Blogs > PLAB

Overview of PLAB

  • October 12, 2020

What is PLAB? Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board

The PLAB test is for international Doctors who wish to practise medicine in the UK. The purpose of PLAB is to test an IMG’s ability, as a Doctor, to work safely in a UK NHS hospital and to ensure they possess the relevant skills and knowledge to practise.

It is fundamental to note that if you hold an approved GMC postgraduate qualification or you are an EU national and qualified in a European institution then you will automatically be able to apply for registration and therefore not required to sit the PLAB exam.

A list of GMC approved postgraduate qualifications can be found here.

However, if your postgraduate qualification is not approved, and you are not an EU national who qualified in a European institution then you will be required to sit PLAB 1 and 2.

What are the entry requirements for PLAB?

To take PLAB you will have to have the following qualifications and experience:

  • A primary medical qualification from an institution which is listed in the World Health Organisation Directory of Medical Schools.
  • Have either taken IELTS and received an overall score of 7.5 (with a score no less than 7.0 in each section of the test) or have taken OET with a minimum of grade B in each section of the test
  • Twelve months’ postgraduate clinical experience at a teaching hospital.

How many parts to the PLAB test are there?

There are two parts to the PLAB test. Part 1 of the test is a three-hour exam which contains 180 multiple-choice questions. The first part will test your ability to apply medical knowledge to the care of patients rather than how well you can recite medical facts. The questions will regard the current best practice in the UK and all equipment which is routinely available in UK hospitals. Therefore, you will need to answer all questions in relation to published evidence and not according to your own local arrangements. The exam will cover common or acute conditions which are seen by trainees who are entering their second year of the Foundation Programme (FY2).

The second part of the test is PLAB 2. This test is a 18-station objective structured clinical exam and it should last for around three hours. The test is held at the GMC’s Clinical Assessment Centre in Manchester. The second part of PLAB comprises eighteen different scenarios, each lasting eight minutes. The exam will test you in various settings such as a mock consultation or an acute ward. Similar to the first part of the exam, PLAB 2 will test your ability to apply knowledge to the care of patients rather than how well a Doctor can recite facts. For each scenario given, you will be marked against three different realms. The first is data gathering, technical and assessment skills. This realm covers taking physical examinations, practical procedures and investigations which lead to diagnosis. The second realm is clinical management skills, which will require you to formulate a diagnosis and provide an explanation to the patient. The last domain is international skills. Here, they will test how you approach each circumstance, the use of open and closed questions whilst demonstrating your professionalism and understanding of ethical principles.

It is useful to note that you can sit PLAB 1 as many times as you need. But you must pass PLAB 2 within three years of taking PLAB 1 and you can only take PLAB 2 four times and if you fail at the fourth attempt you will have to take PLAB 1 again.

Visit the GMC website for further information and to access helpful resources for the study of PLAB 1 and PLAB 2.

Applying for a UK Visa

Once you have passed PLAB 1 and have been given a date to take your PLAB 2 in Manchester you will then have to apply for a UK Visa in order to enter the UK and sit the exam. Before you begin your Visa application, it would be useful to collate the following documents to support your application:


-Cover Letter

-Bank statements

-Letter of employment

-PLAB 1 results

-PLAB 2 booking confirmation

-IELTS results

-Primary medical qualification

You can apply for your UK Visa here.

Further details on applying for your Visa will be provided in our next blog post – Applying for UK Visa to take PLAB 2.

How long does it take to get PLAB results back?

PLAB 1 exam results are typically available four weeks after you have taken the test and PLAB 2 results are usually available two weeks after taking the test. The GMC will post your results directly to the address used on your application form. Results can also be found via the GMC website the day after results have been sent through the post. Please note that the GMC do not provide results over the phone, by email or fax.

If you are currently in the process of taking your PLAB exams and are interested in relocating to the UK then get in touch with one of our Specialist Advisors where we can guide you through all required exams, GMC registration, and provide you with a tailored job search in order to help you move to the UK as soon as possible - at [email protected]

If you are an international doctor who is interested in relocating to the UK and working within the NHS send your CV to [email protected] - and we will be happy to help you.

Come and say hello! Join our Facebook Group IMG Advisor - here you will receive frequent access to relocation blogs, the opportunity to ask questions and meet other IMGs!

Originally posted: 07/03/2018
Updated: 12/10/2020


Get Email Job Alerts

Get email alerts tailored to just the jobs you're interested in.


Register With Us

Help us match you with jobs that are perfect for you.


Send Us Your Resumé

Upload it from your computer or via your phone from your cloud storage.

error: Content is protected !!