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UKMLA to replace PLAB

  • May 23, 2018

The GMC has announced their plan to replace PLAB with UKMLA for doctors wishing to practise in the UK

The General Medical Council has approved a plan to develop a unified assessment for every doctor who wants to practise in the UK. This will be implemented from the academic year of 2023-24.

The new title of the exam is the United Kingdom Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA).

Currently, UK graduates are required to pass their medical school’s exams, and international medical graduates are required to pass the Professional and Assessment Board (PLAB) test (or have a GMC approved postgraduate qualification) before the GMC will grant them a licence to practise in the UK.

Why is this change happening?

While UK medical schools’ curriculums must comply with the GMC’s Outcomes for Graduates, the GMC claims that the new licensing exam will give greater reassurance to the UK public and create a “common threshold for safe practice”.

Post the GMC’s announcement, they then carried out a public consultation from January 2017 to April 2017 and have visited all medical schools to get medical students’ views.


So what do we know about the UKMLA so far?

1. What is the MLA?

The exam is likely to consist of a “test of applied knowledge” (multiple-choice questions), a “test of clinical and professional skills” (objective structured clinical exam – OSCE), and questions about health care and in the UK.

2. If I am already on the UK medical register, will I have to take the MLA?

No – the MLA will be for people who are applying for registration for a license to practise.

3. If I apply to join the UK medical register before 2023 will I have to take MLA?

No – the requirement to pass the MLA will start in the academic year of 2023-24.

4. Will I have to take PLAB and the MLA?

Once the MLA replaces PLAB you will take the MLA. Before implementation, you will take PLAB.

5. Will there be exemptions from taking the MLA?

Some doctors entering the UK from overseas are exempt from the existing PLAB tests, as they have a GMC approved postgraduate qualification. Therefore, it is possible that some doctors will be exempt from the MLA under similar arrangements.

Unfortunately, at this moment in time, we do not know any further details about the new UKMLA exam. However, when more information is published we will share this with you.

How will the UKMLA exam test me?

The exam will form two parts:

1. Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) - this test will be the same for UK students and IMGS. You will be able to sit this test overseas. There is an intention for the test to be -based for all candidates.

2. Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment (Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment) - If your medical school's clinical exam meets the same standard of the MLA - you will have passed this element of the exam.

If you are an IMG who wants to relocate to the UK and work for the NHS then send your CV to [email protected] – and one of our Specialist Advisers will be happy to guide and support you through your journey to the UK. We look forward to hearing from you!

Alternatively, head over to our Facebook Group: IMG Advisor for an online support network of IMG’s who want to relocate to the UK.

Referencing: (2018). What you should know about the new national exam for medical students | Student BMJ. ] Available at: [Accessed 23 May 2018].

UKLA forums. 2018.) GMC announces plans to develop the UK Medical Licensing exam (UKMLA) – UKMLAforums. ] Available at: [Accessed 23 May 2018].


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