PLAB Exam – Syllabus, Eligibility, Exam Pattern, Fees, dates, Study material and Full Process
As a medical student or a junior doctor sitting on a couch thinking about the future, we sometimes dream about what it would be like to pursue postgraduate studies at international universities in the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries.
Anyway, like you, I wish to do my postgraduate studies at a university in the United Kingdom. This isn’t to say that the universities in my hometown are the worst. The reason for this is that I want to do new things, see new places, and meet new people. Two years ago, I heard that you have to take an exam to be admitted as an International Medical Graduate in the UK. That is the PLAB exam.
In order to learn more about the PLAB test, I read all of the PLAB articles on the GMC website, done extensive searches on Google, YouTube channels, and so on…
Finally, I learned everything there is to know about the PLAB test. Also, these pieces of information are hard to find, so I made this blog a one-stop solution for all of your questions about the PLAB. Take a deep breath and a cup of coffee because this is going to be a lengthy journey.
I hope you find this information useful; please let me know if you have any questions in the comments section.
What is PLAB Exam?
The PLAB test is a competitive, skill-based exam that ensures doctors who received their education outside of the United Kingdom have the necessary knowledge and abilities to practise medicine in the United Kingdom.
PLAB is a two-part exam that foreign doctors from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland must pass before they may lawfully practise medicine in the United Kingdom.
The General Medical Council of the United Kingdom is in charge of it.
PLAB Exam Requirements
- Primary medical qualification (MBBS in India) was received from an institution listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools for limited registration is mandatory.
- Passed the IELTS academic modules with a minimum score of 7.5 overall and 7.0 in each of the four language skills.
OET vs IELTS for PLAB
Three types of IELTS exams are there Academic, General, and Life Skills. As doctors to apply for the PLAB exam, we need to concentrate on the IELTS academic exam.
Validity of the IELTS Exam
Cost of the IELTS Exam
$ 230 to 260 (For India it’s Rs. 14,000)
Required score to pass the IELTS Exam
IELTS academic modules should be completed with a score of at least 7.5 overall and at least 7.0 in each of the four language skills.
How long does it take for the IELTS results to be published?
It will take more or less 15 days for the results to be published.
Various parts of the IELTS
- Reading takes 60 minutes and is one of the parts of the IELTS exam. It consists of three or four reading passages that increase in difficulty, with a total of 40 questions to answer.
- You may mark and write on the Question Paper, but you must submit your responses on the Reading Answer Sheet, and you will not be allowed any extra time for doing so.
OET, on the other hand, is simpler in some aspects because it is more oriented toward healthcare, allowing you to use your prior knowledge, terminology, and experiences in this field.
This means you’ll find the writing and speaking sections of the test a little simpler because you’ll be familiar with the scenarios.
You’ll be required to prepare a recommendation letter for a patient during the written examination, and you’ll have to engage with the examiner, who will be playing the part of a patient, during the speaking test.
PLAB Exam Pattern
PLAB 1 is a 3 hour written test with 180 multiple-choice questions that you must answer. Each one begins with a brief narrative and a question. You must select the correct answer from the four options provided.
PLAB 2 is a objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). It consists of 18 scenarios, each of which lasts 8 minutes and is designed to mimic real-life circumstances like as a mock consultation or an acute ward.
Before beginning the 8-minute OSCE in a station, you will be given 2 minutes to read the patient’s history, including all examination details, so that you can diagnose or treat the patient based on the question type.
Part 2 tests run throughout the year at Clinical Assessment Centre in Manchester, England.
It assesses your ability to apply information to patient care rather than your capacity to memorise and regurgitate facts.
All of the questions are based on current industry best practises.
The names of the drugs included in the test are from the most recent edition of the British National Formulary (BNF).
You will enter the exam cubicle and execute the job given after reading the instructions and patient information posted outside each room (2 minutes). When it’s time to move on, a timer will sound.
At least 2 rest stations will be available for you to take a break. The exam will last around three hours.
How will you be tested?
For each scenario, you will be graded on 3 categories or ‘domains’ during the test.
History taking, physical examination, practical procedures, and investigations leading to a diagnosis.
- A simulated patient will be present at the majority of the stations. You should engage with it as if that is a real patient.
- Simulated patient are programmed to show normal and abnormal clinical signs. Sometimes a role player may speak from outside the room using a microphone connected to the simulator.
