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Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board Test

Do you need to take the PLAB test?

If you graduated from a medical school outside of the UK, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you’ll probably need to take the PLAB test.

The PLAB test will check that you have the medical knowledge required to do the same as a doctor starting the second year of their Foundation Programme training in the UK.

What does the PLAB test involve?

There are two parts to the test.

Part 1 is a written multiple choice exam, with 180 single best answer questions.

Part 2 is a practical objective structured clinical exam, known as an OSCE.

You’ll need to pass both parts before you can apply for registration with a licence to practise medicine in the UK.

What do you need before you can take PLAB?

Before you can take the PLAB test, you’ll need to demonstrate your medical qualification and knowledge of English are acceptable.

What is PLAB Part 1?

PLAB 1 is a written exam made up of 180 multiple choice questions which you must answer within three hours. Each starts with a short scenario followed by a question. You need to choose the right answer out of the five possible answers given. 

Part 1 can be sat in multiple countries across the world.

Understanding the exam results

The exam is assessed under three main headings or 'domains'.

  • Applying knowledge and experience to clinical practice

  • Good clinical care: assessment

  • Good clinical care: management

Each correct answer is worth one mark and the total number of correct answers will be your score.

The pass mark differs for each exam, using the internationally recognised Angoff method and include one standard error of measurement.

What is PLAB 2?

PLAB 2 is an objective structured clinical exam. It's made up of 18 scenarios, each lasting eight minutes and aims to reflect real life settings including a mock consultation or an acute ward. Part 2 tests run throughout the year at clinical assessment centres across the UK.

How is PLAB 2 assessed?

You will be marked against three domains:

1. Data gathering, technical and assessment skills - History taking, physical examination, practical procedures, investigations leading to a diagnosis

2. Clinical Management Skills - Formulating a diagnosis, explaining something to the patient, formulating a management plan

3. Interpersonal Skills - How you approach the station: whether you establish a rapport with the patient, how you use open and closed questioning, involving the patient and demonstrating your professionalism and understanding of ethical principles

Understanding your exam results

There is no fixed pass mark for the exam. Each station has a pass mark with uses the borderline regression scoring method, meaning the pass mark varies with the difficulty of the station and for each exam.

What resources are available to prepare for PLAB 1 and PLAB 2?

The PLAB blueprint

The blueprint is a guide to what the exam covers and can help you to prepare. It sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours you are expected to demonstrate in the exam and beyond. All the topics and skills needed to pass are covered in the blueprint.

The Foundation Programme curriculum

All the topics and skill areas covered by the PLAB blueprint match those typically faced by doctors starting the second year of their UK Foundation Programme training. This is how we make sure doctors who pass the PLAB test are at the same level as UK-qualified doctors. 

Link - Curriculum - UK Foundation Programme

Guidance and interactive tools

Good Medical Practice is our core advice to doctors on the standards we expect of them. You will be expected to demonstrate the professional values and behaviours set out in Good medical practice when you take the exam and when you practise as a doctor in the UK. The PLAB blueprint is mapped against Good medical practice.

What happens after you’ve passed PLAB 1 and PLAB 2?

Once you’ve passed both parts, you can apply for registration with a licence to practise. Your application must be approved within two years of passing part 2 of the test.

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