Shared by colleague Dr.Laique. PLAB – A short overview


Shared by colleague Dr.Laique. PLAB – A short overview

PLAB is a licensing exam to practise medicine in the UK. It is easier when compared to NEET, and cheaper when compared to USMLE. So, UK is becoming the go-to destination for doctors who are tired of giving multiple attempts in NEET PG or having to wait for a US visa.

The exam as such consists of 2 parts, one theoretical and other, practical. A pre-requisite, however, is to score at least a band 7.5 in IELTS. Once you clear PLAB and get registered with the GMC (Licensing board for doctors in the UK), all overseas doctors are required to work at least for a year before they can apply for a residency. Vacancies for jobs are aplenty (thanks to the deficit they are facing) and the pay is handsome (35 lakhs p.a for a starter). And then, well, life is set.

To put in nutshell, PLAB is a relatively easy exam, which requires little preparation (3 months for Part 1 & 2 months for Part 2). The only downfall is you need to work for a year before you can apply for PG residency there. During your PG residency, clear the MRCP/MRCS exam which enables you to practise anywhere in the world without much hindrance.

Need details? Scroll below!

PLAB – A comprehensive picture

For all of you asking about PLAB queries, here are some take away points:

What is PLAB?

PLAB (Professional & Linguistics Assessment Board) is a licensing exam to practice medicine in the UK. This means that clearing the exam, simply gives you the license to practice in the UK and NOT directly enter any Postgraduate Degree (unlike USMLE or NEET).

It consists of two parts:
• Part 1 - Can be taken in India - twice a year - March & November
o Pre-requisite: IELTS band 7.5 score (with at least 7 in all domains)
o 180 Single Best Answer questions (SBAq – essentially an MCQ with five options)
o Prep time - 2 to 3 months
o Syllabus – Clinical subjects + Anatomy + Ethics
o Difficulty level – Easy to Moderate
o Material – PLABABLE app subscription for 3 months (consists of 1800 questions which form the basis for all PLAB questions)
o Only a pass is needed (unlike NEET/USMLE where your score matters)
o To pass, one usually needs to answer 115 -122 out of 180 questions correctly.

• Part 2 – Only in the UK
o Held every Sunday in Manchester, London or Cambridge.
o A preparatory course for 15 days is highly recommended to clear the exam
o 18 OSCE stations.
o Passing 11 stations is a requirement to clear the exam.

What after passing PLAB and getting registration with General Medical Council, UK?

Well after passing PLAB, you need to enter into a Foundation Year 2 (FY2) program or do an FY2 equivalent job (considering you have completed internship in home country which is equivalent to FY 1). FY 2 can be considered as a transition year before entering the PG residency programs in the UK.

After completion of one year of FY2 program you can start applying for residency in the UK in various hospitals.

In the UK, internal medicine residencies are a lot easier to get in comparison to surgical. But this does not mean, one cannot get a surgical specialty. The competition is tough, but there have been many cases, where overseas graduated have gotten into Radiology, Surgery and Neurology residencies.


Let’s be frank, NEET is highly competitive and getting a visa for USMLE is becoming increasingly tough. So, PLAB is the best bet for doctors to get an overseas experience and securing a PG degree. The cost involved is less roughly around 5 lakhs including the exam fees and travel expense. This is more than compensated by the (around 30 -36 lakhs p.a) which is sufficient enough to sustain and save.