Steps of PLAB Exam
- First and foremost, you must decide when you will take the PLAB Exam. Obviously, unlike the USMLE, you cannot attend PLAB while studying primary medicine (UG – MBBS in India). You’ll need to complete four years of primary medicine as well as a one-year rotatory internship (If you are an IMG from India).
- After you’ve received your Primary Medical Qualification certificate, you’ll need to take the IELTS exam. Attend IELTS and get a 7.5 band (With a minimum of at least 7 at each skill).
- You are now officially qualified to take the PLAB exam. You can submit an application to GMC.
- Because PLAB 1 is a multiple-choice exam, you should practice as much as possible (Mock series).
- If you pass the test and receive your results, you may apply for the PLAB 2 using your GMC account.
- Apply for EPIC verification and get it approved. It’s an electronic gateway via which the ECFMG verify that all of the papers you’ve provided along with your PMQ are genuine and send the verification to a recognized organization such as the GMC.
- Now that you’ve finished PLAB 2 & EPIC registration, it’s time to apply for GMC registration (Again the option will be available in your GMC account).
- Apply for a Tier 2 Visa (your PLAB or Tourist Visa will not allow you to immigrate).
- Everything has been accomplished, so join as a junior doctor, practice, and earn.
Timeline of PLAB 1 and PLAB 2
Your IELTS score is obviously only valid for two years. This implies you have two years to attend and finish your PLAB 1 and 2.
However, because of the pandemic, the window period has now been extended to three years.
PLAB 1 and 2 can be attempted up to four times. Even if you submit a request to GMC along with a document indicating that you have completed 12 months of extensive training for the PLAB test, GMC will allow you to attend for a final time (fifth time).
PLAB Exam Syllabus
PLAB is divided into two sections, as we already know. PLAB 1 is a three-hour timed multiple-choice test with 180 questions (1 minute for 1 question). PLAB 2 is an OSCE test that lasts around 2 hours and consists of 18 real-life case scenarios (10 minutes for each case scenario & 2 rest points). Let’s have a look at what we’ll need to prepare for the individual PLAB exams.
PLAB 1 exam syllabus
First and foremost, keep in mind that you do not need to study, comprehend concepts, or memorize everything in your preliminary medicine (MBBS in the case of India). This means you don’t have to study all 19 subjects all at once. Obviously, you must have a basic knowledge of everything in your preliminary medicine. However, this does not mean that you must go through everything as you would for your PG examinations (NEET-PG in India).
The PLAB 1 syllabus is available on the GMC’s website. PLAB Blueprint is how they refer to it. Anyway, I made a shortened version of PLAB Blueprint below to make it easier to understand.
- Abnormal blood film
- Bruising/ bleeding/ purpura
- Generalized enlarged lymph nodes
PLAB 2 exam syllabus
PLAB 2 is an OSCE test, as I said before. As a result, there is no set curriculum to follow or diseases to explore. There will be 18 case scenarios to go through in the PLAB 2 test, and you must put in your best effort.
Your diagnostic, investigations, management, and treatment skills will all be sorely tested.
You can pass PLAB 1 without taking a PLAB course, but PLAB 2 seems to be very different from anything you’ve ever seen. As a result, you should practice at a top coaching academy preferably in the United Kingdom.
I suggest that you watch the videos down below to learn more about PLAB 2 examinations.,
Where to find Study Material?
The oxford books might help you prepare for the topics listed above.,
- Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine (OHCM)
- Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialities(OHCS)
You must also complete 1700 MCQs for PLAB 1 by Dr. Khalid in addition to preparing medicine for PLAB 1 on the basis of system, stage, and disease. Most of the time, a few questions from this QBank set will be asked.
For the 1700 MCQs, you can use the PLAB Sush Unity Notes. This will include a subject-by-subject classification of 1700 questions, as well as explanations.
There are also Buzzwords/Clinchers that you may utilize to quickly answer questions once you see the buzzword. With this, you can give extra time to solve other questions.
If you are unable to study alone or require assistance, you may join PLAB Facebook groups, where thousands of individuals are ready to be accompanied by another person.
