Once you finish your undergraduate medical degree, there will be a plethora of options on what to do next. If you are someone who wants to take on the PLAB Exam i.e. Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board Exam, then you must be aware of what to expect in the exam, isn’t it?
A solid understanding of the PLAB exam syllabus and pattern is essential to ensure success. In this blog, we will uncover the key aspects of the PLAB exam, providing you with valuable insights and strategies to navigate this critical step in your medical career.
Every target has a set of plans through which it can be achieved successfully. For the PLAB Exam, one must be aware of the exam syllabus. This is a crucial process because, without a syllabus, it is like walking blindly without a proper destination.
So here are the essential topics for the PLAB Exam:
Abnormal blood film
Bruising/ bleeding/ purpura
Generalised enlarged lymph nodes
Peripheral arterial disease
Peripheral oedema, breathlessness
Peripheral venous problems
Failure to thrive
Anorexia and weight loss
Facial pain and swelling
Lower GI symptoms
Upper GI symptoms
Abnormal blood sugar
General endocrine disorder
Hoarseness and/or stridor
Drawing from GMC explanatory guidance
Drawing from Good medical practice (2013) Duties of a doctor
Acid-base imbalance and blood gas abnormalities
Travel medicine and tropical infections
Alcohol and drug use disorder and dependence
Learning and communication problems
Medically unexplained physical symptoms
Mood (affective) problems
Personality and behavioural disorders
Back and neck problems
Connective tissue disorders
Foot and ankle problems
Hand and wrist problems
Shoulder/upper limb problems
Skeletal problems including fractures
Blackouts and faints (funny turns)
Cranial nerve problems
Movement disorders including tremors and gait problems
Peripheral nerve problems and abnormalities of sensation
Speech and language disorder
Weakness and fatigue
Symptoms of terminal illness
Abnormalities of the urine
Normal pregnancy and care
Problems in pregnancy including bleeding
Irregular vaginal bleeding
Cervical smear/ colposcopy
Vulval and vaginal lumps/lesions
Cough and haemoptysis
Bites and stings
Dermatological manifestations of systemic disease
Extremes of temperature
Hair and nail problems
Itchy and/or scaly rashes
Moles and pigmented lesions
Groin/scrotal pain and/or swelling
Urinary tract obstruction
The examination contains various tests and scenarios that a doctor trained in the United Kingdom would relate to current best practices in the UK and equipment routinely available in UK hospitals.
The focus lies in evaluating your capacity to apply knowledge to patient care, prioritising practical application over rote memorisation.
The questions are designed to assess your ability to apply current best practices, emphasising an evidence-based approach. Your responses should be grounded in published evidence rather than influenced by specific local protocols or arrangements.
PLAB 1 is a written examination of 180 multiple-choice questions that candidates must respond to within 3 hours.
Each question is presented with a brief scenario, and candidates need to select the correct answer from the provided options. The questions cover a range of medical topics, and candidates must navigate through these scenarios, demonstrating their knowledge and decision-making abilities within the allocated time.
The format involves choosing the most appropriate response from five possible answers for each question.
The PLAB 2 test will be held at the clinical assessment centre in Manchester.
The test consists of a series of clinical scenarios; these will test you in a mock consultation setting to reflect how you would apply your knowledge and skills in real life.
The exam format goes like this:
You will have 90 seconds to read the instructions and review any patient information displayed on the wall outside each station.
After six minutes, a two-minute warning will be announced. You have to stay at your station until instructed to move on. Follow floor signs for directions.
When prompted, proceed to the next station in numerical order. You have 90 seconds to read instructions at each station. The cycle repeats until all stations are visited.
The exam takes about three hours, involving interactions with actors portraying patients or healthcare professionals, either in-person or via telephone
The PLAB exam syllabus and exam pattern are meticulously designed to evaluate a candidate's competence and application of medical knowledge, particularly in the context of patient care.
Aspiring healthcare professionals should approach the PLAB exam with a focus on critical thinking, evidence-based practice, and effective communication skills to succeed in this thorough assessment of their readiness for the responsibilities of medical practice in the UK.
"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." - Albert Schweitzer
This quote emphasises the importance of passion and dedication in the pursuit of success, a sentiment relevant to the PLAB exam journey where a solid understanding of the syllabus and a strategic approach to the pattern can lead to clearing the PLAB Exam with flying colours.
1.What is the structure of the PLAB exam?
A. The PLAB exam consists of two parts: PLAB 1, which involves multiple-choice questions testing medical knowledge, and PLAB 2, an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) assessing clinical and communication skills through practical scenarios with simulated patients. Both parts aim to evaluate the readiness of international medical graduates to practice in the UK.
2. What are the pass marks for PLAB?
A. In PLAB 1, you must score at least 120 out of 180 to pass. For PLAB 2, you must meet or exceed the total score and pass a minimum of 10 stations to achieve an overall pass.
3. Is 2 months enough for PLAB 1?
A. While the adequacy of preparation time for the PLAB 1 exam varies among individuals, many candidates find that dedicating approximately 2 months to focused and consistent study is often sufficient. However, individual circumstances, prior knowledge, and study habits play a role. Join Academically to get a better picture to approach the exam.
4. Does PLAB have a negative marking?
A. There is no negative marking for the PLAB Exam.
Dr. Indu K is a dentist with one year of clinical experience. She seamlessly transitioned into content writing three years ago. Her passion lies in making complex medical information accessible to everyone. She uses her unique blend of medical knowledge and exceptional writing skills to bridge the gap between healthcare and the general audience.