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How to Beat the Clock in PLAB 1

Hello, I'm Dr. Niharika Koushik, an IMG from India; I gave my PLAB 1 in February 2023. In today's blog, I will discuss what most people struggle with while facing PLAB 1, time management!

I gave my exam recently and had more than 30 min left after finishing the paper. These are the few things you can do to finish the paper before the clock runs out:

1. When there's a long stem, read the last 2-3 lines and the options. You will now have a vague idea about the question and then quickly skim through the question to look for any specific details that might change the answer. If you practice this during your preparation, you could potentially save a lot of time on exam day. Most of my time was saved by this simple and super useful trick.

2. The tricky part of PLAB is that one word, one extra clinical information, could alter the answer entirely. For example, A patient who's been feeling fatigued for the last couple of months comes with Hb-8.2 MCV-104 Bilirubin- 10 would most probably be Vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency, but if the same data has Bilirubin-40, it could mean Hemolytic anemia.

Leverage the fact that it is a pencil and paper exam, not CBT. Underline all the relevant clinical details; just in case you get distracted midway, you wouldn't have to read the entire question all over again!

3. I was and still am doubtful about a few answers of mine, everything won't be familiar, but that doesn't mean you have to stay stuck with it! Answer what you think is most likely, or just take an educated guess and move on. Encircle the question to review instead of spending all your time figuring it out.

4. Don't ignore the clock. Check the time intermittently, not after every question, either. I decided to check my progress every 30min because it's easy to assess. Have I done 30-40 questions? If not, I pick up my pace and catch up. If I have done more, I just give myself an extra minute to drink water and pat my back. Both positive and negative reinforcements are helpful.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice. During the mocks, I couldn't sit for 3 hours at a stretch initially, so I would do it in hourly intervals. I slowly went from somehow making it in 3 hours to finishing it up in 2 hours. There's no shortcut. All my tips would only be useful if you are already familiar with the questions, which only come with practice.

Study On!

If you want to know more about PLAB 1, connect with me at You can register using this link . Find me as a community ambassador and follow - Dr. Niharika Koushik - for random snippets of advice and to know more stories of mine as I navigate through it all.

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