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GMC registration - STEP 4 (1) - Demonstrating your medical knowledge and skills

Updated: Apr 2, 2022

To get GMC registration, you will need to demonstrate that your medical knowledge and medical skills are up to date. There are several options how you can do this:

  • sit the two-part PLAB test

  • hold an acceptable postgraduate qualification (PGQ)

  • be eligible for inclusion in the specialist register

  • hold a Relevant European or Specialist Qualification (REQ) - post-Brexit route

  • have passed an acceptable overseas registration exam

In order to be GMC registered, you must also have an acceptable internship/experience, but we will discuss this in our next blog post.

Sitting the two-part PLAB test

If you graduated from a medical school outside of the UK, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you will probably need to take the PLAB test.

There will be a separate blog post about the PLAB exams, so here we will provide just a brief summary to give you an overview of what these exams imply.

Do not make a PLAB booking if you have an EEA or Swiss primary medical qualification, unless the GMC has advised you to. If the GMC has not advised you, you should use their registration guide to see how to apply with a European or Swiss qualification.

There are two parts to the PLAB exam and you will need to pass both parts before you can apply for GMC registration:

PLAB 1 is a 3-hour written multiple-choice exam with 180 single best answer questions. It is run 4 times a year in the UK and in a number of overseas locations. If you would like to know more, read a step-by-step GMC guide about PLAB 1 here.

PLAB 2 is a practical objective structured clinical exam, known as an OSCE. It consists of 16 scenarios, each lasting 8 minutes and aims to reflect real-life settings including a mock consultation or an acute ward. There will be at least 2 rest stations, allowing you to take breaks. The whole PLAB 2 exam will take around 3 hours. The exam can be taken only in Manchester, UK. Read a very comprehensive guide to the PLAB 2 exam on the GMC website here. If you would like to know how the PLAB 2 test has changed during COVID-19, please follow this link.

To make the PLAB journey easier, the TrewLink Academy has launched its very own PLAB 2 Online course that includes high-quality lectures and recordings of each PLAB chapter taught by UK doctors and ex-OSCE examiners. This is an intensive instructor-led coaching programme, covering the highest yield topics and scenarios seen in PLAB 2. History taking, diagnosis, management, communication and counselling stations are all dealt with as well as practical skills. You can now prepare for PLAB 2 at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home.

COVID-19 pandemic has changed the number of PLAB places released throughout the year with some places being cancelled or significantly postponed. The GMC takes all necessary steps to increase the number of places where possible. So if you planning on taking the PLAB exams, it is worth checking for regular updates from the GMC here.

Some key points to keep in mind about the PLAB exams:

  • PLAB 1: 3-hour exam with 180 multiple-choice questions (cost £239)

  • PLAB 2: Objective structured clinical exam (OSCE) 16 stations reflecting real-life settings (cost £875)

  • Pass for PLAB cannot be older than 2 years, but the GMC will consider older than 2 years on a case-by-case basis

  • PLAB tests knowledge and skills but the experience will also be reviewed so you should look at internship criteria first

  • Check the official GMC website to have an idea of how the PLAB exams have changed because of the pandemic. This will help you to plan your UK journey wisely.

If you missed the GMC registration webinar and would like to know the main steps you need to take in order to obtain full registration to practice, you can watch it for free here.

Holding an acceptable postgraduate qualification (PGQ)

According to the GMC, if you have one of the postgraduate qualifications listed on the GMC website, the GMC can accept that as evidence that you have the necessary medical knowledge, clinical skills and doctor experience to apply for full GMC registration with a licence to practise.

If you have either a UK or overseas postgraduate qualification, it must be:

  • on the approved list

  • with a pass date no older than 3 years at the point of registration. If it is older than 3 years, then additional evidence will be required.

  • independently verified by ECFMG with your PMQ before applying. You can read our detailed guide on the EPIC verification process here.

Eligibility for inclusion in the specialist register

Different types of registration applications are available to specialists and general practitioners (GPs) based on their medical knowledge, clinical skills, and previous experience. IMG doctors will need to apply for specialist registration or GP registration if they would like to practise as a consultant or a GP in the UK. Read the full guidance from the GMC here.

Some key points to keep in mind about this route:

  • You will need to provide evidence to demonstrate the breadth of competencies in your specialist and/or GP training curriculum

  • The evidence must demonstrate how well you have performed and must be less than 5 years old

  • Application takes between 6 to 9 months and costs £1,668

  • Evidence supplied to a Royal College to verify it passes rules

  • Contact GMC for advice before you start an application

Holding a Relevant European or Specialist Qualification (REQ) - post- Brexit route

If you hold a medical qualification awarded in the EEA or Switzerland, it may be classed as a Relevant European Qualification (REQ) and you can apply for either provisional or full registration with the GMC. In order to be accepted by the GMC, your REQ must be on the GMC acceptable REQ list. You can find out if your qualification is a relevant European qualification by simply selecting the country where you qualified using this link.

Key points to keep in mind about this route:

  • REQ must be on GMC acceptable REQ list

  • If you hold the accompanying certificate listed, you can apply for full registration

  • If you do not have the accompanying certificate listed, you can only apply for provisional registration

Having passed an acceptable overseas registration exam

You are eligible for this application if you:

  • graduated from a medical school outside the UK or Switzerland

  • hold an acceptable primary medical qualification

  • have completed an internship

  • have passed one of the following overseas registration exams:

- USMLE 1, 2 CK and 2 CS. For 2 CS your pass must be on or before 13 March 2020

- MCCQE 2 (taken in English) on or before 27 October 2020

- AMC Clinical Examination on or before 5 March 2020

Read the full guide from the GMC here.

Having questions?

1. You can always ask our friendly team members, mentors and senior IMGs for advice here. Our guidance is free.

2. We encourage you to watch the Q&A session from a 1-hour interactive and engaging webinar with the GMC on the GMC registration process.

3. Check the official GMC website to have an idea of how the PLAB exams have changed because of the pandemic here and here.

In our next posts, we will provide full guidance on internship criteria and what to do if you have breaks in practice.

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