You need to know the requirements of taking the PLAB exam (IELTS/OET etc) and how to plan towards it. Look no further. In this post, we will discuss all the steps.

Requirements to take PLAB 1

To be eligible to sit for PLAB 1 you need the following things:

  1. Completed Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ)
  2. Required score obtained in IELTS/OET

You DO NOT need to have your house-job/internship completed in order to sit for PLAB 1.

Primary Medical Qualification for PLAB 1

Your Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ) is the degree that allowed you to be a doctor. The title of the degree differs in many countries. For example, it was MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery) for me.

In order to be eligible to take PLAB 1 exam you need to have passed the final exam which awards you that degree. You don’t need to have the decorative diploma at hand. You need to have your results out that you have passed the final exams for your PMQ degree.

How to know whether your PMQ is approved by GMC? Read this article on How to get your Medical Qualification (PMQ) recognized by GMC.

English Language Proficiency

Two different tests are approved by GMC for taking PLAB exams-

  1. IELTS (Academic)
  2. OET (Medicine)

We have a detailed article written on this topic – IELTS/OET for PLAB, GMC & Tier 2 visa. It discusses nooks and crannies of these two tests.

Planning on the dates

  • You will have to choose the month you want to sit for the PLAB 1 exam. Generally the exam takes place in March and November in overseas centers. Some overseas centers have even started taking PLAB 1 in June & September. In the UK it takes place four times a year, March, June, September & November. Your plan for IELTS/OET follows that decision.
  • Getting the required scores in IELTS/OET in the very first attempt, although it may seem daunting, is not impossible. Keep in mind, if you’re unable to clear it, you will have to take it again. So, if you aren’t confident enough, you should start taking the English language exam earlier.

Plan for booking PLAB 1

IELTS take roughly 2 weeks (13 days) to publish their results. OET tends to take 7-10 business days. Overseas closing dates for booking PLAB 1 closes usually 1 month before the exam. But in reality, the probability of getting booked exactly 1 month beforehand is risky.

To be safe, it’s better to book 2 months prior to the actual test date of the PLAB 1 exam date or sooner. The sooner you book, the better. (By booking, it means already paying for the test on that date, at that test center.) To book for PLAB 1 test, you need to have a GMC Online account.

Plan for booking IELTS/OET

For example, you have decided you will attempt PLAB 1 in November 2019. Ideally, by September 2019 you MUST have obtained the required band scores in IELTS/OET. If you’re unsure about your proficiency in English, you should start prepping for it from June 2019. Start your IELTS/OET attempts from August 2018. By mid-August, you’ll get your results.

If you get the required score, well and good. If you don’t, then attempt within 2 weeks. By mid-September, you’ll see the results (hoping two attempts are enough, if not- plan for the next March PLAB 1). Then book for the exam in November 2018.Book your IELTS test under British council – Book an IELTS exam. And book an OET exam – Apply for OET.

How to Plan for IELTS/OET and PLAB 1

To summarize how to plan for IELTS/OET and PLAB 1:

  1. Fulfill the requirements
  2. Decide on a PLAB 1 date
  3. Estimate time for IELTS/OET preparation
  4. Book IELTS/OET
  5. Start IELTS/OET & PLAB 1 prep
  6. Book PLAB 1

An example with a timeline

You decided that you will take PLAB 1 in November 2019. And you aren’t that confident with your English language skills.

May 2019 IELTSor OET preparation started
June 2019 Continued (Only if you think you need that much time)
July 2019 Take IELTS or OET (first attempt)
Start preparing for PLAB 1
Mid-August 2019 You’ve scored well. Relax.
September 2019 Ideally, you’ve cleared IELTS/OET, or you can retake now.
Open a GMC Online Account and Book for PLAB 1
November 2019 Take PLAB 1

You may also wish to attempt the PLAB 1 in the UK itself if you’re in between the overseas dates. So check out PLAB 1 & 2 in 6 months if you’re keen to complete your PLAB exams in one visa.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I take IELTS/OET before graduating from medical school?

    You can take them whenever you want. But, as IELTS/OET stays valid for 2 years, then it is logical to take IELTS/OET after finishing medical school.

  • Can I take PLAB 1 before I pass my final medical exams?

    No, you can't. PLAB 1 requires for you to have your primary medical qualification, which you obtain after passing your medical school. It doesn't mean you have to have the main decorative diploma. I will suggest keeping a provisional one with you until you get the main one.

  • Can I take PLAB while I'm working as an intern doctor?

    Yes, you can. And, I think if you decide to be a doctor in the UK, internship/house job is the best time to start your journey.

