What is PLAB 2?
PLAB 2 is the second part of the GMC’s PLAB Exams and is an Objective Structured Clinical Examination Exam. It's made up of 18 scenarios, each lasting eight minutes and aims to reflect real life settings including a mock consultation or an acute ward. The whole exam will take around three hours and 10 minutes. You'll have one and a half minutes between scenarios to read the instructions and patient information. There will be at least two rest stations, allowing you to take breaks.
The exam covers everything a UK trained doctor might expect to see on the first day of Foundation Year Two (F2).
It tests your ability to apply knowledge to the care of patients, not how well you can remember and recite facts.
All the questions relate to current best practice. You should answer them in relation to published evidence and not according to your local arrangements.
PLAB 1: £239
PLAB 2: £875
Where is PLAB 2 held?
The PLAB 2 Exam is held at the General Medical Council Assessment Centre in Manchester:
General Medical Council
3 Hardman Street
Please note that this is the only assessment centre and so to sit PLAB 2 you will be required to come to the UK by applying for a PLAB 2 UK Visit Visa.
Please note, you will need to apply for a UK Visit Visa as soon as you have booked your exam. You will need to collate numerous documents to evidence your application – so we advise for you to get organised for this as soon as possible. View our article on the UK Visit Visa to find out what documents you will need.
Furthermore, it is important that you do not apply for a six month visit visa when your purpose in the UK is merely to sit your PLAB 2 Exam. Therefore, it is important to apply for a visa of around 1-2 weeks. This is important because you will need to provide an itinerary of your stay and applications who do not evidence their plan for the UK/apply for too much time in the UK will be denied.
When should I book my PLAB 2 Exam?
The PLAB 2 exam can be booked at any time throughout the year as the GMC holds multiple exam sittings per month.
However, the PLAB 2 is in high demand which means that it is rare to be able to book an exam date for the next month. On average, exam dates are available almost 90 days ahead of the date you are booking on.
Because of the high demand we, therefore, advise for you to book your PLAB 2 Exam date as soon as you find out you have passed PLAB 1. Those who end up booking a week after finding out their passed PLAB 1 result can end up waiting up to 5 months for the next available date.
To apply for your PLAB 2 Exam you will need to log onto your GMC Registration account view the available dates and book under the ‘My Tests’ section. You can only do this once you have your PLAB 1 results.
When should I start preparing for PLAB 2?
The preparation time for PLAB 2 will vary depending on the individual and their personal circumstances. Factors that will influence your preparation time include your:
English Language Skills
Clinical Assessment Experience
Ideally, from listening to a number of doctors experiences with PLAB 2 – the minimum amount of revision time is 8 weeks.
PLAB 2 Courses:
Dr Swamy PLAB Courses – Manchester
This course can be taken In-Person or Online. The course is located at a medical training centre with the purpose of training International Medical Graduates for the PLAB 2 exam.
The course centre is held in Levenshulme, Manchester.
For £600 you will receive a 12-day course of training and revision resources for PLAB 2, unlimited days of mannequin practice until your exam date and two mock tests.
Online PLAB Coach
This course is based online and costs £250.
Buying this course offers you access to PLAB 2 lectures and a simulated mock exam.
The use of Facebook Groups and Online Forums
There are various PLAB 2 Facebook groups you can join which will provide you with support from other IMGs, the ability to ask mock exam questions, or the opportunity to find a partner to practice with.
PLAB 2 Exam Stations
The PLAB 2 stations can be roughly divided into three categories.
History, Examination, Diagnosis and Management Stations
Purely Manikin/Examination Stations
Medical Ethics Stations
History, Examination, Diagnosis and Management Stations
These stations will comprise of a clinical based scenario between a doctor and a patient within a typical clinical setting. The topics can range from a number of specialties including Medicine, Psychiatry and Paediatrics.
You will be expected to take the patient’s history, perform an examination and discuss management with the patient.
You will have to complete the entire task within 8 minutes. A bell will ring at 6 minutes and you will have to proceed to the management part if you have not yet begun to.
Time management is a fundamental part of these stations because the mark scheme is based on History, Examination, Diagnosis and Management.
The type of station will require you to perform a task on a manikin, such as the insertion of an IV Cannula or Basic Life Support.
You will still be marked against the History, Examination, Diagnosis and Management criteria.
Your revision should be extensive as almost all examinations performed in the medical field can appear in the PLAB 2 exam – so make sure you are prepared.
Medical Ethics Stations
The GMC has a strict code of conduct and it is essential that all practising doctors follow the GMC’s Good Medical Practice guidelines.
For the GMC, it is important that all doctors within the NHS:
Make the care of their patient their first concern
Be competent and keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date
Take prompt action if you think patient safety is being comprised
Establish and maintain good partnerships with your patients and colleagues
Maintain trust in you and the profession by being open, honest and acting with integrity
Some doctors find these stations the most difficult because they ultimately test your knowledge of the UK system and your approach towards communication, behaviour and patient empathy.
The scenarios will be based on a wide range of issues to assess your ability to act ethically. This includes patients with drug use, domestic violence cases and end of life treatment.
The Marking Scheme
There will be a total of 12 marks for each station.
The marking is based on three criteria:
Data Gathering, Technical and Assessment Skills – History taking, physical examination, practical procedures, investigations leading to a diagnosis
Clinical Management Skills – Formulating a diagnosis, explaining something to the patient, formulating a management plan
Interpersonal Skills– How you approach the station: whether you establish a rapport with the patient, how you use open and closed questioning, involving the patient and demonstrating your professionalism and understanding of ethical principles
When marking against the domains the examiner will assess your competency across a number of skill areas.
Tip – Be careful not to use medical terminology during each station, but if it is said, it is advised for you to explain the meaning to the patient.
Although marking is based directly against the above criteria, there are several other elements that the examiner will consider. This includes your listening skills, your tone of voice, hand gestures etc – so be conscious of your mannerisms.
Accommodation near the GMC Building, Manchester
Distance from GMC Building
Travelodge Manchester Central
£34 per night
Jurys Inn Manchester
Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel Portland Street
Please note that the above prices are subject to change, so it is important to book well in advance to secure the lowest price.
Successful Tips to Passing PLAB 2
Take some time to read the task
It is very important to take your time to read the task and to understand what is expected of you. When you are considering your approach to the task remember the three criteria you will be marked on.
If you have misunderstood the task, the examiner may ask you to refer back to it. If this does happen, please do not panic – just take a deep breath and start again.
When you are given the name of the patient – be sure to use the correct name and do not waste time establishing the patient’s name. This may appear like a small detail but to call a patient by their wrong name is unprofessional and it will impact your overall mark at the station.
Do not think of PLAB 2 as an exam, but a busy clinic day
The best approach to the situation is to think of the exam as a busy clinic day. Just think that you have 18 consultations on your clinic list, you have enough time to look over each patient’s notes before each consultation and you may have to give details of some test results.
Gmc-uk.org. 2020. PLAB 2 Guide. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 October 2020].
If you are an IMG who is interested in relocating to the UK and working within the NHS send your CV to [email protected] – and one of our Specialist Advisers will be happy to help you.
Come and join our Facebook Group IMG Advisor. Here you will receive access to frequent relocation blog posts, the opportunity to ask questions and receive professional support and guidance and you can meet other IMGs!
Originally Posted: 10/08/2018