How to pass the DNB theory exam?

Hello friends, many of you may be doing DNB residency or already completed it and still trying to pass the DNB theory exam. I have seen many students trying for many years to pass the DNB theory exam. Here, let us discuss ‘How to pass the DNB theory exam?’

Why am I explaining these tips about DNB theory?

I too like you was an ordinary student during my DNB training. I had got admission through DNB secondary NEET examination after my Diploma in Child health. Though I got admissions everywhere from my MBBS to DCH and DNB, I was a hard working guy. I was certainly not the one who could understand and remember everything while reading for the first time.

I have seen my roommates and my friends from other branches too. I have seen them passing and failing. They were all good doctors. Their patients admitted them for their good work but still some of them could not pass.

Having cleared DNB exam theory and practical in pediatrics after hard work I think it will be a good thing to share my experience. I will be very happy if this blogpost inspires you and you achieve good results as you want. I am doing it for my own satisfaction. Your success will satisfy me the most.

I hope many of you will be very clever and may not need these tricks but I hope some of you will be like me. I don’t want you to face the difficulties I faced.

Is passing DNB very tough?

Yes, I would say so. DNB theory exam is not the cake walk like your Final MD/MS exams. They ask tough questions. If you are not prepared for them particularly you may fail. Don’t you worry I will provide you the tricks that will act as a bridge to cross this obstacle.

DNB exam passing rate improving?

Oh certainly, DNB is kind enough to take care of you all. That does not mean you should consider the DNB theory exam a very easy task and ignore the tricks given below.

Is it easy for studious guys to pass the DNB theory exam?

Sorry to say, no. Even if you are a very good doctor by the time you appear for the exam, you can handle and save serious patients. That does not automatically mean you can pass the DNB exam. At least this fact stood true for me.

Unless you study in the right direction with the aim to pass the DNB theory exam you will not.

What should I do during my DNB residency?

A DNB resident doctor working in her ward duties.
A DNB resident

Depending on whether you are a primary DNB candidate or a secondary DNB candidate, you will have 3 years or 2 years of residency period.

You should work hard during this period. Follow the directions given by your consultants and your boss. After all, they have a lot more experience than you have. Getting trained under good and experienced consultants will be a great boon to your future life whether you pass or don’t pass these exams.

You should attend your OPD work, your IPD duties and if you are from the surgical branch you need to attend OT and post OT work too.

Gather as much skill as you can during this tenure. I will never suggest you to bunk your practical work for the preparation of your theory exams.

Whenever you get time you should read standard books like Nelson for pediatrics and Harrison for medicine. You should also go through recent journals published in your field. Like IAP and IJPP for pediatrics. Most of the material is available in the library of training institutes. 

Best way is to read whatever patient you see in the ward on the same day. This method will provide you with long term memory. This long term memory will help you in your future practice when you pass out.

Don’t get frustrated!

female student suffering from headache in library
A frustrated DNB resident

Yes most of the DNB trainees are under a huge pressure. They come to DNB because they have failed to get admission to MD or MS courses, some come by choice. Whatever way you got admitted for the course you have got it by your merit and your choice. 

Enjoy your residency and keep gaining knowledge. There is no better teacher than your patients and your consultant. If you take interest in managing patients with your consultants you will enjoy your residency. Side by side keep reading the topics whatever you see patients in your wards.

Why do people doing DNB get frustrated?

The single most reason DNB students get frustrated is comparison. Do not compare yourself with other MD / MS students or other non medico people who are earning very well even if they are smaller than you in age.

Apples are apples and mangoes are mangoes. You can not tell a monkey to swim like fish and ask a fish to climb the tree. You are best at your place.

World is much larger than you think. In future you will face more difficult situations than your DNB exam is. Just a deep breath and face the world with a broad smile. The smiling people attract smiling people and frustrated ones get attracted to frustrated ones. May sound harsh but the truth is choice is yours.

Finally How to pass DNB theory exams?

DNB student is studying for final exams.
DNB student studying hard

The hard work in your wards and reading throughout the course will bring clarity of concepts in your mind. But always remember, it will not help you in passing exams.

