What is PLAB 1?
PLAB stands for the Professional Linguistic and Assessments Board. The exam has 2 components: PLAB 1 which is a written test, and PLAB 2 which is a practical test. The purpose of the exam is to test your ability to apply your knowledge to scenarios and situations surrounding the care of patients. This is not a test where you are graded on your ability to remember and recite information. The test is organised and facilitated via the General Medical Council (GMC).
If you graduated from a medical school outside of the UK, European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland, there is a strong possibility that you will need to take the PLAB test. The purpose of the test is to check you can do the same as a doctor starting the second year of their Foundation Programme training (FY2) in the UK. This covers common, important, and acute conditions seen by trainees and the management of long-term conditions seen in primary care.
What do I need to do before I book my PLAB exam?
Before you book your PLAB exam you must have:
- Acceptable overseas primary medical qualification
- Evidence of the necessary knowledge of English. Before you book a test, you will need to provide evidence of the English language to the GMC. You can do this by submitting your International English Language Testing System (IELTS)or Occupational English Test (OET) results on the GMC online.
- Not only will you need an account with the GMC to submit test results for verification, but you will also need one to book or cancel your PLAB exam.
How much does it cost?
As of 1st April 2021, the price for part 1 of the PLAB test is £240.
Do I have to travel to the UK?
The PLAB 1 test runs four times a year in the UK and several overseas locations. Overseas locations include Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Egypt, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and UAE. To see the locations and whether places are available you will need to register for a GMC account and look on the “My Tests” section.
How do I book a place?
Once you have created an account with the GMC, you will be able to navigate to the “My Tests” area to view available locations and dates and then book. The demand for test places is very high so availability may be limited.
What does the test look like?
PLAB 1 is a written exam made up of 180 multiple-choice questions. Each has a short scenario followed by a question and five answers to choose from. You have three hours to complete the exam. You will need to bring proof of identification with you on the day of your exam.
What sort of questions will I be asked?
The PLAB blueprint is available to download from the GMC website and outlines the knowledge, skills, and behaviours that candidates are expected to demonstrate in the text and beyond. Before using the blueprint, you should be familiar with good medical practice guidance which has four domains describing what it means to be a good doctor.
You can download the blueprint here.
You can review the good medical practice content here
You can read some sample questions here
When will I get my results?
Your results will be available six weeks after you take your exam. They will be sent to you by email and the GMC are unable to give you results over the phone or in person.
How long is my score valid for?
The GMC has extended the validity of the pass from two years to three years as of March 2018. This is to give candidates time to book onto PLAB 2. You must pass PLAB 2 within three years of the date you passed PLAB 1. This will automatically be reflected on your GMC account.
What do I need to do next?
Congratulations, now you have passed you can apply immediately to take PLAB 2 using the GMC online. PLAB 2 is held at the GMC’s two assessment centre sites in Manchester, UK.
All information regarding prices and processes was correct at the time of writing this article in November 2021.
Gmc-uk.org. 2021. PLAB 1 guide. [online] Available at: <https://www.gmc-uk.org/registration-and-licensing/join-the-register/plab/plab-1-guide> [Accessed 1 November 2021].
Gmc-uk.org. 2021. Good medical practice. [online] Available at: <https://www.gmc-uk.org/ethical-guidance/ethical-guidance-for-doctors/good-medical-practice> [Accessed 1 November 2021].
richardchankins, V., 2021. Coronavirus and its impact on PLAB. [online] Improving medical education and practice across the UK. Available at: <https://gmcuk.wordpress.com/2020/07/08/coronavirus-and-its-impact-on-plab/> [Accessed 1 November 2021].