The PLAB test is designed to test ones ability to work safely in a first appointment as a senior house officer in a UK hospital in the National Health Service (NHS).
The test is in two parts:
Part 1 of the PLAB test can be taken at a number of test centres overseas but Part 2 must be taken in the UK.
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) which must be taken in the United Kingdom. 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.
Qualifications required for PLAB
- A primary medical qualification (PMQ) for limited registration. Please check the GMC website to see if your qualification is acceptable. See GMC acceptable primary medical qualification
- Allowed qualifications are those awarded by an institution listed on the Avicenna Directory for Medicine or is otherwise acceptable to the GMC and is 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 their acceptable primary medical qualification webpage for further information.
- Relevant scores in the IELTS test (academic module) as above.
- At least 12 months’ postgraduate clinical experience in a teaching hospital, or another hospital approved by the medical registration authorities in the appropriate country. (The test 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).
Passing the PLAB text does not guarantee you will find employment in the UK. A survey was published recently which you may find of interest: Prospects of a job after completing PLAB
The GMC uses the PLAB test to ensure that international doctors have the basic medical competence and communication skills to practice in the UK. Doctors wishing to take the PLAB test must have already successfully completed the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).