How to Prepare for the PLAB 2 Exam
Overseas doctors often have questions about the best ways to prepare for the PLAB exams, particularly with so many online resources available with varying reviews and price points.
So, what study preparation, materials, courses and support are available for international doctors? We have compiled some of the best guidance and resources to help you in your preparation for the PLAB 2 exam.
The topics we will cover are as follows:
For an overview of the entire examination series, have a look at our article in the IMG Resources library here.
A Recap of PLAB 2
Let’s begin with a quick recap of the final exam in the PLAB examination suite.
PLAB 2 covers the common, important and acute conditions (those common in emergency departments) seen by trainees entering the second year of the Foundation Programme (FY2), and most importantly a trainee’s ability to apply knowledge to the care of patients.
Questions relate to current best practice in the UK, and you’ll need to answer the questions in relation to published evidence and not according to practices within your local arrangements. There are three domains across which trainees will be assessed:
- Data gathering, technical and assessment skills
- Clinical management skills
- Interpersonal skills
For full guidance on the structure of the exam, see our detailed blog on the PLAB 2 exam here.
The PLAB 2 exam is held at two assessment centres in Manchester in the UK only. Which of the two centres your exam will be held in will be contained in your booking confirmation, including the address.
You can book your PLAB 2 examination using your GMC Online account where you can view available dates and book under the My Tests section – you will already have created an account for the PLAB 1 exam.
Before you can book a space for PLAB 2, you must already have passed PLAB 1.
Resources for PLAB 2
There are many resources to choose from online in starting your preparation for PLAB 2, however we recommend the following GMC guides to help you start your preparation.
The PLAB Blueprint: this is a helpful guide to what will be included in the exam. Our IMGs advise this is the best place to start with your preparations. The blueprint sets out clearly all the topics and skills needed to pass the exam. Download the PLAB Blueprint here.
MLA Content Map: the GMC will be introducing the UKMLA in 2024 and in anticipation of this, the content map should also be used during preparation. The questions and stations in PLAB 2 will remain the same. The content map is available here.
The Foundation Programme curriculum: the topics and skills covered in the PLAB Blueprint are identical to those undertaken by doctors starting their second year of Foundation Programme Training (FY2). The curriculum can be found here.
Guidance and interactive tools: the GMC ‘Good Medical Practice’ document explains the core advice to doctors on the standards expected of them. In the exam you will be expected to demonstrate the professional values and behaviours set out in ‘Good Medical Practice'.
You can test your knowledge of Good Medical Practice using the following online tools:
Avoiding common PLAB 2 errors: You can read the GMC’s examiners’ top tips on how to avoid common errors in the part 2 exam here.
Top tips from an examiner: You can find a list of top tips for PLAB from the perspective of an examiner here.
Sample OSCE station: you can find an example of what you will experience in your PLAB 2 stations here.
Below is some of our best advice for IMGs preparing to sit PLAB 2.
1. Apply for your visa well in advance
The application process consists of two parts: the online application and the submission of supporting documents. You can find a detailed guide to the application process here.
2. Consider other essentials for the exam
You will need evidence of English language proficiency as well as a GMC online account and these (particularly your English exam) will need to be prepared in advance.
3. Start your revision early
Starting in advance allows you to pace yourself and get ahead of the stresses of last-minute revision and anxiety.
4. Familiarise yourself with the structure of the exam day
The GMC have produced a handy guide of what you will encounter when you go to sit the exam. You can find this here.
5. Think about your personal learning style and use this to plan effective revision
Consider the ways you study best and use them to your advantage. You do not need to attend a study or coaching course to pass PLAB 2 and can be passed under your own preparation - if you choose to do so, please be thorough in assessing different providers.
6. Try to form a study group
Team up with other like-minded doctors or colleagues preparing for PLAB 2 to allow you to share resources and support.
7. Try to take some time off work before the exam
You’ll likely be preparing for the exam alongside full-time work, so, if possible, take around 5-7 days somewhere in the run-up to the exam for some intense revision.
Passed? What next?
Once you have passed PLAB 2, you are eligible for GMC registration with license to practise. Great stuff!
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For more useful articles on registrations and career and relocation support for your journey to the UK, take a look at our IMG library.