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GMC Registration via PLAB

  • January 30, 2023

As we have already demonstrated, there are several different routes to getting your GMC registration. Some are more suitable than others. For example, if MTI doesn’t sound like your thing, as you’d prefer to stay in the UK for a longer period (perhaps even indefinitely), then you might like to use the PLAB route.

PLAB – Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board – is a two-part examination that international medical graduates can use to gain access to GMC registration and, in turn, a license to practice medicine in the UK.

PLAB: Purpose, Cost, and Eligibility

The PLAB exams aim to provide international medical graduates with a qualification to prove they have the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience to practice medicine safely in the UK. In turn, it ensures that all NHS patients receive the same standard of practice from every doctor.

PLAB part one costs £255. To Qualify for part one, you will need the following:

  • A Primary Medical Qualification
  • Proof of English Language Knowledge (IELTS or OET)
  • To Live Outside the UK and Switzerland

Part two of the PLAB costs £934, and to be eligible, you need to have the following:

  • Passed Part 1
  • Completed 12 months of Clinical Practice

You can redo both parts of the PLAB exams. However, there are seperate cancellation fees that you will need to pay. Also, keep in mind that you can only resit each part up to four times.

PLAB: How to Apply and What to Expect

You must book both of your PLAB exams online via your GMC online accounts. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to set up an account there. Once you do, you can book a time and date for your PLAB test. They are held at multiple locations around the UK and the world, so hopefully, you will find one close to you!

Before each test, you will receive confirmation of the time of arrival. It is crucial to show up on time. You will also need your identity document (often a passport).

Part One

The first exam for PLAB is a written, multiple-choice paper with 180 single-best-answer questions – many of which revolve around common and acute conditions. Each question involves a scenario and five possible outcomes, and you must choose the correct outcome to receive a mark. You are given three hours for this paper. There are no negative answers for paper one, so it makes sense to answer every question, even if you’re not one hundred percent sure.

Part Two

Part two of PLAB is a practical assessment called OSCE (objective structured clinical examination). On the day of the exam, you’ll be shown a video with everything you need to know about the exam’s structure. For this section, you’ll be marked on your interpersonal skills, clinical management, and data gathering. It demonstrates how you operate within a clinical setting, which can be a little nerve-wracking for some. It’s important to relax – the chances are you will already be familiar with the clinical scenarios. Confidence is key!

The passing mark for parts one and two is determined depending on the difficulty of the exam itself – it changes each time, so you can’t know for sure what score you are aiming towards.

At this stage you should also be invited to attend an ID check in the UK – this will need to be done before your application is approved.

Preparing for the PLAB Test

There is no denying that the PLAB examinations are difficult. After all, they are there to determine you have sufficient knowledge in medicine so that you can safely practice in the UK. To pass, you must prepare. That means putting aside plenty of time for study sessions, where you can absorb all the information you’ll need to pass.

A good place to start is looking at GMC’s blueprint on their website, which details exactly what to expect from the PLAB test. You can even find practice exam questions online, which is handy for getting to grips with the exam structure and seeing where you need to spruce up your knowledge.

Amid all the reading (the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine is an excellent book to dive into), don’t forget to apply that knowledge to realistic clinical situations, as that is what you’ll be expected to do during part two. If you can, practice the practical side of the exam with a study buddy or your tutor. Remember – to pass that section, it’s not just about knowing the information – it’s about being about to communicate effectively and apply the knowledge appropriately.

What Happens After You Pass PLAB?

Passing part one and part two of the PLAB means you can finally apply for your GMC registration! For your GMC application, don’t forget that you’ll also need proof of your primary medical qualification, proof of English language, and a certificate of good standing from any medical practice that you have worked at during the last five years. You can complete this application online via GMC’s online portal. Then, once your application is fully approved, you will be provided with GMC registration, allowing you to practice medicine in the UK. From there, you can focus on finding an NHS vacancy.

Is PLAB for You?

PLAB is one of the best routes to getting your GMC registration. Is it right for you, though? There are a couple of questions you must ask yourself to determine whether or not it is:

  • Do you have a medical degree?
  • Do you live outside of the UK?
  • Do you want to prove your clinical knowledge?
  • Do you want to work in the UK?

If you answer “yes” to the above questions, there’s a high chance that the PLAB is perfect for your medical career path. Completing both parts of the PLAB will prove your knowledge and allow you to complete your GMC application, meaning you can then start the process of relocating to the UK.

If you’re unsure then this video might help you make a comparison between PLAB and the post-graduate qualification route.

Of course – that’s not the only path. You might prefer to get a post-graduate qualification to pass the criteria for GMC registration. Next up, we’ll be discussing how to get your GMC registration via a Royal College Qualification.

If you're unsure about the right path or need some extra tips on completing your PLAB for GMC Registration then email our team or find us on all social media channels. 


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