Tips for DNB Theory examination - Do's and Dont's

how to pass DNB exams

There is a long miss understood notion that passing DNB exam is a difficult task.

Why DNB passing is difficult?

One of the several reasons why DNB is difficult to crack is probably the differences between Examiners' expectations and what the postgraduates deliver during these examinations. 

Here is more on why DNB exams are difficult.

The post is an attempt to reduce the gap of understanding between the examiner and the students pursuing DNB in Pediatrics. 

What can be better than directly listen to the examiner about what the expect. I will try to sum up the advice of Dr Janani Shankar who is a part of examiners team for NBE since long. You can consider this as if she is speaking to you!

Do's and Dont's for writing DNB theory paper

Based on my observation in the recent examination, I will try and focus on the things which I found to be missed by many of the student, in answer sheets.

Lets first try and understand the pattern of the DNB Theory exam

There are 4 papers

  1. Paper-I –Part A & Part B
  2. Paper-II –Part A & Part B
  3. Paper-III- Part A & Part B
  4. Paper-IV – MCQ (Changed back to theory during covid 19 pandemic)

Each Paper is for 3 hours which includes Part A & Part B (75 minutes for each part)

There are 5 questions in each part with 10 marks for each question and hence 50 marks for each part.

Each question can have 2 parts a & b with the 10 marks divided as 5+5 OR4+6 OR 6+4.The questions a & b are usually related and is from the same topic and hence marks are given together for 10.

These are the thing you must do while attempting theory question papers


  1. Please read the question paper carefully (most do mistakes here )
  2. Write the question number and the part a or b clearly (eg:1a ,1b)
  3. Write 1 – 5 in order
  4. Write legibly
  5. Highlight the important points with colour pens. (There is no problem using these)
  6. Write in points, bullets
  7. Use flowcharts, tables and diagrams wherever possible.
  8. Time each question for 15 minutes.

These are the thing you must avoid while attempting the papers


  1. Do not jumble the questions or parts.
  2. Do not highlight in red color
  3. Do not write in paragraphs
  4. Do not waste time in writing one question for too long a time
  5. Do not write in a bad handwriting, doesn't mean you should have very good typography but clear writing

Finally, keep practicing the DNB old theory papers initially without time limits, slowly moving toward setting time limits for writing. Start with one or two questions and then move toward attempting the whole paper. 

Nothing is as good as practicing over and over again. This will give you confidence while attempting in the exam also

You can find the full details of this discussion by Dr. Janani Shankar here.

Evrything related to DNB exams


about authors

Dr Janani Shankar | DNB (Pediatrics) PhD MNAMS

Dr Janani Shankar is a senior consultant in Pediatrics and Pediatric Infectitious diseases at Kanchi Kamakoti Child Trust Hospital, Chennai, India. She is involved in teaching activities conducted by NBE across the country for many years and also an examiner for the DNB Pediatrics exam conducted by NBE

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