Medical Protection in collaboration with Arora Medical Education explains the PLAB 2 test, which must be taken in order to register to practise medicine in the UK.
To practise medicine in the UK you first need to register and obtain a license with the General Medical Council (GMC). If you’re coming from a country that’s outside the European Economic Area (EEA), you will be asked to prove you have the necessary medical knowledge and skills that are recognised in the UK.
One way to do this is to take the PLAB exam. The PLAB exam is made up of 2 parts; PLAB1 is a MCQ paper testing your clinical knowledge and PLAB 2 is the practical exam. To make this process as easy as possible for you, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about booking your place for the PLAB 2 exam and planning for your visit to the UK.
What is PLAB 2?
PLAB 2 is an objective structured clinical exam (OSCE) that assesses your ability to apply knowledge to the care of patients.
The test consists of 16 different scenarios, and you have eight minutes for each station. Each scenario reflects situations that you may encounter in real life as a working SHO in the NHS.
The GMC has created a great video that explains the importance of the test and gives you an idea of exactly what to expect on the day.
You can also read a sample read a sample scenario – also known as an OCSE station – on the GMC website.
Where the PLAB 2 test takes place
The test is held at one of two GMC assessment centres. Both these centres are in Manchester, in the North of England. There is no option to take the test remotely – you must be in the UK to take it in person.
Tests are run regularly throughout the year, and it costs £906 to sign up. You can book your place after you have passed PLAB 1 via your GMC Online account.
Preparing for the test
A great resource for preparation is the GMC PLAB test blueprint. This guide explains what the test covers and highlights the knowledge, skills and behaviours you’ll be expected to demonstrate.
And because it covers all the topics you’ll face on the day, it’s a fantastic tool to help you prepare for the test.
Many medical education companies provide resources to help you practise OSCE scenarios, including our partners Arora Arora Medical Education Education. Arora Medical Education has a range of resources to help you prepare for PLAB 2 ranging from their practical skills live course to their audiobooks and video courses more information about their tips for preparation can be found in their PLAB 2 blog here. Arora Medical Education is run by Dr Aman Arora who was a previous PLAB 2 examiner and so understands the common errors made by doctors when taking the exam.
Travelling to the UK for the PLAB 2 test
Before travelling to the UK, you’ll first need a Standard Visitor Visa, which will last for six months. You can read all about the visa application process on the Gov.uk website.
Manchester is a large, well-connected city which makes it easy to travel to. If you fly into Manchester Airport, the city centre is only a 30-minute
s train ride away. If you decide to fly into London or another UK airport, Manchester is still easy to get to by train. The Trainline website is great for planning your train travel. Alternatively you may wish to get a coach and many large coach companies run routes from London to Manchester.
The PLAB 2 test takes just one day, but if you can afford to, it’s best to arrive a day or two early so you can relax and prepare. With Manchester being a big city, there are many hotels and other accommodation to choose from. Visit Booking.com and Airbnb to find somewhere to stay.
What to bring with you
What to pack for your trip to the UK depends on the time of year you visit. The British weather can be unpredictable. Winter is very cold, while spring and autumn can be extremely wet (especially in Manchester). Consider this when choosing what clothes to pack.
Consider also the dress code – you’ll be expected to dress as you would to work in a UK hospital ward or other clinical setting, as described in the NHS guidance on uniforms and workwear.
On the day of your PLAB 2 test, you will need your booking confirmation and proof of identification.
The OSCE stations will contain all the equipment you need to demonstrate skills. This includes relevant resources such as sample drug charts.
Getting your results
When your results are ready – which is usually within four weeks of taking the test – you’ll receive an email directing you to the 'My Tests' section of GMC Online. The only way to see your results is online, and unfortunately the GMC can’t give you your results over the telephone.