You may also enroll in the PLAB course, which is one of the most popular in the industry.,
- Samson Plab Academy
- PLAB courses by Dr. Swamy
Apart from all of the things mentioned, taking mock exams is essential for passing PLAB 1. Because time management is one of the most important factors in determining your rank and ability to pass PLAB 1. Mock tests can help you improve your time management skills. You can use PLABABLE as a source for mock exams.
|Resources for PLAB Exam||Important Links|
Oxford books for PLAB
Standard MCQs for PLAB 1 exam
|1700 MCQs for PLAB 1 by Dr. Khalid|
|PLAB Sush Unity Notes||Get the notes|
|Get the Clinchers|
|PLAB exam courses|
Mock test series for PLAB
Facebook groups for PLAB (Access the files sections to get more)
PLAB Exam Fees
You need to know that the PLAB test is more expensive than any other exam you’ve taken before, aside from the USMLE. It’s similar to making a financial investment. An investment with a positive return. Anyway, let me lay out all of the PLAB’s costs for you.
- Passport – £ 20 – 30 (if you don’t have it)
- IELTS ~ £ 150 (payable by a Standard Chartered Bank transfer). If you’re taking OET, it costs ~ £ 300. (These are only exam fees)
- PLAB 1 exam– £ 240. (Only payable by a credit card)
- PLAB 2 exam– £ 879. (Only payable by a credit card)
- Standard visitor visa fees ~ £ 100
- Airplane round trip tickets ~ £ 900
- PLAB 2 Preparatory course fee ~ £ 600 (approximately)
- EPIC Verification, roughly ~ £ 250
- GMC registration fees – for doctors who submit their application within five years of passing a primary medical qualification (MBBS) – £153. If more than that then £399.
- Rent and living expenses in the UK ~ £ 500 to £ 600 / month. Within 6 months of Visa, if you plan the dates of the course and the exam dates well- hopefully, you will have to stay in the UK for 3 months and return home to apply for a Tier 2 visa. So, 4 months cost ~ £ 1650.
- Tier 2 visa (General – Health & Care visa) costs, £232 for a visa up to 3 years. And, £464, for a visa of more than 3 years.
- Police clearance certificate for Tier 2 visa, ~ £ 5
- TB clearance certificate at IOM – £ 65
- The plane fare to go to the UK to start the job (one-way) is ~ £ 400
- Suggested GBP to take with you to survive first one-two months (until you start getting paid) ~ £ 1200.
The whole cost of the PLAB exam, from the beginning to the first month of your salary, will be between £ 6900 and £ 7500. In India rupees, the expenses will be approximately 7 lakhs.
PLAB Exam Dates
The PLAB exam is held four times a year. However, PLAB is only held twice a year in India (in February and November). Also, keep in mind that you may only take the PLAB exam four times. The fifth attempt can be given to consideration by GMC.
These are the tentative dates for the PLAB test in 2021.
|Exam date||Overseas closing date||UK closing date|
|18 February 2021||7 January 2021||4 February 2021|
|20 May 2021||8 April 2021||6 May 2021|
|12 August 2021||1 July 2021||29 July 2021|
|4 November 2021||23 September 2021||21 October 2021|
PLAB Exam Centers
PLAB 1 is conducted in several countries including the UK. The list is,
- United Kingdom
- India – Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi
- Australia – Sydney
- Bangladesh – Dhaka
- Canada – Toronto
- Egypt – Alexandria, Cairo
- Ghana – Accra
- Nigeria – Abuja, Enugu, Lagos
- Pakistan – Islamabad, Karachi
- South Africa – Riyadh, Johannesburg
- Spain – Madrid
- Sri Lanka – Colombo
- Sudan – Khartoum
- UAE – Dubai
PLAB 2 of the test must be taken exclusively in Manchester, United Kingdom.
How to apply for PLAB Visa?
First and foremost, there are two occasions (PLAB 1 and PLAB 2) where students wish to move to the United Kingdom.
As previously stated, it is not necessary to move to the United Kingdom to attend PLAB 1. You may, of course, write it in your own nation.
However, if you want to participate in PLAB 2, you must travel to Manchester because that is the only place where it is held. With this intro, I’ll walk you through the rest of the PLAB Visa application process.
What type of Visa are you going to apply for?
You will need to apply for a basic Tourist Visa.
Where to apply for the Visa?
VFS GLOBAL is the only place where you can apply for your Tourist Visa.
What is the cost of a Tourist Visa to the UK?
Currently, It’s somewhere between $ 135 (Rs. 10,046).
When to apply for the Visa?
Roughly we would suggest applying for the Visa 3 months prior to the PLAB 1 or 2.
What would be the duration of the Tourist (PLAB) Visa?
Usual 6-month duration Visa.
What is the step by step applying for the Visa?
- Complete the online Visa Application on the VFS GLOBAL website.
- Pay your Application fee, which is currently $ 135.
