PLAB (Professional and linguistic assessment board exam) is one way an international medical graduate can get a license to practice medicine in the UK. It is an exam many IMGs have on their mind and many medical students in their college years too. It is one of the easiest exams a medical student can take to get a residency in the UK. The PLAB exam scores are also acceptable in other well-developed countries of the world too. The exam basically has two parts but this article is focused on PLAB part 1 and will guide you with everything one needs to know about it. If you have confusions about any term, you can check the links at the end of this article and your unasked questions will be answered.
The PLAB 1 exam puts your ability to apply knowledge for the care of patients to test. Basically, it is much different than what you learn in the first 3-4 years of your medical school so they are of little use. This test checks your on ground skills and knowledge. It does not test how much content you can remember but how much content you already remember can you put to use. The questions asked in the exam are on the level required to be the best in practice in the UK and most of the conditions of health related to the UK environment.
All National and International medical graduates can take part in the exam. Undergraduates cannot sit for this exam, unlike the USMLE. However, some conditions apply. 3 of the most important listed below:
- The School must be listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools
- The Medical degrees from the schools listed below are not accepted by the GMC for PLAB exams so make sure you take a look at the table and recognize your school is not in there
|Saint Maarten (formerly the Netherlands Antilles)|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines|
You may still request the GMC to accept your Qualification if you are from a school in the above-mentioned table by completing a medical school qualification review form given at the end and sending it to the GMC along with any other evidence you have.
3. English Language Proficiency
You must have taken an IELTS or OET (medicine version) exam. This tests your basic English knowledge and eligibility to sit for the PLAB exam as the language used in the UK is English so if you do not know that then you can not make contact with the patients and thus are of no use.
The scores usually required for the IELTS exam are
- at least 7.0 bands in each subject (reading, writing, listening etc)
- at least 7.5 overall
There is another way if you can not take your IELTS or OET exam and that is if your medical school is from a country where the original and first language is English and you have to provide evidence that you have studied all your courses in English, attended hospitals and patients in English language, at least 75% of any course related to clinical interaction was in English language and did not previously took the IELTS or OET exam. They may then let you sit for the PLAB exam.
PLAB exam dates and centres
PLAB 1 exam is taken 4 times a year in the UK and 2 times a year in some of the countries which will be listed below. To apply for the exam you must first register for a GMC Online account and then can check for my tests section. The only test session left for the year 2018 is on the 1st of November with overseas application closing dates set at 20th September and UK closing dates set at 25th October.
The tests are hosted by the British Council outside the UK in the following countries
+880 (02) 861 8905
+20 2 3001666
+233 (0)30 2610090
+91 044 42050600
+91 044 42050600
+91 044 42050600
+91 33 282 5370
+91 22 6748 6748
+91 11 4219 9000
+234 1 2692188 / 2692189 / 2692190 / 2692191 / 2692192
+92 51 111 424 424
+92 51 111 424 424
+96 612 657 6200
+27 11 560 9300
+94 4521 500
+249 (1) 87028000
+971 4 3135556
Once you have booked a centre for your exam. The GMC will send you a confirmation email. If you do not receive it or have any errors you may contact the GMC for further information.
Cancelling or changing the exam date
If you wish to change or cancel the exam date you will have to
- Cancel it in your my tests section of the GMC account
- Pay the cancellation fee which is
- No cancellation fee if you cancel it more than 83 days before the exam
- 115 Euros if you cancel it between the 83rd and 57th day before the exam
- 230 Euros if you cancel it anytime after less than 57 days remain for the exam.
- If you are ill at an exam and cannot use your brain efficiently you must immediately tell the invigilator. An ill attempt does not count as an attempt so they have this concession too.
The PLAB 1 is a lot different than all other Part 1 exams like the USMLE step 1 or AMC step 1. It centers around problems that you will face in the UK hospitals, does not revolve around books that you read during your medical school but mostly on clinical practice (closely related to what you study during your Foundation year 2 or house job) like acute conditions or important emergencies but, does not go into a lot of detail either like that of a general practitioner.
Basically, there are four domains that the PLAB examiners expect you to be good at
- Knowledge, skills and performance
- Safety and quality
- Communication, partnership and teamwork
- Creating trust
The exam is made up of 180 Multiple choice questions (MCQs). All of which must be answered within 3 hours. Each question is like a scenario and has 5 different answers but only one of them is correct. Below is a sample paper with the instructions given to solve the paper
There is a sample paper questions link at the end of the article too.
The GMC number in the paper above is provided to you after you have made your GMC account online and is requested upon arrival at the exam centre.
Only a pencil, eraser and sharpener should be used on the exam sheet and not any pen. Calculators and stuff that can help you during the exam are strictly forbidden but water bottles can be brought along. You will know all the precautions during your exam too as the GMC staff will guide you.
Results and Scores
Test results are available within seven weeks after your exam. You will receive an email that will give you access to your result in the “my tests” section of your GMC online account so do not forget your password and ID. There are no calls or faxes sent about the result but only by email.
You are scored based on three domains
- Applying knowledge and experience to clinical practice
- Good clinical care assessment
- Good clinical care management
Each correct answer is worth one mark and the total score is based on that. With your results, they also tell you the passing score and the fail score for this year. Each year the passing score is changed according to the test standard and how students have performed.
Number of attempts
You can attempt the exam a maximum of four times. You can apply for one final attempt after 12 months of your fourth attempt during which you should have
- Completed 12 months of clinical practice or
- Completed a post-graduate degree
- They will contact your institution for your record too if you have been good at practice and exams.
- You can find the application form for submitting a request for an additional attempt at the end of this article.
You can recheck your scores by writing an email or post within 28 days of receiving your results. there is a charge for rechecking of results
- 45 Euros
It is not a rechecking of your whole examination but a sort of rescoring that whether you have been scored correctly on all 180 MCQs or not.
What to do after the results
If you have passed then you can immediately apply for PLAB 2 using the dates provided in the GMC website.
- You have to take PLAB 2 within 2 years after you PLAB 1 exam as after that your results are expired.
Filing a complaint
You can file any kind of complaint regarding the exam or procedure at [email protected]
PLAB 1 Fee
- The total fee for PLAB 1 is 230 Euros
- No fee for the first two attempts at PLAB 1 if you are a refugee doctor living in the UK.
That’s about all the info you need for PLAB 1 exam. Below are all the links mentioned in the above article. Leave your questions in the comments below. Thankyou
- World directory of medical schools
- PLAB 1 pass rates
- Sample questions
- Medical School Qualification Review form
- Request for an additional attempt form
- PLAB 1 review in an instant
- PLAB 2 a short guide
- GMC registration pathways to practice medicine in the UK