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Library Resources for COM Clerkships and Clinical Electives: PLAB

Library materials, subject guides, and useful resources compiled by Alfaisal University librarians


The Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board test – known as the PLAB test – helps us ensure doctors who qualified abroad have the right knowledge and skills to practice medicine in the UK.


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 know and can 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 license to practice medicine in the UK.


What do you need before you can take PLAB?

Before you can take the PLAB test, you’ll need to set up a GMC Online account and show us that your medical qualification and knowledge of English are acceptable. Your information will be verified, and if it meets our requirements, you can book your place on part 1 of the PLAB test.


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. You can sit part 1 in several countries, as well as in the UK. Look at the available locations and dates when you log in to GMC Online.


PLAB part 2

PLAB 2 is an objective structured clinical exam. It's made up of 16 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 GMC clinical assessment center in the UK Only.

What are the entry requirements for the PLAB test?

 To be eligible for the PLAB test you must meet the following criteria : 

* Your Primary Medical Qualification ( PMO ) must be awarded by an institution listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools. Before starting the process, we recommend that you check that your Pamary Medical Qualification is accepted in the UK 
* You must also have taken and passed the English Language Test ( ELTS or OET ) with the relevant scores. For ( ELTS you must have attained a score of at least 2.5 overall and a minimum of 7.0 for all four language skills. For OET you must have scored at least grade B in each testing area.
* At least 12 months of 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 ).


Where and when can I sit the test outside of the UK? 

The test for Part 1 is run twice a year in a number of countries. A complete list of dates locations and contact details can be found here.
 Part 2 can be taken in the UK only. When you book your PLAB 2 test place online, you can see which venue is available for you. Currently, the main test venue is in Manchester, with test centers in Cambridge and London You can find more details here.


What does it cost?

Please visit the GMC Fees page for price listings.

Before you book a PLAB exam you must have:

  • an acceptable overseas primary medical qualification. If you haven’t graduated yet, we will need confirmation you have passed your final examinations and have met all other requirements to be eligible for the qualification.

  • the necessary knowledge of English – before you can book a test you will need to provide your English language evidence to us. If you've taken the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test or the Occupational English Test (OET), you can do this in the 'My Tests' section in GMC Online. If your scores meet our requirements, your test details will be sent to us for verification and we aim to do this within two working days. Once verified, you'll be able to book a test.

  • GMC Online account to book or cancel the exam.

Book using the GMC Online account

Go to GMC Online. You can view available dates and book under the 'My Tests' section.

Demand for test places is high, and this may affect availability for your preferred date or venue.

If you don’t have a GMC Online account

If you have a GMC reference number but have not logged in to GMC Online since August 2021, you will need to update your account.

If you don't have a GMC reference number you will need to setup your account and provide the following details.

  • Primary medical qualification

  • Valid passport

  • Postal address

  • Email address

  • Inputting false information to create an account is not permitted. Any accounts identified as being false will be locked. 

    The setup process will take a few minutes to complete. We will send you a confirmation email including your GMC reference number once you have completed the setup process.


What resources should you use to prepare?

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. 

Read the Foundation Programme curriculum.

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 behaviors set out in Good medical practice when you take the exam and when you practice as a doctor in the UK. The PLAB blueprint is mapped against Good medical practice.

You can build and test your knowledge of Good medical practice using:


You do not need to attend a study or coaching course to pass, but many candidates choose to do so. We don't offer courses and we do not endorse or monitor the quality of courses given by others.

What can you expect on the day?

When should you arrive?

When your exam is confirmed, we will tell you what time to arrive. If you are sitting your exam outside the UK you will receive this information from the British Council along with details of the venue.

If you are more than half an hour late, you will not be allowed to enter the examination room. You will not be allowed to leave the room in the first or last half hour of the examination.

You can expect to be at the examination center for at least four hours.


What should you bring with you?


Bring proof of identification with you. We accept any one of the following.

  • Passport

  • UK Immigration and Nationality Department identification document

  • Home Office travel document

  • UK driving license

  • EU identity card

If you don't have one of the above you can take the exam but you'll need to provide your identification document or evidence of change of name later in the process.

