Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board Test
The PLAB test is relevant for international medical graduates and is one of the ways in which an individual can satisfy the General Medical Council (GMC) that they have the knowledge and skills which are necessary to practice medicine in the UK.
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 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.
Before you apply to take the PLAB test you must have:
- An acceptable primary medical qualification (PMQ)
- All International Medical Graduates must possess an acceptable PMQ in order to apply for registration. The GMC 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 their 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.
- The GMC currently regard most, but not all, of the PMQs listed in the Avicenna Directory as acceptable for the purposes of registration. Please check their acceptable primary medical qualification webpage for the Avicenna Directory primary medical qualifications that are not accepted by them. They 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.
- Relevant scores in 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 then 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.