How to Study Physiology for NEXT-PG / NEET-PG / INI-CET / FMGE – Study Tips and Strategies, Books & Important Topics

how to study physiology

Hey there! Physiology is one of the key conceptual subjects in medical school preparation. While it is fun to dive deep into the subject and immerse yourself in the conceptual world of Guyton-Hall and Ganong and Costanzo, it can become time-consuming very quickly.
For this reason, Physiology preparation can be over-whelming and can drain you mentally, while preparing for NEXT, NEET, USMLE or any other medical entrance exam. And, in my years as a medical educator, I have been asked this so many times.
How much time to devote to Physiology?
How deep to dive in the physiologic concepts?
How many days to study physiology for?
What books to read ?
Where to solve physiology MCQs from?

So here is what I am going to do.
In this article, I am going to jot down all study tips and preparation strategies I used to study and revise Physiology in my internship year. I will also enlist the books that helped me the most. And nowadays, since we have several educators on different platforms teaching through online lectures, I will also pen down their details. Finally, I will also give you a good working Action Plan/Schedule to complete your Physiology preparation in 10 days.

(This article is for Physiology prep for PG entrances. If you are a newbie medico, just starting out with medical school, you might find this article more relevant – How to study Physiology in First Year MBBS).

At the outset, Physiology is a high-yield subject. Every year, more than 10-15+ MCQs are directly asked in medical entrance exams. Also, there is an overlap of physiology with clinical subjects like medicine and paraclinical subjects like pathology and pharmacology. So a good working knowledge of physiology and a deep understanding of the concepts is going to help you in many questions in the exam, besides making you a better doctor overall.

If you study a Physiology review book well once, solve the Q-Bank of 1200+ questions and revise it all once, you have a realistic chance of scoring 100% in Physiology MCQs in NEET-PG or NEXT.

10+ MCQs Physiology MCQs will appear in NEET and you will be able to answer all of them with one “study and solve”. Those are great odds.
(Subjectwise distribution for NEET-PG is detailed in this article here)

And to complete the whole syllabus of Physiology for NEET-PG, 9-10 full days should be enough. This is the reason Physiology is considered a high-yield subject for NEET.

Read on to find out how to score a 100% in Physiology in NEET-PG.

Table Of Contents

Step 1 – Make a study plan

How many days should you devote to Physiology preparation?

10 days of Physiology preparation is the ideal duration. By giving less than 10 days, you might not be able to read and solve all topics. By giving more than 10 days to Physiology , your output is not likely to increase tremendously. (Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule says that).

Study for 10 days using this action plan that we describe below and you will be better prepared in Physiology than a vast majority of your competition.

After these 10 days, even if you spend <5 mins daily practising 5-10 MCQs, you will be able to revise Physiology much faster and efficiently.

Even one or two days of revision in the last month before NEET-PG, will hold you in good stead!

Total days for Physiology preparation = 8 days for first reading + <5 mins daily + 2 day for Revising = 10 days

10 days for 10 / 10 in Physiology !!

10 days for 10 / 10 in Physiology !!

Where to read Physiology from – Review books, Online videos and Question Banks?
The second part of your study plan : You need to decide whether you will be reading from a review book or from an app / online platform. Honestly, both options are equally good and it boils down to your personal preference and learning style. You can also have a hybrid approach where you read from the book, solve MCQs from the app and watch video lectures for some of the more difficult and volatile topics.


Also, you don’t have to stick with the same approach for all subjects. You may be strong in some subjects and you will realize that reading from a review book is faster and more efficient. On the other hand, you may be weak in some subjects and watching video lectures might help you with the concepts.

So this decision of where you want to study Physiology from, I will leave up to you. Just a word, whichever method you choose, is good. It doesn’t really make a difference. All that matters is that the important Physiology information goes in your head, and stays there till the end of the exam.

Step 2- Choose the Best Books

Which books to read for physiology preparation for NEET-PG ?

I personally read from the books and I think books are more time-efficient as you can maintain the study speed that suits you.

With video lectures, you basically have to go with the educator’s speed and that can be a bit less efficient, at least it was for me.

(Do note that some of these links are affiliate links. As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you.)

(Click on the image to check it on Amazon)

Ganong’s Review Of Medical Physiology

Physiolology is one subject where reading a textbook can give you a great advantage. We used to have questions that were direct sentences from Ganong. So i highly recommend everyone read this during First year MBBS, and if you did read it, it’s time to revise it in your internship year. However, if you didn’t read Ganong during MBBS, I would NOT recommend you read it in internship. I still think reading General Physiology will help though.