  • Can I book PLAB 1 before IELTS/OET?

    Unfortunately, it is a prerequisite to clear IELTS/OET with the required scores before you can book PLAB 1.

  • When should I get EPIC verification done for GMC registration?

    I would say it's better to start the process after you get your PLAB 1 results. Find the details about the process – 'EPIC' for GMC Registration.

Plans about the financial support you need for this road to the UK is as important as planning when to take it. Check here to see how to plan to fund for your PLAB journey. Also to have an overall look on the entire path, please have a look here, planning your PLAB journey.

Good luck to you all.

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101 thoughts on “IELTS/OET and PLAB 1: Requirements and Planning”

  1. Thank you for explaining it so clearly. I had a doubt regarding plab 1 ,does final exam mean the graduation exam? As I want to know if I will be able to write plab1 during my internship since my university offers a pre-graduation internship . Which means I have to appear for the graduation exam after internship.

      1. Oh so will I be able to appear for plab1 before I write that exam , if I get a provisional degree certificate from the university ?

        1. If your university gives a provisional certificate saying that you passed your final medical exams – you should be able to take PLAB 1.

      2. Thank you so much for your help. Guess I can’t take it in internship as the provisional says the student has passed all the exams of five years of mbbs . If student completes clinical internship and passes the final exam student will be awarded the degree of mbbs. Thanks again for clearing my query 🙂

  2. Sir, I am 5th year medical student. Passing out without internship in 2022 July. Without doing internship in my respective college. Can I apply for ILETs/ OET and after onwards PLAB 1 and 2 . Is it possible.than I will get FY1 there .

  3. Hi ,thank u so much for ur valuable resource,
    I hav this doubt regarding post MRCS / MRCP – I heard from one of the agency that , even if we hav completed MRCS /MRCP from UK and if we r back to our country , and if we wish to plan to work in Gulf country then , since we don’t hav an MD degree from our country , even though we hav MRCS / MRCP , they will not consider us as a consultant ,

    Can u enlight on this , plz Email me if possible

    1. MRCS/MRCP – these PG qualifications make you eligible to work at a registrar level in the UK (given you have prior couple of years of experience working as a junior doctor first). After MRCP/MRCS a doctor in the UK goes through 4-6 years further training to obtain CCT in their chosen speciality to become a specialist.

      So yes, I would not be surprised if any country does not recognise this as a specialist qualification because it isn’t. Obtaining CCT (certificate of completion of training) will get you specialist recognition in many countries.

  4. Shun Lae Phyu

    Nowadays,is it possible to take OET first before booking for plab 1 during the time limit since plab 1 exam seats are already booked?
    E.g.I want to take OET in Dubai in coming August,and I can’t book plab 1 ahead so instead I have to book after my result come out and Can I get seat for plab1 for November after that?How can I know whether the seats are available or not? Thk u for your reading and please reply me since I have to arrange to stay in Dubai during the free peroids of 2 exams since I can’t go back.Thk in advance.

      1. Thank you for your reply ,Dr.
        How can I know is available seat for plab 1 before making a GMC account if possible? Can I get the seat if the exam is in 2 months ahead?I have to arrange the whole plan if I can get the seat because of my budget! Thk you again,Doc!

        1. You can’t know whether a PLAB 1 seat is available for you without having a GMC online account. Instructions are very simple – get IELTS/OET cleared first > Open a GMC online account > Look for available PLAB 1 seat. If nothing is available in near future, then you have to wait. Keep your eyes and ears open in social media where GMC announces.

  5. During booking for plab 2, what if the validity for IELTS expires? will i need to take the IELTS test again for booking plab 2?

  6. Hi doctor! I passed my med School, In our Final year our University didnot offer us clinical rotation, Insted we did online clinical rotation\online classes due to this pandemic. So, Am I allowed to Take plab? If I pass, can I get GMC registration? IF I got registered,Which year level Will I be posted?

    1. If your medical college have given you a pass based on that and your college is recognized by GMC, then it should not be a problem with your GMC registration. You will have to find a job on your own, GMC registration does not get you a job. Please see – How to find a Job in the NHS

  7. in ukraine we study 6 years and the 7 year is an internship , I will get my diploma by the 6 years can I apply for plab 1 and 2 in my 6 course without an internship ? if yes ,it means FY1(internship) is my next step yes? in FY1 i will get salary ?

  8. If I get my oet results by jan 5 ,2021 can I get a seat for september plab 1 In uk, since gmc says they will open booking in december

    1. Only time can tell in these unprecedented times. Work your best to clear IELTS/OET and stay prepared to book PLAB 1 the day your IELTS?OET results come out.

