Journal of Clinical Ophthalmology and Research

: 2013  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 59--61

Tips and suggestions for appearing in post graduate examination

Anil Kulkarni1, Krishna Prasad2,  
1 Department of Ophthalmology, Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College, Sangli, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Ophthalmology, M.M. Joshi Eye Hospital, Hubli, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Anil Kulkarni
21, Hiremath Plots, Near Vantamure Corner, Miraj, Maharashtra


The article provides practical tips to ophthalmic post-graduates who are appearing for their exit examination. The theory answer paper should be not just knowledgeable but also appropriate, succinct, and presentable. The article suggests ways to approach a question regarding disease, clinical entity or a surgical technique. It has ways to make the theory answer sheet more readable and presentable for the examiner. The practical and viva voce assessment requires the candidate to be suitably groomed, caring to the patient and demonstrate his /her clinical skills aptly.

How to cite this article:
Kulkarni A, Prasad K. Tips and suggestions for appearing in post graduate examination.J Clin Ophthalmol Res 2013;1:59-61

How to cite this URL:
Kulkarni A, Prasad K. Tips and suggestions for appearing in post graduate examination. J Clin Ophthalmol Res [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 Aug 10 ];1:59-61
Available from:

Full Text

Post-graduate medical examinations are held after the entire course of study unlike a semester system where the aspirant has multitude of chances to prove him/herselves. Hence, the students get a phobia (or jitters) about their successful clearance in spite of working sincerely in the clinical department like ophthalmology. [1],[2]

To enumerate and discuss suggestions for the post-graduate students to prepare them for their final Master of Surgery (M.S) or Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Diplomate of National Board (DNB) examination.

These tips and suggestions are from the 30 years experience of the author as teacher and examiner in various universities and are basically directed to work as guideline to the students from the perspective of what the examiner wants and how to deliver it effectively.

These instructions were made part of the DNB revision course conducted by author and are an attempt to give a student an insight to face the examination. The simple tips and suggestions should give some added confidence to the students. Publications regarding objectively structured clinical examinations and post-graduate students perspectives' were considered for this. [3],[4]

 Writing the Theory Paper

It starts with maintaining the front page clean and neat!

Only official entry of roll no. etc is expected. The practice of writing "shree," "somebody prasanna," "tribute to your parents," or some deity who is going to bless you in spite of poor studies needs to be discouraged. Display of personal affiliation or faith is rarely helpful.

Please do not give any instructions to examiners; e.g. my answer is starting from next page, or my question number 4 is written before question number 3, or please refer to page number 12 for further continuation of this answer.

Do not waste paper space. Always leave small but clear left and right margins. Good and legible handwriting has no substitute. Few examiners are interested in deciphering the illegible words or sentences.

Please do not double-space the lines, but no crowding of the letters, and lines should be done either.

Use colored pencils or pens to underline points of importance, which will highlight the answer and draw examiner's attention to the points, which you would like to stress.

It is better to draw diagrams wherever possible; if you are not good at drawing even line, diagrams are also welcome, because one picture is worth many lines and paragraphs.

Please remember that your full text is not read, but few paragraphs will be read as cluster samples.

Hence, direct the examiner to the crux of the matter by highlighting the same either by underline, color, or inverted commas etc.

Do not highlight same words or similar phrases as it gives a clue that you do not know the detailed answer.

If possible, write some things, outside the purview of routine textbooks and give reference for it. This increases the impression that you are well-read and do not restrict to one book just for the purpose of passing.

Please remember that the length of the answer should be proportionate to the marks allotted.

Answers to full question in half page or short note answers in 3 pages are irritants.Do not write same things for lengthening the answer.If you really do not know the details required, add some relevant or related details; a short note on Marfan's syndrome, differential diagnosis of subluxated lenses and its management can be included.If your answer is short, give a impression of decent size of answer by spacing the words, increasing the size of letters, increasing margins slightly, and putting down some line diagrams in the middle of the answer.

If the answer threatens to be too long, reduce margin space, omit descriptions, and convert them to points, number the points to highlight, and direct the examiner to skip the details.

Remember to always start any answer to full question on fresh page.

Answer for second short note may start on same page, provided decent space is kept after the earlier answer to first note.

Do not write bare points; write at least a line to explain or expand; otherwise, it is understood that the answer was copied or written after consulting somebody orally. This usually occurs for the last question, which is kept pending when the answer is not known and in last few minutes, the invigilators are busy in collecting the answer sheets.

All answers should follow a standard pattern e.g. in a disease like Anterior uveitis/Anteriro Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

AtiologyAtiopathogenesisSymptomsClinical signsDifferential diagnosisInvestigations: Non-invasive followed by invasiveManagement: Medical followed by surgicalContra indications for managementComplications of the diseaseSequeleNewer concepts or research etc. e.g. in a surgical procedure likesmall incision cataract surgery/non-penetrating glaucoma surgery

Origin or inventionHistory of persons responsible: Original and/or modifications,DetailsSignificanceAdvantages and disadvantagesResults and comparisons with alternativesFuture directions or modifications expected or in process.e.g. in a clinical entity likediabetic retinopathy/entropion

DefinitionAtiopathogenesisClassificationClinical signs and symptomsInvestigationsManagementResearch and future projectionsDo not overwrite on earlier written matter. Scratch unwanted words with single line and write again. Check for the spellings and grammar. Poor English will diminish the impression about your brilliant subject knowledge. The argument that English is not our mother tongue does not hold good at this level of examination.