If you read Guyton-Hall or any Indian authors like Sembulingam or A K Jain, you can revise from those books too. Although Ganong really gives you the extra edge. Since physiology is all concepts, reading a textbook will also help you understanding the disease mechanisms and pathophysiology in medicine and clinical subjects.

Do not forget to solve the MCQs given at the end fo each chapter in Ganong. Several NEET and AIIMS questions over the years have been framed from these.

(Click on the image to check it on Amazon)

Review of Physiology by Soumen Manna

Review of Physiology by Soumen Manna is the best one for NEET, NEXT, INICET and Indian exams. The question bank is comprehensive and the explanations are also on point. The review before each section is also elaborate. Although I prefer the review given in BRS physiology.

My strategy would be to read the text from BRS Physiology and then solve the MCQs from this book. That way, you will also be able to get some new points and your revision will be better.

BRS Physiology

Boy oh boy, I love BRS. I can recommend every single book published under the BOARD REVIEW SERIES. While it is actually a review book for USMLE preparation, but it provides the concepts in such a crisp, precise manner that I used to love reading it. Also, because the new pattern of NEET/NECT/INICET/FMGE focusses on the USMLE-style questions based on Clinical Vignettes and case scenarios, books like BRS can give you a great edge.

However, do note that this book doesn’t have MCQS, it is simply a comprehensive review of physiology. So you will need to buy a book for MCQs separately (eg Soumen Manna or Arvind Arora)

BRS Physiology is amazing. Period.
Dr Costanzo is a medical legend. Period.

Self Assessment & Review Of Basic Subjects : Physiology & Biochemistry by Arvind Arora

This is also a good review book in Physiology with a comprehensive question bank with detailed explanation.
You can buy this in place of Dr Soumen Manna physiology review. They are almost the same with respect to review and explanations.

(Click on the image to check it on Amazon)

CRISP – Physiology 4th Edition by S Krishna Kumar

This is another alternative to Arvind Arora’s or Soumen Manna’s book. It is just as good and the concepts and line-diagrams are decent. It also has an integrated approach , meaning concepts with overall with other subjects like pharamacology, pathology and medicine are explained simultaneously.

If you are in first MBBS, I would recommend this book for you, over Dr Manna or Dr Arora’s books.

If you are an intern , all three books(Dr Manna or Dr Arora or CRISP by Dr Kumar) are pretty much the same. You can choose any one.

If you are an intern , all three books(Dr Manna or Dr Arora or CRISP by Dr Kumar) are pretty much the same. You can choose any one.

(Click on the image to check it on Amazon)

Physiology by Linda Costanzo

If you are an intern or have completed first year MBBS, then maybe these two books are not for you.

If you are a first year medico, I would like to recommend two great physiology books. I talked about how Dr Linda Costanzo is an absolute legend (she is author of BRS Physiology).

While BRS Physiology is a quick review book, this book here is a textbook of physiology by Dr LInda Costanzo. And boy, is this a great book!!

I personally think this book makes physiology so much fun to read. I recommend this over Ganong’s phyiology textbook as your main book.

(Click on the image to check it on Amazon)

Physiology Cases and Problems (Board Review Series) by Linda Costanzo

The second book that I really liked in my first year MBBS is this book on Cases and Problems in Physiology. It has case based questions and some of those are actually very high level, but I enjoyed the explanantions.

Again this is not very relevant for Indian exams, but if you are a geek who loves physiology (like I was !!), then this is quite an interesting read.

Step 3 – Choose your Educators and Faculty
Best Educators for Physiology for NEET/NEXT/INI-CET?

Now, with respect to online learning, you basically have several good options.
You can choose any one of these

  • Marrow
  • Unacademy
  • PrepLadder
  • DAMS
  • Egurukul by DBMCI
  • MedMiracle
  • DocTutors

As you can see, there are a ton of options to choose from, and there are pros and cons of each platform. Each platform/app has highly qualified teachers and educators, and to choose the right one for you can be a bit overwhelming. Some platforms(eg PrepLadder) let you buy only the subjects that you want. So say you want to learn Physiology from PrepLadder, you do not have to buy access to all 19 subjects. Basically, they have individual subject apps that can be purchased separately. On the other hand, platforms like Marrow require you to pay for all subjects upfront, so you are locked with them.

