Nepal Medical Council has recently commenced a computerized exam format for National Medical Council License Examination. Every 4 months, hundreds and thousands of medical graduates from all over the world appear for the exam. The exam has also been criticized for being unnecessarily tough, out of syllabus, and unpredictable. Whatever it is, without clearing the exam you cannot work as a medical officer in Nepal. Hence it is of utmost importance to prepare adequately for the exam and have a sound knowledge of everything you need to know for the NMCLE exam.
Mental Preparation for the Exam
The exam can be easy or hard depending on countless factors. The same set of questions that seems like a mountain to your friend can be an effortless ride for you. It is advisable to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best and doing your best. You have no control over the questions that are being asked. In the book ‘Enchiridion of Epictetus’, the stoic philosopher author states regarding dichotomy of control: “Some things are within our power, while others are not. Within our power are opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, reputation, office, and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing.” Control what you can from your side and stop caring about the rest.
Know about the Exam
Before embarking on the journey to prepare for any exam, it is vital to know about the exam itself. Nepal Medical Council now takes an online digital format exam where you must be present in the examination hall and attend the exam on a computer. Apart from other benefits of this system like less use of paper, you can change your answer multiple times before submission (even that can be known in the retotaling process). Questions MCQs and CSQs are arranged randomly and you may have to constantly switch between the two.
You can give the exam once you have completed at least 6 months of internship from an NMC recognized medical school. In a 3 hours duration exam, the total mark is 180 out of which you must get 50% of the marks to pass the exam. 130 MCQs are asked each of 1 mark and 10 CSQs each of 5 marks. The proposed distribution of marks is as follows:
MCQs 1 mark each
|Subject||Number of Questions|
|Obstetrics and Gynecology||13|
CSQs 1 mark each
|Subject||Number of Questions|
|Obstetrics and Gynecology||2|
Don’t Miss out on less important sections
The exam can get unpredictable at times. Hence it is very important to study for the exam accordingly. Though topics like dentistry and radiology are not directly in the mark distribution, questions can be asked based directly or by linking it with other domains.
It is essential to know that though NMCLE, PG entrance exam, and other similar exams have the same syllabus (the complete syllabus of MBBS), the format of each exam is different. NMCLE and PGMEE are two heavyweight exams that test the entire MBBS syllabus. There is a very significant overlap between these areas of study. However, due to the difference in exam pattern, questions depth, and related factors many books are specially designed for NMCLE though they are equally helpful for other medical exams as well. We recommend the following books for the National Medical Council Licensing Examination:
- NMCLE in a Nutshell
- NMCLE Easy Entry
- Stepping out of NMCLE
- First Aid Step 1
- Sharad Chandra Quick Review of PGMEE
How much time is enough for NMCLE exam preparation?
This is one of the most asked questions but without a concrete answer. The same holds true for any of the other examinations. You can estimate a time duration like 6 months or a year for an exam but you would never know if that would be enough for you. This depends on countless factors and is different for individuals so there is no single black and white answer.
So, it is always better to go for a marathon rather than a sprint race. Start as early as possible. Internship begins with lots of excitement reducing academic workload being replaced with the clinical workload. Start preparing for NMCLE as soon as your internship starts. Many of the topics would just be a revision of your medical school exam preparation. Try to study every single day. Even a few minutes of everyday study will add up in the long run. I know how hectic a duty in an internship can get. We all have been in those shoes sometime back. After an overnight call duty, all you want is to go home, eat and sleep. This is completely fine. Rest. Take care of yourself. Enjoy. Have fun. But also prepare for the NMCLE exam in a parallel manner. This way, you won’t have to make unnecessary sacrifices of pleasures and recreation. Also, you can attend the exam in a cool and calm mind without any last-minute hassles. Have a positive attitude. Exams will come and go. That’s a part of life but the work ethic you will build to prepare for these exams will remain with you forever.
Tips for the exam
In the exam, if you do not know the answer to a question it is better to leave the question rather than spend too much time in it. You can always make an educated guess but if you know nothing about the question and options, leave it for later revision. This is especially true for questions you know nothing about and there will be questions in each exam that could make you absolutely clueless. You can also get a hint about this in other questions or while solving other questions. Read all questions of CSQs before attempting to get a clearer picture. You can always change the answer in a computerized format exam but once you have marked it, you cannot leave it unanswered. Since there is no negative marking, there is no reason to miss any question at all.
What if you fail?
Sometimes, we get so engrossed in the preparation and forthcoming celebrations that we become unable to accept failure once this sets in. It is to make you understand that any event in life is shaped as per countless factors and you would only be controlling a few of the factors. If the worry of failing is constantly bothering you, you can try Dale Carnegie’s technique to overcome the toxic habit.
Firstly, realize what the worst that can happen is. You failed the exam. Alright. Just imagine this for a moment. Accept it for a time being. There are millions of other worse things in life. This is never the end of the world. Just accept it. Then do as much as you can to reduce the occurrence of the worst outcome that you have imagined. Execute what you can and stop worrying or thinking about what is outside your control. Do your best. Pray to Almighty. Provided you continue doing your best, there will always be sunshine one day or the other. There is always tomorrow. This is not to encourage excuses and complacency but to make you realize that there is always hope even when everything else in your life is falling apart.
Always remember- “You, yourself, and doing what you think best matters most than anything else. Everything else is secondary.”
Dr. Anish Dhakal (Dr. Aryan) is a regular contributor in Medchrome and is currently working as medical officer in Pyuthan District Hospital. He is also the author of the book NMCLE in a Nutshell and editor of Stepping out of NMCLE.