If you have worked hard and read throughout your course you still need some smart work of around 2 months. Even if you did not work and lead a frustrated life during your course tenure do not be afraid. Prepare with following methods and I am sure you will not fail.

  • Gather all the DNB final exam papers for at least 15 years.
  • From those question papers gather question system wise. Like you should gather all the questions for CVS, all the questions for RS at one place.
  • Study thoroughly how they ask those topics. If normal MD exams ask you about ‘Management of nephrotic syndrome’, DNB will ask you about ‘Management of steroid resistant nephrotic syndrome’. You need to be very particular while answering.
  • Prepare notes of all answers of questions of the same system like CVS, RS with you.
  • Many people get notes from friends but I recommend you prepare your own notes. Your friend may not have notes about topics he already knows. In this case you will miss out on topics you do not know.
  • Remember while making notes do not write down entire paragraphs and sentences from books. Write only key points. You can explain them in exams if you know the key points.
  • You may feel proud that you read the entire Nelson or Harrison 3 times but you will surely fail in exams. All these books are good sources of knowledge but you will find it difficult to revise them the night before exam.
  • Addition to that these books are for the entire world they may not cover the diseases and conditions in a satisfactory way. You need to gather all the answers of questions from different sources like the internet and journals and your practical books too.
  • If you are not finding answers to particular questions in your book, do not hesitate to refer to internet sources like medscape and your practical books and journals. Make sure that you write notes so that you can revise at the time of the exam.
Smart DNB student preparing notes for her DNB Final exam
Smart DNB student preparing notes for her DNB Final exam

Download all DNB old question papers

This link will take you to authentic website of natboard to download all DNB old question papers free of cost.

How to utilize the time to prepare for DNB theory exams?

Time management is a very much needed thing for success. My teachers were very supportive and helpful for me to guide me during difficult times. I thank them all.

A smart DNB student managing time very cleverly
A smart DNB student managing time very cleverly
  • While preparing notes if you are getting preparatory leave of 2 months it will be more than enough to pass the exam.
  • I could study 8 hours a day and I prepared them and revised them too. It takes 2-4 days to prepare notes of a single system like RS and CNS.
  • Complicated topics like endocrine and CNS may take longer than that. In General 45-60 days are enough for preparing notes.
  • Remember preparing notes is good exercise and you should also allocate at least 1-2 hours a day for revision.
  • In this way you will prepare notes and revise them in 60 days to succeed in the DNB theory exam.
  • If you are not getting preparatory leave, start this exercise somewhat earlier. In that case you may need 4 months for your theory exam preparation.

Group discussions

If you have good colleagues you can discuss with them at the end of your day. They may be knowing things better than you. Do not compare yourself with them. Discuss with friends with a positive attitude, you will learn with them.

Finally the night before DNB theory exam:

Your notes will make your task simple. You will be able to quickly revise from them. Go through them quickly. Do not compromise your sleep. Take adequate food and sleep during exam time.

If you have an MCQ paper I am sure, you can answer your MCQs if you have well planned and revised your notes.

Finally in the exam hall

Frustrated Students in DNB Theory final exam hall
Frustrated Students in DNB Theory final exam hall

Time management in the exam hall too is the main key to success. At least 20 percent of the questions will be from topics you do not know well.

First, write the topics you are very well prepared for. It will boost your confidence.

In the last try the topics you are not very well prepared for. Remember to answer all the questions. Do not miss any question unanswered.

I would suggest you go to the exam well fed and drink enough water. Many times in the DNB exam, you have 2 theory papers on the same day.

You have to write a lot. Carry paracetamol or ibuprofen tab if you feel your hand paining you can take it.

Keep cool even if you find one exam paper difficult. You can make up for that in next paper.

I would also like to suggest you a large watch so that you can see the time and manage it well.

If some answers are taking too much time leave it unfinished and attempt further questions. Come back to incomplete in the end.

What is a take home message?

Try to pass the DNB theory exam with a smart approach with hard work. You will surely succeed and give me a chance to be happy for you. 

Life doesn’t end if you fail the exam. There is always a second chance after 6 months. Just prepare with the mind that you surely want to pass it this time itself.

If you need any further help you can comment in the comment section. I will try to answer you with whatever resources I have. In the future blog post I will try to write about passing the DNB practical exam.

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