 AM to 8:00 AM
|Start your day early by talking to your family members, taking a bath, and praying or meditating. Remember, a thing well-begun is a thing half-done.|
8:00 AM to 8:20 AM
|Enjoy a healthy breakfast, but make sure to avoid a heavy meal or you’ll feel drowsy.|
8:20 AM to 11:20 AM
|Study the topics assigned for the day.|
11:20 AM to 11:35 AM
|Enjoy a quick snack of fruits, stretch your body, and give a break to your mind.|
11:35 AM to 1:35 PM
|Finish up the topics of the day, and solve questions and numerical related to them. You might also do a thorough revision of the topics during this time, or practice solved or unsolved question papers during this time.|
1:35 PM to 2:35 PM
|Use this hour to complete or revise topics you studied earlier. This may also be used to seek help from subject experts, tutors, or peers to clarify a concept or a question you are not being able to understand.|
2:35 PM to 3:00 PM
|Enjoy your lunch and connect with family or friends.|
3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
|Take a power nap. It will refresh you for the evening study sessions.|
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
|Enjoy a glass of milk or juice, according to your preference. Some might prefer to take a cup of hot tea or steaming coffee instead. Pick up another subject – and a fresh topic. If you studied Biology in the morning, go for Physics or Chemistry in the evening. Fresh and different topics will keep you excited and help your mind to become more receptive.|
7:00 PM to 7:30 PM
|It’s a time to focus on your body. A quick walk or jog in the nearby green area or playing a round of badminton is a good way to give your body some exercise. Socialise with people online or offline. You may want to watch funny videos or play the guitar to relax – whatever suits you best.|
7:30 PM to 9:30 PM
|Try to solve a mock test paper or previous years’ question paper. Time your test. You should note the time you took to solve a paper as well as the time you took to solve each question. Analyse your performance on the topics you have already prepared and see if you need more practice or help on those topics.|
9:30 PM to 10:00 PM
|Enjoy a light dinner and some free time.|
10:00 PM to 12:00 AM
|Continue your practice with the mock tests, or revise the topics you’ve done on the day.|
|It’s time to go to bed. You might want to put on some light music until you fall asleep.|
Concrete Medical Preparation Tips Every Student Must Know
The Entrance Exam Patterns of the Top Medical Entrance Exams in India
AIIMS MBBS Entrance Exam Format
Total Number of Questions: 200 MCQs, which are distributed as follows:
Total Number of Marks: 200. Each correct answer fetches 1 mark, and each incorrect answer fetches -1/3 mark. Duration of the Exam: 3 hours and 30 minutes or 210 minutes. AIIMS MBBS entrance exam is conducted in the online mode.
NEET-UG Entrance Exam Format
Total Number of Questions: 180 MCQs, which are distributed as follows:
Total Number of Marks: 720. Each correct answer fetches 4 marks, and each incorrect answer fetches -1 mark. Duration of the Exam: 3 hours or 180 minutes. NEET 2018 will be conducted in the offline mode, but NEET 2019 will be conducted in the online mode (official announcement about it is still awaited).
JIPMER MBBS Exam Format
Total Number of Questions: 200 MCQs, which are distributed as follows:
Biology (Botany and Zoology)
|Logic & Quantitative Reasoning||10|
Total Number of Marks: 800. Each correct answer fetches 4 marks, and each incorrect answer fetches -1 mark. Duration of the Exam: 2 hours and 30 minutes or 150 minutes. AIIMS MBBS entrance exam is conducted in the online mode.
Medical Entrance Exam Syllabus You Should Follow
Each medical entrance exam in India has a slightly different syllabus; the core subjects are the same – Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. For the General Knowledge or GK section, reading newspapers or browsing through digital media or watching the news on TV is a good way to keep abreast with current affairs. You may have to check the information brochures or official websites of individual exams to check out their syllabi for English Comprehension, Logical Reasoning, or General Knowledge sections.
Medical Preparation Books to Follow
Any medical coaching expert will suggest you follow a mix of NCERT books and the core medical preparation books mentioned below:
As a NEET aspirant, you must consider NCERT books as your Holy Book (Bible, Gita, Quran or whichever you prefer). Read through these books to get a quick idea of what the concept or topic is about, read through the examples carefully, and solve all the questions or numerical they have. You should read the reference books to study the topics in greater details and clarify your concepts. Best medical entrance exams (mentioned above) also offer you plenty of solved and unsolved questions for your practice.
