The Savvy IMG

What you need to know about PLAB 2

In this post we go over a few things you should know about PLAB that aren’t always so obvious in the official guidance. I also offer some tips and tricks as well as a list of free resources for your preparation.

Table of Contents

Photo: Young doctor is learning and preparing for the PLAB exam, he is using books and tablet to search for knowledge

Updated: May 21, 2023

PLAB 1 & 2 are the exams that most IMGs will take in order to work as a doctor in the UK. Read the essential information you need to know about PLAB in this 2-part series.

Now once you pass PLAB 1, you’ll be able to book a place for PLAB 2. PLAB 2 can only be taken in the UK so it can cost quite a lot for most of us. All the more reason to make sure you pass the first time!

Here are some important points you need to know about this exam.

The PLAB 2 essentials

What is PLAB 2?

PLAB 2 is a practical exam also known as an objective structured clinical exam or OSCE. You’ll have to pass through 16 stations, each lasting eight minutes with 90 seconds “rest” between each station. The whole exam takes 3 hours 10 minutes to complete.

Where and when can you take PLAB 2?

There are dates for PLAB 2 several times a week throughout the year.  It can only be done in the UK and usually takes place at the GMC building in Manchester.

How much does it cost?


What is the pass rate for PLAB 2?

Approximately two thirds of candidates pass PLAB 2. You can view the latest pass rates here on the GMC website.

What are you marked on during the exam?

Each station has 3 domains that you are marked on:

DomainWhat this domain covers
Data gathering, technical and assessment skillsHistory taking, physical examination, practical procedures, investigations leading to a diagnosis
Clinical management skillsFormulating a diagnosis, explaining something to the patient, formulating a management plan
Interpersonal skillsHow you approach the station: whether you establish a rapport with the patient, how you use open and closed questioning, involving the patient and demonstrating your professionalism and understanding of ethical principles

PLAB 2 covers common UK scenarios at junior level

As mentioned above, PLAB 2 is a practical exam. It will assess both your medical knowledge, clinical skills, and very importantly, your communication skillsMuch like PLAB 1, the coverage of the exam includes the common or important clinical scenarios that a UK junior doctor at FY2 level would be expected to manage.

So what is an FY2 and what do they do?

An FY2 doctor is someone who has just finished internship (FY1). FY2s work in medical wards, surgical wards, A&E, and basic GP clinics. They do not work in complex GP or specialist clinics, therefore specialist knowledge is not necessary.

FY2s are expected to initiate management of acute conditions, diagnose and manage common illnesses, and not to miss important life-threatening diseases.

Back when I was working as an FY2, I used the “Oxford Handbook for the Foundation Programmeliterally every single day. It helped me manage all the clinical scenarios I faced as an FY2, and since the PLAB 2 exam is based on what an FY2 would encounter, I recommend this book for PLAB 2 preparation. The easiest way to get your copy is here on Amazon since they deliver it to your address the next day.

This book has helped me immensely in my PLAB 2 preparation and made me feel ready when I started my first job.

PLAB 2 can be difficult

Although PLAB is only set at the level of a doctor who has completed internship, it should not be underestimated. Many IMGs, including myself, find PLAB 2 very challenging so it requires proper preparation to pass.

This is also reflected on the pass rate published on their website as up to 1 in 3 IMGs fail PLAB 2. Which brings me to my next point.

Communication skills are very important for PLAB 2

Verbal communication in English is often where IMGs have the most difficulty during the PLAB 2 exam. Many IMGs resort to memorising scripts and repeating stock phrases as these are often taught at PLAB 2 academies, but these sound unnatural, insincere, and sometimes the responses do not match what the patient has actually said. The examiners can tell when you’re not truly interacting with the patient and can mark you down for this.

To sound more natural, both in the exam and real life, aim to understand the approach to different types of scenarios rather than memorise a script for every station.

Preparation can take as little as 6 weeks

With dedicated focused preparation, PLAB 2 can be passed with 6 weeks revision.

This is generally more true if you have just graduated medical school or just finished internship. That’s because it’s all fresh and you still have a very trainable mindset. If you have been working in one specialty for a number of years, it becomes a bit more challenging but it is still doable.

If you are working while preparing for PLAB, or have other responsibilities such as caring for family, children, or have any health issues, then do be kind to yourself and allot more time for preparation.

Related: Getting ready for your first visit to the UK as an IMG

Importance of practice and PLAB 2 academy/course

I’m not saying it is absolutely necessary to book a PLAB 2 academy or course as I have met a doctor who passed PLAB 2 without attending either, but I would highly recommend you attend one as it greatly increases your chances of passing! 

PLAB 2 is a practical exam and the pressure is real!