I personally think Unacademy + PrepLadder combination is a great option. Here, you can watch the pre-recorded video lectures from PrepLadder and at the same time, you have access to live lectures by Unacademy educators. Another benefit with Unacademy is that you have access to two or three educators for each subject. This is an amazing advantage as you can learn different topics from different educators. Every educator has a different speed and style and you will be able to find the one who is most in sync with your learning style. That can make a world of difference.

Step 4 – Choose a Question Bank / MCQs for Practice

Firstly, understand that MCQ practise is the most important aspect of your preparation. Whether you read a textbook or review book, or learn through videos, that is up to you, and won’t make a difference. But solving MCQs well is going to make a world of difference to your final result/outcome.

Again, with respect to MCQ practice, you have two options.

  1. Review books (as mentioned earlier)
  2. Question Bank apps / platforms like Marrow, Unacademy, PrepLadder, Unacademy, DocTutors, MedMiracle, etc

Overall, Marrow and PrepLadder have the most comprehensive question banks, and you will be good to go with either of the two.

Unacademy Plus for NEET has the benefit of Live interactive quizzes and discussions, which can help you be more accountable. I would personally choose the Unacademy + PrepLadder subscription as it can give you the best of both worlds (i.e. Question Bank + Live Quizzes).

The benefit of solving a MCQ book (as mentioned above) are that revisions can be so easy and effective. I used to mark the questions that I answer incorrectly with a red circle. So in my revision, I would only solve the ones with a red circle around them. That way I would be able to revise much faster. If again, I answered the red marked questions incorrectly, I would highlight the question, telling me that I need to revise it again in my next reading.

Well, you can use these online platforms the same way too, as you can bookmark the difficult questions for revision.

Physiology overall has a Question bank of 1500 MCQs. Solving 200 MCQs a day is easily possible. (How many MCQs should I study for NEET-PG every day?). If you read ‘retrograde’, you can finish the whole question bank in 7 days.

Several students have asked me if only solving the MCQs is enough for Physiology ? Well, it depends. Do you have time constraints , and you have not been able to touch Physiology at all? Then solving MCQs is the best solution for you in this time crunch. Better solve MCQs than ignore Physiology completely. Leaving a big subject like Physiology completely is very, very risky.

However, if you don not have a big time crunch, as I have outlined earlier, (antegrade vs retrograde-which is better) , you should add a day or two of antegrade preparation before you begin retrograde. Read the introductory text in the beginning of each chapter quickly in one day. This first day you are not trying to learn everything. Your goal is to acquaint yourself with the important topics in the subject and to familiarize yourself with the subject.

Here, in these first one-two days of preparation, you are not trying to learn or memorize. You are only trying to skim through the facts, focusing on bold and italicized points and oft repeated points.

So now that you have decided the resources that you are going to use, let us look at the actual action plan/schedule to complete Physiology preparation.

Step 5 : First Reading

Step 5A : Day 1 – Getting started – Introduction phase

Your first goal is to acquaint yourself to the syllabus, the chapters and sub-topics and the  number of MCQs per chapter and sub-topic. Make a mental note of the most important and high yield chapters and topics. This should take around an hour.

If you want to save an hour of your time, read this list instead where I have broken down the Physiology syllabus into the most important topics and sub-topics for you. (You’re welcome )

Important Topics in Physiology for NEXT and NEET

Topic-Wise Weight Age for Medical PG Entrance exams

  1. General Physiology
  • General Physiology and Nerve muscle physiology are super-important. Since individual system physiology is also covered in medicine but General Physiology is not, you must give extra time to general physiology.
  • Aspirants must emphasize on topics like cellular basics like Diffusion and transport mechanisms etc under General Physiology

  1. Nerve- Muscle Physiology
  • Most important topic in Physiology is Nerve Muscle Physiology.
  • Toppers highlighted that at least one question is asked from topics like the generation of Action Potential and Types of fibres under Nerve Muscle Physiology
  • Do not confuse Nerve muscle physiology with entire neuro physiology. You do not need to study the entire neuro physiology.
  • Generation of action potentials, gamma fibres, alpha fibres, muscle spindle physiology are all very important topics.
  • Under Muscle spindle physiology you must not miss out on basic anatomical constituents and innervation.
  • Knee jerk, withdrawal reflex, reciprocal inhibition, size principal, plasticity of muscle fibres are all very important.
  • Topics like α-γ co- activation fibres, working of static fibres and dynamic fibres, Rheobase, Chronnaxiae and mechanism by which heat generation takes place, etc must be thoroughly prepared.

