November 19, 2010

Understanding Medical Exams: PLAB 1 and 2


The Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) Test is designed to assess your knowledge and skills, and your ability to work safely in your first appointment as a senior house officer in a British hospital. It is the main route by which International Medical Graduates (IMGs) demonstrate that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to practise medicine in the UK.

The General Medical Council by this test assures that the individual is fit to be granted a limited registration in the UK. Limited registration allows medical practise in supervised employment in the National Health Service. The test consists of two parts - Part 1 and Part 2. Part one is held at centres in the UK and in certain other countries, while Part two can only be taken in the UK.

Part one
The first part consists of a single computer markable paper to a standard set using the Angoff method.

For more on the Part 1 test, download the PLAB Test: guide to part one.

Part two
The second part consists of a 14-station objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). This tests both clinical and communication skills.

For more on the Part 2 test, download the PLAB Test: guide to part two. For further information, see the Objective Structural Clinical Examination (OSCE) briefing video.

Results are either 'Pass' or 'Fail'. Candidates who pass will receive, along with their results, an application form and information pack on part one of the Test. Candidates who fail part one of the Test may re-apply.

For more information visit the 'registration' section of the GMC website (see below).

Qualifications required for PLAB
  • A primary medical qualification (PMQ) for limited registration. Please check the GMC website to see if your qualification is acceptable.
    Allowed qualifications are those listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools published by the World Health Organization.
  • Relevant scores in the IELTS test (academic module): a minimum of 7.0 as an overall score and 7.0 in each of the other sections – speaking, listening, academic reading, academic writing. See "Required Minimum IELTS scores for PLAB changed".
  • At least 12 months’ postgraduate clinical experience in a teaching hospital, or another hospital approved by the medical registration authorities in the appropriate country (PLAB can be taken without this experience, but the candidate will only be granted limited registration at the grade of House Officer - the grade occupied by new medical graduates).
Please Note :
  1. You may not enter second part until you have passed the first part. You must also take the second part within three years or four attempts after passing part 1.
  2. If for any reason you want to postpone/ cancel your examination, please get in touch with GMC on their website.
  3. All PLAB Part 2 exams will now be held in Manchester only. For more information please visit the Clinical Assessment Centre relocation page on General Medical Council (GMC) website.
  4. Those students who have passed the IELTS test more than two years back at the time of initial registration, will have to prove that they have maintained their English language skills once again.
  5. Limited registration will not be granted without the offer of a job. Passing the PLAB test does not guarantee a job. Before taking the test, ensure that you are well informed about opportunities for work in the UK.
As at time of writing, Part 1 costs £145, and Part 2 costs £430. For current details of costs, test dates and centers, visit the GMC website.

Related reading: Guide to live and work in the UK for medical and allied health professionals

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