What makes a ranker click in PG entrance exams? In our interview series, we have heard from the toppers, but what about the majority of students who score ranks in the middle. Are they also as exceptional as the top rankers, or are they like everyone else who succeeded only with extreme perserveration and hard work? Armed with these curiosities, we sent Archana, our in-house-interview-monger, to locate some rankers from "the middle [earth]" of AIPGE 2006 rank list. She did manage to talk to a willing few and one of them is Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar (RxPG Nick: Shaky). Having scored rank 511 in recently concluded AIPGE 2006, he appeared to be an ideal candidate for our interview series. The additional fact that he has been extremely helpful in guiding others in RxPG forums made our choice perfect! Here is what transpired in this wonderful interview.
RxPG: Congratulations for scoring a good rank in
All India Post Graduate Entrance
(AIPGE) 2006 exam. The AIPGE
aspirants on RxPG are curious to know about your secrets to success in this
extremely competitive exam?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: Well, tough question
actually. I tried to do all I could (...though missed out on some accounts).
Don’t really know what out of that worked in the end! But let me guess...
Firstly, I studied consistently for one year as much
as I could. However, I don’t think I overworked, as there are many things I
could have done without reading, many things I never revised, so didn’t remember
them in the end. Thus, is think hard work is essential, but in the end one can
get the same result even with less work, if it is well planned and revised
Secondly, focus on MCQs (Multiple
Choice Questions) worthy information. After a few months of preparations, I
could vaguely make out what’s worthy of being asked and what not. Thus I would
scan text quickly and get these facts out of the pile and mark it properly. In
the end it helped a lot during revision.
group discussion and
Group discussion made the preparation less boring and helped me register
information faster. Test practice helped me gauge my position and weaknesses.
RxPG: How much time do you think one requires for
serious preparation for AIPGE examination?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: This duration includes
provision for time wasted due several unforeseen circumstances that are
inevitable in anybody’s life. A space of one year would allow comfortable
reading, without that extra urgency to finish off subjects; it would give enough
time for revision.
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar
Ideally, I would count this one year as the one after
internship i.e. without
any other work or activity. But I have come across many people who had studied
during their internship, and still managed to get good rank. Hence, nothing
official about it!
RxPG: Which books did you read for the theory part? And
which books did you follow for MCQ's revision?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: THEORY BOOKS -
Anatomy (B. D. Chaurasia), Physiology (Ganong), Biochemistry (Harper), Pathology
(Robbins), Pharmacology (KDT), Microbiology (Anantnarayan + Paniker), Medicine
(Harrison), Surgery (read Love & Bailey quite a bit but found that fruitless in
the end), Paediatrics (Ghai), Obstetrics (Dutta), Gynaecology (Shaw),
Orthopaedics (Maheshwari), Skin (Harrison), Anaesthesia (coaching class
pamphlet), Radio (nothing!), Psychiatry (Ahuja), Forensic Medicine (Parikh).
MCQ's BOOKS - Mudit Khanna (AIPGE) and Ashish Amit
(AIIMS), Salgunan, Ashish Amit Anurag (AAA, topic wise).
RxPG: Which subjects did you focus on?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: Well, nothing like that. I
did not focus on any specific subject intentionally. Though I can say that I had
done Robbins, Harper and (to some extent) Harrison well, and that did help me a
RxPG: What do you think is the better way of preparation
between selective, intensive study and wide extensive study?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: I think I would grade my
study as intensive. I had read much text, but that was speedily done to mark out
'ask able' information. I covered many subjects in that manner (mostly
retrospectively), but in the end I did not have the equivalent confidence,
because I was not able to revise most of that text. I did not have the initial
clarity till the end but nonetheless it did help me in making calculated
guesses. Thus, I would say that if intensive reading (as I have defined above)
is possible with revision that would make a secure preparation for all sorts of
different varieties of question papers.
Selective reading, though, would be advisable where there
is a dearth of time. That would help to answer all common questions (but not the
difficult and alien questions).
RxPG: Did you attend any coaching? Were they useful?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: I did not join any coaching
class. We did subscribe to model test papers from a coaching class, which we
used to write weekly during the last few months.
RxPG: How important you think is internet in
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: Not at all, I would say, as
far as the core preparations is concerned. Can absolutely do without it, esp. if
one has a good group and guidance. For other people it may act as a substitute
partly. Very useful to share information, settle queries, make friends, discuss
exam papers etc. but as I said, when talking strictly about preparations, can do
RxPG: We appreciate the fact that preparing for an
extremely competitive exam must be really challenging. During your preparation,
did you ever doubt your ability to succeed in it?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: ALWAYS! One can never
really be sure in such exams, where the whole year’s preparation is going to be
tested in just three mad hours. All the hard work funnels onto those three hours
which make things tense till the end. Plus, such a large crowd you are competing
with. You can never be sure when you stand, till the day of result.