Excellent Medical Preparation Tips from Subject Experts
As mentioned above, students should start their medical preparation as early as possible. Here are some subject-wise preparation tips for medical exams:
Physics Preparation Tips
- Physics fundamentals can make a lot of difference to your NEET rank. Since the subject involves tricky concepts and lengthy problems, you’ll need to practice your numerical daily. Mock tests are also a great way to identify the topics in which you are weak and need to seek help.
- The difficulty level of Physics questions in the engineering entrance exam and the medical entrance exam vary widely. An online NEET coaching provider who used advanced technologies and expertise of their tutors to analyse exams can provide you with practice questions more suitable for your purpose.
- NCERT books are your best friends. Apart from school exams in Class XI and Class XII, they lay the foundation for your medical entrance exam preparation as well. The advantage of these books is that they use simple language, and have comparatively simple problems. Once you master a topic, you can use the reference books for more complex problems.
Chemistry Preparation Tips
- Chemistry in easier than Physics when it comes to medical preparation.
- Your revision notes should include the theoretical concepts you study and numerical problems associated with them. You can write down chemical equations on separate sheets (chapter-wise) to make your revisions easier.
- Take a look at the NEET and AIIMS past year papers to understand the exam trends. Study of the previous years’ papers also makes it easier for you to identify the important topics that carry more weightage in the exam (which means that more questions are asked from these chapters in the entrance exam). You can start with these topics, and then, move on to the topics that are traditionally ignored by NEET examiners.
Biology Preparation Tips
- Biology is the backbone of your NEET preparation. Hence, it is important to identify ways to learn and remember the enormous amount of information included in your Botany and Zoology books.
- Pay special attention to the questions in the NCERT books, as many NEET questions included in this section are picked directly from them.
- Flashcards, mnemonics, and animated or 3D videos (available online) are great ways to learn Botany and Zoology.
General Medical Preparation Tips
Some tips work well for overall medical preparation. These include:
- Medical exam preparation is a long journey. You’ll need to stay focused and consistent to reach your goals and fulfil your dreams. Inspirational quotes and visualisation of your dreams on a regular basis can keep you on the right path.
- Past years’ papers, sample papers, mock tests, and online test series offer you the practice you need to crack the exam and find out what questions are asked in the exam.
- Seek the help of your peers, teachers, or tutors as quickly as you can. Stalling the clarity of a concept can derail your entire NEET study plan – and make it difficult for you to understand all the topics related the concept you’ve not understood.
- Physics and Chemistry ask for logic and reasoning, while Botany and Zoology require a sharp memory and an ability to learn things quickly. More you revise and practice, the closer you’ll step towards your dream.
- Do not forget to take proper rest, exercise, and eat properly. Some studies prove that these techniques are linked to students’ success in exams universally.
Should I opt for Medical Exam Coaching or Not?
In medical coaching, you get timely guidance and help, and expert opinions on matters in which you feel stuck. Coaching centres help you keep track of your progress, offer you previous years’ paper analysis as well as analysis of your performance in the tests and exams, and help you understand the exam format easily. They have expert tutors to help you understand the concepts easily, and follow a strict schedule to help you complete the vast NEET syllabus on time. However, there might be many obstacles along the way. Not everyone can afford full-time medical coaching because:
- It is not easy for them to access quality coaching near their homes, or
- They might not be able to afford the coaching fees.
New-age online medical coaching providers are trying to bridge over these obstacles. They can now reach out to students living in rural areas or remote locations through Internet, and offer them quality education imparted by best tutors. Students who want to prepare on their own can also take advantage of their:
- study material,
- video lectures, and
- tips and tricks sheets
by opting for modular coaching options (where they can choose to opt for just a few components of the entire package or choose to pay only for the topics or chapters they find difficult). Once you are absolutely clear how to go about preparing for your medical preparation, it becomes easier for you to start studying with confidence. New age online medical coaching opens up several powerful opportunities for you, such as live online classes, reference material, study notes, and regular test series. They also equip you with 24X7 virtual assistance and active online forums where you can get instant help. Once you focus your efforts in the right direction, success in medical entrance exams is inevitable.