You will have a time limit, a UK consultant assessing you, and the thought of all your money invested weighing heavily over your shoulders during your exam, so make sure you’ve practiced each scenario to the point where your response comes out naturally and confidently. How many times you practice each scenario will vary, it could be just the twice for some people or up to 20 or more for others.

Access to a SimMan, mannequins, cannulation and suture sets all could be very beneficial as any of this would easily throw you off your focus without adequate practice. All of these are readily available in most academies and courses. The majority of academies are located in the UK (London and Manchester), but some are cropping up overseas as well.

Related: 15 things you should consider when choosing a PLAB academy.

PLAB 2 can only be booked after passing PLAB 1

You will need a pass in PLAB 1 in order to access available dates on the GMC website. You must book PLAB 2 within 3 years of passing PLAB 1, otherwise you have to retake PLAB 1 first.

Time management is an important skill

In PLAB 2 there are 16 stations, each lasting 8 minutes.

When you’re under the pressure of an exam, the time can fly by and you can be left wondering what just happened?!

So it’s important to simulate the real exam during your preparation so that you are familiar with how it will be on the day. Make sure you do mock exams, whether paid or not, to help get a realistic idea of how to do this.

PLAB and the UKMLA

Previously the GMC said that PLAB would be replaced by the UKMLA in 2024, however they now say that PLAB will still be called PLAB, even though the coverage will be changed to the UKMLA curriculum.

In practical terms, they say the exam will pretty much be the same. EU graduates will still be exempt from PLAB under current EU trade laws, but this is of course subject to change.


  • PLAB 2 is an OSCE Exam with 16 stations 8 minutes each.
  • PLAB 2 costs £934 and can only be taken in the UK.
  • PLAB 2 is set at FY2 level.
  • PLAB 2 can be difficult, and up to 1 in 3 doctors fail.
  • Preparation is key. We recommend Dr. Arora Medical Education for your PLAB preparation. Don’t forget to use code SAVVY10 for 10% off!
  • You need to have passed PLAB 1 to book PLAB 2. You must pass PLAB 2 within 3 years of passing PLAB 1, otherwise you’ll need to retake PLAB 1.
  • Give plenty of thought to time management
  • PLAB will be replaced by the UKMLA in 2024. There is no definite information about the UKMLA yet but we know that it’s coming!

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links in the article above. This means that at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a booking or purchase by clicking on the link. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves or have proven success amongst IMGs.

You might also like

58 Responses

  1. Hi! I am an EU national doing my medical degree in Sudan. I will be graduating the year 2025/6 Am I exempt from sitting PLAB or the UKMLA?

    1. Hi there! Not since Brexit I’m afraid. Sitting PLAB/UKMLA is now based on where you graduated instead of nationality.

  2. Hello, I studied medicine but I have not done my internship yet. I am currently a postgraduate student in U.K. I wanted to inquire if as an IMG, do I still have to write IELTS before PLAB, or if it will be waived as I am already studying in U.K? Thanks

    1. Hi there! Yes, most likely you’ll need to take IELTS. According to the GMC, “if you’re applying to take the PLAB test, you can only use your IELTS certificate, OET certificate or primary medical qualification as evidence of your knowledge of English.” You can read more in our article here Good luck!

  3. Hello doc ,
    I’m going to start my internship soon and I would like to become a surgeon. So In order to become a surgeon I heard that our portfolio must be strong enough and it’s better if we do an elective in surgery!! Is it necessary and does it really increase the strength of our cv !?? Because I already chose my internship electives and doesn’t have any surgical subjects in that ! Kindly looking for your reply!!

    1. Hi there! Yes, an elective does help since there are specific points for it in the application, however it is only one of many components of the portfolio.

  4. Hi Nick

    I would like to know if as a current Foundation Programme FY1 in UK-EU citizen I can still sit PLAB 1&2. Although I didnt need to pass PLAB to get into Foundation Programme in UK as EU Citizen I need PLAB for other countries which I want later to go to and work there as a doctor. I would appreciate your answer.

    1. Hi there, PLAB is only for GMC registration so if you already have GMC registration then I don’t see how you can book a place. Best to ask the GMC directly if you can just pay to take the exam, they respond quickly via email or FB messenger. Best of luck!

  5. Hi, I am from the Philippines finished my Internal Medicine Residency at Manila. Planning to work at Dublin long term. Others recommended me to take the PLAB test for easier pathway for IMG. Is there a better way for me to work at Ireland?

    1. Hi there, PLAB is only for GMC registration which is for doctors working in the UK. Dublin is in the Republic of Ireland which is not part of the UK so I’m afraid we don’t know about getting registered there. Perhaps ask in one of the IMG FB groups for further advice as some have worked there before and can advise your further. Best of luck!

  6. Greetings,
    Is there any agency that can help to book Plab2 since its kinda fast. The whole months from April to June was booked in just a minute…… Is there any agency that can help out. Don’t want to miss out again.