Hence, all through out the year there had been bouts of
doubt and pessimism which would erupt every now and then. But then I would
realise that what I was doing was the best option I had. So forget about the
future, just do what I am supposed to do and face the outcome. Had never
personally expected in the beginning of my preps, to get what I got finally.
The results just strike like a lightening and we have to
accept whatever it has for us.
RxPG: What was your daily timetable during the
preparation? How much time do you think one requires for serious preparation for
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: My daily schedule was as
follows: 08.00 to 08.30 AM - get up; 09.30 to 10.00 AM - off to library; 01.30
PM - lunch break; 03.00 to 08.00 PM – library; 09.30 PM to 12.30 AM - group
discussion. Well, I think that was only for the sake of information, it should
not really be relevant to anyone, because amount of input required varies from
person to person, depending on abilities and disabilities.
RxPG: What was your strategy for the revision?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: I was never really
satisfied with my revision. Much of time devoted to revision was wasted in
reading for the first time important stuff which I had not read till then. Also,
due to my not-so-good memory, I had to spend a lot of time in revising things I
had already done well before.
So in the end, I could not revise a few subjects and I did
have to pay for that in the end. I got a few easy questions from Gynaecology
wrong in the actual exam because I did not revise that subject. Thus important
thing is that one should ensure adequate time for revision (about 3-4 months
would be good).
RxPG: What was your strategy for the exam day?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: Nothing special, I tried to
do what one is supposed to do in any exam for that matter i.e. to keep calm,
think clear, avoid unnecessary haste, give each question the same importance,
read each question and options fully without taking for granted, avoid silly
mistakes (it is very difficult to apply that! I did end up giving away a few
questions cheaply) and last but not the least, keep a track of time.
RxPG: What is your impression of the AIPGE exam? Is the
pattern of the examination appropriate? Would you recommend any improvement?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: Well, have few things to
say on that.
First, I can imagine the position of the exam officials.
There are thousands of graduates knocking their doors every year for seats. They
hold the responsibility for providing the same in a just manner. The challenge
for them is to how to pick up 3000 students from thousands that are knocking and
then arrange them in a descending order. Pretty tough job to do! On what basis
would you arrange them? You know there are many aspects which go on to make a
good doctor, many abilities required for that, which abilities out of that do
you test for the purpose?
Most MCQs based exams test three main abilities; one is
memory, other is analysis/reasoning and third is speed of making decisions. One
can easily argue that’s not enough, because then what about clinical skills,
communication skills, conduct, temperament, attitude towards patients etc which
are equally important?
Thus, ideally speaking, MCQs based tests are not enough!
They can never be certified to be totally just and reliable, as far as arranging
'PG aspirants' in a row of preference is concerned.
But then, the real fact is that conducting exams that would
test all essential skills would be very cumbersome and practically not feasible
for such a large scale exam.
Among the various types of written tests, I think MCQs
based tests are the best, because they allow a wide variety of topics to be
covered in a short time, and ask for a reasonably superficial knowledge about
every subject, that is something which is actually expected out of graduates.
Thus, I think that in the present scenario, the way AIPGE
is conducted is quite satisfactory (lets leave AIPGE 2006 aside, it was an
But quality of question papers can still be improved by:
1. Avoiding clichéd question (repeat questions),
2. Avoiding difficult questions from alien topics,
3. Avoiding simple facts and figures type questions,
4. Including more case-type questions,
5. Twisting the question, so as to discourage cramming,
6. Avoiding irrelevant questions (like GDP of India, growth
I think those who cry foul and criticize AIPGE should first
come up with a better way of conducting exams that is practically feasible at
the same time.
RxPG: Had you not been successful in AIPGE, what would
have been your reaction? Did you have a backup plan? Were you ready for another
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: A very important question,
because is such an exam, can really be sure of getting a good rank. One can only
work and hope of getting one. In case I had a rank somewhere in the end of the
list, I would have taken up some non-clinical seat like Anatomy! Had I not made
it to the list, would have started a job somewhere and continued reading in
either case, so as to appear in the next year.
In any case, I would not have left the race, because most
of the hard work was now done. Only thing needed is to keep the things fresh.
RxPG: How would you visualise your success?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: What I have realised by now is
that success and failures are only relative terms. What appears as success at
one time becomes the beginning of a failure that often follows it, and failure
often prompts us to do things which often make us end up in a larger success.
Hence, what’s important is to do what is best at any point
of time, without reacting too much to what is apparently visible-
RxPG: Whom do you attribute your success to?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: Well, I would definitely
attribute the result I got to the terrible question paper that was offered to
us! The paper had only two types of questions. One, those which have already
been chewed and digested by all by now, and two, totally alien questions which
no one has ever heard about and about which nothing can be done, other than
giving the best calculated guess or leaving with due respect.
