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Professional & Linguistic Assessments Board(PLAB): 

You will need to pass the PLAB test before you can apply for registration in the UK.

Summary of the PLAB Test: 

The test is in two parts: 

  •   Part 1 is a computer-marked written examination consisting of extended matching questions (EMQs) and single best answer (SBA) questions. The paper contains 200 questions and may contain images. It lasts three hours. The proportion of SBA questions may vary from examination to examination but no more than 30% of the paper is composed of SBA questions. You can have an unlimited number of attempts but you must pass Part 1 within two years of the date of your IELTS certificate. 
  •   Part 2 is an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). It takes the form of 14 clinical scenarios or ‘stations', a rest station and one or more pilot stations run for statistical purposes, where the marks do not count towards your result. Each station lasts five minutes. You must pass Part 2 within three years of passing Part 1. You can have four attempts at Part 2. If you fail at the fourth attempt you will have to retake IELTS (unless you are exempt) and both parts of the PLAB test. 

You must be granted registration within three years of passing Part 2 of the test.

Entry requirements for the PLAB test 

Before you apply to take the PLAB test you must have 

  • An acceptable primary medical qualification. (PMQ) All IMGs must possess an acceptable PMQ in order to apply for registration. We define an acceptable PMQ as one which meets the following five criteria.

  The primary medical qualification must have:  

  • Been awarded by an institution listed on the Avicenna Directory (formerly the WHO Directory of medical schools) or otherwise accepted by the GMC and be currently acceptable to the GMC. (Please note: the GMC does not accept all primary medical qualifications that are listed on the Avicenna Directory. Please check our acceptable primary medical qualification webpage for further information.) 
  • For those on the Avicenna Directory, been awarded by an institution that has a physical address included in the Avicenna Directory. 
  • Been awarded after a course of study comprising at least 5,500 hours (or four years full time equivalent study). 
  • Not involved a course of study undertaken wholly or substantially outside the country that awarded the primary medical qualification. 
  • Have not involved a course of study undertaken wholly or substantially by correspondence.

    We currently regard most, but not all, of the PMQs listed in the Avicenna Directory as acceptable for the purposes of registration. Please check our acceptable primary medical qualification webpage for the Avicenna Directory primary medical qualifications that are not accepted by us. We may exclude the primary medical qualifications from any school listed in the Avicenna Directory at any time. 

    Applicants must ensure that their primary medical qualification is acceptable before applying to sit PLAB. Should it later be confirmed that an applicant's primary medical qualification does not allow them to be registered, the GMC will not accept any responsibility for any costs incurred or losses that result from the candidate's decision to sit PLAB. 

  • If you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), you need satisfactory scores in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. These are the minimum scores you must achieve: Overall 7, Speaking 7, Listening 6, Academic reading 6, Academic writing 6. The general modules are not acceptable. The certificate is valid for two years. The British Council runs the IELTS test in over 100 countries. You can get more information about IELTS from the British Council (website) or from the IELTS website .In certain circumstances you may be exempt from the IELTS test .You should also have 12 months' postgraduate clinical experience (Foundation Year 1 training post/internship post) from a teaching or other hospital approved by the medical registration authorities in the appropriate country. You can take the PLAB test without this experience but you should bear in mind that it is set at a level that assumes that you have it. If you do pass the test without this experience, you will have to seek employment in a Foundation Year 1 training post (the grade occupied by new medical graduates). Vacancies at this grade are very scarce.

 

PLAB 1 Syllabus:

The subject matter of the PLAB Part 1 exam is defined in terms of skills and content. Questions begin with a title that specifies both the skill and the content they are testing.

Skills

The exam tests four groups of skills in approximately equal proportions:

  • Diagnosis
  • Investigations
  • Management
  • The context of clinical practice

Given the important facts about a patient (such as age, gender, nature and duration of presenting symptoms), a candidate will be asked to:

  • Diagnosis:

Select the most likely diagnosis from a range of possibilities

  • Investigations:

Select or interpret diagnostic tests

  • Management:

Select the most suitable course of treatment, with knowledge of drug therapy and side effects.

