Medical aspirant Karthika G Nair who secured a perfect score of 720 in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Undergraduate), 2021, feels the numerous mock tests during her well-planned preparation paid off well. She is not all surprised after bagging the full marks, 720 out of 720, and thus securing the first rank which she shared with two other candidates.
“It is such an amazing feeling. I always dreamt to be a topper, but never thought that it would be possible for me,” says Karthika, who has her roots in Kannur, but is based in Mumbai.
Excerpts from a Zoom interview
Were you expecting a perfect score?
I was hoping to score more than 680 as I was not sure about a few questions. But after the exam, I checked the answer key and realised that I got everything right.
How was your preparation for the exam?
I relied on NCERT text books and took mock-tests as part of my preparation. This helped me get used to the question pattern. I also set daily goals while preparing. Fixing study hours daily and increasing them over time also helped. I also enrolled for coaching in 2019.
What were the challenges in your preparation and how did you tackle them?
I had two problems: time management and the marking on the OMR sheet. This year there were 200 questions, but one had to attempt only 180. But all that we had to solve the questions, re-check them and mark our response was 180 minutes. Practising mock tests was what helped me here. I did at least one every day. Marking the right responses against the correct bubble on the OMR sheet was also tricky.
Were your studies affected by the pandemic?
I started my preparation in 2019, but within a year, things changed. All my classes were online after the lockdown was announced (in March 2020). Not meeting teachers and friends were hard, but later I got used to it. After that, I could follow my lessons well.
I love Biology and specifically Zoology as remembering the facts in it is easy. At the same time, Physics was the toughest. It involves calculations and I am bad at them. But I had no choice, but to work on them.
You have also managed to score 98.8 percentile for JEE. Tell us about it.
I never aspired to pursue Engineering. It was always Medicine from the start. I did not prepare anything for that exam. I attempted JEE (Joint Entrance Examination – Main) as a practice for NEET and both these are conducted by the National Testing Agency.
Was becoming a doctor always your dream?
Yes, ever since I knew of this profession, I wanted to be one. I believe that it is one of the most wonderful professions in this world. Now, looking at my journey ahead, I feel it would be exciting.
Tips for students preparing for NEET
Take a lot of mock tests. This helps to plan out your strategy and find what works for you. Read NCERT books. Also, attempt to solve question papers of previous five years at least. This helps one get an idea of which topics are more important. Ensure not to get stressed before your test. My parents helped me to address this. They would boost my confidence whenever I found myself under pressure.
What is your plan?
I want to do my MBBS in AIIMS, Delhi. After that, I want to do a PG in Oncology or Neurology. I have not decided on that as I have a lot more time to do that.