  9. Hi
    I wanted to know the dates for plab 1 in 2021 in India.. am gonna attend oet next month, but i heard some of them saying that it has bn already booked.Is there anyway to know the dates for plab exams before so that we can prepare accordingly.

  10. hello .. i have a question … in algeria we take our PMQ after we do the 12 months internship without taking a final exam ( as long as we passed all exams of all the modules in the 6 years period of study ) .. can i start OET , plab 1 and 2 during the year of intership ? .. i would appreciate the answer .. thanks a lot .

    1. For PLABs you need to have passed final medical exams. You have to travel to the UK for PLAB 2 and that period can create a gap. So as per the article, you can take up to PLAB 1, and then when you are done with the internship, then take PLAB 2.

  11. After I take OET/IELTS do I have to finish both PLAB 1 & 2 in two years, that is within the validity of IELTS/OET ?
    Is the validity only for registering with GMC, and we can have more leeway with booking exam dates ?

    1. IELTS/OET is needed at two stages: 1) PLAB 1, 2) GMC registration.
      If you don’t want to retake IELTS/OET before GMC registration you have got to finish everything within its validity of two years.

  12. Hello, I recently graduated from medical school in Shanghai, China but I am a US citizen. Is it still required for me to take IELTS/OET for PLAB?

  13. Is it alright to BOOK the PLAB 1 just before I finish medical school, and take the PLAB 1 after I graduate? 
    For example, my final exams for medical school (Germany) usually take place in early/mid October, so by the time I take the PLAB in November I would be considered a medical graduate. However, it would be impossible to book the PLAB after I graduate seeing as it is only a couple weeks before the PLAB. I have to take the PLAB because I’m a non-EU. 
    Would appreciate any advice! Thanks a lot!

    1. You can’t open a GMC online account with a future date of graduation. So you have to target taking PLAB 1 in March nest year then. Or you can email GMC about it and see what they say.

    1. Usually it takes place in March and November. But GMC these days are opening seats in June and September in many overseas centers as well. So the best idea is to complete IELTS/OET as soon as possible and open a GMC online account to see what dates are available.
      Unfortunately dates can not be seen without clearing IELTS/OET and outside GMC Online account.

  14. My que is i m from india i did my mbbs from nepal just after that i m doing my internship for 12 months (expected to compete on nov 2020) .. is it possible my internship will b counted if yes which year/ foundation yr i hv to join .. and is my internship applicable for full gmc registration ,?

  15. Hi, some help please, as I’m a med student in china, so the acceptable pattern of internship by gmc for me is my pre grad internship, but i can’t take plab 1 until my completion of med school, so i am worried that when i’ll give my plab 1 n 2 both, they will be after so many months of completing my internship (my most recent clinical experience) so, when i have cleared everything n got my gmc registration n i’ll be applying for jobs in uk, it would be considered as clinical gap, what should i do then?

  16. Mounika Dodda

    Hello, Does GMC approves the 1year of continuous clinical practice in the final year of mbbs or consider the clinical practice after the graduation ?
    Currently doing my internship, can i take plab1 after scoring ilets?

    1. You have asked the question three times. This is not facebook – someone has to approve your comment for you to see.
      I hope you have gotten the answer from my previous replies.

  17. Mounika Dodda

    Hello, Does GMC approves the 1year of continuous clinical practice in the final year of mbbs or consider the clinical practice after the graduation ?
    Currently doing my internship, can i apply for plab1 after scoring ilets?
    Thanks in advance!

        1. You don’t need the physical diploma to sit for PLAB. You only need to have passed your final medical exams which awards you the degree.

  18. Let’s say I clear OET in June 2020 Plab 1 in November 2020.. and my internship is completed in june 2021.. What about plab 2? Do I need to explain GMC if I take a month leave from internship?
    Also how can I quick check my knowledge of basics for PLAB? So I can plan my preparation accordingly. Is PLAB 1 keys helpful for that?

  19. 1.If I fail in plab 1 to clear at 1st attemp,have I to pay fee for next attemp like 1st?
    2.If I pass plab 1 but fail plab 2,have i to clear plab 1 again for next attemp?or only plab 2?how much time interval I can take maximum between plab 1 and plab 2 to clear?
    3.How much attempt normally a doctors needs to clear plab 1 and 2 in Genera?

    1. 1. Yes. you have to pay as many times as you take the exam.
      2. After passing PLAB 1, that pass will remain valid for 2 years. If unfortunately you can’t pass PLAB 2 within PLAB 1 validity (2 years), you will have to take PLAB 2 again.
      3. More than 70% doctors pass both exams in their 1st attempt.

