PLAB 1 Guide

Our comprehensive PLAB 1 guide will provide you with all the information you need – including registration, fees and dates; what the exam entails; and how to prepare – if you’re planning to take the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) 1 exam in 2022.

The PLAB exam (PLAB 1 and PLAB 2) is an essential component of the registration process with the General Medical Council (GMC) for overseas medical graduates who don’t hold a relevant European qualification. Registration with the GMC is compulsory for all doctors wishing to practise medicine within the UK.

This guide focuses on the PLAB 1 exam but completion of PLAB 2 is also essential. To find out more about the PLAB 2 exam, including exam cost, scoring and previous pass rates, visit our PLAB Guide 2022 for more information.

PLAB 1 syllabus

If you completed your medical qualification outside of the UK, the PLAB 1 exam is designed to assess that you have the relevant skills and knowledge to practise medicine within the UK. The questions relate to current best practice in the UK and will assess your ability to apply your knowledge for the care of patients.

For a full breakdown of the knowledge, skills and behaviours assessed as part of the PLAB exams, the GMC provides a PLAB test blueprint. This gives an overview of the topics assessed, their presentation and related conditions. It also outlines the following four domains which will be covered in the exam:

  1. Knowledge, skills and performance
  2. Safety and quality
  3. Communication, partnership and teamwork
  4. Maintaining trust

You can find more information about what’s included in each of the domains, and the topics assessed, in the PLAB test blueprint.

The four domains detailed above relate directly to those outlined in the GMC’s good medical practice. This is the GMC’s core guidance which all registered doctors are expected to adhere to; therefore, the PLAB exam tests your knowledge of the key principles outlined in the guidance, and your ability to apply these. For this reason, the GMC advises familiarising yourself with the good medical practice document before reading the PLAB test blueprint.

The PLAB test blueprint is a key document when preparing for the exam. However, as it is mapped against the following documents, these are also essential to your revision:

  • Good medical practice – as mentioned above, this is the GMC’s core guidance which details the values and behaviours that you must demonstrate within the PLAB exam and your practice in the UK.
  • Outcomes for provisionally registered doctors – UK doctors must meet these at the end of their first year of Foundation Programme training to enable them to apply for full registration with a license to practise.
  • The UK Foundation Programme curriculum – this is the framework which is used in the UK to support the first two years of educational training for doctors.

The GMC explains that the PLAB 1 exam ‘covers the common, important or acute conditions (those common in emergency departments) seen by trainees entering their second year of the Foundation Programme (F2), and the management of long-term conditions seen in primary care.’ This is what makes the UK Foundation Programme curriculum and outcomes for provisionally registered doctors such useful documents when preparing for the PLAB exam, as you’ll be expected to respond to scenarios matching those typically faced by doctors beginning the second year of their UK Foundation Programme training.

PLAB 1 exam

Details of the PLAB 1 exam are as follows:

  • PLAB 1 is a written multiple choice exam
  • Exam duration: 3 hours
  • Number of questions: 180 ‘single best answer’ multiple choice questions
  • Structure: For each question you’ll be given a short scenario followed by a question and five possible answers.

The GMC provides details on what to expect on the day of the PLAB 1 exam, including when you should arrive, what you should and shouldn’t take with you, and information relating to COVID-19 protocols.

PLAB 1 dates

The GMC offers PLAB 1 exams four times per year. The following are the upcoming PLAB 1 exam dates and closing dates for entry:

Exam date Overseas closing date UK closing date
17 February 2022 6 January 2022 3 February 2022
26 May 2022 14 April 2022 12 May 2022
11 August 2022 30 June 2022 28 July 2022
3 November 2022 22 September 2022 20 October 2022

The PLAB 1 exam can be taken within the UK and the following overseas locations:

Country City / cities
Australia Sydney
Bangladesh Dhaka
Canada Toronto
Egypt Alexandria
Ghana Accra
India Bangalore
New Delhi
Kenya Nairobi
Nigeria Abuja
Pakistan Islamabad
Saudi Arabia Riyadh
South Africa Johannesburg
Spain Madrid
Sri Lanka Colombo
Sudan Khartoum
UAE Dubai

Exam places are limited and in high demand; to find available places and test locations, within the UK and overseas, you need to register for a GMC online account.

How much does PLAB 1 cost?

The test fees for PLAB 1, provided by the GMC, are as follows:

  • From 1 April 2021 – £240
  • From 1 April 2022 – £247

It’s worth also bearing in mind, should you need to cancel your PLAB 1 exam, the GMC may charge you a cancellation fee. You can find a breakdown of the cancellation fees in our PLAB Guide 2022.

For exceptional circumstances, such as visa refusal, ill health or bereavement, the GMC may consider giving you a full refund if you’re unable to attend your exam. There are also specific ‘pandemic-related reasons’ which may entitle you to a full refund. You can find more details on why and how a full refund is granted here.

How to register for PLAB 1

To register for the PLAB 1 exam you need to set up a GMC online account and provide the following details:

  • Primary medical qualification
  • Valid passport
  • Postal address
  • Email address

Using your GMC online account you can view available test dates and locations under the ‘My Tests’ section and book your PLAB 1 exam.

You won’t be able to book your PLAB 1 exam until you have provided evidence that you meet the relevant eligibility criteria. This includes: evidence of your English language skills; evidence of your fitness to practise; verification of your primary medical qualification. You can find out more about the PLAB 1 eligibility criteria in our PLAB Pathway / Route blog.

PLAB 1 practice

You’ll find a small selection of sample PLAB 1 questions on the GMC’s website with answers, explanations and links to the relevant GMC guidance. These are useful for providing examples of the types of questions you’ll face during your PLAB 1 exam.

To prepare effectively for the exam, you’ll need to complete a wider range of practice questions than those provided by the GMC. Our adaptive PLAB question bank is the perfect accompaniment to the GMC resources, with thousands of professionally written practice questions and tests, and high quality explanations, to support your learning.

Unlike traditional practice questions, which provide standardised questions and answers, our PLAB question bank uses artificial intelligence to automatically adapt to your individual strengths and weaknesses, and provide questions that will target your areas for development. This ensures your learning is more focused and helps you to progress more quickly and effectively. Look out for our adaptive question bank launching soon!

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Further reading

More tips on smashing your PLAB interview.


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