I gave my final DNB theory exam, in Emergency Medicine in June 2018. And I cleared the exam. We had 4 papers, spread over (crammed in) 3 days; second day with one paper in the morning, one in the evening. Each paper was for 100 marks, with 10 questions in each.
The following is few points I had written , about things that helped me prepare for the theory exam and thank god, clearing it. Have edited it a little and sharing it now. I have written these points for my current field, Emergency Medicine. Parts of it will be helpful for all specialities. These are specific for DNB theory, I say that only because of lack of knowledge about how MD guys prepare, maybe quite similar, their question paper pattern differ from DNB though.
Please ask your seniors and others for advice. Their advice may differ from mine. Follow whatever you feel more comfortable with.
To pass an exam, you will need 6 months of preparation. That’s a minimum. Start now if you are late, start now if you are early.
BOOK : The only book I read was Tintinallis. I had planned to read some special books for paediatrics and trauma, but ended up not reading anything else because of the familiarity I had gained with Tintinallis and because I wasn’t sincere enough to make time for reading anything else. Your seniors may suggest other books for you. Please keep your options open as I haven’t seen any other book as of now, to offer an opinion.
If you are reading the book for pleasure, to understand the subject, to have fun while reading, do it before the last 6 months, because none of this pleasure reading will count when you are writing your paper
Following is just for the last 6 months of reading:
CAN I OMIT ANYTHING? The answer I believe is, no.Read every line from the book. Including history and epidemiology – they asked us history of Nipah as a part of 10 mark question on Nipah(it was expected that we would be asked about Nipah, but history of the disease might have been something we wouldn’t have taken seriously) . I wouldn’t take the risk of omitting anything because it feels irrelevant or odd to be asked as a question.
NOTES. I can’t stress the importance of making notes more. Make notes. Of everything you read. From any book / journal or paper you read. This notes will be the only material you should be reading during your revision. The revision you will be doing in the last 20 days/ 1 month or if you are sincere enough, last 2 months before exam! What you read in last 20 days is the only part you will remember when you are writing the paper.
Notes can be hand written (I prefer this method being an old fashioned person that I am) or typed (very satisfying for the OCD types and for those who know your way around the “bullets” and “changing list level” while using bullets in the word doc (I am not the one who is good at this and unfortunately I selected this method) Sounds nerdy, but helps knowing your type before you start
Notes should be pointers/ one liners or just 4 or 5 words in a line. That’s how you write your answers in the exams too.
Notes will give you a perspective of what you have read, help you understand the chapter and help you prepare your answer for the exam, so that you need not spend any minute getting creative and spinning a story when you are writing the exam, and just write down the points you made
“ENUMERATE “is a thing with DNB papers. “Enumerate causes of post-partum haemorrhage”, “enumerate the cold related injuries” etc. When you are starting the chapter, you can make a note of the main headings covered in that chapter in your notes or a stick-on, because that may just be your 2 or 3 marker. 2 marks seems less now. But when you are receive your question paper in your hand, it’s really a very big number!!
QUESTION PAPERS : You have to know the previous years’ question papers. They cover most topics from the text book, and when you know those topics, none of the questions will seem absurd or shocking to you. You will have 4 years papers in Emergency Medicine, including the June 2018 one, 4 papers each year. Each 10 mark question is subdivided into 2/3 and 4 markers, and each of them are specific, to the point questions. So very minimum scope for storytelling, be warned
If you are starting with question papers, finish the entire chapter from which that particular question has been asked. At the end of 4 papers including the recent June 2018 session, you will end up finishing 150 or more chapters of the total 303 chapters in Tintinallis book.
TABLES : you will know when you do the papers how many questions can be answered by knowing the tables and figures in the text book. 1 of those 3 or 4 sub- questions will invariably be a table from that chapter. Learning tables is near complete rote, so keep time to revise the tables again and again. And again. Your mnemonic habits from PG entrance exam preparation will be handy here.
REVISION : you need 3 months for revision, at least 2 months. And 3 times revision. They may say no, but most students from all departments revise atleast 3 times before final exam. Also, I am a slow learner. I am sure, there are people here, who need less time to read or revise, so decide for yourself how many months or how many times revision you need before exam. For a 6 month preparation period - If you are setting aside 3 months for revision, you have 3 months to finish first time reading. That’s 303 chapters in 90 days. That’s 3 chapters per day on an average. Luckily you have a lot of 3 and 4 pages small chapters in the book
Club them with 10 or 15 page chapters and read them.
It’s ok if you don’t finish all 303 chapters in this first 3 months. Stretch your first time reading to 4 months and keep aside 2 months for revision. Keep track of the chapters you have never looked at (these are the moulds that you never felt comfortable looking at
) . Keep a separate track of chapters that you need more time to revise, that you need to refer from other sources . “Keeping track” may sound childish, but it helps you not feeling overwhelmed, and that’s a good thing when you are preparing for exam.
Study for a fixed number of hours in a day.
Set aside those hours depending on your comfort, discipline, sleep wake cycles that you are habituated to.
Take short trips.
All the best.
Confession - I solemnly swear I didn't stick to the plan I enumerated above, wish I had though
but sure as hell, I had planned it. Please do better than me. It will help