  1. Exercise Physiology
  • Exercise Physiology also carries high weight age in Medical PG entrance. This is a topic that most people tend to miss.

  1. Other important topics in Neuro Physiology are are Memory, Learning and Speech
  • Under Sleep Study, questions have been asked from EEG since the last 4 years consecutively
  • Aspirants need to know how to compare EOG, EMG and EEG for normal awake state, deep sleep and REM sleep.

  1. CVS
  • Conduction Physiology, Cardiac Cycle

  1. RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
  • Hypoxia, Spirometry, Oxygen Dissociation Curve, Altitude Physiology 

  1. RENAL 
  • Nephron Physiology

  1. ENDOCRINE
  • Hormones , Reproductive Physiology 

SECTIONTOPCIS
General PhysioTransport processes,
Body fluid compartments
Nerve MuscleSarcomere
Energetic in muscle
CVSCardiac cycle
Pressure & volume changes during cardiac cycle
Cardiac output
RSLung volumes & capacities
V/Q ratio
Oxygen transport and 02- dissociation curve
Respiratory center
Effects of lesions
Excretory systemClearance
GFR
Tubular functions & counter-current
Micturition and bladder types
GITComposition of juices
GI hormones
Endocrine & reproductivePituitary (GH)
Thyroid
Insulin
Receptors of the hormones
Testosterone & estrogen actions
CNSNeurotransmitters
Ascending tracts
Cerebellum
Hypothalamus
Sleep and EEG
Special SensesVisual pathway
Eye movement
MiscellaneousCardio-respiratory changes in exercise
Effects of high and low barometric pressures

Step 5B : Day 1 and 2 – Skimming Phase

You now are aware of the areas in physiology that are often repeated in NEET-PG, NEXT-PG, INI-CET or FMGE. These topics are high-yield and need more attention.

For the next 3-4 hours, your goal is to skim through the pages of the review book.

You are not trying to memorize anything now. You are simply turning the pages and highlighting the “keywords”.

What are keywords ? These are bits of information that are asked as direct one-liners. Basically, keywords are facts and factoids that you absolutely need to know.

NEET-PG one-liners are often direct or indirect sentences that test your knowledge of these keywords.

Your goal in the skimming phase is to highlight these keywords.

This is possibly the easiest thing to do and yet it is the most important and high-yield task in your preparation.

You should highlight the important keywords, the ones that have been asked in  the past as these are Direct repeats. However, look out for the potential new ones that have not been asked yet, but could be tested.

 Do not try to understand concepts at this stage. Do not even read paragarphs. In the first day, we are only identifying keywords.

In your final revision, you will ideally be revising these keywords again in the last one month before NEET-PG. So your goal is to highlight only the most important keywords.

Remember : This is a review book you are reading, it is not a coloring book !!

This is only a one day plan. No more, no less.

However, this one day will speed up your preparation for the next 7 days, where you actually have to consolidate concepts, understand pathophysiology and disease mechanisms.

Step 3C : Days 3 to 8 – Study and Solve

So after your first day of High yield preparation, you have a solid idea about important topics and you are aware of the keywords in each topic.

Now is the time to build up on your knowledge by reading the complete text in the review book, followed by solving those MCQs and finally reading through the explanations. How many MCQs in a day ? 200 MCQs should be your goal so you will be able to revise the complete question bank in 7 days.

Let me repeat it for you – first, read the text (or watch the video lectures), secondly, solve the MCQs and finally, read the explanations.

NOTE : when solving MCQs, mark the questions that you answer correctly with a different marker. These incorrect questions will need to be studied again; I will come to it in a while.

This way when you solve the MCQs, you will be able to test the knowledge you just acquired and then, when you read the explanations you will be able to revise the knowledge you have acquired.

The idea is that your first reading is immediately followed by a Test and a quick revision.

Every NEET-PG topper will vouch for  the importance of revisions for success in NEET-PG. The best part of this  strategy is the fact that you are able to revise once, immediately after you have acquired new knowledge.

Alternatingly, if you have joined a class (like DAMS) or an online coaching platform (like Marrow or Prepladder), your schedule will be slightly different. If you are using video lectures instead, the strategy is similar. Watch all the videos in one section, take notes while you are watching the videos and then once you have watched one section, attempt the MCQs from that section. Bookmark the questions that you answered incorrectly or you couldn’t answer confidently. Also read the MCQ explanation rapidly. Speed reading is the key. No point of reading it in all details when you already have read that topic.

