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PLAB

Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB)

This is mandatory test which need to be cleared by all seeking to apply for registration to practice as a doctor in the UK.

The test consists of 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

The primary medical qualification (PMQ) must have:

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 one may also be exempted be exempt from taking 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.

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