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.

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. 

The National Board of Examination arranges CME's from time to time for this. However the frequency of such programs is not great and not always everyone is able to attend these, given the busy schedule in residency.

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!

Let us start

These are a few Do's and Dont's while writing for DNB Pediatrics theory

Based on my observation in the recent examination, I will try and focus, very briefly, on the things which were found to be missed by most of us, 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

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 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 detail of this discussion and more by Dr. Janani Shankar here.

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About Authors

Dr Janani Shankar | DNB Ph.D. MNAMS

Dr Janani Shankar is a senior consultant in Pediatrics and Pediatric Infectious 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