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All You Need to Know about PLAB 2 Preparations

All you need to know about PLAB 2 preparations Hey! I am Ehsaas Smriti, an Indian Medical Graduate from Delhi, India. I successfully passed my PLAB 2 exam on my second attempt few months back. Currently, I am actively pursuing job opportunities in the UK while concurrently working as a junior doctor in the Emergency Medicine in my home country. In this blog post, I aim to share my personal journey and insights gained during the preparation for PLAB 2. I hope that by the end of this blog, those currently preparing for PLAB 2 can carry some valuable take-home messages and practical tips to enhance their preparation journey.

I will be discussing about the following in the blog :

1) PLAB 2 and optimal preparation time

2) Essential resources for effective preparation

3) Strategic resource utilisation and tips for preparation

4) Avoiding common PLAB 2 mistakes and myths

PLAB 2 and optimal preparation time

PLAB 2 is an OSCE made up of 16 clinical scenarios, each lasting for 8 minutes where the examiner will be assessing the candidates on their approach to deal with real life consultations or acute ward setting and ability to perform common practical procedures.

I personally feel that the PLAB 2 preparation requires 4-6months in order to feel confident and familiarise with the different aspects of this exam as it's possible many of us would be preparing alongside full or part time work. While for a repeater, it could be around 2-3months as they don't have to start everything from scratch. Although, this preparation time can be different for everyone.

Essential resources for effective preparation

1) GMC Website ( for PLAB test blueprint and Good Medical Practice PDF)

2) Any Online/offline Study courses of your choice ( to gain insight and prioritize about the common clinical topics and practical skills and to give mocks)

3) NHS A-Z website ( for In-Depth exploration and understanding of specific clinical topics, from signs and symptoms to investigations and advances in treatment)

4) Free YouTube PLAB 2 playlists ( to boost practical skills and refine how you interact with others by considering to incorporate some UK communication styles)

5) Facebook/ WhatsApp groups ( to find different study partners to practice stations with or give online mocks)

6) PLAB2App : PLAB 2 Test Simulator ( to simulate the PLAB 2 exam experience accurately by practicing using the official exam timer with the identical sound and a 2-minute warning bell)

Strategic resource utilisation and tips for preparation

Passing the PLAB 2 exam is a huge milestone in the career of an IMG doctor. A lot of hardwork goes into the preparation of this exam since many of us are completely new to such type of an exam setup that too in a foreign country. There are few strategies I developed and tips I learnt during my 1st and 2nd attempt in order to maximise my output.

I divided all the scenarios into two : Clinical and ethical stations. For the clinical stations I made my own Body System wise notes highlighting the key questions, signs and symptoms, important red flags and differentials to look out for, specific investigations or relevant examinations to do to reach a diagnosis. I used the above mentioned study material and resources to solidify my understanding of clinical concepts. Once I was through with my first read of all clinical scenarios, I engaged in practice sessions with study partners to assess my retention. After each session, I diligently revisited those topics to reinforce my understanding.

For ethical and counselling stations such as breaking bad news or angry patients, there is a specific way we need to deliver the news along with showing empathy. Our interpersonal skills plays a huge role in such stations and in order to ace such stations, I practiced with various partners, especially those from different countries, and my friends. This not only helped me overcome anxiety about talking to strangers but also taught me diverse ways to handle sensitive situations. Creating a list of effective interpersonal phrases and practicing in front of a mirror further enhanced my skills.

Lastly, PRACTICE and CONSISTENCY is the key to this exam. Spending few hours daily practicing with my study partners even if it meant 3-4 stations in a day helped me a lot. I usually practiced with 7-minute timer accounting for the time spent on entering the room, introducing myself, building rapport, and attentively listening to patients who might over-explain. However burnout is real in such monotonous practice routines and it's absolutely fine to take a day or two break every once in a while to relax and rejuvenate. Over rehearsing can lead us to sound scripted and overshadow the real doctor in us.

Avoiding common PLAB 2 mistakes and myths

1) Passing PLAB 2 exam is a herculean task in itself and does require dedication and efforts. One simply cannot excel the exam solely on their good communication skills but also need to show their clinical thinking and clinical decision making skills.

2) Managing your time is the essence. It's not necessary to keep talking for full 8 minutes. A quick focused and relevant history taking followed by discussing your management plan is always better. We should always have some time in hand to answer patient's concerns and make our consultation patient-centric.

3) Don't overuse stalk phrases. Empathy is important but can be easily overdone and frustrate patients. A nod of head, a soft expression, a gentle 'uh huh' or hand gestures can be as comforting as can a few kind words.

4) Be realistic and practical. Carrying out 'Head-to-toe' examinations or doing unnecessary investigations and referrals in all patients, alerting seniors in minor situations only reflects that you're not sure and trying to cover all bases.

5) Be confident. Showcase your clinical experience by thinking logically and clearly. If you realise in between the station that you've said something incorrectly previously or missed asking any important question, it's alright to make amends later in the station naturally rather than skipping it all together and giving a wrong impression to the examiner.

Need more help?

I hope this blog helps you in preparation of your PLAB 2 exam in ways that TrewLink blogs have done for me. If you have any other questions about PLAB 2, please feel free to ask me. You can register using this link. Find me as an Ambassador and follow my profile - Ehsaas Smriti - to get regular support and advice.

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