Preparing for 2nd MBBS exam in Nigeria; My Experience

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2nd MBBS exam in Nigeria is one of the most dreaded exams in medical school.

This post is based on my medical school experience, and I outlined a strategy I used to prepare for the exam 6 months to the exam week.

2nd MBBS is the first professional exam medical students take in their careers, and that is usually during their 3rd year in school for most med schools in the world.

In my own experience, it was the most dreaded, as it was popularly called the “the rate-limiting exam because it is about the only exam in med school that requires that you must pass at most in two sittings.

So for most medical students, especially average ones like me, we usually are tensed up and will do our best to secure that dream of being a doctor.

But for the brighter ones, it was just the reading they found interesting, every other thing flowed as usual, like any other exam like JAMB or POST UTME.

Also, Read; Why 3rd MBBS is the Least Discussed in Nigerian Medical School

Table of Contents

The Nature of 2nd MBBS Exam in Nigeria

Usually, 2nd MBBS exam in Nigeria takes an average of 18 study months to prepare for; and this includes the lectures, tutorials, practicals, tests, and the actual exam.

I started using this study strategy about 8 months to the 2nd MBBS exam when I thought to pass was nearly impossible for me.

Then, we have taken almost all our tests except for the 3rd test, which usually comes about 3 months to the exam.

By now, if you are conscious enough, you will most probably know whether you will make it through the exam or not.

The 2nd MBBS Subjects in Medical School

Anatomy: 100 Marks involved

Physiology: 100 Marks

Biochemistry: 100 Marks

All three 2nd MBBS subjects are from different departments, and you must pass I.e get at least 50% of the total marks for each to pass the 2nd MBBS Exam in Nigeria.

Also, Read; 12 New Courses for 2021 You May Consider in Nigerian Universities

Anatomy: Made up of:

Gross Anatomy:

Study of human body structures at the macroscopic level: Exams and tests consist of Essay questions, Multiple choice questions, Steeplechase (questions come from the soft tissues and models, as seen during the dissection practicals).


Study of soft tissues. Exams and tests consist of multiple-choice questions (MCQs), Essay questions, and Steeplechase (Identification of soft tissues as they appear in microscopes).


Study of human development. Exams and tests are made up of Mcqs and essay questions.


Study of bones and their connecting structures. Exams and tests consist of Essay questions, Mcqs, and Steeplechase.

Study of human body functions. Exams and tests usually consist of Essay questions, Mcqs, and Practicals.

You will benefit from this Anatomy And Physiology Coloring Workbook Answers


Study of body chemistry. Exams and tests usually involve Essays, Mcqs, and Practicals.

You must have known all these, probably discussed during your 2nd MBBS orientation in medical school, just mentioned them as it would help guide you through the strategy I will share with you to help you pass the exam.

Bear in it in mind that at this point, I had already lost hope to pass.

The scores for my 1st and 2nd tests were barely average, and I was still was not ready to face the main exam.

But I was ready to do anything to circumvent his fate, within the 6 months that was remaining.

So let’s get straight to what I did.

The Strategy that Could Help You Pass Your 2nd MBBS exam in Nigeria

Now, let’s get this straight.

To pass 2nd MBBS is not necessarily dependent on the number of hours you spend studying any of the 2nd MBBS subjects.

But on the number of hours, you actually spent preparing for the exam.

For the other 12 months I spent in 2nd MBBS class, I had this notion of studying to enjoy the courses we offered.

I could spend hours studying different textbooks, and never cared; all I wanted was to be a good doctor when I graduate.

But the funny thing is that med school never allows for such time.

Every hour was meant to be spent efficiently studying what really mattered at the moment.

Also, Read; 16 Personality Types in Medical School

The Basic Steps for Efficiently Applying the Strategy

1. Hunting for Necessary Study Materials

books for 2nd mbbs exam
Gathering books for 2nd mbbs exam

This is where I think having a good relationship with older colleagues, and your lecturers matter a lot.

Because they will guide you into knowing what to read and what not to read depending on the medical school in question.

For example, there are many good textbooks available for anatomy.

But you will notice that your lecturers usually prefer a particular one.

This invariably means that most of their exam questions will be based on the type of language of instruction used in the textbook.

In my case, such study materials for the 2nd MBBS subjects included:

Text Books

Last’s anatomy, Charausia’s anatomy, Frank-Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy, Wheathers histology, Ezeilo’s Physiology, and Harper’s Biochemistry.

Also, Read; Recommended Medical Textbooks and Subjects

Lecture Notes

This included all the lecture materials from the first day in 2nd MBBS class till the day I started implementing this strategy.

In my case, these were more important than the textbook, because they contained the summary of every topic taught in the 2nd MBBS class.

And I barely had just 6 months to go through all that was taught, if I had to pass the exam.

So the materials seemed like a sure way to achieve this.

I will still tell you what I did with the textbooks.

Past Questions and Other Sample Questions From Lectures

Now many students believe that studying past questions is not a sure bet to pass exams, and it works perfectly for some of them.

But in my case, these past questions were my savior.

