The PLAB Test will form an integral part of the GMC registration process for most doctors who qualified and reside outside of the EU and don’t already hold a recognised postgraduate qualification (MRCP, MRCPCH, MRCEM etc). There are a whole host of revision materials available online and a number of independent companies who offer intensive preparation courses. If you would like to hear more about these then please contact, but in the meantime we thought it would be good to address some of the more general questions that we get from those less familiar with the PLAB Tests.

Do I need to take the PLAB Test?

In order to be registered with the GMC there are a few ways that you can prove your eligibility. The PLAB test is one of these and in most cases it will be applicable to candidates who:

  • Reside outside the EU and do not hold EU rights

And do not have one of the following:


Am I eligible to take the PLAB test?

The only prerequisites for applying to sit the PLAB test are possession of an acceptable medical qualification (more on that here) and ability to demonstrate a good knowledge of English (more on that here)


How long does it take the pass the PLAB test?

The test is broken up in to two parts and most candidates choose to sit and pass both parts within a year. Part 1 is held four times a year and places are usually open to book about 10 months before the date of the examination. The UK examinations close a week before the examination date and the overseas examinations, eight weeks before the examination date. Part 2 examinations are held regularly throughout the year. Places are usually open to book about four to six months before the examination date.

It should be noted that not all candidates pass both parts of the test on their first sitting however there are restrictions on the number of times that you can resit. Currently there are no restrictions on how many times you can resit part 1 of the PLAB, however you can only have four attempts at part 2 before you would need to start the process again with part 1. This is due to change from September 2017 (more information on the changes can be found here).


Where and when can I take the PLAB test?

Candidates can sit part 1 of the PLAB test on four different occasions each year at the GMC’s Clinical Assesment Centre in Manchester, UK. Available dates and closing dates can be found here.

Alternatively, candidates based overseas also have the option to sit part 1 in 10 countries around the world in British Council hosted locations. Most locations run part 1 twice per year and contact details for booking can be found here.

Part 2 of the PLAB test can only be sat at the GMC’s Clinical Assesment Centre in Manchester, UK and runs throughout the year. Available dates and closing dates can be found here.


What is the format of the PLAB test?

Part 1 is made up of 200 multiple choice type questions which the GMC describe as single best one answer from five options. Each starts with a short scenario followed by a question like ‘What is the single most likely diagnosis?’ You will then be presented with five possible answers labelled A to E and should choose one as the best possible option. Some of the other answers may be valid, but candidates need to choose the best one. If candidates enter more than one answer on the answer sheet they will gain no mark for the question.

Part 2 is an objective structured clinical examination, or ‘OSCE’. The exam comprises 18 scenarios, each lasting eight minutes. Candidates will be tested in settings such as a mock consultation or an acute ward. Candidates will be given two minutes between scenarios to read the instructions and patient information. The whole exam takes around three hours and 20 minutes. There will be a minimum of two rest stations, allowing candidates a 10 minute break each time. For each scenario candidates are marked against three different domains as follows:

Domain 1 – Data gathering, technical and assessment skills – Covers history taking, physical examination, practical procedures, investigations leading to a diagnosis.

Domain 2 – Clinical management skills – Covers formulating a diagnosis, explaining something to the patient, formulating a management plan.

Domain 3 – Interpersonal skills – Covers how the candidate approaches the station: whether they establish a rapport with the patient, how they use open and closed questioning, involving the patient in their management and demonstrate their professionalism and understanding of ethical principles.

Full GMC guidelines on the test format can be found here.


Medical Exam Prep would like to thank BDI Resourcing for contributing this post.

If you would like to hear more information or receive their full process guide highlighting all aspects of relocation to the UK then please contact BDI Resourcing via this email:


Our online revision resource for the PLAB Part 1 can be visited here: