What Is the Professional and Linguistics Assessment Board?

The Professional and Linguistics Assessment Board, also known as the PLAB, is an examination in the United Kingdom that is used to measure foreign medical students’ competency and knowledge before providing them with licensure to practice medicine in the UK. Learning more about the PLAB can help students feel more at ease before testing.

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Who Needs to Take the PLAB?

If you are a medical school graduate, but you graduated from a school that is outside of the UK, EEA (European Economic Area), or Switzerland, you will need to sit for the PLAB in order to prove that you have the right level of education and knowledge to practice medicine according to UK laws and standards. You will need to pass both parts of this examination before you can register with your license to practice medicine.

Scheduling Your PLAB

To schedule your PLAB examination, you will need to visit the General Medical Council’s licensing and registration section that is dedicated to this exam. Here, you can gain some vital information about how the exam is set up, create your online account through the GMC, and book your test in any number of countries. Beforehand, you should consider downloading the PLAB blueprint which is offered directly through the GMC to help you better understand the knowledge and skills you should possess in order to pass.

A Two-Part Test

The PLAB is administered in two separate parts.

  • PLAB Part 1 – This part of the exam consists of 180 multiple choice questions that you must answer within a total of three hours. In each question, you are given a scenario to analyze, and you must select the best possible answer to fit that scenario out of a total of five. You can take the first part of the PLAB in various countries worldwide, including the UK.
  • PLAB Part 2 – This part of the exam takes place in a clinical setting. You will be given 18 different mock scenarios to analyze, and you will have eight minutes per scenario to provide the required information. These scenarios are just like consultations or acute wards that doctors in the UK must perform each day, and these only take place at the Clinical Assessment Centre located in Manchester, England in the UK.

After Passing the PLAB

Once you have successfully passed both parts of the PLAB examination, you can apply for your license to practice medicine in the United Kingdom. It is important that you submit your application within a reasonable timeframe because you will only have two years after taking the PLAB Part 2 to obtain licensure approval. After your application is approved and you have been registered, you can rightfully and legally work as a doctor in the UK.

Simply put, the PLAB exam is much like an equivalency examination that ensures you have the expected level of knowledge and education to work as a physician in the UK while upholding that country’s medical standards. It is a requirement among students in Canada and the United States, among other countries, who wish to work as doctors in the United Kingdom.

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