A Comprehensive Guide to Saving Money and Budgeting for the PLAB 2 Exam Journey in the UK
Hello, I'm Rahul Shivaraj, an International Medical Graduate (IMG) from India. Starting in August 2023, I will be commencing my work as an FY2 in a rotational post in the UK. In January 2023, I successfully completed both parts of PLAB and obtained my GMC registration, granting me a full license to practice in the UK.
I would like to share my first-hand experience of saving money and effectively budgeting for the PLAB 2 exam journey in the UK. During the discussion, I will provide valuable tips and tricks to help you in this regard.
Preparing for the PLAB 2 exam in the UK can be financially challenging, especially for international candidates. However, with careful planning and smart choices, it is possible to save money and stick to a budget while pursuing your career goals.
In this blog, we will explore various money-saving tips and strategies, ranging from booking the exam slot to finding affordable accommodation, managing transportation costs, shopping wisely, and utilizing free resources. Additionally, we'll provide some additional information to enhance your PLAB 2 journey.
1. Booking the PLAB 2 Exam Slot:
When booking your PLAB 2 exam slot, it is essential to plan in advance to secure the most cost-effective option. Keep an eye on the exam dates released by the General Medical Council (GMC) and aim for a date that falls during the off-peak season to potentially benefit from lower fees.
In addition, consider the weather conditions in the UK during your desired exam period. For example, choosing to write your exam between May and September offers longer daylight hours and pleasant weather, which can positively impact your study experience. By selecting exam slots during these months, you can enjoy the benefits of favorable weather and potentially save money on flight tickets.
2. Choosing an Academy for PLAB 2 Preparation:
When selecting an academy for PLAB 2 preparation, consider both online and offline courses offered by various providers. Research and compare their course fees, reviews, and success rates to make an informed decision. It is also helpful to join Facebook groups or online forums where you can gather information about the reputation and effectiveness of different academies. Additionally, before investing in extra offline mock exams, check whether the academy includes a certain number of mock exams as part of the tuition fee. This way, you can save money by booking online mock exams instead.
While attending coaching academies, consider alternative options for accommodation to save money. Most coaching academies provide paid accommodation, but these costs can add up over time. Instead, opt for booking an Airbnb near your coaching institute for the first week or two, and then search for rooms on platforms like SpareRoom and Gumtree. Renting a room in a shared house or apartment tends to be cheaper than hotels' and academies' accommodation offerings. However, always schedule a viewing before making any online payments or signing contracts to ensure the place meets your expectations.
4. Flight Tickets:
To save on flight tickets, consider booking well in advance and remaining flexible with your travel dates. Websites like Skyscanner can help you compare prices across different airlines and find the best deals. Remember to use incognito mode or a VPN while searching for flights to potentially access lower prices. Additionally, consider budget carriers for cheaper options. Shoulder seasons in the UK, such as May, early June, September, and early October, generally offer more affordable flights and accommodation rates.
5. Grocery Shopping:
Managing your food expenses is important during your PLAB 2 journey. Shop smartly by visiting budget-friendly supermarkets like Aldi, Lidl, and Asda. These stores offer a wide range of affordable products, including fresh produce and everyday essentials. Take advantage of loyalty programs and rewards cards to accumulate points and save further on future purchases. If you are not someone who cooks often, there is a budget-friendly app called Too good to go, which sells mystery bags from various shops like Starbucks, Costa, Tim Hortons, etc. , at a very low price. They are preventing food wastage and promoting sustainable living.
6. ALS Course:
Enrolling in an Advanced Life Support (ALS) course while in the UK can enhance your clinical skills and improve your job prospects. Completing an ALS course during your PLAB 2 journey can be a cost-effective way to gain the valuable credentials required to secure a job early in your career. Consider researching and enrolling in ALS courses offered by reputable providers to boost your qualifications.
7. Clinical Attachment:
Before starting your PLAB 2 course, consider doing a one-week clinical attachment. This attachment will give you a better understanding of how the NHS works and how to make the most of your PLAB 2 preparation. It can significantly reduce the chances of failing on your first attempt, saving you both time and money. After the PLAB 2 exam, search for opportunities to gain practical experience through unpaid attachments at hospitals and clinics. These attachments can enhance your CV without incurring extra expenses.
8. Traveling in the UK:
After completing your exam and clinical attachment, consider exploring the UK and giving yourself a well-deserved break. When traveling within the country, utilize trains for their excellent connectivity and frequency. If you're under 30 years old, purchasing a railcard can save you a significant amount of money on train fares. However, if you need to make sudden travel plans, buses can often offer cheaper fares. Companies like FlixBus and National Express provide affordable coach services. Consider purchasing coach cards or passes if you plan to travel frequently.
9. Leaving the UK:
When it's time to depart the UK, plan your departure strategically to minimize costs. Look for the most cost-effective flight options and consider selling or donating any items you no longer need to reduce excess baggage costs. Notify your landlord or accommodation provider in advance and settle any outstanding bills or obligations to avoid additional charges.
Saving money and budgeting during your PLAB 2 exam journey in the UK is crucial for international candidates. By carefully considering your choices and adopting cost-effective strategies, you can reduce expenses without compromising on the quality of your preparation. From booking exam slots and choosing the right academy to find affordable accommodation, managing transportation costs, and utilizing free resources like NICE guidelines/NHS official websites, implementing these tips will help you make the most of your PLAB 2 journey without breaking the bank.
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