    1. Unfortunately no, it’s currently on a first come first serve basis with those who have already been accepted for jobs being prioritised. I hope you can get a place soon!

  7. Thanks a lot for such a detailed post. This is extremely helpful. I hope one of you can reach out and help me figure out a few things. I’m studying in Saudi Arabia. Apparently, my medical school allows completing internship from abroad. I was thinking of enrolling as FY1. Would that be possible for me? I am not British. I’m not Saudi either.

    Besides, if I were to complete my internship from Saudi Arabia – what are my chances of moving to the UK as soon as I can? I’m planning on sitting for PLAB 1 during my internship year and train for PLAB 2 soon after completing internship. Would I be able to stay back in the UK after PLAB 2 during the period of waiting on my results and applying for jobs?

    1. Hi there! 1. Yes you can apply for FY1 as it is currently open to IMGs, but you will need to complete PLAB for that as well. Please see our guide about it.
      2. Currently there are significant delays in moving to the UK due to COVID. This has resulted in PLAB cancellations and a backlog of people wanting to sit the exam as well delays in the hiring process. We can’t predict when things will return to normal but when they do, it usually takes up to a year for the whole process.
      3. If you have a valid visa to stay in the UK then yes you can, but when you get a job offer you will need to leave the UK and apply for a work visa. Unfortunately it’s not possible to switch from a visitor visa to a work visa while in the UK.

  8. hi I am a indian student pursuing 3rd year clinical medicine in china , I am interested more in other country medical tests which is easier than indian exams , I just want to know
    1. wether Chinese mbbs degree is fine with plabs requirements.
    2. Chinese internship is fine with plabs requirements.
    3. from when should I prepare for plab, as I wil graduate in 2024.

    1. Hi there,
      1. Your PMQ needs to be accepted by the GMC. Please see this article under “Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ)” to check
      2. Internship is not a requirement for PLAB but it is for FULL GMC registration. It should be accepted if it meets the requirements listed here
      3. You can prepare for PLAB after graduation or during internship. Just concentrate on your studies for now!

  9. You mentioned that you have come across many IMGs who passed the PLAB during their pre-graduate internship. Can you please give more info on how they did it?
    My graduation has been delayed to December 2021 due to COVID. So I will get my PMQ only after that. If i wait to give the PLAB exam after that, I will only be able to join the foundation programme(as an FY1) in 2023.

    1. Hi there, if you are required to complete internship for your PMQ, then then I’m afraid you will not be eligible for FY1. FY1 is only open to those who have not completed an internship.

      1. Our college is only going to do an online sort of internship with limited number of hours at the hospital due to the covid situation. So it won’t meet the GMC criteria of internship. That’s why i had asked about it. So if I’m planning on going to UK, i will have to go as an FY1. So could you please help me out in figuring out a way? Can you please give information on how students did PLAB during their internship year without the PMQ?

          1. Okay..thank are doing great work by providing so much information..keep up the good is much appreciated

  10. Hi there. First of all, thank you so much for putting up this website with loads of guidance.

    I graduated from a medical school 11 years ago in Pakistan and did not do my internship. I, of course, did not practice as a clinician. Do you think I am eligible to sit for PLAB 1 & 2, apply for GMC registration and enrol in UK Foundation Programme?

    Many thanks

  11. Based on previous years, when do you think will the new PLAB guidelines for 2022 be published? I’m really anxious to know whether I will have to do the PLAB or not (I am a EU national). Regards

    1. Hi there, it’s impossible to say because whether or not you have to do PLAB is all based on Brexit agreements which have never happened before. Unfortunately we can only wait to see how things unfold.

  12. Hi i am a medical student from india and im currently in third year (out of 5.5 years) of my undergraduate. How important is it to have leadership experience, volunteer work experience , research papers etc in order to get a desired post graduation seat in the UK via PLAB . It’ll be helpful if you could tell me some pointers about what the board looks for in the applicants CV.

  13. Hello,
    I’m a medical student in India and currently in my internship year.
    We have 4.5 years of medical education and then 1 year of internship amounting to 5.5 years after which we are given our degree.
    So I wanted to know if I could make a GMC account right now and book PLAB1 for March 2021, as my internship ends in late Feb 2021.
    My final exam results came in Feb 2020 and we were granted a provisional degree.

    1. Hi there, we have updated the article above under the section “Internship is not a strict requirement to sit PLAB”. Please have a look. Best of luck!

  14. Hi There!
    I am an international graduate planning to give plab . IS GPA very important for EPIC , GMC and for getting job in UK ? How much do gpa matter ? Ihave heard people saying even though we clear plab ,its hard to get jobs in uk and the criteria to get job is high gpa ?is that true ??

