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Top 10 Tips For Both PLAB 1 And PLAB 2

Hello! I am Dr. Yuva, an IMG from India. I am doing my FY2 in the United Kingdom now.

PLAB 1 and PLAB 2 are the two steps of the licensing exam conducted by the General medical council, UK.

As IMGs, we are granted GMC Registration and a license to practise in the UK after we clear PLAB. Here, I will highlight and elaborate on the top ten tips we should remember while preparing for the above-mentioned exams.

PLAB 1 Top 10 Tips

1. Understand what is required

PLAB 1 is predominantly an exam of knowledge, but it does not stop with that. If said more simply, the requirement to pass PLAB 1 is to think like a UK medical graduate. Knowledge is essential, but implementing knowledge in a way that a graduate in the UK will do is vital to pass the exam.

2. Do not memorise

Undoubtedly, UK medical practise is protocol based. There are several criteria that we should know to pass the exam and also to practise in the UK. However, please do not memorise the answers to the MCQs. Memorise only the criteria and understand the concepts for non-criteria questions.

3. Ruling out method

Instead of memorising the answers, try to understand the concepts as already mentioned. In PLAB 1 exam, a question is provided with four options, out of which, one is the right answer. To be sure of that, try to rule out the other three options. You can only rule out when you have understood what the question is asking and what the four options are used for.

4. Read the question

The questions asked in PLAB 1 look like a stem. The actual question usually is the last line of the stem, most of the times. This last line should be given utmost importance. The options might all be related to the stem’s scenario, but the option to the last line or the actual question will only be one.

5. Time management

The time provided for the exam and the number of questions in the exam are equal. In other words, it is 180 minutes for 180 questions. Narrowing it down, it is 1 minute for 1 question. During practise and in mocks, try to finish 1 question in 30- 45 seconds so you have enough time in the actual exam.

6. Multiple mocks

The purpose of taking multiple mocks is to acquaint you with the actual exam. The more mocks you take; the more programmed your brain gets to finish the given questions in the given time. Also, do practise mocks with a lesser time range. For instance, practise mocks with 2.30 hours deadline instead of 3 hours. This technique will help you answer faster and in the actual exam, you can finish the test before the given time.

7. Discuss with colleagues

As PLAB 1 is a conceptual exam, sometimes we find it hard or confusing to understand the relevance of certain concepts. In such times, instead of ignoring the fact that you have not clearly understood the topic, please seek your colleagues' help. With discussions and debates, the core of the topic unveils and gives you and your colleagues a deeper and a better idea of the topic.

8. Refer to BNF and NICE guidelines

Certainly, it is best to refer to BNF and NICE guidelines when it comes to criterion or management aspects. They are the official guidelines followed by the doctors in the NHS. To clear doubts in controversial areas, these are the websites that can help.

9. Refer to patient info and NHS website

NICE and BNF websites might not be accessible everywhere and at all times. But corresponding alternatives will be websites like patient info UK and the NHS webpage. These websites are accessible worldwide and provide exact and precise guidelines for professionals.

10. Be kind and do not compare.

PLAB 1 is not a competitive exam. It is an exam to grant a medical license in the UK. Sharing knowledge and resources will not put you down but, conversely, help shape better. This journey can be overwhelming sometimes, be kind to yourself and each other. Never compare with others as this is your path, and it can never be similar to somebody else’s.

PLAB 2 Top 10 Tips

1. Be receptive to change

PLAB 2 exam mandates the need to move to the UK in order to take the exam. Traveling over the sea for a crucial exam can be quite stressful and have considerable effects on mental health. Please be ready and prepare yourself mentally while you are back home so that you accept this change constructively.

2. Plan before you start

The timeline of preparation differs from person to person. But I can assure you that an organised plan and idea about the number of stations in each topic and prioritising the topics based on their importance BEFORE starting can save a lot of time and help in better understanding of the exam itself.

3. Multiple study partners

PLAB 2 is an exam that tests how well you manage a clinical or critical situation. Emotional stability and the presence of the mind are more crucial than any other parameters. Practising with the same person may be fruitful but will not prepare you to handle difficult situations and different people. Therefore, practising with random and multiple strangers will improve your interpersonal skills and ability to manage a presumably difficult and unexpected scenario.

4. Mocks with different examiners

Mocks with different examiners are also for the same purpose as quoted above. An additional advantage is that when you take a mock exam with multiple examiners, you get an exact image of how the actual exam will be. The time to adjust, the ability to pacify yourself, and most importantly, the skill to forget the station once you finish it and move on to the next station without letting the last one disturb you develop when you take multiple mocks.

5. Addressing the concerns in your way, not what is given in scripts

To address the concerns of the patient is the prime aim of the exam. But when they are addressed in a very scripted manner, the results don't turn out fruitful. If they are addressed in your own style with originality, there is nothing to worry about. Contemplate what you would like to hear if you were the patient and answer accordingly.

6. Expecting the worst

The best way to ace PLAB 2 is to expect the worst while you've prepared for the best. The stations, the mood of the patients, and the concerns being asked are not standard. The reason behind 'expecting the worst' is to prepare you mentally in the exam hall to handle difficult stations.

7. Time management

In regards to time management, there are be few stations which you can not finish on time and some that you finish quite early. It is impossible to complete all the stations perfectly in the given time. But it is also inevitably important that you ALWAYS practise with the GMC timer right from the beginning, so you get used to consulting the patients in the given time.

8. Presence of mind

It is a very prevalent belief that candidates fail if they are scripted. In order to not sound scripted or to not reiterate dialogues, always being mindful can help. Coming up with creative and independent solutions that you think are reasonable or will make the patient happy is absolutely fine, and it might also fetch good marks.

9. Avoid over preparation

Over preparation can lead to repeating the scripts and blindly following the books. It can adversely affect your potential to come up with unique solutions and have a negative impact on patient-oriented approach. It is best to avoid over-preparation and only use the books/scripts to imbibe their medical content.

10. Adequate breaks

PLAB 2 is not just an exam of consultation. It also tests your ability to stay away from home, bear emotional stress, and adapt to the new environment. Therefore, please take adequate breaks to rejuvenate. Although this might sound the least important, the energy restoration a break can provide can not be matched by anything else.

Need more tips and help?

I believe I have given an idea of what is required to pass the PLAB exams. This is an overview, but if you think you need further explanations or clarifications, I can answer them at You can register using this link - Find me as an Ambassador and follow my profile – Yuva Ravindran - to receive regular support and advice.

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