It’s time to prepare for the NEXT challenge
While NEET PG 2020 brought in its own set of challenges for medical aspirants, the question that arises now is: What NEXT? In 2019, the government of India announced its decision to scrap NEET PG, thereby introducing a common national exam for all MBBS students called NEXT or the National Exit Test. This is likely to be implemented by 2022.
This exam is intended to serve as the national-level PG entrance examination for MBBS graduates. Besides, this proposal was a part of the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill that had been pending for as long as five years and which finally received approval from the President.
So, what should one expect from this paper, and what is the best way to tackle it? Let’s find out.
What is NEXT?
According to reports, the NEXT exam is designed in a way that tests the basic skills and concepts of a medical student. Besides, it serves as a licentiate exam, which means students will have to clear it for medical practice post MBBS.
“Based on the score that you get in Part 1 of the paper, which is the MCQ exam, you will also be eligible to join a PG course. It is going to replace the NEET exam and FMG exam, and there are talks that it will also replace the final-year MBBS professional exam. That’s not confirmed as of now,” says Dr. Sumer Sethi, Director, Delhi Academy of Medical Sciences (P) Ltd.
The latter is one of the best PG medical entrance coaching institutes, and has been offering quality education to aspirants of PG medical entrance examinations for over 21 years.
What should one expect in this paper?
Ever since NEXT PG has been announced, people have begun to speculate regarding the pattern of the paper. According to Dr. Sethi, who is a radiologist himself and a topper in AIPG/AIIMS, the inclination will be towards integrated learning, which was also the focus of NEETPG 2020. “In the NEXT paper, the governing body also feels that 10% of the paper will include applied basic sciences. This means there will be a focus on clinical vignettes which are integrated with the basic sciences.”
He feels that the Delhi Academy of Medical Sciences (P) Ltd. is equipped to handle this shift. “In the last two decades, it has been a pioneer in integrated learning. We were the ones who started horizontal and vertical integration based teaching in PG entrance preparation. People widely recognised that although there were players offering preparation for PG medical entrance, in rote learning fashion, only the Delhi Academy of Medical Sciences (P) Ltd. has been helping students to integrate things. This is what students will always rate us for.”
Dr. Sethi also believes it is going to be a lengthy paper and there will be representation of all subjects. “But there will be subjects where the representation will increase or reduce.”
The right approach
Dr. Sethi advises students to give the NEET PG 2021 exam seriously, instead of pinning all their hopes on NEXTPG in 2022.
To help students stay ahead of competition, the Delhi Academy of Medical Sciences (P) Ltd. has also launched a series of workbooks that tackles this change in pattern. “In the last 21 years of working in this medical industry, I have seen so many changes—from a paper based question paper that had bubble-like markings to a multi-set prometric kind of paper to a visual-based paper to video-based questions. But one thing that everyone has come back with - they say it was about the notes of the DAMS.!”
He believes the institute has always paid attention to understanding of concepts, ensuring quality, learning, understanding and integration.
“Today is the time when everyone needs to modulate. I have been speaking to all my teachers about modulation, how to improve and move one step ahead,” says Dr. Sethi.
What to expect in NEXT PG?
“The pattern they are proposing is going to be slightly different from what you’ve seen so far. The paper, most likely, will have three kinds of questions - 60% will be based on problem-solving, 30% on comprehension and analysis, and only 10% on recall,” he says. Final Subjects Medicine & allied specialities, Surgery and Allied specialties, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, paediatrics, ENT and Ophthalmology will be very important. 10% questions will be contributed by applied basic sciences and 10% by Public/Preventive Medicine. It is likely that exam will be conducted in three days.
He also lays emphasis on classroom learning, which is why so many students of the Delhi Academy of Medical Sciences (P) Ltd have been successful. “All the toppers have specifically mentioned that attending classes helped them understand things and apply the same in the exam,” adds Dr. Sethi.
Besides, he feels the paper will have several application, comprehension, analysis questions, which is why students will get an ample amount of time.
Another noteworthy thing to remember is that the exam will be divided into two parts. Both the exams must be cleared; aspirants cannot go for internship if they do not clear the first part. The second part of the exam is proposed to be at the end of the internship. “I am already working with my team to develop a mechanism for practical courses. The outline of this exam is not available so far. All we know is that at the end of the internship, there will be a practical exam which will be pass/fail,” says Dr. Sethi.
He emphasises the importance of starting early and building concepts. “Students who have joined us in the foundation programme in their junior final will already be taught this new pattern. For students in pre-foundation years who are in basic sciences, the teachers will tweak the questions accordingly.”
The bottom line
While no one knows what the paper will look like, Dr. Sethi has one advice for all medical aspirants - “Be away from all guidebooks”. Further, he feels there will be three things that will be crucial to crack this exam. “Classroom learning, textbooks, and lastly, wherever you are there for your clinical posting, be there mindfully. We are constantly evolving, and I have full confidence in my faculty and their ability to respond to change.”