About PLAB

PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board) Test by GMC:

What is PLAB?
PLAB means Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board. General Medical Council (GMC) of United Kingdom conducts this test to ascertain the suitability of an overseas doctor to work safely in a first appointment as a senior house officer in a British hospital.

Who is required to take this test?
All Overseas doctors who are seeking limited registration must first pass, or be exempted from the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test conducted by the GMC (General Medical Council), which is the statutory body responsible for the regulation and standards of the medical profession in the United Kingdom. In order to carry out any sort of medical work or training, a doctor must first obtain registration with the GMC.

What is the test like?
The test assesses suitability to undertake hospital employment at Senior House Officer level (SHO) in a UK hospital by examining the candidate's medical knowledge and clinical and communication skills. In recent years the exam has tested clinical problem solving across specialties and has moved away from simply testing factual recall. To pass this exam you should become familiar with the style of question and identify your areas of weakness - not simply try to memorise past questions!. The PLAB test currently consists of the following examinations.

Part 1 is conducted in the UK as well as in some other countries including Pakistan and consists of 200 questions in Extended Matching Question (EMQ) and single best answer format. It lasts three hours. The proportion of SBA (Single Best Anaswer) questions may vary from examination to examination but no more than 30% of the paper will be composed of SBA questions. The emphasis of the test is on clinical management and includes science as applied to clinical problems.
  • The test is confined to core knowledge, skills and attitudes relating to conditions commonly seen by the SHO's to the generic management of the life-threatening situations, and to rarer, but important problems. It will contain 200 questions, dividing into a number of themes. The duration of the test will be three hours.
  • The United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational and cultural relations. Registered in England as a charity.
  • Extended Matching Question: For each group of questions there will be a list of options. Candidates are required to select the most appropriate option for each question.
  • Single Best Answer: Consider each of the questions and decide what you think the answer is to the lead-in question given at the end of each scenario, which typically reads ‘What is the SINGLE most likely diagnosis?’ You should then look for that answer in the list of options below (each of which is identified by a letter of the alphabet). If you cannot find the answer you have thought of, you should look for the option which, in your opinion, is the best answer to the problem posed.
  • One mark is awarded for each correct response, but no marks are deducted for any incorrect answer. Candidates will be required to enter their responses on special answer sheets, which can be read by an optical mark reader. The examination will be marked by computer. (Please contact the GMC for further information on the new test).

Part 2 is only available in the UK and takes the form of Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), which includes an assessment of clinical and communication skills. It takes the form of 14 clinical scenarios or ‘stations', a rest station and a pilot station. Each station lasts five minutes. You must pass Part 2 within three years of passing Part 1. You must be granted limited registration within three years of passing Part 2 of the test.

Is IELTS compulsory for overseas doctors to take PLAB?
Yes, from January 1997, the IELTS became a pre-requisite for admission to the PLAB Test. The GMC will only accept the Academic module of the IELTS and test results are valid FOR UP TO TWO YEARS from the date which appears on the IELTS certificate.
(Please note that doctors who are accepted for exemption from the PLAB test are required to score 7.0 or above in each band of the IELTS test).
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All about PLAB
Preparation course
PLAB 1 Syllabus
PLAB 2 Syllabus
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