This is a section-wise or topic-wise approach. Another efficient approach is that you watch all video lectures in 2-3 days, take notes and then solve MCQs. SO, you will have to devote 2 full days initially, to either attend the offline class or watch all the online videos through the apps. The goal should be to finish watching all the videos as soon as possible.

The rest of the plan is the same as outlined earlier, where you should attempt to solve 200 MCQs and read those explanations.

Some tips to remember when you are reading subjetwise :

1 ) Focus on Images and Image-Based Questions – While Theory is important, Physiology without images and diagrams is difficult to process. Pay extra attention to the graphs, charts , diagrams and tables as they are often asked as image based questions in physiology.

Also, at the end of your reading, test yourself on Image based questions from either Photon or Final Edge. (Great books for Image based questions)

2) Focus on CLINICAL VIGNETTES and Questions – With the changing pattern of NEET, NEXT, INICET and FMGE, the focus is now on Clinical vignettes and Clinical case based scenarios. So you need to focus on the clinical presentation and management of the conditions. Follow an integrative appproach.

3) Pay attention on numbers and units – Numericals are a favorite testing point in the exams. Note down the normal values with units , so that you can revise these frequently.

Step 6 : First Revision : Revising your newly acquired knowledge

At this stage, you have devoted 8 days for Physiology preparation – DAY 1-2 for getting acquainted to the syllabus by skimming through  and DAYS 3 to 8 for solving the MCQs and reading the explanations.

I highly recommend that before you jump to the next subject, you must spend one more day with Physiology. This is for two reasons :

  1. Consolidate your knowledge – the ideal time for first revision is as soon as you complete your first reading.
  2. Eliminate your weaknesses – When you were solving MCQs, I advised you to mark your incorrect questions with a separate marker, and to read those explanations in details. Now is the time to test these questions again. Now is the time to eliminate those weaknesses forever.

This one day will be worth the time and effort, especially when you are revising the whole syllabus before the exam. You will see that your retention and recall is highly efficient.

Step 7 : Review and Revision : Retaining your knowledge

Now that you have revised once, you will feel confident that you have completed Physiology well.

When you are giving grand tests, you will be happy to notice that you are answering most of the questions correctly based on your retention.

It is possible that you are not able to recall some facts and are getting those questions wrong.

Now your goal must be to mainatin the knowledge you have acquired. DO NOT neglect this subject for 5-6 months because it will simpy evaporate. I highly recommend that you join one of the Telegram channels/groups (there are so many of them). They keep posting MCQS and high yield content regularly. Just by giving 5 minutes every day to these groups, between your study sessions and during your breaks, you will be able to revise your knowledge.

This is exactly why I created my telegram group  (Why Telegram and not whatsapp?) (Best medical Telegram groups to follow for NEET-PG). I am an ophthalmologist and focus on ophthalmology only on my group but similar to mine, there are several other subjectwise groups you can join.

Summary

To summarize, Physiology has 10+ MCQs in NEET-PG.

You can easily score 10/10 in Physiology by devoting 8 days initially and one-two day in the last month before NEET, and by answering the MCQs daily on Telegram or whatsapp groups.

I recommend a similar approach for all subjects.

Ok, that’s it. I hope you found those tips and strategies valuable. In my experience, those strategies and tricks have worked for everyone who has stuck with them, and have yielded positive results for them. Everyone studies differently, so you may see that some tips are more useful to you than others. Also, you may realize that some topics are your strengths while some may not be so. So you will have to spend more time on some subjects, and that is perfectly alright. The time frame and schedule is just an optimum guideline to keep you on track. It is good to have a mechanism of feedback , to know whether you doing well or you need to speed things up. All said and done, try to follow this to your best ability. If something isn’t working, just go ahead, surely tweak and modify the plan, according to your needs and preferences. Do let me know if you have any queries in the comments below.


At the end of the day, all that matters is that you keep marching ahead, one step at a time, towards that coveted medical post-graduate seat of your dreams! 🙂

Happy dreaming, Happy Studying!

Best,
Dr PKJ

Hello there! I am Dr PKJ (Pankaj Kamal Jeswani).
I am an ophthalmologist by profession and medical educator by passion. I teach Ophthalmology to medical students, preparing for NEXT, INI-CET and other medical entrance exams. I love mentoring young medical minds and helping them in their medical journeys.
Do check my Ophthalmology preparation group on Telegram.



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