I think my analytical and reasoning skills probably helped
me in such a paper to get more MCQs right.
My parents definitely contributed greatly by giving me all
the support that I needed.
RxPG: How did your parents, family and friends
contribute to your success?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: My parents and family
helped enormously. I think the first thing that is necessary before starting
preps is to make them understand that the preparation for the exam would take a
whole year (esp. in Gujarat, because here preparing for AIPGE has not been a
culture till now). One year is a long time I hope, in this part of our education
career, and it’s very important to make them realise and accept that 'I would be
doing nothing but reading for this one year'.
My family was tremendously supportive and that helped
greatly, because I felt assured that I would not be expected to do a job, to
spend too much time with the family etc. Such a space is very helpful.
Friends in my study group were an essential part of the
preps, can’t do without them. They made the journey doable, liveable. They
implicitly provide the moral and psychological support to keep going.
RxPG: What do you want to specialise in and where and
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: I am interested in
radiology. I won’t get degree radio at a good place at my rank, but might get
DMRD (Diploma in Medical
Radio Diagnosis) at a nice place, in which case I would gladly oblige.
Well, no fat reasons for this preference. Just that I find
it interesting and enjoyable, something I think I won’t get bored of in a
lifetime. Also, during the 5 yrs of MBBS, I have realised my weaknesses and
strengths, and I think this branch fits my aptitude the best. That’s why
RxPG: RxPG is the largest and most active community
website for medical students. How do you visualise the role of RxPG in moulding
the careers of the medicos?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: I think internet provides a
tremendous platform for people to interact, and RxPG fully utilizes this
potential. I can see no other way whereby people of all different colleges can
come together and discuss, argue with each other, share experiences and
information, and in the end form a larger community. In that sense, RxPG is
unavoidable and irreplaceable. RxPG website provides a tremendous potential
which I think has still not been fully tapped.
RxPG: When did you join RxPG and how did you come to
know about it? How did it help you in your preparation?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: Can’t recall exactly how I
came to know about it, because it’s been two years since I joined as a member
here. However, I have been actively participating since only a few months.
RxPG: As we see on RxPG website, most of the doctors and
medical students are somewhat disillusioned by medicine as a career and some
seriously think about a career change. What would you like to say to them?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: Well, there are two types
of people (Editor’s Comment: Buntie Aur Bubli inspired?)… One type is that
driven in to the field due to the lure of status and money which this profession
seems to promise, despite having an aptitude for some other field. Over time
such people are bound to get frustrated, and to explain that, they find faults
with the medical field and exaggerate the travails that this field has. I think
if such people think of career change, that’s not a bad idea, would help them in
the long run.
Then there is another group of people, who love the field,
and work very hard, but then are not able to get the desired result, and hence
end up feeling bitten, and develop hatred for the profession. When such people
then think of a career change, I think, that is a bit disappointing. Can’t
really blame them for that, I think the biggest culprit is the MCI (Medical
Council of India) for blindly giving recognition to private colleges without
taking into consideration the demands of the present scenario and the future.
RxPG: What is your advice to the future PG aspirants?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: Well, for all those who
don’t want to join the exodus to foreign countries, AIPGE is the best bet for
getting the desired post graduate seat, despite its uncertainties and
difficulties. Hence, every one should spend (or waste, whatever!) at least one
year for AIPGE preparation and then attempt it. Important thing is to do it with
a positive mood and not just out of desperation, because it is not the end
point, just a cross-road!
RxPG: Any other comments?
Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar: Well, I happened to learn
about RxPG, its origin, its founders and its story so far, from the RxPG
corporate site, I was not aware of the site earlier. It was really inspiring to
read about how RxPG took shape, which was great. “Only people, who have courage
to seek unknown territories, can conquer continents". This saying is
one hundred percent accurate in this case.
Note: Dr. Abhishek Pachchigar graduated from Baroda Medical College in 2004. His rank inb AIPGE 2006 was 511. His expected score breakdown in the actual exam was: 204 questions right, 68 wrong and 28 unattempted (around 62%). He scored 52% in AIIMS January 2006. Apart from studies, he likes appreciating all forms of art and does indulge in occasional cartoon making.
RxPG Interviewer: Archana Desai
If you know of someone whose achievements can be inspiring for medical community in any way, please go ahead and interview that person for RxPG or let us know so that we can put someone on their trail! If you are a ranker (any rank) in any of the medical competitive exam and want to help the medical community by sharing the secrets of your success, please get in touch with us by using the feedback form.
Comments on the above interview can be left in RxPG AIPGE exam forum in this thread http://www.rxpgonline.com/postt51375.html