USMLE vs PLAB vs AMC: Which One to Choose?
Hi, I am Anu, an IMG from Nepal. I am currently an intern who made a choice to pursue PLAB. In today’s blog, I am going to cover a few key points that helped me make this decision.
As International Medical Graduates (IMGs), the first question that pops up in our minds when we think of pursuing our education and practice away from home is which country would be the best choice for us. The US, the UK, and Australia are popular choices for IMGs. Terms like the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Exam), PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board), and AMC (Australian Medical Council) are becoming increasingly common amongst medical students and graduates.
The ultimate choice to decide on a country for the future depends on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, a desired field of specialization, costs of moving and living abroad, eligibility requirements, exams and pass rates, duration of future training, future job prospects, family and friends, lifestyle and job environment, religion and culture.
Here I will present to you a breakdown of the process and exams required to practice in three countries: the USMLE for the USA, the PLAB for the UK and Ireland, and the AMC for Australia:
USMLE: The IMG must be officially enrolled in, or a graduate of, a medical school listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools as meeting ECFMG eligibility requirements.
PLAB: The IMG must have received a medical degree from a medical school listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools and be able to provide an English language proficiency certificate.
AMC: The IMG must have received a medical degree from a medical school recognized by the AMC.
USMLE: There are 2 exams in the form of USMLE STEP 1 and STEP 2CK.
STEP 1: An 8-hour exam with 7 60-minute blocks, each block containing multiple questions (but not greater than 40 questions per block); 280 total items
STEP 2: A 9-hour exam with 8 60-minute blocks, each block containing multiple questions (but not greater than 40 questions per block); 318 total items
PLAB: There are 2 exams in the form of PART 1 and PART 2:
PART 1: A 3-hour exam with 180 multiple-choice questions
PART 2: An OSCE with 16 stations, each lasting 8 minutes
AMC: There are 2 exams in the form of the AMC CAT MCQ Examination and the AMC Clinical Examination:
CAT (Computer Adaptive Test): A 3.5-hour computer-based exam with 150 multiple-choice questions
Clinical Examination: An OSCE with 16 stations (out of which 14 are assessed) and 4 rest stations, each lasting 10 minutes
GRADING AND SCORES
USMLE: STEP 1 is reported as Pass/Fail. STEP 2CK has a minimum passing score of 209.
PLAB: There is no set pass mark for PLAB 1. The passing mark for each exam varies and is calculated based on the Angoff method. On average, it is between 120-130. Similarly, there is no set pass mark for PLAB 2. However, to pass the exam, a minimum of 10 stations must be passed along with securing a minimum required score.
AMC: The CAT has a minimum passing score of 250 out of 500. To pass the clinical examination, 10 out of 14 stations must be passed.
NUMBER OF ATTEMPTS
USMLE: 4 attempts per STEP are allowed.
PLAB: 4 attempts are allowed per exam. Failing 4 attempts, candidates can apply for one final attempt after demonstrating evidence of additional learning over 12 months.
AMC: There are no limits on the number of attempts allowed.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY
USMLE: Candidates must score 350 in each Listening, Reading, and Speaking and 300 in Writing in OET Medicine.
PLAB: Candidates must score 7 in each module and 7.5 overall in the IELTS Academic version or a B in each module of OET Medicine.
AMC: Candidates must score 7 in each module and 7 overall in the IELTS Academic version or a B in each module of OET Medicine or 65 in each module and 65 overall in PTE Academic.
USMLE: STEP 1 $985 STEP 2 CK $985 ECFMG Certification $160 (in US Dollars)
PLAB: Part 1 £247 Part 2 £906 (in British Pounds)
AMC: CAT MCQ examination $2,920 Clinical examination $4,130 (in Australian Dollars)
USMLE: Both exams are held around the year except on the first week of January and major holidays.
PLAB: Both exams are held four times a year.
AMC: Both exams are held on multiple dates each month.
USMLE: After USMLE and ECFMG certification, all physicians must undergo a US residency before practicing.
PLAB: After PLAB, physicians can apply for registration and a license to practice.
AMC: After AMC, physicians must be offered employment, after which they can apply for conditional registration.
NEED MORE HELP?
If you have questions about which exam would be best for you, I would be happy to answer them at trewlink.com. You can register using this link- https://trewlink.com?referrer=ann724710. Find me as an Ambassador and Follow my profile – Anu Manandhar - to receive regular support and advice.