Remember to label the question numbers correctly. It is a safe practice to write the question itself before you start the answer.

Write the number of short note as it appears in question paper. E.g. short note no. 2 papillitis. This avoids confusion in the mind of examiner about the exact answer expected and total maximum marks allotted for the same.

Presentation of your paper is also important. Contents will fetch more marks provided examiner maintains interest to go through them. Though it is said that beauty is skin deep, still is admired and appreciated.

 Appearing for the Practical Examination and Viva

First and foremost is to be presentable. This applies equally to both sexes. You can always show more confidence on your face than you feel.

Please do not cry or expect sympathy, it is temporary and mostly irritates the examiner as he starts feeling guilty for no fault of his own!

Wear clean, ironed apron, and display the roll number prominently.

Carry all necessary accessories including pen, pencils, 90 diopter (D) lens, loupe, scale, torch, ophthalmoscope etc.

Do not hesitate to ask for necessary things like cotton, fluorecein strips, strips for Schirmer's test etc. if you do not have them.

Slit lamp examination, retinoscopy, applanation tonometry, indirect ophthalmoscopy, 90 D fundus examination are not investigations, but part of routine examination that must be performed.

Examine the patient with respect due to any elderly person.Ask his/her permission before you start the examination.Introduce yourself and tell briefly what you plan to do.Earn patient's co operation [To say that patient is un- cooperativeis your failure and is always held against you.]A set pattern for history taking may need modifications as you continue your examination. Keep flexibility in adding positive and negative history. Any leading question should have relevant explanation to back the query, and you should be able to explain the logic in eliciting this history. Negative history is equally important to point to a certain diagnosis, and will also show your depth of knowledge regarding the differential diagnosis.

History and complaints need to be selective for the relevance to the present case. [Unrelated history and complaints may be ignored if you have come to a proper and justifiable relevant conclusion]

History and complaints' presentation should be chronologically arranged, and at the end of history presentation, a picture of possible diagnosis should emerge.

Always record all signs truthfully.

Try to fit the diagnosis related to the signs; do not fit signs or modify them to suit your diagnosis.

Majority of the time, your thought process leading to the diagnosis is more important. Always be ready to reason out the points for and against a particular diagnosis. This prevents a trap of set questions when the examiner disagrees with your diagnosis and offers another more plausible one.

It is not desirable to rush to a complete or pathological diagnosis; on the contrary, a clinical diagnosis and its differential diagnosis are more logical. This also keeps you on your toes about the various related questions and their answers; and prevent you from having a one track mind in reference to the only diagnosis you have offered.

It is better to write a complete plan for investigations and management on your paper, but please do not read from the paper, keep it as a reference sheet. Writing makes your thought process smooth and makes your presentation more impressive and confident.

Detail and colored diagram of the case is desirable to facilitate the diagnosis and detailing the relevant findings. It is necessary to use standard color codes and to label the diagram completely and correctly. This gives a better impression, fetches more marks and in case of poor presentation, this will definitely help.

Do not argue with the examiner more than necessary. You may disagree, but don't appear rude or overconfident.

Normally, you are given hints and not wrong leads. Examiners are your well-wishers. Try to accept the clues and logically modify your answers.

Give complete answers to the question, which has been asked. Prompting by the examiner and short answers put together give a feeling of answering more questions, but carry less marks.

Examiners want to know what you know, not discuss about what you do not! Give them a break, and give them clues for the topics you know. If you get a question about which you know better, continue the answer till you are asked to stop. In-depth knowledge of some topics at least gives a feeling that you are well prepared for examination.

Ask for a break if you want to recollect your thoughts and feel confused. Be frank if you do not know the answer so that some other topic can be discussed [which hopefully you will be able to answer]


It is usually easy to pass the examination; it is difficult to fail unless you really try for it.Everybody wishes you good luck; utilize it for the best of your presentation.Spare the examiner from frustration by making the use of teaching programs and your teachers to the best of your abilities.Case discussion amongst your colleagues, your teachers, and prompt reading when you see a case in OPD go a long way in recollecting the required answers during examination and your practice later.


1Sood R. A rational approach for the assessment of clinical competence of undergraduate medical students. J Assoc Physicians India 1999;47:980-4.
2Grover AK. Postgraduate ophthalmic education in India: Are we on the right track? Indian J Ophthalmol. 2008; 56: 3-4.
3Bhatnagar KR, Saoji VA, Banerjee AA. Objective structured clinical examination for undergraduates: Is it a feasible approach to standardized assessment in India? Ind J Ophthalmol 2011;59(3): 211-14
4Gogate P, Deshpande M, Dharmadhikari S. Which is the best method to learn ophthalmology? Resident doctors perspective of ophthalmology training. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2008; 56(5):409-12.