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How to deal with Negative Marking in DNB SS

May 9, 2023


Negative marking in DNB SS examination is a considerable change made by NBE that can create a sense of anxiety in the aspirants. The intention of NBE to integrate negative marking is to penalize the ‘guess factor’. PrepLadder is being approached by many aspirants across the country regarding the strategy to deal with negative marking in DNB SS 2018. Thus, PrepLadder bring forth this blog with a view to familiarize aspirants about the suitable strategy one should adopt to avoid losing marks to negative marking. Most importantly, practice as much as you can as practice makes perfect and you are less prone to commit mistakes. Moreover, do not panic and stay positive about this change in the examination pattern. Just believe in your preparation as syllabus is same for the exam and nothing new will be asked. In a survey, candidates were asked what they do when there is negative marking in the exam. About 64% candidates admitted that they leave the questions which they do not know unattempted. About 26% candidates are of view that they decide whether to attempt the question or not after taking a look at the question while rest 5% candidates have attempted all the questions. According to PrepLadder experts, candidates who plan to leave all the unknown questions unattempted might commit a big mistake, as intelligent guesswork may get you a score which can eventually increase your rank.

In an exam with 25% negative marking, you can theoretically be positive even if you guess all the answers. For an instance, if you guess 4 answers and by a 25% chance, you get 1 correct and 3 incorrect. In this case, you earn 1 mark (+4-3). However, this does not mean you continue doing blind guesswork for every question as you might lose more marks and hence, may fail in your attempt. 

For getting a decent rank, you must attempt 150-160 questions in DNB SS. If you have diligently prepared, you will know around 110-120 questions. In this case you will have to guess around 40-50 questions and leave 20 questions that are completely alien to you.

Following are some of the tricks you may adopt while making a guess: 

Carefully go through the question and options:

The most common mistake which many candidates commit is misunderstanding or missing out an important keyword in the question. Thus, most important key to success is reading the question and all the options carefully. Being a competitive exam, it is expected that the options in DNB SS will confuse the aspirants. Thus, before coming to a conclusion regarding an answer, go through all the options, regardless of whether the answer lies in first option or second option. Moreover, carefully look for negative words such as "except", "but", "not" in the question as ignoring these important keywords might change the answer and cost you a negative mark.

Can you eliminate an option?

In an exam with 25% negative it’s advisable to go ahead and guess even if you can eliminate one option. This would give you a higher probability of being positive on all your guesses combined.

Attempt the question or move on:

Avoid wasting time thinking for a correct answer if you are confused or cannot recall the answer. Do not just keep staring the difficult question as time allocation is very important and you might miss the easy questions due to time constraints during the exam. Hence, do not try to attempt the questions in order. There are total 180 questions which you need to attempt in 180 minutes, implying 1 minute for very question. If you feel that you have already spent 1 minute on a question, leave the question instantly and move on to the next.

Marking a question for review

An option “Mark” a question will be provided in DNB SS examination which should be utilized efficiently. Only “Mark” the question for review in which you can eliminate one or two options. Leave the question un-attempted in case you are completely unaware regarding the answer.

“All of the above” is often a correct response

In case you feel that there is more than one correct option for a question, then choose “all of the above” option as most of the time, it is a correct answer.

The Von Restorff effect:

It is always considered that first intuition is always right; however, research has different opinion. As per the Von Restorff theory, the percentage for changing your option “right to wrong” is 20.2%, while the percentage for changing from “wrong to right” is 57.8%, i.e. nearly triple. Thus, it is advisable to change your option if you feel to do so.

Which option should you mark after you have eliminated 2 options?

Many examiners subconsciously feel that the correct answer is “hidden” better if it is surrounded by distractions. So option (b) and (c) are correct in an uneven percentage of questions. Use this trick only if you’ve eliminated 2 options and cannot guess between the other 2 at all.

How to manage time in DNB SS

First 120 minutes: Carefully go through the whole test in the first 120 minutes. During this time: Attempt questions for which you know the answers. Take a guess and Mark them once if you can eliminate one or more options. Leave the question unattempted in case you are totally unaware of the question. It is noteworthy that you have less than a minute for each question at this stage, so, do not get stuck on a question. At the end of this time, let us consider that you confidently answered 110 questions, Answered and Marked 50 questions and left 20 un-attempted. 

Next 40 minutes: During this time, review the paper entirely and go to the questions you “marked” and attempted. In case you feel that you should change the answer to another option, do not refrain from doing so, as per the Von Restorff Effect. At this stage, you have about a minute per question. Thus, utilize this time wisely. 

Last 20 minutes: It is advised to go through the complete exam once again. Be fast and look into the mistakes that you might’ve made. Submit the exam confidently 10 seconds before the countdown ends. 

Practice makes perfect Practice as much as you can at this stage. If you practice mock tests daily, then the chances of negative marking in examination will decrease. The more you practice, less mistakes you will commit in subsequent attempts. Moreover, it will help in developing time management skills and enhancing your speed during the exam. This can further assist is saving time for reviewing the questions. 

PrepLadder is the only platform that has already integrated the new software and marking scheme in its test series. PrepLadder students will get enough practice for tackling negative marking in DNB SS examination. 

Last piece of advice:  Do not be anxious about the negative marking. Prepare well and follow these strategies while believing in your hard work. Remember that this change is for every DNB SS 2018 aspirant and you are not alone. Stay positive and motivated. 

All the Best for your exam!! 

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