    1. Hi, it doesn’t matter at all. You need other things like recent clinical experience, audits, leadership experience, possibly a couple of publications etc.

  15. Hi there, I’m really excited to have bumped into your article.
    I’ve fine through everything and its quite clear.
    I do have one question though, and its not in this article.

    I need to know if having a medical condition will prove to be an hindrance at any point in time during my transition period. From PLAB 1 & 2 to the GMC registration down to getting a job.

    I tested positive for Hepatitis B soon after I started medical school.
    So would this be a problem?
    I really do not want to spend too much only to find out later on that it’ll be a problem.

    God bless and thank you.

    1. Hi there! So glad you found the article helpful 🙂 Please see our FAQ page under “Can I work in the UK if…?”

  16. Hi Nick,

    I have to prepare for some clinical assessment which is part of the eligibility application as i graduated more than one year ago. Any ideas how to prepare for this Osche station.

    1. Hi there, there is very little information out there about it but you can check out this blog Also, some of the PLAB course providers have courses for the CA so you can check those out too. Best of luck!

    1. Hi, results usually come out 6 weeks later. If you want the specific date, best to ask the GMC. Good luck!

  17. Hi, you have mentioned that it is not needed to have your certificate/diploma for taking the PLAB 1 but I have read in other posts of this website that “primary medical qualification” is needed for taking PLAB 1. What is this “primary medical qualification” exactly and how does it differ from EPIC verification done through ECFMG? How can I prove my “primary medical qualification” without having my medical degree in my hand?

    1. Hi there, you can prove your PMQ with a letter from your medical school confirming that you have passed. You don’t need the actual final diploma or certificate that you hang on the wall in order to book PLAB. The EPIC verification through ECFMG can be done later once you have it.

      1. Thanks a lot! So I understand ECFMG verification is not needed for booking PLAB 1 test date.
        But just to be clear, can EPIC verification through ECFMF be done after one has taken and passed PLAB1? Or should it be done before you are sitting at PLAB1 exam?

  18. Hi. I’m an MBBS graduate from Pakistan and have NOT done my internship yet. I’m currently living in UK on spouse visa.
    Can I pursue my academics (MPhil/Diploma/ Masters in public health etc) here without doing internship and PLAB?

    1. Hi there, you’ll need to check the individual requirements of the programmes you are interested in. If the degree does not involve any patient contact or clinical management, then they usually do not require GMC registration and so you won’t need internship or PLAB.

      Just keep in mind that if you want to practice as a doctor at any point in the future, then you will need to sit PLAB, obtain GMC registration, and apply for the UK Foundation Programme. Academic degrees will not help with GMC registration nor will they allow you to work as a clinician.

  19. hi I am a Pakistani national with a qualification of medicine from with in EU will I have to take a PLAB test

  20. Hi, which material/ site can you suggest as a good resource for Plab 1.? I’m using PLABABLE. Is this enough for one to pass?

    1. Hi there! There are links to websites that have PLAB study materials at the end of the article. Everyone is different so unfortunately, no one can really say what’s enough for one person is the same for another. You can ask other IMGs on the Facebook groups about their experiences. I have not used PLABABLE so can’t comment on that. Good luck!

  21. Hi Nick and Kimberly,glad to meet you.I’ve recently given my IELTS for UKVI and got expected band score of overall 7.5 and now when I was making my account on GMC portal in order to give my PLAB1,I couldn’t find my college name under PMQ(PRIMARY MEDICAL QUALIFICATION) awarding body.However when I went through the list of World directory of medical schools which was mentioned under acceptable overseas qualifications,I could find my college name clearly mentioned in the list.So,can you please help me to get over this glitch.

    Thank you

  22. Ma’am should I give Plab-1 in the middle of my internship or during the end of my internship if I wish to save time.

  23. Sir,
    I am father of a just graduated MBBS IMG from India. As my son is interested to undergo PLAB1 and unable to get exam seat in India, he is looking for centres outside India.
    May I seek your advise regarding the same. Is it advisable to go for UK or any other country ? (As the expenses in some other places is lower than visiting UK).
    Will there be any advantage if he takes the PLAB1 in UK ?

    Your kind advise would help me guide my son.

    With warm regards.

    1. He can take PLAB 1 wherever there is an available seat. Where he takes PLAB 1 does not matter. It’s the same exam and treated the same.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Meet the Team

Hi, we’re Drs Nick & Kimberly Tan, the two IMGs behind The Savvy IMG. We write comprehensive guides, create courses, and provide one-to-one guidance to help other overseas qualified doctors on their journey to the UK.
We have scoured the official guidance to put these posts together, but we can make mistakes! If you spot anything that is incorrect, please get in touch and we’ll put it right.
Photo of Dr Nicholas Tan