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PLAB ~ Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board

Practising medicine in the UK:

If you want to practise medicine in the UK, you must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). You are entitled to GMC registration if you have:

  • qualified at a UK medical school
  • qualified elsewhere in the European Economic Area (EEA) and are an EEA national.

    You are eligible to apply for provisional and full registration if:
  • you qualified at one of certain recognised medical schools outside the EEA
  • you are an EEA national and hold an acceptable overseas qualification which has been accepted by another EEA member state as qualifying you to practise in that state.

    If you are not an EEA national and hold an acceptable overseas qualification, you can apply for limited registration, allowing you to practise under supervision in approved training posts. To obtain limited registration, you must provide objective evidence of your capability for practice in the UK. This may be achieved by:
  • passing the PLAB test
  • obtaining a place on a GMC approved training scheme
  • providing evidence of achievement in specialist training. You should check with the GMC to find out which is the best route for you.

    Checking training opportunities in the UK

    Passing the PLAB test will not guarantee you the offer of a job in the United Kingdom and you will not be granted limited registration without the offer of a job. Finding a job is your responsibility and you should ensure that you are well informed about opportunities for work before embarking on the PLAB test. There are fewer vacancies in some specialties than in others and there is almost always a delay of several weeks, possibly months, between passing the test and starting a job. The GMC does not have information on job opportunities. Information can be obtained from one of the organisations whose addresses are given at the end of this leaflet.

    The PLAB test - entry qualifications

    Once you have established that the PLAB test is the right route for you, you must check whether you are qualified to enter.

    Before you can enter the PLAB test, you must have obtained:
  • a primary medical qualification accepted for limited registration
  • 12 months’ postgraduate clinical experience from teaching hospitals or other hospitals approved by the medical registration authorities in the appropriate country. It is possible to enter the PLAB test without this experience but you would be at a disadvantage. Without this experience you will initially only be granted limited registration at the grade of House Officer (the grade occupied by new medical graduates)
  • an IELTS test report form (valid for two years only) with a minimum overall score of 7.0 and minimum scores of 7.0 in the speaking section and 6.0 in each other section (listening, academic reading and academic writing). Note that doctors who are accepted for exemption from the PLAB test are required to score 7.0 or above in each band of the IELTS test.

    Nature of the test

    The test assesses suitability to undertake hospital employment at Senior House Officer level (SHO) in a UK hospital by examining the candidate's medical knowledge and clinical and communication skills. The PLAB test currently consists of the following examinations:

    Part 1
  • Part 1 of the PLAB test is in Extended Matching Question (EMQ) format. The emphasis of the test is on clinical management and includes science as applied to clinical problems.
  • The test is confined to core knowledge, skills and attitudes relating to conditions commonly seen by SHOs, to the generic management of life-threatening situations, and to rarer, but important problems. It will contain 200 questions, divided into a number of themes. The duration of the test will be three hours
  • For each group of questions there will be a list of options. Candidates are required to select the most appropriate option for each question. One mark is awarded for each correct response, but no marks are deducted for an incorrect answer. Candidates will be required to enter their responses on special answer sheets which can be read by an optical mark reader. The examination will be marked by computer. (Please contact the GMC for further information on the new test).

    Part 2
  • Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). The aim of PLAB OSCE is to test candidates' clinical and communication skills in a number of controlled situations.

    PLAB Part 1 - £145.00
    PLAB Part 2 - £430.00.

    A rupee bank draft should be made out to The British Council and sent to the British Council office where the test will be taken. Please consult The British Council for the exchange rate to be used. The draft should not be dated more than six months before the test, and should reach the GMC by the published deadline. These fees remain the same for subsequent attempts.

    Cancellation fees

    There are charges for cancelling a test place or for transferring to another test date. Candidates who cancel a test place after the closing date for registration forfeit their whole test fee. For information on the IELTS fees, contact the British Council.

    Test centres

    Part 1 of the PLAB test can be taken in the UK at test centres in London, Birmingham, Edinburgh or Glasgow. Part 1 of the test may also be taken overseas in Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Pakistan (Karachi and Islamabad) and Sri Lanka.
    Part 2 of the test can only be taken in the UK. The IELTS examination can be taken in the UK and overseas. Lists of test centres are available from British Council offices in the UK or overseas.

    Re-sitting the PLAB test

    Part 1: Candidates who have failed the test may only retake it while the IELTS result is still valid.
    Part 2: If candidates fail, they will be sent forms enabling re-application for part 2 of the test. However, if the test is failed at the fourth attempt, the candidate will be required to re-sit the IELTS test and also the whole of the PLAB test. There are no exceptions to this rule.

    Preparation for the PLAB test

    Specialist courses for the PLAB test are available in the UK. The courses cover either the combined English and professional component or just the English. The GMC does not inspect these courses and cannot recommend or comment on any particular course. Contact the National Advice Centre for Postgraduate Medical Education (NACPME) for details and a list of available courses. PasTest produce publications/learning materials for the PLAB examination. Contact details are as follows: PasTest Freepost, Egerton Court, Parkgate Estate, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 7BR. Fax: 01565 650264.

    Obtaining limited registration without taking the PLAB test

    This is not intended to be a means of avoiding taking the PLAB test. The following categories may entitle a doctor to be exempted from taking the PLAB test:
  • Senior Doctor’s route (check with the GMC)
  • Full membership of one of the Royal Colleges
  • Sponsorship through an Overseas Doctors’ Training Scheme managed by one of the Royal Colleges (contact the appropriate Royal College). A failure in the PLAB test disqualifies a candidate from this type of sponsorship.
  • Sponsorship through the British Council (contact Health Department, The British Council, Manchester)
  • Sponsorship through a UK university, for doctors undertaking research or academic work for which they require clinical access
  • A small number of postgraduate institutions (check with the GMC)
  • Doctors whose primary medical qualifications were obtained at one of the selected medical schools in the following countries: Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, West Indies and Malaysia (before 1980). As from 1 January 1999, doctors who hold a qualification from the countries listed will be required to pass the IELTS test with a minimum score of 7.0 in the Academic module, with not less than 7.0 in each band.
  • Doctors who, in addition to their primary overseas medical qualifications, also hold or have passed all the examinations for one of the following primary medical qualifications:
    - LRCS England / LRCP London
    - LMSSA London
    - LRCP Edinburgh / LRCS Edinburgh / LRCPS Glasgow

    This is only a summary of the requirements. Doctors should contact the GMC for further details about sponsorship and the other ways to obtain Limited Registration without taking the PLAB test.

    Next steps
  • obtain an information enquiry sheet from the GMC or from one of the British Council offices in Pakistan
  • complete and return the sheet to the GMC, or telephone them to find out your route to limited registration, or print and return the sheet on the GMC web site
  • if you are told you must take the PLAB test, the GMC will send you an application form if you wish to take Part 1 of the test in the UK. If you wish to take Part 1 overseas, please send the form to the British Council office in Islamabad, for the attention of Examinations Services.

    Further information:

    routes to registration:

    General Medical Council
    178, Great Portland Street
    London W1N 6JE
    Tel: 020 7915 3481
    Fax: 020 7915 3558

    On the PLAB test:
    General Medical Council
    See the web site for advice to candidates:

    On the IELTS test and test dates:
    Any British Council office in Pakistan
    See the web site for contact details:

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