- Upload all your supporting documents for the Visa.
- Then you will attend a Visa appointment.
- You will provide your biometrics afterward.
- Time to wait for the confirmation.
- And Finally, Your Visa arrives.
What are the supporting documents that are needed?
- Proof of Identity
- Passport with at least the next 6 months of validity (Preferred)
- Aadhaar Card (If you are from India)
- Proof of Address – Any document with your Name and Address on it.
- Proof of Sponsorship
- Your bank statement for the last 6 months
- Your sponsor’s bank statement for the last 6 months (Sponsors can be your parents as well)
- Letter from the Sponsor
- Sponsor’s proof of identity
- Sponsor’s Income Tax Return copies for the last year.
- Documents supporting your purpose of visit
- PLAB Exam confirmation
- Accommodation booking in the UK
- Return flight tickets.
- Further Documents that support yourself
- Undergraduate Medical Qualification Certificate (MBBS certificate in case of India)
- Medical license to practice in your country
- IELTS certificate
- PLAB 1 results
- A cover letter with your whole journey from the start to this point
How do you receive your Visa?
Eighter you can choose to send the Visa to your hometown or you can go and collect it from VFS GLOBAL office.
How long will it take to receive the Visa?
More or less 15 to 20 days.
What is the bank balance required?
It’s totally up to you. You will have to calculate how much you are going to spend during your time in the UK and will need to have twice the amount of that in your bank.
You are going to stay in the UK for one week and you think you will spend $ 200 one day, this means $1400 in total for your whole week. Then you will need to show at least $2800 in your bank account.
After PLAB - Joining as a doctor in the UK
The UK has a complicated system of different doctors according to their experience, competence, and knowledge. Let me put this straight in an understandable manner.
Let’s take we’ve completed Primary medicine (MBBS in India) with four and half years of course and one year of compulsory rotatory internship (This may vary for different countries).
But in the UK this MBBS or Primary Medicine degree is obtained straight after 4 to 6 years of course.
They will complete their internship as Foundation doctors for two years (FY1 and FY2). In this period, they will rotate among the general surgical, general medical, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, geriatric medicine, accident and emergency, and psychiatric wards.
After passing the PLAB exam when we enter the UK, we will be at the same level as FY2 Foundation doctors. Following PLAB, there will be several options on how to proceed.
- Starting a non-training FY1 is NOT advisable (Because you are doing the same again and wasting your time)
- Starting in non-training FY2 level is very advisable
- Starting in training CT1 /ST1 level is advisable
- You will be there at Core training or Speciality Training for 2 to 3 years according to your specialty (Completion of CT 1,2,3or ST 1,2,3)
- At this level, you will need to take MRCP/MRCS exams
- Then there will be Speciality training of ST 3+ to ST9
- Now you will be recognized as a General Practitioner or a Consultant
Doctors salary in the UK
In the United Kingdom, a doctor’s gross salary is divided into two parts. Basic pay and Bandings/Enhancements are the two types of pay. Banding is a variable supplement that takes into account the average number of extra hours worked, the sort of work pattern, the frequency of extra duty, and the antisocial nature of the working arrangements.
GROSS PAY = BASIC PAY + BANDINGS
NO BANDING is applicable if a doctor works an average of 40 hours per week and the hours are always Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. That implies they will only be paid the basic pay.
If you work on-call or night shifts, you may easily earn an extra 30-40% (of your basic salary) on top of your basic pay.
Also, depending on which year of training you are in, you will be paid the basic pay regardless of which specialty you are in. This means that a cardiologist and a psychiatrist in the same year of training will receive the same base pay.
The base pay of different trainee and non-trainee doctors is shown in the list below, (per year)
- FY1 non trainee doctor – £ 28,843
- FY2 non trainee doctor – £ 32,691
- Core Trainee doctor – £ 40,000 to 50,000
- Speciality Trainee doctor – £ 50,000 to 75,000
- GP Consultant doctor – £ 70,000 to 90,000
- Consultant – £ 90,000 to 1,10,000
PLAB changing to UKMLA
The UKMLA (Medical Licensing Assessment) is the planned examination for all doctors wishing to practice medicine in the United Kingdom. This will be a requirement for all UK medical graduates and overseas medical graduates starting in 2025.
The AKT (applied knowledge test) and the CPSA (clinical and professional skills assessment) will make up the UKMLA. Both components will evaluate a variety of skills and knowledge.
An aspiring medical student from southern India