Your results

Your results will be available six weeks after you take the exam. We'll send you an email to access your results in the 'My Tests' section of GMC Online. We can't give results over the phone, by fax or in person.

Understanding your results

We group the skill areas 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. We will tell you your total score, the score required to pass the exam, and the average score for all candidates. We will also tell you the percentage of the questions you answered correctly in each of the three domains.


How do we set the pass mark?

We set the pass mark for each test using the internationally recognized Angoff method and include one standard error of measurement.

By doing this, we make sure the level at which we set the pass mark is consistent over time. It reflects what we expect of a doctor entering their second year of Foundation Programme training.

After each test a team of experts reviews the question paper in light of how candidates have performed, to make sure all the questions and answers are fair. Candidates are at all stages of their career and there is no expected pass rate or average score.

We may change our standard-setting procedures from time to time without notice.



What do you do after the exam?

What do you do after you pass?

If you pass PLAB 1 you can immediately apply to take PLAB 2 using GMC Online.

The available PLAB 2 test dates can be seen in GMC Online once you have your PLAB 1 results.  

You can't apply for PLAB 2 before the results have been issued.

You must pass PLAB 2 within three years of the date you passed PLAB 1. 

What do you do if you fail?

If you fail PLAB 1, you can book to take the exam again provided you still meet all the requirements. You can attempt the exam a maximum of four times.

If you’ve failed the exam four times, you can apply for one final attempt. You will need to demonstrate evidence of additional learning over a 12-month period and make an application to us.

Can you have your results checked?

No, this is a service GMC no longer offers. After reviewing GMC processes, they’re confident that their marking is robust, and that a manual check won’t change the result.

However, you can still appeal your result.

When can you apply for an additional attempt?

To be eligible for an additional attempt for either PLAB 1 or 2 (after your fourth failed attempt), there must be at least 12 months between your fourth failed attempt and requesting an additional attempt.

You should undertake further learning to improve your medical knowledge and clinical skills. You must have completed either 12 months of clinical practice or a post-graduate qualification.

If you have already had more than four failed attempts at either part of PLAB 1 or 2, you are no longer eligible to take the test or apply for an additional attempt.

If you are granted an additional attempt at PLAB 1, you may need to submit valid English language evidence for verification before you are able to book. 


What is expected from your clinical practice?

  • A minimum of 12 months of full-time clinical practice (or equivalent part-time basis), with direct patient care.
  • Supported by structured reports from senior doctors responsible for your work, to show satisfactory completion.
  • Completed in the two years before requesting an additional attempt to demonstrate that you are keeping your knowledge and skill up to date.
  • Undertaken in an institution that meets the standards for regulation within its jurisdiction, we must be able to verify this.
  • Honorary posts and those involving observation, such as clinical attachments, shadowing, observerships, and clerkships are not acceptable.


How to apply for an additional attempt after your clinical practice

Download the structured report form and ask the senior doctor(s) who provided oversight during your clinical practice to fully complete it on your behalf.

Please note

  • Each post must be at least two months in duration.
  • The referee must provide a work email address.   

GMC will not accept:

  • reports completed by a relative or someone with that you have a personal, business, or financial interest with
  • reports not completed in full or where a work email address isn’t provided.

Complete the application form and return it to GMC at


What is expected from your postgraduate qualification?

  • It should be a clinical subject where a primary medical qualification or other degree is required for entry. 
  • To be completed over at least one academic year (or equivalent part-time basis).
  • To be accompanied by a certificate from the awarding institution. Honorary qualifications are not acceptable.
  • Completed in the two years before requesting an additional attempt to demonstrate that you are keeping your knowledge and skill up to date.
  • Undertaken in an institution that meets the standards for regulation within its jurisdiction, we must be able to verify this.


How to apply for an additional attempt after your postgraduate qualification

Complete the application form and return it to us along with the evidence listed below to

Evidence required

  • A copy of your certificate from the awarding institution.
  • A copy of the course curriculum.


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

Once you’ve passed both parts, you can apply for GMC registration with a license to practice. Your application must be approved within two years of passing part 2 of the test. Once we approve your application and you gain registration you can work as a doctor in the UK.


Finally, How to Apply for GMC Registration?

In Summary:

PLAB vs MRCP: What do you need to know | Road to UK

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