I believe so because, as of then, I had barely 6 months to prepare, and reading all the textbooks till finish was a wild geese chase.

The real problem with using past questions is not using them the right way.

For instance, most of the past questions you find in most schools (if they are in hard copy), have their answers already marked up.

This can be dangerous if you just rely on the answers marked by another student to prepare for your exams.

It will be wiser, if you actually make out time to study those questions yourself, and find their correct answers.

Apart from the past questions, there were those likely exam questions released by some benevolent lecturers.

I had this habit of not missing a lecture, and I always wrote down those likely questions bearing in mind I was an average student.

If you don’t have these questions, remember that every class always had these over-zealous students that don’t miss a word said by the lecturer.

This is where their friendship should matter most to you.

The Course Outline for various 2nd MBBS Subjects

This was the most important of all, as it would guide you to read within the scope of what was taught in the class.

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2. My Master 2nd MBBS Timetable

So I had all these books piled up.

Medical students could imagine how hopeless it could be looking at their lockers, and seeing piles of study materials they are yet to open.

I needed a plan.

6 months was just too small to cover the study materials, though I have been doing some studies before then.

But I had this valuable strength; I am a planner by nature, and I enjoy working with timetables.

So I started my brainstorming session and came up with three timetables.

Remember that there are three main independent 2nd MBBS subjects; Anatomy, Physiology, and Biochemistry.

And all three have almost the same workloads.

Just that some like physiology is easier to study and understand.

And for anatomy, there are three other courses; gross, histology, and embryology.

So I needed to make sure all grounds were covered.

Also, Read: Tips for studying anatomy in medical school: An Ultimate Guide

The First 2nd MBBS timetable:

This was to help me balance the time I spent on each of the courses because you need to pass all three to enter the next class.

The 1st Timetable – A strategy that could help you pass your 2nd MBBS exam in Nigeria

MAKE-UP STUDY: This simply means that I pick up one or more topics I think I am very deficient in, irrespective of the course, and study them.

The 2nd Time-table for 2nd MBBS exam

This was more like the real master timetable, but for physiology and biochemistry alone.

Remember, I was more focused on passing the exam, not reading for fun.

So I needed to break down the courses into their various components with their exam modules; including the essays, MCQs, practicals, and Oral exams (viva; I didn’t worry much about this, studying the essay questions and practicals should cover this basis).

(6:00am -12:00 pm)
Read through as many topics as I could using just lecture materials and notes. And using textbooks for reference. 
(12:00PM – 6:00PM)
Practice as much MCQs as I could find, including past questions. (Here I used the textbooks to find the appropriate answers to the questions)
(6:00PM – 12:00AM)
Practice one full essay question. Use the remaining time to read a hard topic in the textbook.
The 2nd Timetable – A strategy that could help you pass your 2nd MBBS exams

The last timetable is for Anatomy alone. Statistically speaking, the most dreaded course in 2nd MBBS class.

And from my timetable, I just had 2 days in a week to study it.

DAYMORNING (6:00am -12:00 pm)AFTERNOON(12:00PM – 6:00PM)NIGHT(6:00PM – 12:00AM)
TUESDAYSRead as much as I could in gross anatomy.Practice mcqs for the 4 anatomy courses; histology, gross anatomy, osteology, and embryology.Practice a full essay question, and continue my reading on gross anatomy.
FRIDAYSRead EmbryologyPractice histology slides, and steeple-chase questions.Read histology, and practice a few short essay questions.
The 3rd Timetable – A strategy that could help you pass your 2nd MBBS exams

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3. The Implementation

I know what might be going through your mind; you may miss some days, you can get tired, no one can actually do this for 6 months without breaking down or without missing some days.

Yes, you are right, I did miss many days.

Also, within that period, we were still having lectures going on actively.

So it was not like I studied 18 hours daily without a break.

I watched movies too, ate food, did laundry, and many other activities.

The essence of the timetable was that at every point in time, I already knew what I should be reading.

I knew I had to find time in between free lecture hours, practicals, and other activities.

So the 6 hours in between each of my study periods, were not spent entirely on reading.

Some days I use just 3 hours or less, some, not at all; I miss completely.

That was also part of the reasons why I freed my Sundays. To make-up for the courses, I did not study well.

So the timetables gave me a sense of purpose, and I always had a reminder that I was doing the wrong thing whenever I find myself doing what was not in the timetable.  

4. The Motivation

Motivation for 2nd mbbs exam

Finally, I knew I needed to motivate myself often If I will ever have to follow the timetable judiciously.

Finding the motivation to study as a medical student is not that simple. But at least, even if it is for nothing else, that you will be saving human lives in the future.

But, it will be good if you can find something more about this.

Like not disappointing your sponsors, or something more personal.

I had mine, and it always spurred me into action whenever I remember it.

Finally, remember that this advice is very subjective.

The strategy worked for me, and it could as well help you pass your 2nd MBBS exam in Nigeria, but it’s not the only way out there.

You can as well find what works for you.

Good luck!

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  1. I don’t know If I’m late but thanks for this, will go a long way to help me through medical school.

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