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How to pass the PLAB 2 exam on your first attempt

Updated: Apr 2, 2022

Hi, we are Shri and Ayesha, NHS doctors and IMGs from India and Bangladesh. Today we will share with you top tips from our personal experience on passing the PLAB 2 exam on the first attempt.

Before we begin, here are some useful links with valuable information on the PLAB 2 exam:

TOP TIPS from Shri

1. Understand the exam

From personal experience, it took me a while to fully understand the exam and what the examiners are looking for. Allocate some time to fully search about the exam and what is expected out of you, before starting your preparation.

2. Find practice buddies

As you will be facing 16-18 different patients on the day of the exam, it is advantageous to practice with various people. It will help ease the anxiety of talking to different people. You can easily find people to practice with on WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram groups.

3. Do not memorise the scripts

The question on the exam day may vary from the question you memorize, hence approaching a station with preconceived answers will make sound irrelevant, putting you at the risk of failing.

4. Utilize the 2 minutes before each station

Before each station, you will be given 2 minutes to read the scenario. Utilize this time to understand the situation and to prepare the questions you want to ask the patient. Implement this when you are practising to get a better understanding of the importance of the golden 2 minutes.

5. Put the patient first

It is vital to involve the patient in the consultation, ask important and relevant questions and not waste time on ones which irrelevant to the station. This will help you to stay within the time limit and ensure that you have addressed all their concerns.

6. Practice, Practice, Practice

PLAB 2 is mostly about communication and interaction with the patient. So, make sure to practise as much as possible, correct your mistakes between each practice instead of spending too much time reading and memorizing notes. This will help develop your own style for your consultation.

There are many different PLAB 2 courses available for IMGs in the UK. The courses vary by structure, content, schedule, intensity, level of the quality of teaching, and many other factors.

TOP TIPS from Ayesha

I am an NHS Psychiatry doctor who is passionate about teaching PLAB 2 alongside my clinical practice and TrewLink Expert commitments.

1. Materials

'What do I need for my PLAB 2 preparation?" is a very common question. Some will say you need only practice, some will say notes from those who have passed the exam or an academy. But what I will say is that all materials are the same, you just need to practise wisely and effectively. Do your research and choose which materials you want to study, stick to those materials and start studying.

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.

2. Timings

Timings are very important and crucial, but it all depends on your schedule, how flexible you are and your preferred pace of studying. From my personal experience, 2-3 months is the perfect time to get prepared. However, your schedule may be busy, so you need to plan in advance and see what timings would suit you best. For example, for a working parent, 2 hours every day with a minimum of 3 - 4 months of preparation in total might be enough. In case you do not have any personal or family commitments, then 4 - 6 hours every day minimum of 1.5 - 2 months. These are my recommendations only, you may need to adjust these timings to your situation.

3. Study approach

This is another common and important question, as the wrong approach may result in longer periods of preparation or you may even end up failing the exam. I would recommend spending some time searching online what approaches other doctors use, watching YouTube videos, asking around or your colleagues. All this will give you a general idea of how to start studying, and you can always modify our approach later on if needed. Now you can start reading commonly presented scenarios, start with an easy topic and learn how to approach the situation and the patient. Spend at least 4 - 5 days to grasp an idea of how to take history and make sure you know why you are asking each particular question. The easiest way to understand whether the question is relevant is to ask yourself whether it helps you to make a diagnosis. If the answer is no, do not waste your time and move on to the next question.

After you feel that you have done with the theory, move on to practice. Start practising online or in-person with your friends and colleagues. Your study group should be limited to 2 - 5 people maximum, otherwise, studying may become difficult and ineffective. Try to practise 2-4 stations every day by reading first and then practising the same station with friends or colleagues. From my personal experience, this is the best way to understand your strength and weaknesses, and also build your confidence.

4. PLAB 2 Academy

Attending a PLAB 2 academy is not mandatory. You have good chances to pass the exam without attending an academy if you know what is expected of you as a PLAB 2 candidate, how to study effectively and approach the station in a way UK graduates would. If you decided to not attend an academy but would like to have a mock exam to get familiar with the real PLAB 2 exam atmosphere, you can attend a short revision course in an academy at a very reasonable price. You can do this within a week before the exam allowing some time to work on your weaknesses, but probably would need to book your mock in advance.

TrewLink wants to make taking the PLAB 2 course less expensive, less stressful, more flexible, and more enjoyable! This is why TrewLink has launched the very first online subscription PLAB 2 course taught by UK practising doctors and ex-OSCE examiners.
The PLAB 2 Online course includes high-quality recordings of each PLAB 2 chapter. The course is only available on TrewLink and costs only £99 for 76 lessons and 30 hours of video content.

Just before the exam, please make sure you know your strength and weaknesses and use both to your advantage on the exam day. If possible, before the exam you may want to practise with someone who has recently passed PLAB 2 and can give you feedback. However, if you have already taken an academy course with mocks, you may not need any extra mocks.

5. Take away tips

  • Study smarter not harder

  • Learn to approach each station in the correct way

  • Do not memorise the scrips, rather be yourself and adjust your approach to each scenario

  • Adjust the tone of your voice depending on the scenario

  • If you are taking an academy, plan smartly and ahead - most academies have an intensive 2-week course

  • In case you take mocks, take the last one closer to the exam date

  • Have proper food on exam day and a good night sleep

  • Smile, be a safe and confident doctor

Remember hard work is never wasted if it is done with the right approach.

12 Resources for PLAB 2 from Julia

Here are 12 very useful recourses that will help you get familiar with how medicine is practised in the UK and therefore increase your chances to pass the PLAB 2 exam.

Health A to Z and Medicines A to Z - these are NHS sites that will guide you towards how to explain the most common conditions and medications to the patients during your PLAB 2 exam.

OSCEstop - great tips on how to take histories, perform examinations and procedures, plus lots of advice on communication skills.

Geeky Medics is a great website with lots of tips for your PLAB 2. It's worth checking the Geeky Medics YouTube channel too. - the website has a huge range of medical conditions and also on commonly prescribed drugs. A great place to start your reading.

NICE - UK clinical guidelines. It takes time to learn these guidelines and it is not always an easy read, but it is important to pick out the key points to ensure that your management of patients during PLAB 2 follows current evidence-based recommendations.

NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries - Providing primary care practitioners with a readily accessible summary of the current evidence base and practical guidance on best practice. - This site has many videos, mostly of patients talking about their experiences of all aspects of disease and medical care. It can be very useful to hear how patients feel.

The Family Planning Association - a wide range of contraceptive booklets answer commonly asked questions about every method of contraception available in the UK.

In the mental health information section, you'll find user-friendly and evidence-based information on mental health problems, treatments and other topics, written by psychiatrists with help from patients and carers.

If you have any questions feel free to ask on the TrewLink website, we are happy to help.

If you found our blog articles helpful, please share them with your IMG friends & colleagues who may also benefit from reading our blog.

Good luck,

Shri & Ayesha & Julia

Written by Shri & Ayesha & Julia

Edited by Julia

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