  20. Mohammed Askari

    Hey, incase if OET result come on the last date of application, do we have the chances to apply for step 1 in uk, within a span of 5- 7 days do all the procedure get completed.

  21. Is it compulsory to do 1 year internship in the country one grauduated from?
    Or one has a choice of doing both foundation years in the UK?
    Secondly, is 1 year internship necessary to appear in Plab 2? Or one can give it without any work experience anywhere?
    Plus after clearing both Plab 1 & 2, is there any timelimit within which one must start doing internship in the UK or is it upto us?

    1. 1) No, but an acceptable pattern of internship is needed for full GMC registration.
      2) UKFPO (UK internship) is difficult to enter without a settled visa status.
      3) Internship is not needed for PLAB, just for full GMC registration.
      4) If you wish to apply for GMC registration with valid PLAB exams, it needs to be done before the 2 year expiry.

      1. If visa status is somewhat settled i.e Spouse visa, does it adds more hope of getting into 2 year internship program via UKFPO?
        If one wants to do both FYs in UK after clearing both PLAB 1 & 2, is it possible to manage time before it gets expired? As you mentioned that for GMC registration both FYs should be completed.
        And does GMC registration also has an expiry in case of not working actively for sometime in UK?

        1. Yes a settled visa status would help in the UKFPO process. In the case of going the route via UKFPO, you would get provisional registration, which would then become full upon completion of UKFPO. So long as you keep paying for your GMC registration, it will remain. You can relinquish your license to practice, but maintain registration.

  22. plab exam and certification expire after years or it last many years if i wish to work after exam after many years from taked the exam??,

  23. Ajay Krishnan

    What’s the difference between IELTS and OET? Which is better/easy?
    While giving IELTS, which is better; British council or IDP.
    Sorry about the long array of questions
    Thanks in advance:)

  24. I love this site!! Thank you guys for your amazing and hard job!
    Tell me please, before planning tests preparation and booking them, how can I verify that qualification I have (university I graduated from) is acceptable in UK?

  25. How rapidly the UK plab seats fill? like you mentioned apply 2 months before exam date for overseas as they run short earlier. But in Uk i assume less people apply so maybe we can apply one month before UK exam center date and get slot?

    1. Now-a-days you can’t get many overseas slots even before 2 months. They get booked 5-6 months prior. Yes, UK seats are less likely to get pre-booked like that. But 1 month will be cutting it close.

  26. sally dabour

    hello dr , thx for your precious information plz iwant to know if i’m 6year medical student can i book the part1 after my exam and does the registration for the exam require my certificate …? and if that is available what about part2 can be taken befor graduation or what … i’m really don’t want to wait 2year untill ican take the exam so plz if there is any way to do it befor explain how …. many thankx

    1. For PLAB 1 or PLAB 2, you will NOT be required to show your certificate, but you need to pass your final medical exams. But remember you will need your certificate before your can apply for EPIC verification & subsequently GMC registration.

  27. Imran Murshid Khan

    Hello there!
    Can I work as clinicians in hospitals of UK after completing PLAB ? & how’s the salary for newly qualified doctors there?

      1. Tanjina Sayma

        Thank you.i have another there any need of verification of medical college to give PLAB?How can i know that my medical college is authorized for giving me PLAB?

  28. Gregor Krstevski

    Hi. First I would to thank you for putting together this very informative website. It really goes into the perfect amount of detail concerning all the important aspects of the process. I have a few things I’d like to clarify, and will post questions under the suitable articles. I have passed USMLE step 1, step 2 CK & step 2 CS in the last year and half. Will the experience from the USMLEs help me pass PLAB 1 & 2.

  29. Is it possible to provide a provisional medical qualification certificate in my final year of medical school and give the PLAB 1 BEFORE I graduate, and do the remaining steps AFTER I graduate. Does it make a difference that I am studying in a EU medical university?

    1. You have to pass the final medical exam to appear in PLAB 1. Not necessarily that you have to have your graduation ceremony. If you are deemed qualified that you have passed the required exam to be called a medical graduate, you can take PLAB 1.
      You don’t need to provide any certificate for taking PLAB 1.

  30. Hello, help me to decide when to take ielts as my house hob is going to start by june 2019 and if i want to take plab 1 in march 2020.

    1. Aim to get it cleared within September-November 2019. With the recent trend of getting every place booked months and months ahead, the earlier you clear IELTS, the more chance of you getting a booking for PLAB 1.

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