My PLAB Experience
I was working 3 days a week till about a month before my exam. I took a leave for the month before my exam and started concentrating on the preparation. As a whole I would say studied for 6 weeks. As mentioned in this group that should be more than enough. You can, if you work hard enough and prioritize, pass this exam while you work and with much less preparation time.
Personally, I would put more emphasis on doing mocks than 1700. 1700 is a book you should do once in the beginning and then do a mock a day in “test conditions” (i.e 200 SBA in a go within 3 hours). I had no issue with time management during the exam and as soon as I opened the booklet could see the similarities between the mocks and the actual exam.
Although both have their pros and cons, I would recommend Swamy mocks. They are more organized. As with any multiple-choice questions, always go with your gut instinct.
I took the Dr. Swamy course from the 15th of February to 26th of February. Then had ample time as my exam was in 5 weeks’ time. Almost all of the students in that course had my exam before my date. I would still advise 5 weeks, so you have some breathing room for off days that you will inevitably have.
First things first, it is very difficult if not impossible to pass this exam without taking one of these courses. Even if you are clinically more experienced and/or come from a country at par with the standards of the UK – taking the course removes you from your clinical mindset and makes you think and act like an FY2(which is the key to passing the exam).
I think no one would disagree that the 12-day non-stop course is a bit too much. You will have days where you’re in that class for 11 hours and its exhausting. It should be stretched out to a fortnight with less hours. This is why you should have 4-5 weeks after the course because it is a drain.
The bundles of scripts that you get are overwhelming and very detailed. The scripts should be at best a guideline or a framework that you should have the in the back of your mind if you blank out during a station. The rest should be a real conversation with the patient and should be based on whatever concern they have. Do not try to jam in extra information that you just remembered or try to rush them because you still have half a page of management in your mind to go. Your communication skills, body language, facial expressions, pauses, and empathy will pass you this exam.
I took 3 out of the 4 mocks. There is a lot of debate on at what time you should take them. That really depends on (a) how quickly you can do the course once (b) how much time you have in total. I would recommend doing the first as soon as you finish your first read, and the rest in 3-day intervals and then have the last 4 odd days free. The days you take the mocks will be tiring – you won’t be able to study after the feedback. The feedback is very important, it gives you some perspective and boosts your confidence.
The total stations are increasing all the time. There were some stations I practiced with partners, but most stations were just read through. In total I would say I had read the entire notes twice and had acted out about 20%. If you feel you have poor interpersonal skills then please do practice as much as you can – and not just with familiar faces, you’ll meet people from all over the globe. Get out of your comfort zone.
The station that I failed was the “Simman with AF & HF”. It has a few findings that you need to pick, and I was marked on that. During the exam I knew I had failed that station because my findings did not match that in the script. I should have been able hear a murmur and the basal crepitations regardless, but I feel the fact we were not able to practice on a fully functioning, speaking, simman during our course was the reason I got confused and felt it was just noise from the machine. I do not know if that was just a one off but feel it’s important that the academy prepares you for all simman stations by turning it on and making you see, hear, feel any finding it has.
I know this in an incredibly long post, but I was a nervous wreck in the past month. People do fail this exam (it’s much harder than PLAB 1) and this online fraternity gave me a lot of guidance and support during my journey so wanted to give back whatever I can.
Good luck to all.