INI SS exam preparation - Key take aways from 2020 AIIMS SGE Rank #1 holder with Surgtest

In 2020, Dr. Vignesh who did MS General surgery from VMMC and Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi took all his peers by surprise by getting rank #1 in the AIIMS SGE exam in his very first attempt, during the final year of his residency, despite having started his medical education at a periphery college in Tamil Nadu.

Let’s read this condensed article, based on Dr. Vignesh’s interview with Dr. Vinayak Rengan to take inspiration from his approach. To watch the entire interview, please click here.

The Beginnings

Dr. Vignesh received his MBBS degree from IRT Perunthurai, a peripheral medical college in Tamil Nadu and then went on to pursue his PG Surgical Residency from VMMC and Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi. At Safdarjung, he was introduced to the wonders of the Abdomen by his seniors, got plenty of opportunities to operate and was also surrounded by alma matter like Dr Aman Chopra the AIIMS SGE Rank 1 who incidentally was also a Surgtest student.

Dr.Vignesh’s 4 step strategy for AIIMS/INI SS exam preparation:

Step 1 - Analyze past papers:

Analyzing past papers for the NEET SS and Institutional exams gives you two types of actionable insights: One – it helps you identify what the high yield topics are; Two – It tells you how in-depth your preparation must be.
Dr. Vignesh went through the past papers of both NEET SS and AIIMS to grasp the trends and got valuable insights such as how “they concentrated more on the hepatobiliary part than the luminous GI part” ; “liver is the main core for aiims preparation” and “they ask direct questions direct lines from blumgart so even this time there were about 18 to 19 questions from liver alone”

Step 2 - Get the right study material:

Find accessible, engaging study material that covers as much depth as the exam covers. For example, when Dr. Vignesh analyzed trends, he identified that Blumgart was the ideal resource to learn from because they covered high yield topics for NEET SS such as the Liver in great detail and even saw that the AIIMS SS exam has direct lines from Blumgart as questions. But “if you want to go into GI surgery, Sabiston is a must”. But how does a 3rd year resident prepare for NEET SS or AIIMS SS/INI SS exam with very little time?
That’s when you subscribe to the Surgtest GI Surgery Video Lecture Series, just like Dr. Vignesh subscribed. The course is taught by a panel of practicing surgeons, such as Dr. Samrat who is a practicing colorectal surgeon, Dr. Venkatesh Mahadevan who is an upper gi esophageal surgeon and Dr. Prasanna and Dr. Soundarajan who are HPB and transplant surgeons.
The GI Surgery Video Lectures condenses the high yield topics from Blumgart & Shackelford but retains the depth necessary for exams like INI SS and NEET SS. For example, the esophagus lectures alone extend to around 8-10 hours.

Step 3 - Set SMART goals:

Knowingly or unknowingly, Dr. Vignesh has applied the principle of setting smart goals in his planning and preparations for the AIIMS SS exam. Smart goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound goals. He had the specific goal of mastering the Blumgart and Shackelford textbook, he consistently set aside 4-6 hours each day to study and actively studied by taking his own notes while reading textbooks and watching GI Surgery Video Lectures. Most importantly, he did not pressure himself to get any particular rank. He focussed on mastering the study material and simply taking the exam to measure his progress. He didn’t waste a single minute pressuring himself. Instead, he spent every minute doing his very best making his own notes and studying.

Step 4 - Time Management:

When emergencies reduce the amount of time Dr. Vignesh could study he would quickly re-prioritize his study plan for the day and at least read up on a high yield topic.
As a 3rd year resident in Safdarjung, Dr. Vignesh was juggling family, emergencies, electives at the time of his preparation. Although he aimed to set aside a minimum of 4 hours each day to study, the challenges were many.
Vignesh has proved once again, that in today’s digital era, any resident, anywhere can crack exams like the NEET SS, INI SS or AIIMS super specialty exam in a single attempt.
This blog post covers how to prepare for the AIIMS SS/INI SS exam. To learn more about how to prepare for NEET SS GI Surgery, click here.