The context of clinical practice may include questions in testing skills:

  • Awareness of multicultural society
  • Application of scientific understanding to medicine
  • Explanation of disease process
  • Health promotion
  • Legal ethical
  • Practice of evidence-based medicine
  • Understanding of epidemiology

Content

The content tested is generally defined in terms of patient presentations and includes:

  • Accident and emergency medicine (to include trauma and burns)
  • Blood (to include coagulation defects)
  • Cardiovascular system (to include heart and blood vessels and blood pressure)
  • Disorders of childhood (to include non-accidental injury and child sexual abuse; fatal medicine; growth and development)
  • Dermatology, allergy, immunology and infectious diseases
  • Disorders of the elderly (to include palliative care)
  • ENT and eyes
  • Gastrointestinal tract, liver and biliary system, and nutrition
  • Metabolism, endocrinology and diabetes
  • Nervous system (both medical and surgical)
  • Orthopaedics and rheumatology
  • Peri-operative management
  • Psychiatry (to include substance abuse)
  • Renal System (to include urinary tract and genitourinary medicine)
  • Respiratory system

PLAB 2 Syllabus:

The main skills tested in the PLAB 2 (OSCE Examination) - communication, history taking, clinical examination, practical skills, and emergency management - are defined in detail below.

Clinical examination

a.You will be assessed on your ability to conduct a physical examination of a standardised patient. A standardised patient is an actor who has been trained to display signs as and when required by the station. In a limited number of stations, a real patient may be used. In certain circumstances, the examination will be carried out on a manikin or model.

b. You are expected to be competent to carry out any basic physical examination. Examples are examination of the chest, heart, breast, hand, hip, knee and shoulder. You must be able to perform a rectal or bimanual vaginal examination. You must also be able to use the appropriate equipment in carrying out an examination of, for example, the ear or the eye.

c. In addition, the candidate’s ability to maintain effective records may be tested through the writing-up of findings from a physical examination. The marking will focus on completeness (date, time, name of author), legibility and clarity. 

d. Examination of the mental state is treated as a form of clinical examination for the purpose of this test.

e. You will also be marked on your ability to treat a patient you are examining with respect for their privacy and dignity and attention to their comfort. You will need to take this into account, while bearing in mind that you have only five minutes for each station.

Practical skills

a. You will be assessed on your ability to perform common practical procedures, examples of which you are given below. According to the nature of the procedure, you may be asked to deal with a patient or a manikin or model.

b. The practical skills may include:

  • Taking blood pressure
  • Venepuncture
  • Inserting a cannula into a peripheral vein
  • Giving intravenous injections
  • Mixing and injecting drugs into an intravenous bag
  • Giving intramuscular and subcutaneous injections
  • Suturing
  • Interpreting an ECG, X-rays or results of other investigations
  • Basic respiratory function tests
  • Bladder catheterisation
  • Taking a cervical smear
  • Safe disposal of sharps

Communication skills 

a. Communication skills are tested through the observation of interaction between the candidate and another person, usually a simulated patient or the examiner. You are expected to know the major legal and ethical principles set out in Duties of a Doctor.  

b. Examples of the communication skills which may be tested are:

  • Explaining diagnosis, investigation and treatment
  • Involving the patient in the decision-making
  • Checking understanding
  • Communicating with relatives
  • Communicating with health care professionals
  • Breaking bad news
  • Seeking informed consent for an invasive procedure or a post-mortem
  • Dealing with anxious or angry patients or relatives
  • Giving instructions on discharge
  • Giving advice on lifestyle, health promotion or risk factors

History taking 

a. The following are examples of symptoms of presenting patients. You should be competent in taking a history from any of these patients and reaching an appropriate diagnosis, if required.

  • Diarrhoea
  • Wheeze
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Palpitations
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Joint pain
  • Ear pain
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Episodes of loss of consciousness

Emergency management

a. Examples of emergency management situations include:

  • Dealing with post-operative collapse
  • Acute chest pain
  • Trauma assessment (initial and secondary)
  • Administer oxygen therapy safely 
  • Basic adult and paediatric cardio-pulmonary resuscitation