UK Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA) - Doctors Overview

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

What is the medical licensing exam (UKMLA) in the UK?

United Kingdom Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA) or The Medical Licensing Assessment (MLA) is a new exam that medicine graduates in the UK must take as a requirement for their degree. International doctors will be required to sit this exam instead of PLAB. UKMLA consists of two parts: a computer-based knowledge test and a clinical and professional skills assessment. Its purpose is to create a consistent way of evaluating all UK doctors and maintaining patient safety.

Our comprehensive MLA guide provides key information for those planning to register with the GMC in order to practice medicine in the UK and who are required to take the medical licensing exam. Within this guide, we will look at: 

As new information about UKMLA becomes available from the GMC, we will update this blog post to include how to prepare, pass rates, results dates, and exam fees.

Do IMG doctors need to do PLAB and the Medical Licensing Assessment?

From 2024, UK medical students and doctors outside the European Economic Area (EEA) will need to take a new exam. The Medical Licensing Assessment builds on the GMC's existing assurance work to set a common threshold for safe practice. UK students will take the MLA as part of their medical degree. Medical graduates trained outside the EEA will take the MLA instead of the PLAB exam. The exact date that MLA will replace PLAB is to be confirmed, we will update this article once the GMC confirms the changes.

What are the entry requirements for MLA?

To be eligible to take the MLA exam you must:

  • Be a UK medical student in your penultimate or final year of undergraduate medical education
  • Be graduating in the academic year 2024-2025 or beyond

 OR if you are an international medical graduate you will need:

  • An acceptable overseas primary medical qualification 
  • Evidence of the necessary knowledge of English. You can do this by submitting your International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Occupational English Test (OET) results on the GMC.

Who needs to take the UKMLA exam?

UK medical students and international medical graduates (IMGs) who wish to practise medicine in the UK will need to take the MLA exam from 2024 onwards.


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What is the UKMLA exam structure? 

It’s a 2-part assessment made up of an applied knowledge test (AKT) and a clinical and professional skills assessment (CPSA). Medical students will have to sit both parts on set dates chosen by their medical school. AKT is a written assessment (on a computer) of applied clinical knowledge. CPSA is a performance-based assessment of clinical and professional skills, knowledge, and behaviours.

What sort of questions will I be asked?

All content in the UKMLA will derive from the MLA content map 

There are three overarching themes:

  • Readiness for safe practice
  • Managing uncertainty
  • Delivering person-centered care

And six sections, called domains:

  • Areas of clinical practice, such as mental health and surgery.
  • Areas of professional knowledge, such as biomedical sciences and medical ethics and law.
  • Clinical and professional capabilities, such as assessing and managing risk and safeguarding vulnerable patients.
  • Practical skills and procedures, as set out in the list of practical skills and procedures that supplement the GMC Outcomes for graduates (2018)
  • Patient presentations, which relate to signs, symptoms, investigation results, and other relevant patient-related issues typically seen by doctors in a first appointment within the UK Foundation Programme. For example, a chronic rash or breast lump.
  • Conditions, which are pathophysiological diseases or clinical diagnoses typically seen by doctors in a first appointment within the UK Foundation Programme. For example, asthma and eating disorders.

How do I prepare for UKMLA?

Medical schools in the UK will cover everything medical students need through the school curriculum. UK medical students will not be required to pay to take the UKMLA, as the costs will be incurred by their respective universities.

International medical graduates who are relocating to the UK should review the MLA content map and the outcomes for graduates which sets out the knowledge, skills, and behaviours that UK medical graduates must be able to show. 

What’s the difference between UKMLA and USMLE?

The UKMLA and the USMLE are medical licensing exams for the UK and the US respectively. Both will work on a pass/fail basis in the future.

If you found this article useful, you might also like to learn more about the USMLE exam or EPIC and ECFMG document verification.

At A&E Agency, we’re passionate about the quality of our people and proud of the services we provide. If you need information or guidance with your MLA exam, register today with A&E Agency or we are available at and on our social channels. Our team is here to help doctors find great work opportunities in the UK


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